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Woodworking in America conference - report

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Forum topic by 8iowa posted 1289 days ago 1705 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8iowa

1489 posts in 2259 days


1289 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"


11 replies so far

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

3395 posts in 2232 days


#1 posted 1289 days ago

forgive me for asking, but what is the purpose of this symposium? Is it to promote the hobby, detect trends, generate customer leads, instructional seminars, or maybe all of the above? Who would most benefit from attending? It sounds interesting; please tell us more!

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View hObOmOnk's profile

hObOmOnk

1380 posts in 2625 days


#2 posted 1289 days ago

You’ve got my vote to hold WIA next year in Covington again.
I a great time was had by all.
My studio is just 25 miles South of the venue and I’ve got stuff in local galleries.

-- 温故知新

View 8iowa's profile

8iowa

1489 posts in 2259 days


#3 posted 1289 days ago

The instructional classes are the heart of the conference, and they bring in top talent to teach. There is a lot of “hands on” and the ability to mingle with the instructors for individual questions. I would say that the conference is more oriented to the hobbiest or the professional who is not involved in industrial/production type woodworking.

Popular Woodworking still has the WIA site; check it out; http://www.woodworkinginamerica.com/register/

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

3395 posts in 2232 days


#4 posted 1289 days ago

Thanks, 8iowa! I’ll check out the link! Thanks for sharing. The hobby needs more mentoring.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View KayBee's profile

KayBee

980 posts in 1744 days


#5 posted 1289 days ago

Okay, you got me.. Which LN plane did the Schwarz tell you not to buy? I thought everything they made was ‘gold’. lol

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

View 8iowa's profile

8iowa

1489 posts in 2259 days


#6 posted 1289 days ago

KayBee:

While certainly not questioning the quality of the plane, Swartz has no use for the wide body #4 1/2 smoother. He said that it is too hard to push and control and will actually take longer to smooth a surface than the standard #3 or #4 smoother models.

He said this in spite of the fact that the Lie-Nielson representative had been coming in and out of the room all morning. Swartz is the kind of guy who “tells it like it is”. It is refreshing to see a magazine editor like this.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Jon Spelbring's profile

Jon Spelbring

199 posts in 2751 days


#7 posted 1288 days ago

I was at the show as well – great time!

As to Chris, he’s a great resource, but by his own admission, his opinions are just that – his opinions based on his experience and personal preferences. After all, can you really trust a man who uses a #7 jointer instead of the beefier #8? ;-)

Of course, living where I do, I’d like to see the next WIA in the St. Louis area – the Collinsville expo center would be perfect!

I’m glad you had a good time. I learned a lot (still processing).

-- To do is to be

View 8iowa's profile

8iowa

1489 posts in 2259 days


#8 posted 1288 days ago

Jon:

It’s a shame that we didn’t run into each other at the show, or did we? From several statements made by Schwarz, I get the impression that next year’s show will again be in Covington KY. In fact Schwarz is thinking about several new tours in the Cincinnati area.

By-the-way, did you take in the Whitewater Shaker Village tour?

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Shopsmithtom's profile

Shopsmithtom

780 posts in 2693 days


#9 posted 1288 days ago

Thanks for the info. I’m going to have to put this on my next years calendar.

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View acanthuscarver's profile

acanthuscarver

261 posts in 2210 days


#10 posted 1287 days ago

I was in my booth Friday and Saturday looking for Lumberjocks. I saw one fellow wearing a shirt wandering further up the aisle from me but I never got to talk with him. And where were you, Karson? If there’s a number of LJ’s heading to WIA next year, we should plan a Lumberjocks breakfast or something (because breakfast was really the only time I had semi-free this past weekend).

If you’ve never been to a WIA event, it’s definitely worth the effort to get there. Just the quality of the stuff in the market place would be worth the effort but the classes are the real focus (unless you’re like me, a vendor). Top notch power and hand tools skills taught by top notch woodworkers. If you missed some of the free seminars happening in the marketplace, you missed a lot.

-- Chuck Bender, Senior Editor Popular Woodworking Magazine, period furniture maker, woodworking instructor

View hObOmOnk's profile

hObOmOnk

1380 posts in 2625 days


#11 posted 1287 days ago

My studio is just 25 miles south of the venue.
Next year we can clean and paint it as a group project. :)

-- 温故知新

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