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.