This last weekend in Milwaukee, March 13-15, was pretty typical of what we would expect of a Big 10 show. Great, energetic crowds packed the hall each day and took full advantage of the sales in the vendor’s booths as well as filling every seat and then some in all the educational areas. In a rare opportunity for me, I got a chance to walk around the show floor on Saturday and see what excites the attendees as they listened to the various presenters. Though I couldn’t spend much time in any particular area, I really enjoyed what was being said about finishing, mortise and tenon joinery, face plate turning, cabinet construction, SketchUp and glue selection. I got so engrossed (please pardon the pun) watching Barry Gross effortlessly turning a pen blank, I was almost late for my own first class at noon.
I’ve been fortunate to have had good attendance this season during my presentations but, this last weekend, none were as popular as my last class each day reviewing the miter saw. I’ve been discussing the setup and use of this saw as well as some cures for common problems when making simple mitered frames. I draw the most attention when the talk turns to cutting crown molding. Instead of the more usual method of “upside down and backwards”, I teach cutting this molding flat on the saw and using a set of templates to simplify the process for those of us who need a more “tactile” approach. After the presentations I suggest to my audience that, if they bring me a 3 foot piece of crown molding, I’ll make a sample set for them. This last weekend I made 12 of those sets (in addition to the three I normally make) for those who took me up on my offer. Someone was so excited about these that they took my personal set. I only hope that person puts them to use and doesn’t consider that set a souvenir. Geez!
The Project Showcase Milwaukee 2015 was a really diverse collection that made judging very interesting for the attendees as well as the educators. In the end, the People’s Choice for Most Creative went to Jim Schlarb for his “Fish Carving”. This was about as true to life as I’ve ever seen.
The award for Best Workmanship went to Steve Klein for his “Carved Mirror”.
Best Finish was given to Jim Borchardt for the “Trio In Wood” end table. Each of these awards came with their choice of a Bosch Tool.
The Overall Favorite and a $75 Lee Valley gift card went to Jim Schlarb’s “Fish Carving”.
The clear favorite for the Educator’s Choice award was given to Jeff Baenen for what he called his “Extrude Boxes”. Jeff’s entries are always so unique and his finish and attention to detail were again his hallmarks. Jeff also received a gift card from Lee Valley.
When we started this last November, I knew that all of a sudden the season would be over and that will happen next week at the conclusion of our show in Tampa on March 20-22 at the Florida State Fair Entertainment Hall. If you live in or around Tampa, you’ll have this last opportunity to see us this season. I know you’ll find the show well worth attending with plenty to see, learn and buy. If you happen to bring in a piece of crown molding, I’ll make you a set of templates. I’m good at it!
‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road.
Wood Magazine Traveling Ambassador
The Woodworking Show traveled to Novi, Michigan this last weekend, February 13-15, and opened to a nice sized crowd on Friday. Some pretty rotten weather (snow and wind chills near 30 below zero is my definition of rotten) only slightly dampened attendance but not enthusiasm on Saturday and Sunday. Add the fact that there was an ongoing gun and knife show in the next hall, we proved to have some of the most dedicated woodworkers of the season by far.
Our attendees certainly came for all the education and our vendors but they brought along something for us to see in return. We had the largest and most diverse Project Showcase to date with 22 entries including some from our younger talent in the Youth Division. It has always been very encouraging for me to see people becoming comfortable enough with their abilities to be willing to share their work and allow it to be judged by other attendees and our educators. I have talked about, to the point of preaching I’m sure, that your work is better than you give yourselves credit for so it was really nice to see that maybe some of our woodworkers are beginning to believe it.
As you’ve probably seen in this blog, I post the pictures of the winning entries each week during the show series and I’ll continue to do that. But there are always those entries that just miss the cut that go unheralded. Here are a few from this last weekend.
An excellent example of a turned box with a pyrographic embellishment.
A fully functional spinning wheel.
A good reason not to look for a lost ball in a water hazard.
An interesting keepsake box.
For the projects that did have that certain extra, we did have some awards. In the Youth Division, in which the judging was very close, the award for Best Finish went to Sawyer Hill for “Thor’s Hammer”. Sawyer took home a bag of Bessey tools donated by the Chidwick School.
Best Workmanship went to Joe Kollaritsch for his “Turned Goblet” (I lost the image, so sorry) and he received a gift card from Lee Valley Tools.
The Most Creative and overall People’s and Educator’s Choice awards went to Danielle Roberts for her “Wall-E” carving. She won the Bessey Tool bag and a Lee Valley Gift card for her efforts.
In the Adult Division, Best Finish and Educator’s Choice went to a beautiful “Crimson Whorl Vessel” by Alfred Schembri and he received his choice of a Bosch tool.
Best Workmanship and overall People’s Choice award winner was Richard Tocco’s “Miniature Furniture”. This amazing collection of miniatures took Richard the better part of 10 years to complete. Unfortunately, pictures just couldn’t do justice to his efforts. I’m sure that the Bosch tool he selected as his prize will be well used and appreciated.
The Most Creative award went to Thomas Balogh for his “Taliesen Lamp” and he also took home a Bosch tool.
On Sunday, we left the frigid temperatures of Detroit and will head to the east coast where the snow has really taken hold. We will again set up shop in Somerset, New Jersey at the Garden State Exhibit Center. Our years of using that venue have made it quite familiar to area woodworkers and I’m anticipating a really great shew, as Ed Sullivan would surely have said had he been a woodworker. You can bet that we will come with our game on and hope that our attendees will do as they did in Detroit and fill that Project Showcase with their best efforts. Find some time in your weekend to visit us. You won’t be disappointed. And, let’s see what you’ve got.
‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road.
WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador
What a great weekend to be in St. Louis for the Woodworking Shows. I left my home on Thursday, February 5th, with the temperature hovering at a biting 7 degrees and by Friday it was shirt sleeve weather down by the Mississippi river. It would ultimately be near 70 on Sunday afternoon for the trip back to the airport dropping to 25 when the plane’s doors opened back at O’Hare. Read more
Categories: Woodworking Show Reports | Tags: 360 Woodworking, Barry Gross, Bosch Tools, Bradley McCalister, David Heim, Earlex, George Vondriska, Jim Heavey, Lee Valley, MicroFence, Roland Johnson, The Woodworking Shows, WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador, WWGOA
Each weekend during the woodworking show season plays out about the same – travel beginning on Thursday morning and a return home on Sunday evening after spending three days with our great woodworking community. This last weekend however, January 29-February 1, was a good bit outside that norm. Read more
The Woodworking Show was in Indianapolis this last weekend, January 16-18, and traveling there was very stress free. No TSA screener in rubber gloves. No apologies from the gate attendants or pilots on why we would be again delayed. No searching for luggage space in an already packed overhead compartment. No, I drove to this venue while sitting comfortably in my own car, listening to my own music and stopping for food at a real restaurant. Ahh, serenity now! Read more
A surprise, fast moving snow storm couldn’t put a damper this last weekend, January 9-11, in Massachusetts when the Woodworking Shows visited the Big E in West Springfield. Though the opening bell on Friday was a bit subdued because of that weather, attendees ultimately filled the show throughout the day and continued that enthusiasm on Saturday and Sunday. Read more
All the stars were aligned this last weekend, March 14-16, when the Woodworking Shows pulled into the fairgrounds in West Allis, Wisconsin. Some of the best crowds this season came out to celebrate the upcoming St. Patty’s day by spending time and some serious cash on the show floor. It’s nice to have a major holiday (I am a bit Irish, by the way) lift the spirits of our attendees this time of the year. Read more
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. Read more
Categories: Woodworking Show Reports | Tags: BG Artforms, Bosch Tools, Jim Heavey, Lee Valley, Legacy CNC Systems, Red Rock Community College, The Woodworking Shows, WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador
The New England show was the next stop on the Woodworking Show circuit and I flew into Bradley International airport in Hartford on Thursday, January 12th. I had gotten an invitation from Tommy Mac to stop out at his shop and this was the perfect opportunity to see him. Read more
Categories: Woodworking Show Reports | Tags: Jim Heavey, Keller Dovetail, Lee Valley, Rough Cut with Tommy Mac, Sharp Skate, The Shelter Institute, The Woodworking Shows, Tommy Mac, WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador
Encouraging news for woodworkers from Opening Day at the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta: Many manufacturers of tools and woodworking accessories debut new products. In spite of the tough economy that’s dogged the last couple of years, I saw countless new products, an encouraging sign that not everyone hunkered down during the recession and cut spending to the bone. Here’s a few of the best and brightest:
• I told you two months ago about DeWalt’s new line of 12-volt lithium-ion cordless drills and drivers. They’ll be available this fall. But today DeWalt and Porter-Cable launched new “compact router kits” that are essentially trim routers with fixed and plunge bases. I got a behind-the-scenes look at these routers at DeWalt’s headquarters in June, but could not discuss them publicly due to confidentiality agreements. Well, now they’re public. The two kits are similar. Both include a 1-1/4 hp trim router motor, fixed base, and plunge base. But DeWalt’s motor has a variable-speed motor and LED lights around the collet; Porter-Cable’s motor is a single-speed motor and does not have the lights. The DeWalt kit will sell for $199 and the Porter-Cable for $189.