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 (www.warrenamay.com) 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...