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Springtime in Charlotte

The Woodworking Shows moved to Charlotte this last weekend, March 23-25. For those who haven’t been there, this part of North Carolina is very nice in the Spring. Charlotte is a mix of beautiful antebellum homes in almost pastoral settings to new construction starting in the downtown and spreading to the outskirts of the city. I spent a bit of time in complete quiet in the McDowell Nature Preserve about 20 minutes from the venue. The two hours there would be a great change from the upcoming three hectic days lecturing on the show floor.

I have to admit that I had mixed emotions about this show. The woodworkers in this part of the country are some of the nicest I think I’ll see almost anywhere. Talk flows easily and is very genuine. There just weren’t a lot of attendees to talk to in spite of the fact that this area was one of the premier furniture factory areas in the country. The passion for the craft is still very much evident in those I spoke to. I just wish that I had seen more of them. I enjoyed spending time with Mike Smith, President of the Charlotte Woodworkers Association. He talked about the club and the things that they were currently involved with and told me that he had a chance to sit in on my presentations as well of those taught by Roland Johnson. He was very appreciative of the effort put forth by both the educators and all those involved with putting on a show of this size and complexity. The conversation I had with him was very similar to the ones of all the attendees I spoke with.

I also got a chance to learn a little more about two of our other show personalities,  Bob Settich and Bradley McCalister while we ate dinner at the Cajun Queen down the block from the venue. Bob teaches cabinet making to “guys who don’t think that they can make cabinets”. A very soft spoken guy with a degree in English, Bob has worked as a writer and has done technical drawings and uses a very common sense approach to encourage “guys” to try their hand at building that perfect cabinet.

I’m not sure how having been a rock band bass player in a previous life fits in with his teaching philosophy but Bradley’s dye finished turnings have garnered him a spot in some leading specialty furniture exhibitions. This is his second year at the show and, judging by the quality of his work and the crowd he draws, I would expect to see a lot more of him there.  

The “Learn to Turn” area was busy this last weekend also. Kirk, from Craft Supply, uses a truely hands on approach to help budding pen turners.

There were only three entrants in the Show Off Showcase this last weekend but each of the projects were well done and distinctly different from each other. The winner was this “Floating Top Table”  by John Bregan. The choice of spalted poplar and oak and his skill made this the top vote getter. Second place went to John Ferousen for his “Desk Box”. This was built and finished beautifully, Third place went to the “Lamp” by Blaine Johnsten. What a difference with the light off then on! Again, each of these winners chose a tool from the Bosch Tool Company and received a bag of goodies from some of the show’s vendors and the show.

The Charlotte show closed its doors on Sunday and the show crew would be on their way to Texas that evening. Their drive across nearly the entire country will end in Katy, a suburb of Houston, on Thursday to begin the set up for the show there on March 30-April 1. This will be the last show of the 2011-2012 season and the culmination of a very productive woodworking show circuit.

I hope that if you’re in the Houston area you will come out and take part in what I believe is a great woodworking experience. This is free education  in almost every discipline of the craft and the chance to get in on some of those end of the season tool and supply bargains. You’ll definitely want to preregister to avoid the lines at the gate and also take advantage of the discount on your admission. You can do all that at www.thewoodworkingshows.com. And try to make a stop  at the WOOD Magazine booth while you’re there. I’ll show you how to add just the right amount of embellishment to that special project you’re working on.

‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road.

Jim Heavey

WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador

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