This year was my first Woodworking In America, and I thought I would share a few thoughts with everyone. I went as a volunteer this year to run a camera for Ron Herman’s first two sessions classes, which worked out good for me because that as two of the classes I wanted to attend. The classes was combination planes and shooting boards. both subject Ron is very knowledgeable in. I had some technical problems like when I first got in the class room there was no camera and when I went out to see if I could find out where I could get one someone just drop a camera off back in the class without even giving me a few minutes of instruction in the operation of the camera or telling me if they wanted me to record the class. so I got everything working and faked it until I made it, all the while trying my best to to stay out of Ron’s way and using the camera when it was needed. I wish there would of been more chance for hands on, but I can see where the amount of people who attend and time we had how it would be a problem.
The classes where interesting and informative, but they where short and kind of like a condense lecture that went over mostly material that we have gotten from the magazines over the years. Now I am not saying they wasn’t interesting and they there wasn’t nothing to learn, because that not true it’s just there was small nuggets of information about lots of different things to learn there. If you where going to just learn something like say, how to improve cutting dovetails while you might get some great tips I think you would come away disappointed overall and would better off spending your money on a class at Chuck Benders school. Now if you when there wanting expand your ideas about woodworking in general, and meet some great guys, see wonderful tools and have just a fun filled weekend talking, eating, and drinking woodworking, then you surly won’t be disappointed as I wasn’t.
Like I said the classes where interesting and informative, but the market place was where all the action was. there where some wonderful tools that honestly as a tradesman I could never afford to own, but they where fun to play with. The toolmaker where great to talk and are a wealth of information. There was a mix of power tools and hand tools I even saw some air nailers and the neatest air brush by Grex. Getting a chance to talk to guys like Chris Wong who makes top escapement hollow and round planes, and Shannon at the Hand Tool School, and of course the guys at Lee Valley was a treat for me and my wife.
The hand tool Olympics had to be funniest spot on the floor, the guys and girls that works that event not only are friendly and helpful they have a great sense of humor. I really have to say I haven laugh as much that weekend as I did standing around ribbing the other bloggers as they cut their dovetails. I even stepped up and cut the first hand cut dovetail I have cut in twenty five years, and to be honest I have been rethinking using my router and start cutting them by hand. maybe? but the point is if I wouldn’t of tried them there I would even be considering it now.
The best thing about Woodworking In America for me was the people. This was the first time I have had a chance to meet most of the bloggers that I talk to on google, twitter or face-book and read their blog’s everday. I had a chance to meet and talk face to face with these guy, to laugh and drink with them, and now I feel like I made some friends that will last a life time even if I never see them again in person.
Will I go back? well I all ready started a coin jar and I’m saving for WIA12, and even if I don’t get to go back as a volunteer I will find a way to get there somehow.