Greetings from the road

The show season is in full swing. Last weekend was the show in Baltimore, Maryland and this weekend I’m in Columbus, Ohio.

For those who couldn’t make it to the two shows, I thought I’d post a few pics and comments so you can feel like you got to attend.

This year in Baltimore, the booth was bigger than ever. That was a good thing because it matched the crowd. The show opened on Friday January 8th with quite a large number of folks in attendance. There were a couple less vendors at the show but this was due to the fact that the promoter was simultaneously running a show in Springfield, MA. Some folks, like me, had to choose one show or the other to attend. As I said, the crowd was good.

Again this show season I’m teaching folks how to cut dovetails by hand. All of this is in advance of the new DVD I have coming out in the next week or so called Dovetailing Apprenticeship.

I gave multiple demonstrations of my method of cutting dovetails each day of the show. At the end of each demonstration, I try to coax a member of the crowd into giving it a try. As usual, the Baltimore crowd did not disappoint. We had a few step up to the bench and give it a shot.

 The thing I enjoy the most about the demonstrations is when someone steps up who either has never cut dovetails before or they’ve tried and are certain they’ll never get it. Once they run through my method of cutting dovetails, they realize it really isn’t that hard.

Usually the victims…err volunteers, fall into that category. It’s great fun seeing them worry their dovetails throughout the process only to finish with a nice, tight set of well cut dovetails.

On Saturday night in Baltimore, I met up with a couple of students from the school and we trekked over to the Pioneer Pub for some dinner. We sat down near the fireplace and had a few great meals and some good drinks. We talked woodworking and watched as the Eagles took a powder against the Cowboys. That’s another of the great perks of travelling to the shows: I get to hang out with some really great folks outside a shop setting. Thanks to Paul and Dave for keeping me out of trouble on a Saturday night in Baltimore. I probably would have just ended up at the Towson Diner with the rest of the vendors who watched as Robert Jevons (the famous shelf-bracket maker…actually he makes some very cool squares that happen to look like shelf brackets) as the waitress joined in a practical joke. Next time you’re at a show and see Bob, just ask him how he likes the pork chops at the Towson Diner.

After Baltimore I headed out to Ohio for the Columbus show. Again, I had a large booth and it was a good thing I did because the crowd was huge! Unlike most shows, my booth in Columbus was an island (no backdrapes). It made for a very different looking booth. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

As I said before, my demo at the shows this year is the same as last: handcut dovetails. The Ohio crowd is a bit more shy than the Maryland crowd in that it’s hard to get volunteers to step around the bench and give dovetailing a try. Oh, the Ohio folk have no trouble watching me cut dovetails (I think I did the demo 10 times in a row on Friday before I got my first break). Once I started getting them to step around the bench, there was no holding back.

My first volunteer wasn’t actually a woodworker. This young lady came to the show at the prodding of what appeared to be her boyfriend or brother and an older gentleman. They three of them wandered up to the bench just as the crowd had dissipated from a demonstration. Without hesitation the young lady asked if I was cutting dovetails by hand. When I told her I was, she responded “I think that would be really cool to learn how to do that.” Naturally, I obliged.

I dived into the demo and then she embarked on her very first woodworking adventure. As you can see from the photos, she enjoyed it thoroughly. She even cut an extremely respectible set of dovetails.

This young lady set off an avalanche of volunteers. Once the crowd saw her enthusiasm, they began volunteering to give it a try regularly.  We had a young man of 15 1/2 give it a try. There were some older folks too but I started having camera troubles so my photos are a little thin. We even had a young man of 12 years old give it a try. All who tried ended up with very respectable sets of dovetails.

Throughout the weekend several of my friends from Lumberjocks showed up. We talked about projects they were working on and some of the other jocks we mutually know. If you aren’t familiar with Lumberjocks, you should head over to the website and check it out. It’s a great community of woodworkers.

On Sunday I got a visit from yet another Lumberjock. This one, however, had to travel pretty far to come to the show. Her name is Naomi and she lives in Jerusalem, Israel. Her mother thinks she came home to Ohio just to visit her family but I have a feeling it was so she could really learn how to cut dovetails.  

And dovetail she did. She came at the very beginning of the show and watched my demo. After that, she wandered the show and spent most of her time at the pen turning booth. As the show was nearing an end, Naomi came back to talk briefly. During the conversation she mentioned that she had only tried cutting dovetails once before and they weren’t very good. Naturally, I took the challenge. I ran through a set of dovetails with her. Given the short time remaining in the show (less than 20 minutes before the show closed on Sunday) Naomi turned out an exceptional set of dovetails. She had a smile on her face the entire time. It was great meeting Naomi and all the Lumberjocks this past weekend. Woodworkers are by far the nicest people in the world.

Now I have a short break before I head off to the Atlanta show. I’ll try to post some updates from the show. If I get the chance to wander the show, I might even give a review of some of the coolest products I find (yeah right, Jevons…dream on). I’ll drag along my little video camera and try to grab an interview or two while I’m there as well.

I want to thank my friends Glen Huey and Dave Griessman for trekking up to the show on Saturday for a visit. We ran downtown to a very cool brew pub (Barley’s Brew House) for dinner. Unfortunately, they’re unable to keep me out of trouble. I’m the one who tries to keep them from getting in too deep. We had a great time, great food and some great fellowship. Thanks guys, you’re the best.

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7 thoughts on “Greetings from the road

  1. SWEET!!!

  2. It’s awesome to see so many young people at the show. You may have been the catalyst that gets them started in woodworking. That’s my buddy, Naomi, who visited your booth. Glad to see you got to spend some time with her–she’s a great gal. And now I get to rib her about having her photo on your blog. Sweet.

  3. Looks like you had a lot of fun Chuck. I’m bummed that I ended up out of town for that weekend as I had planned on going. I would have made sure you got in trouble in Baltimore. I’m still cranking out dovetails thanks to your tutelage.

  4. Matt,

    It is that…sweet. So, when are you trekking up to visit?


    Naomi and I corresponded a bit on Lumberjocks about a project she has in mind. When she told me she was coming to the show, I was astounded. It was great meeting her and her mother and brother at the show. She’s an extremely nice person with an immense curiosity for woodworking. The final picture was taken about 15 minutes AFTER the show closed and immediately before the security guard sauntered up to prod her and her family into vacating the premises. We had a lot of fun and she really did cut an excellent set of dovetails.

    Now, Mr. Clippinger, if Naomi can come all the way from Jerusalem to see me how come you can’t make it from Montana?


    Glad to hear you’re still dovetailing. My DVD is done and at the production company. I was hoping they’d be ready this week but it looks like I’ll be picking them up early next week (before I leave for Atlanta). As to making sure I got into trouble in Baltimore, I’m sure I can handle that on my own but you’d be most welcome to join in the fun. Actually, had you made it to the show, you would have been more than welcome to join us for dinner.

    I had my new booth banner for the Columbus show. When Glen and Dave walked in, the first thing they saw was your shining face. Yep, you and your fellow dowel makers made the banner. Now, don’t you feel special?

  5. Chuck–it was great seeing you in Columbus! Once again, more proof that woodworkers are the nicest ppl ever! Thanks again for the overtime dovetail lesson. Kari–you slay me! And between you and Chuck i feel like i’m getting a living eulogy–thanks, guys! I hope to post my version of the story on my blog soon (basically, i totally stalked Chuck, and he’s being really polite about it!). Todd–no pressure to visit Chuck 😉

  6. Chuck – When you put it that way I guess I really don’t have an excuse!

    You guys made me quite jealous and wishing that I was working back in Ohio.

    It would be great to meet you someday.

  7. Chuck,

    Saturday night was alot of fun but next time we have to make sure Huey doesn’t order up anymore sauerkraut balls. They didn’t taste bad but they were far from good! 🙂


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