Last weekend I went to Woodworking in America in St. Charles, Illinois. I went with Mike Siemsen, Jim Van Hoven and Jeff Hand to run the hand tool olympics booth. The conference was put on by PopWood. This was the first of two conferences this year, and was the “Furniture Construction and Design” version. Here’s a list of the talks I was able to attend after sneaking away from the booth.
- Brian Boggs – Composing With Wood Grain
- Bob Lang – Arts & Crafts Style: The Unadorned Truth
- Thomas Moser – Artistry In Wood (keynote)
- Jim Tolpin – Measure Twice, Measure Not At All
- George Walker – Unlocking The Secrets Of Tradition Design
- Don Williams – 19th Century Joinery: The Transition From Hand To Power
Those talks were all good. But the coolest stuff was what went on at our booth. It was interesting to see how some people were afraid to try cutting a board and not do it well, and how many others just had a good time with it. It was cool helping so many guys (and one gal) do something they’d never done before.
Even cooler was seeing the approach of some of the pros. Two events stand out. Brian Boggs came in and Mike talked him into cutting a dovetail – something Brian said he’d never done. Mike helped him cut it (and I helped with one bit too!). Brian did a nice job and Mike showed him how to do a couple parts quicker and more accurately. Then Brian checked the time (on his iPhone) and asked if he could cut another one. His enthusiasm to learn to do something new and well was awesome. The other thing was when Jim Tolpin was walking by Sunday morning with his suitcase headed to the airport. Mike harassed him into doing the rip cut. Jim did his cut pretty quickly, but he was playing with the saw while he did it. Looking at his cut later I could see that he was totally zigzagging across the line the whole length of the cut. When he finished he was amazed at how well it cut, and asked Mike why he could steer it so much better than his hand saw at home.
It was cool to get to know the guys too. Jim Van Hoven is US Windsor-making royalty. He has some angle-guide thing named after him at Dunbar’s Windsor school. Mike is one of the smartest, and nicest guys I’ve met. And he’s also a huge smart-ass. He can say the most offensive things to people and make them laugh.
All that, and I managed to stare at the Lie Nielsen booth and walk by the Lee Valley booth dozens of times without buying anything.