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A Weekend’s (Ft.) Worth of Education


The Woodworking Show traveled to the Lone Star State of Texas this last weekend , March 8-11, and set up camp in Fort Worth. This was a new venue for us and quite a distance from Dallas where we have been for a number of years. I have to admit having some sympathy for those who complained about the increased drive time until I talked to many of the attendees who had driven over 300 miles from Houston. Because we would not be going south this season, they decided to come up to see us. You gotta love these people!

Most of the crowd this last weekend tended to spend the majority of their time in the educational booths and not on the retail side of the show floor. Some of the vendors had a great weekend while others felt that it could have been much better. Those of us teaching, however, saw that the attraction was learning. The attendees seemed to move from class to class and following schedules to avoid missing anything and they found plenty of variety throughout their stay. I took some time on Saturday to stand in on some of the seminars to see what the experience was like from a woodworkers point of view. With the really limited time I had, I watched Paul Sellers use his knowledge, skill, wit and accent to keep the undivided attention of those in the audience. With only hand tools, he created very intricate trim that seemed to amaze all present.

 Likewise, Frank Strazza of the School of Woodworking, showed how truing up a piece of wood hewn from a large log could provide a great upper body workout as well as a prized piece of quarter split white oak. 

 I watched as the “coach” inspired his students with curved surfaces and then Bradley McCalister wow them with turned forms.

These were just a few of the educational opportunities that the show provides each weekend and I think that they are seen as a real value. And should be. Where can you go to get a taste of nearly every aspect of our craft at such a bargain price? Admission to the show is about the same as the cost of a two hour movie and the lessons last a lifetime. We may only come to your city once a year but I really think that we’re worth it.

At the Project Showcase, we had some very nice submissions. Our first place winner was a very excited Dale Abshire for his “Chess Set”. He said that it took him quite a few tries to wind up with chess pieces he was happy with.

Second place went to the “Wind Rose Table” by Mark Seay. This unique design was very nicely done and the finish was just perfect. Lastly, our third place winner was Steve Yauch’s “Redwood Side Table” that he built in a club contest from a six foot long  Redwood 2 X 4.

 All our winners took home a Bosch tool and Dale’s project will be entered into the final judging to take place after the Atlanta show in a couple of weeks. All entries received a goody bag compliments of the vendors and the show.

Our eleventh show in a row and the second last in this Spring season will be in the sunny state of Florida at the State Fairgrounds in Tampa, March 15-17. We have visited this venue seemingly forever and I would expect the crowds to be as strong as we’ve become accustomed to. It would be a great idea to preregister at Thewoodworkingshows.com to insure a speedy entrance past those lines of ticket buyers. When you do come out, please try to stop in at the WOOD Magazine booth where this year’s topic is Finishing. We’ll cover all kinds of issues from start to (pardon the pun) finish and give you tips that you can use there or in your home state if you’re a seasonal inhabitant.

Though 75 degrees and clear skies may well be typical weather for those in the bay area, I will be leaving a snow filled yard with temps in the 30′s for those very inviting warmer climes. Hope to see you there. I’ll be the one in the short sleeved shirt yelling “Fore”.

‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road.

Jim Heavey

WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador

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