Earlier today, my friend (and sometimes co-host on a live casts) Dave and I took a ride down to the Woodworking Show in Milwaukee. It’s always fun to goof off and catch up on the drive down. Traffic and parking are always interesting around the fair grounds that house the show. We ended up getting to the show a little later than we usually do and had to park what seemed like across the city from the building on the below freezing temperature walk.
Once we got inside we saw a lot of familiar businesses and faces. Kreg, Lee Valley, Bosh, Micro Fence, Woodline, Microjig, Neu’s, Peachtree, and all the normal players were there. After learning about sharpening turning tools last year, I was happy to pick up a set of Raptor tools from Craft Supplies. I also got some pen blanks from Amazon Silhouette, and sanding mops form Sand Flee. As always there were plenty of things I could have brought home. Thought long and hard about the Dewalt trim router and ordering the larger Fibonacci gauge from Woodpecker. But, after so many years going down to the show, this was the first time I didn’t go with the goal of expanding my tool collection and I didn’t really “need” anything.
The biggest part of the show, and the reason I was there, was the speakers and presenters. Years past had seen the lessening of the topics and time devoted to this part of the show. Last year it started to grow the learning section again, and it did not disappoint me in the slightest this year. There were more areas to watch, learn, and ask questions, than I have seen in a very long time.
With only one day at the show I didn’t get to see every presentation. But, Jim Heavy’s sessions have long been some of my favorites. He is an excellent presenter and has a great sense of humor. His pointers on finishing, as always, gave me some techniques to keep in mind for any project and I got to chuckle too. Talking with Jim after and hearing about the upcoming Weekend with Wood was in interesting topic I hope to talk with him more about the future. Bob Settich inspired me to look into wooden plan making last year, and his presentation on simplifying thinking about hardware gave me a few ideas for an upcoming project. Ronald Johsson helped me put my mind at ease when it comes to my love of old hand planes and knowing I have used many of the same methods when acquiring mine. Watching Ron Brown just makes you want to get home and turn on the lathe. Paul Moore, better known as the Crazy Canadian, had everyone in the audience laughing while learning a few things along the way including not to take things so serious and have some fun. The session titled “The Most Important Tool” by Andy Chidwhick was my favorite part of the show this year. Not just because I got to hang out with Andy at the show or because I got a Sawdust tour shirt. But, for the ideas Andy helped bring back into my head. For getting me to think outside my self-defined “box”, his show title of “The Woodworking Coach” is fitting and deserved.
The woodworking community, online, or in person, is an inviting and inspiring and group of people that I am proud to be a part of.
-- RavinHeart - Wisconsin