My problem with Woodworking in America!!

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!

Roy

Roy

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.

Peter

Peter

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.

The gurus of the online woodworking community.

The gurus of the online woodworking community.

BeerSaturday 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!!

Peter

Peter

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!

The "new" tools I picked up at a tag sale this morning for $12.

The “new” tools I picked up at a tag sale this morning for $12.

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These are the people in my neighborhood…..

The Austerlitz Woodworker’s Show came as all things do, very quickly. My shop was quite full and quite active.  You remember I had an offer by an 8 and an 11 year old to ‘help’?  Well who could turn down help like that?  Their enthusiasm alone filled the shop.  I put my work aside and with the help of their mother, worked on turning pens and ice cream scoops!  What could be better?  I was able to put the finishing touches on the console table and build an ipad stand to display my work, I tried to squeeze in time to finish the shaker table but that just wasn’t going to happen.  I took a deep breath and said to myself “it’s all good, do what you can.  This is my hobby and I have to enjoy it.  No pressure!”  The rest of the day was fantastic, as my son and daughter taught us a thing or two about turning!

Austerlitz is very fortunate to have a thriving Historical Society which owns a 20 acre parcel of land that is the home of the Old Austerlitz Village. The village is a “living history museum of post-and-beam houses, a granary, a blacksmith shop, a one-room schoolhouse, a Christian Church and other historic buildings.”   The latest is a newly restored barn, which was raised just in time to host the show.

The ‘new’ barn.

Clark Olsen’s amazing screen and chair

I loaded in the morning of the show and but wasn’t able to fit into the barn.  So instead I shared the granary next to the barn with master craftsman Clark Olsen.

 

 

 

 

This town certainly houses some impressive talent!  The show consisted of 11 professional woodworkers and four hobbyists, all extraordinary in their own way.  The variety alone was was impressive, running the gamut from cabinetry, marquetry, classic shaker, windsor chairs, toys, furniture, even whirligigs.  Something for everyone!

Falling Water work by John Dunne

John Porritt taught me a thing or two about Windsor Chairs

I got an introductory lesson in marquetry from Herb Cook.

Clark Olsen’s Music Stand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best part of any woodworking show is the camaraderie.   Woodworkers are the kindest, most giving folk you will ever find.  That has never more true than in Austerlitz.

What’s a show without whirligigs!!!

The Lighthearted Woodworker….

It was an terrific day. Very inspiring.  I met so many great and talented people, not only fellow woodworkers, but people from this amazing community.  I wish I had taken more photos and had time to chat with more people, but you can only squeeze so much into one day.

I wanted to mention all that attended and really extend my thanks for welcoming me and for your generosity.

The Woodworkers of Austerlitz: Jeffrey All, Reggie Brantner, Herb Cook, John Dunne, Randy Ezinga, Tim Hawley, Dick Light, Scott Mesick, Chris Landy, Clark Olsen, Brian Polhemus, John Porritt, Howard Reznikoff, Steve Somlo and Michael Walters.

Max and Samantha manning the booth.

I would be remiss if i did not point out that not only did Max and Samantha hold down the fort while Daddy was off being social.  They also sold all of their turned bottle stops!!

The Austerlitz Woodworker’s Show

Several weeks ago I got a message on my machine by a gentleman by the name of Howard.  He asked if I was indeed a woodworker and would like to participate in a woodworking day in town of Austerlitz.  Austerlitz is a small community, there are only about 500 households and approximately 1200 people.  But as it turns out our town hosts over 18 woodworkers, at least that was the number Howard was able to track down!  Around 12 pro’s and 6 hobbyists.  Why so many in this town?  Are there others??

I was very excited by Howard’s call, I called him right back and said I would love to participate.  He gave me a brief outline and asked me what I would like to bring.  I guess I didn’t quite understand what he meant when he said an Austerlitz woodworker’s day.  You see, I thought it was going to be a gathering of woodworkers to discuss and share ideas on our favorite subject. You know, a local guild.  Then it occurred to me.  This was a woodworking SHOW.  I was expected to bring pieces of my work to display!!  Panic set in!  I had never shown anyone but family and close friends (and you folks) my work.  What did I have to show??

Then I took a breath and did an inventory of things I built and was proud of.  My cradle, an end table, a console table, an unfinished guild build shaker table, a few boxes.  Hmm, maybe I do have enough to show.  I’m not a pro, and I have nothing to be ashamed of.   My excitement returned.  My first woodworker show!! And where better than a mile from my house!

Now the self induced pressure was on. You see my wife and I are cursed with being over zealous and taking on too much.  We tend to put undo pressure on ourselves and squeeze all we can into a day, and our life. Preparing for this was no different.  As all ‘weekend woodworkers’ know there is never enough shop time.

Luckily, I have two children who heard the battle cry and came running!  Max and Samantha were very excited to help on “Daddy’s show”!  “We can turn pens for you to sell!” they happily declared.  How awesome is that?   So I had a promise of some finely turned items.

I now had to gather and put the finishing touches on the pieces I had.  The twin cradle I built was no longer being used by the 10-month-old boys, so we just had to fetch that from New Hampshire.  A console table I had in the basement needed a final sanding and a finish.  My Greene and Greene table was finished and just had to be retrieve from our apartment in Brooklyn.  The biggest item I had unfinished was a shaker table that I had started through the Wood Whisperer guild build.  I had everything but the top and the drawer complete.  Not much, but time was a tickin’….