|Forum topic by 8iowa||posted 1163 days ago||1618 views||0 times favorited||11 replies|
1163 days ago
My son Troy and I just returned from this conference. It was not anything at all like the “entourage” woodworking shows. Yes there was a vendors hall where you could “lighten you wallet”, and many vendors reported record sales, but this was not in any way the main part of the conference.
We found our three days packed full attending classes put on by Popular Woodworking’s staff members and other noted woodworkers like Roy Underhill and Fran Klaus. The class schedule was so full that it was difficult to find the time to go into the vendor’s hall, probably just as well.
There were also two tours to the nearby Whitewater Shaker village which is undergoing restoration. There are a few interesting surviving furniture pieces, including a large chest of drawers and a hutch cupboard, a reproduction of which is nearby, made by Popular Woodworking’s Glen Huey. A grand banquet was held Friday night for 1000 persons. This was not a small affair. There were also smaller more informal evening “gatherings” on Saturday.
It was really great to meet Chris Schwarz and his staff members. There were also staff persons from the parent company F&W publications. Cory Smith, from F&W and I scoured the neighborhood early Sunday morning trying to find a coffee shop.
With an emphasis on traditional woodworking, this was probably not the type of conference for the production/professional type of woodworking businesses. While there were power tools there, and classes, this conference was probably better suited to expanding your hand tool woodworking knowledge and ability. Having used a router and dovetail jig, It was amazing to sit on the front row and watch Frank Klaus hand cut dovetails faster than I could set up my jig. Roy Underhill showed us how to cut tennons by hand and was very entertaining in the process. Chris Schwarz, in iron man fashion, stood on his feet and educated us on hand planes from 8 AM to 1 PM on Sunday. I took a new Anant #7 with me to show him, and Chris, in a nice way, informed me just how poor a tool decision I had made. In fact, in the class, he was also quick to criticize one of Lie-Nielson’s planes to the point of telling us not to buy it, even though they were one of the vendors present at the conference. There wasn’t any “sugarcoating” here.
The staff’s thinking is to hold the Conference in Covington KY again next year at about the same time. Schwarz is already thinking about adding additional tours. He likes to keep the conference at around 500 attendees, so if you are contemplating attending, signing up early will be a good idea.
-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"