Woodworking in America 2008 #1: Day 0.5

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Blog entry by Texasgaloot posted 11-14-2008 12:41 PM 15455 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Woodworking in America 2008 series Part 2: Day 1, or Is This Heaven or Am I Just In Sensory Overload? »

It’s 1994 or 95. (Or so, I can’t actually remember.) I’m living in Jessamine County, Kentucky, working in the campus library as I finish my master’s degree, when one of my computer-savvy friends mentions a fairly new “listserv” that he has run across, called the “Old Tools Listerv.” Of course, I’ve been a woodworker since I was a kid, so I have to check this out. Before long, my vehicle is sporting a bumper sticker that declares, “There’s no tool like an old tool.” I’m running all over central Kentucky hunting old rusty hand planes. I’m on the internet using terms like “Normite” and “St. Roy,” referring to special tools as “crispy,” and turning out wooden projects as a “Neanderwoodworker.” Hi, my name is Mack, and I’m a Galoot. (“Hi, Mack…”)

Well over a decade later, and I’m listening to the whine of a Ford diesel as my wife and I soak in the beauty of a rich central Kentucky autumn; there is still enough color in the trees to take your breath away. I’m a little bleary-eyed for the memories flooding back, I had forgotten how much I loved this area of the world and how much fun I had had here. And we were both anticipating how much fun this event is going to be.

We found our hotel, got checked in, and decided to brave the campus of Berea College. I’ve been to Berea before, and had an idea of where the Boone Tavern was, and Warren May’s shop/showroom is ( so I’m feeling like it’s homecoming (almost) for me. We find the alumni building, and register easily. There’s a slight mix-up in Liz’s registration for the big Welcome Event, but the efficient WIA staff quickly and cheerfully fix that. (These are GREAT folks, my friends. WIA needs to give them all raises.) We take our name badges and info, turn around, and there’s a woodworking bookstore being set up behind me, strategically placed to remind me of the tight budget I’m on. I think that reminder might be a VERY good thing.

After snagging a free copy of Woodworking Magazine I glance around and spot, lurking against a wall deeply involved in his copy of said magazine is Matt Vanderlist… Lumberjock and podcaster extraordinaire. We both use a strange internet program called “Twitter” which lets you post one-sentence blogs throughout the day, so we strike up a conversation that sounds like old friends meeting in person for the first time. That’s because we are. Soon there’s a circle growing that includes us and a number of other woodworkers and woodworking podcasters and “Twitter crowd” that are connecting. My wife is thinking this sounds like “White Christmas” when all the old Army buddies are getting together on the train platform. And then two things happen in such rapid succession it’s hard to tell where one began and the other left off.

Chris Schwartz sees Matt and greets him. Geez… I know someone who knows someone important! And right after that, we notice that Chris is with Roy Underhill… I’m removing my hat because St. Roy is in the area! And then I realize two things: I know someone who knows someone who knows someone that EVERYONE knows from TV, and that everyone here is going to be just as cool—we are all WOODWORKERS! This is going to be a tres cool, bonerific, crispy, shameless-shill weekend. I’m proud to be a Galoot!

-- There's no tool like an old tool...

6 comments so far

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 3811 days

#1 posted 11-14-2008 03:22 PM

Ah, what a great write-up. Keep ‘em comin’, Mack!

-- Eric at

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4091 days

#2 posted 11-14-2008 04:17 PM

Oh man, that sounds like a field day! If Marks, Spagnuolo and Stowe showed up I’d plotz where I stood!

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6859 posts in 4007 days

#3 posted 11-14-2008 04:18 PM

Hey Tex;

Could happen anywhere. It’s kind of funny how, with most topics, eaves dropping is socially unacceptable behavior, but with woodworking, it’s encouraged.

Go Figure!

Great write up.

-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4141 days

#4 posted 11-14-2008 04:46 PM

I read your post with longing in my heart. I wish I could have made it there this year. Please keep posting for the the unlucky ones that couldn’t make it.

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3989 days

#5 posted 11-14-2008 06:20 PM

sounds like a great time

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3849 days

#6 posted 11-15-2008 12:47 AM

Thanks for the post. Wish I could have worked the conference into my schedule but this post gives me a feel for the conference.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

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