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In Thin Air at The Woodworking Shows

This last weekend, February 1-3 was a great one for a flatlander like me. The Woodworking Shows moved to Denver and the weather was beautiful. I landed at DIA and I was on my way to the mountains by 9AM on Thursday. Without any specific destination, I just stopped when I found something interesting. Just outside Central City  the weather looked to be a bit ominous so caution kept me from going much higher.

 I found a very old overgrown cemetery with headstones dating from 1887 and a town with buildings that appeared just about as old. Slowly taking the back roads back to Denver and a late lunch in Golden afforded a few quiet peaceful hours before the controlled chaos of set up at the venue.


There was certainly something for everyone at the show. One of the area’s largest vendors,  Tool King, sold products from a number of major tool companies including Bosch, Festool, DeWalt, Fein. Most of the prices I saw were cheaper than I have seen to date at any of the previous shows and the attendees took full advantage with visibly diminished stocks by show’s end on Sunday. Jet and Powermatic were also there  in addition to the great selection of vendors that we normally find in the aisles.

 Maybe I’ve just missed it but BG Artforms was selling pen blanks in addition to the pen and pencil mechanisms and nearly every conceivable wood species was represented. I don’t remember ever finding scented wood blanks in flavors such as chocolate, peppermint, lavender,  etc. What enchanted forest must they have been grown in?

Always known for an interesting display is the Red Rock Community College’s Fine Woodworking/Luthier program. Among the other more usual furniture projects was this “work bench”. This was a beautiful fully functional shop necessity that will probably never see a hammer or chisel. The work was amazing and the details really set it apart from anything that we’ll ever see in a typical shop. Wow!

Demonstrations in dozens of booths were ongoing throughout the weekend. Learn to sharpen and plane in the Lee Valley booth as well as in the Fine Woodworking area, CNC classes in the Legacy CNC Systems booth and turning in nearly every aisle. I watched as Larry Cash turned a very delicate vase with a spindle almost too thin to imagine, let alone turn.

The somewhat disappointing part of this last weekend was the relatively few projects in the Project Showcase. The really encouraging aspect though, was the overall quality of the submissions. They were exceptionally well crafted and the judging was very close across the board.  Just nosing out the rest of the field, the “Children’s Rocking Chair” by Rick Hammans. Very nicely constructed and even engraved, this took top honors.

 The “Live Edge Walnut Table with Drawer” was the creation of David Dent and it took second place. I really liked this design and the finish. Third place was taken by Terry Tomsha and his very unique “Rook Club Chair”. This was very comfortable chair (yes, I sat in it) with some very nice detail.

 Each of the winners took home a Bosch Tool and all entries received a goody bag with “Stuff” from the Woodworking Shows and its vendors. Rick’s entry will compete in the grand prize contest in Atlanta at the end of this season. The grand prize winner will also receive a lifetime free entry into the Woodworking Shows.

On Sunday afternoon I took my last long glance at the snow capped mountains that seem to dominate the landscape in Denver. A great city to visit and a tough one to leave. But, the show must go on and it will go on in St. Louis this coming weekend, February 8-10 at the Gateway Center in Collinsville, Il. We have used this venue for many years and it will, as always, be filled to overflowing with vendors and education. It’s a really good idea to order tickets in advance at thewoodworkingshows.com to avoid the lines at the door. And plan to spend a couple of days there if you want to take in all the educational seminars we offer. I hope that you’ll stop in at the WOOD Magazine room too. I’ll be in one of the classrooms in the hallway teaching finishing. Bring in your questions and maybe a cup of coffee. We’ve got a lot to talk about.

‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road.

Jim Heavey

WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador    

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