That’s right! You read correctly!
I attended Woodworking in America 2013 this past weekend. This was my second WIA. It’s been a few years, but I have to say I thought perhaps things had changed since I last attended. But no, same as before.
Allow me to explain.
I started Friday off by attending a class called Timber! by Roy Underhill. Roy had an 8’x 24″ log that he turned into a square beam right in front of our eyes. While he did break a sweat, he was able to keep up his classic witty repartee. Naturally he used nothing but hand tools: an axe, an adze, a froe and a mallet. Who owns these tools?? Roy used his regular “camera tricks” to make it look easy and to make matters worse he make it look like sooo much fun!
Next attended Peter Follansbee‘s class on carving wooden spoons. Boy, again with a guy who can split a log with his froe and carve up a spectacular utensil in no time, all while telling amusing antidotes and make it look so easy that apparently even I could do it. Don’t be fooled though, Peter “cheats” and uses green wood. Oh sure, green is easy, Peter! I’ve been struggling a lifetime with hard, dry wood, not to mention dull tools. Oh, and if I had a hand made knife made from forged steel and made my own handles I bet I could make it look that easy too.
I needed a break and headed down to the marketplace. They really needed to trim down the number of vendors! Who has the time to spend with all these amazing toolmakers? Not to mention the amount of woodworkers roaming the floor? You can hardly move one booth without running into someone and spending thirty minutes in chatting about tools wood or just sharing a laugh. Who has time for this?
I spent the end of the day at an online forum of bloggers, the people who keep me entertained with woodworking content throughout the year. Sure it sounds great to put a face to a screen name or an avatar, but its entirely another thing to spend three nights swapping stories and sharing libations late into the night.
Saturday morning I popped around to several classes, unable to make up which one I wanted to attend and then spent the afternoon with Chair Maker Peter Galbert in his class “A Windsor Chair, From Log to Living Room”. I have to say, I feel a little sorry for Peter. He spent the entire afternoon giving away all his secrets of how he builds his beautiful windsor chairs. Step by step, he demonstrated how he uses his froe, splitting a log, shaping and steaming it into the arms, creating the seat and the spindles, even his tricks for alignment and assembly. Another one who made the building process seem fun and attainable. Peter- pretty soon everybody will be building Windsor Chairs!!
So what’s my beef with Woodworking in America? I left Sunday with a rush of enthusiasm that I could hand hewn enough logs to build a barn, carve a kitchen full of spoons and fill my house with Windsor chairs. Of course, in order to do that I am going to need a lot of new tools! Oye.
As if that weren’t enough I had intended to take a nap and catch up on episodes of Dexter on my plane ride home. Instead I found myself reading “Home Building and Woodworking in Colonial America” cover to cover (I picked it up while chatting with Joel from Tools for Working Wood).
Now do you see my problem?
I guess my biggest problem with Woodworking in America is I need to wait a whole year for WIA14!
Christopher, great to meet you in person as well as so many fellow attendees, tookmakers and teachers. I do believe I spent more than $12 in the marketplace. Then I get home, watch a few videos of fellow travelers and with just a few clicks I’ve spent more. Keeping the UPS and FedX drivers in business since 2006. See you next year.
Interesting comment about the online ‘gurus’…might be worth looking at those of us in Europe as well who make a bit of sawdust (myself included) You’ll probably find that we on the other side of the pond have a slightly different ‘take’ to woodworkers in the US which you might find refreshing.
I couldn’t agree more. I’d love to find that rusty bunch of tools for that cheap around here. Maybe I need to look a little harder. Great read. Can’t wait to see you in ’14.