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I’m very fortunate. I work for a great magazine and I really like what I do. This last weekend, February 7-9, I was able to escape the harsh and all but relentless cold and snow in the Chicago area for a trip South as part of my “job”. It certainly wasn’t flip-flops and sunscreen weather in St. Louis but it did get above 30 degrees there. In fact, Spring was almost literally right around the corner from the downtown area at the Missouri Botanical Garden. While strolling the buildings in shirt sleeves and enjoying the tropical climate of the 2014 Orchid Show of South America, I knew that this would only be a brief respite from the elements outside and the upcoming commotion of the Woodworking Show but it was worth every minute.

The St. Louis show is actually in Collinsville, Illinois and its held at the Gateway Center. This is a venue that we have used for years and it has been expanded in recent years. Our show was very well attended by both woodworkers and vendors and a few of us educators held our classes off the show floor in meeting rooms. These quiet, more intimate areas are a great place to host a seminar. Without the need to cut through the general din on the show floor, the talk and general discussions are done without sound systems and microphones. Attendees can move freely, though a bit gingerly, checking out all the wares for sale in the large hall and then return to catch the next lecture. A very nice arrangement that I wish existed in other venues as well.

While out amid the machines and vendors, attendees had plenty to see. Hand tools, portable power tools and stationary machines were in abundance. There seemed like there was something for everyone and many of the vendors reported brisk sales. New in the last couple weeks, there was a class on chair making by Bob Settich.

Woodworkers got a chance to spend a bit of time with Tommy Mac Donald of Rough Cut as he walked the show on Saturday and held an informal Q & A session in the early afternoon. Local woodworking clubs also had some very interesting displays of member’s projects. The Edwardsville Woodworkers showcased a small chest of drawers with some really striking grain.

The Show Me Woodturners club probably learned a lesson about being more precise when describing the challenge project their members could compete in. Tim Voellinger presented his version of a turned egg complete with bacon, sausage, toast and hash browns. Not sure that that is what the club was looking for when suggesting entries detailing that classic turning skill.

The Project Showcase had a number of very nice entries this last weekend that covered all four categories.

In Furniture, Dannie Raisa’s Windsor Chair took the top prize. Turnings/Carvings had three entrants with Charles Shane taking third with his Cottonwood Bark Tower. Second place went to the Segmented Vessel by Alex Nadler and the first place winner was Ben Shuppert’s Bobcat Carving.

The Models/Toys Category featured Jeff Seemiller’s Tugboat as the second place winner and Carl Probst took top honors with the Tractor. The Open Category saw Cecil Robertson’s Keepsake Box take second and the Ascension of Jesus scrollwork took first.

The People’s Choice Award went to Carl Probst for his Tractor and the overall winner of the weekend, the Educator’s Choice, was awarded to Jeff Seemiller for his Tugboat. The top winners took home tools from Bosch and Worksharp as well as gift cards from Lee Valley Tools. All entrants received a goody bag from the show and a variety of vendor gifts.

This was a very good weekend. It seemed like everyone got what they came for. My brother and former speaker, Mike, came to reminisce with old friends and there was time in the evening to enjoy some local flavor at BB’s Jazz, Blues and Soups across the river with speakers, vendors and even an attendee. In this instance, singing the blues was a good thing, a really good thing! Did I say I like my job?

This next weekend, February 14-15, the Woodworking Shows will be returning to the Detroit area following a brief hiatus. We will be at the Suburban Collection Showplace on Grand River Avenue in Novi. This is just a two day show (we couldn’t secure the hall for Sunday) and we will be open from 10AM to 6PM both Friday and Saturday. We’re very happy to get back to the area and it looks like this venue could be our new home if all goes well. If you’re in the area, please come out and let us show you what we’re so proud of. And, if you get the chance, stop in at the WOOD Magazine booth for a discussion about Cabinet Making. I’ve got a lot to tell you.

‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road.

Jim Heavey

WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador


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