I'm going to Woodworking in America this year. It will be my second WIA, and if its half as good as 2013, it will be worth it. But with the list of presenters & topics, I expect it to be better. It's a shame (for me) that the location moved from Cincinnati, OH (5 hours away) to Winston-Salem, NC (12.5 hours away), but I'm going to find away to enjoy the drive nonetheless.
What I'm looking forward to is the following:
- Meeting fellow woodworkers. Last year I met quite a few, and that has fostered a few online woodworker friendships that continued after the event. I hope to do some more of that this time.
- The marketplace. Its the biggest marketplace I've seen for this sort of thing, and the multitude of vendors usually throw in discounts of some sorts. But even better, in most cases you can try out tools and talk to their makers. That's a great opportunity to do some comparison shopping, and to see if that fancy plane is really 2x or 3x better than the one I use in my shop, etc.
- The instruction. I wasn't sure what to expect when I went for the first time last year, but I found I was pleasantly surprised. I was most surprised by the sessions I attended on things that I didn't think I would ever do. I went to one of Mary May's wood carving sessions, and that was really enlightening. I was so inspired, that I purchased a few basic carving tools, and mutilated a piece of oak in her honor. Someday I'll get back to it, and might try a few of her online classes. I also was riveted by watching Peter Follensby's session on 17th century woodworking. The techniques used in riving green/wet oak and assembling a frame and panel box were totally outside the "kiln dried lumber" approach that is most of what I've done so far. So interesting! Even after the session was over, a few of us stayed around and he kept talking, and answering questions. Getting that sort of almost 1 on 1 access was priceless. Other sessions that were great were Don Williams' talk on period finishing (here's his blog post about it, and that's me standing on a chair in the middle of the shot, 2nd photo, attending his talk last year!), showing us both his techniques with shellac, as well as using wax and a polissoir for burnishing and finishing. Great, practical stuff. I also got to see Bob Lang talk about mortises. I've been a fan of Bob Lang's craftsman furniture shop drawings books, and wanted to hear the man speak. It was a really nice session. This year, I'm looking forward to more Don Williams shellac stuff, as well as seeing the legendary dovetail master Frank Klausz do a session. And there are several presenters who I know nothing about, but I'm confident I'll wander in, and learn something, and enjoy it.
If you're going to WIA this year and would like to meet up, drop me an email and we'll make that happen. If you can make it, it's a great event, and a great way to expand and improve your woodworking knowledge and environment. I hope to see you there!