The Woodworking Shows opened the 2014 winter season in Baltimore on January 2-5 at the State Fair Grounds in Timonium to one of the best attended venues in recent memory. The aisles were filled to all but overflowing for most of the three day event. Those who didn’t arrive early and grab a chair were left standing on the outside edges of the many free educational classes offered throughout the weekend. And all this despite some fairly nasty weather with snow and high winds in the forecast. Everyone knows that woodworkers are willing to brave any weather or hardship to get their yearly “fix” at a woodworking show. What a great way to start off the new year!
I had very little chance to leave the WOOD Magazine booth during the show hours with the seminars and the attendees questions filling the day. Those I talked to seemed to really enjoy the time they spent listening to the lectures or with vendors or just strolling the aisles. There was so much to see as the show floor had examples of tools from the distant past to the most up to date. I noticed a good crowd viewing CNC technology at the Legacy booth nearly every time I walk by there.
As always, the local clubs had their wares on display. The Baltimore Area Turners attracted attention with a turned vase and plate and the Annapolis Woodworkers Guild had some nice turnings and a beautiful figured Maple box.
The Furniture Showcase had entries in each of the four categories. The winner in the Furniture Category was the Federal Table by Richard Hollingshead. Donald Keefer to the top prize for his Segmented Amphora in the Carving/Turning Category. John Lebkicker took the Models/Toys category with his Cat Tractor. In the Open Category, 2nd pace went to Bob Lankford’s Linen Cabinet and the top spot went to the Wine Intarsia Piece by Carl Wilhelm.
The Cat Tractor was voted the People’s Choice winner and Richard Hollingshead took the Educator’s Choice award with his Federal Table. Bosch Tools and Drill Doctor donated some nice prizes to the winners and Lee Valley gift cards were also awarded.
Everyone attending the show left happy. The attendees were filled with new learning, the vendors with a lot less stock to move to the next show. One vendor did leave a bit early and I never left.
Seems that the storm that brought all the snow to Baltimore had made a stop in Chicago first and prompted United Airlines and O’Hare airport to close down for a couple of days. After a multitude of my rescheduled flights were also grounded, I decided late Monday to just drive to the next venue in West Springfield about 5 hours north. Certainly better than sitting at an airport hoping for a miracle! At least I’d get a jump on the traffic and a drive through New York would call for a stopover in Manhattan anyway. The view of this great city was perfect from atop the “Top of the Rock” at Rockefeller Plaza.
The drive though New York , Connecticut and Massachusetts is actually really pretty if you can stay off the main interstates and enjoy a more pastoral view of early American history. The quaint towns and countryside are really interesting. As I drove past the Hartford airport, Bradley International, on my way to the venue in West Springfield, I saw a sign for the New England Air Museum (neam.org) and just had to stop in. I found three hangers filled with some of the most unique flying memorabilia. Tom Stevenson, who works at the museum, took me on a behind the ropes tour of some amazing aircraft. Sitting in the cockpit of an F-100A Super Sabre had me wondering what actually flying one of these machines in combat must have been like. Climbing into the bomb bay of a B 29 was also surreal.
With a control car from a Goodyear blimp to a working Wright Brother’s engine on display, one could spend an entire day there and still feel as though you hadn’t seen everything.
The New England Woodworking Show was held in the “Big E” exhibition center in West Springfield, Massachusetts on January 10-12 with very strong attendance. This venue is somewhat smaller than that of Baltimore but it was well filled with vendors, educational booths and woodworkers. Again, the snow and ice on Friday and Saturday didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of those in the hall. With a bit more time to walk the show floor this weekend, I noticed that a booth new to the show this season was well attended. David Heim has been teaching a SketchUp class the last couple of weeks and it has been very well received. After sitting through the lecture, there are a couple of lap tops set up to practice your new skills.
Kathy Wise teaches the art of Intarsia in her booth and has beautiful samples of her work on display there as well as books and videos to further your knowledge about this unique art expression.
A stroll past The Workbench, a Woodworking and Craft School, showcased the projects and classes taught there. A night stand and wall chest are but two of many nice examples.
This week’s Showcase featured projects in three of the four categories. In the Furniture Category, befitting New England, the top award went to the 17th Century Stool by William Goodwin. David Galczynski’s Natural Vase was the winner of the Turning/Carving Category and in the Open Category the choices were very close. Second place went to Leonard Butler’s, Ribbon Box and first place was the Live Edge Apothecary Cabinet by Tony Restivo. Tony also won the People’s Choice Award. The Educator’s Choice Award was won by William Goodwin for his 17th Century Stool.
Two different cities, two different venues but somewhat similar woodworkers. Though there were more retail sales in Baltimore than in New England, I found that the enthusiasm for our craft in general is still very strong. The weather may have been a bit foul but the mood of those how came to the show was anything but. Everyone had a question, a story and a smile. Can’t ask for much more than that.
This coming weekend, January 17-19, we will be setting up shop in Indianapolis at the Fairgrounds. This is a very large venue with very good crowds. Right now, the weather forecast looks pretty good but I’ve learned that that doesn’t really matter. If there’s a woodworking show in the area, people fill find a way to get there. I hope that when you do attend that you’ll stop by the WOOD Magazine booth. We’re teaching cabinet construction this season and I think that you’ll enjoy the presentation. Hope to see you there!
‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road.
WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador