There’s no business…

If you read my earlier post about the WoodWorks Event at York, PA you already know that the show season has kicked into high gear for us. This past weekend was the WoodWorks Event in Novi, Michigan. And what a great event it was!




The show began for me without too much difficulty. The only problem I incurred the entire weekend was the inability to add my photos from the show to my blog posts (I wanted to do some live posts from the show and my blog admin software wasn’t cooperating when it came to the photos).

For those who think that being part of a woodworking trade/retail show is all glitz and glamour, I have some news for you. It’s a lot of work for the promoter, the presenters and the vendors just to get ready to trek off to a venue near you. Once we arrive, the fun really begins. For most vendors set up day looks something like this.

But wait, there’s more…  Most of the vendors have massive inventories to unpack. Fortunately for me, I have mostly pieces of furniture and a few booth enhancing informational elements to put out (that’s brochures for those who aren’t politically correct). I can usually get set up and squared away in about an hour. Some of the other vendors, however, spend the better part of two days setting up. Geoff Noden of Adjust-a-bench fame spends hours and hours assembling benches for display and for use by other exhibitors and presenters.

In the end, all the presenters and vendors I talked to thought the show was well worth the effort. Even though Michigan’s economy is heavily dependent on the auto manufacturing industry, I thought the show was well attended. Most of the vendors I spoke with said they were pleased with their sales.

All the presenters I spoke with seemed to enjoy the crowd. My seminars were filled with enthusiastic woodworkers. I really enjoyed meeting the folks from Michigan. I’ve said it before, woodworkers are the best folks in the world. My class participants took to my offbeat sense of humor right away (not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing from their perspective) and they profess to have learned a whole lot.

In addition to the seminars there were lots of hand-on demonstrations happening on the show floor. Matthew Hill had a full house as he showed them how to turn a bowl. One Way lathes had a booth at the show and were kind enough to let Matthew use one of their awesome lathes for his demonstrations. Matthew is a terrific turner. If you ever have the opportunity to take a class with him, you should take it without hesitation.

Another tremendous woodworker I met at the show was Bill Hull who was doing classes on veneering. If any of my pictures of Bill had turned out beyond being so fuzzy he looked like Frank Klausz, I’d have posted them here. Here’s another instance where, if you have an interest in veneering and have the opportunity to take a class with Bill, jump at it as fast as you can.

And speaking of Frank Klausz, his demonstrations filled his booth to capacity and then some. Frank spent the weekend doing continual demonstrations and teaching several seminars. Some of the folks who were participants in his seminars also took mine and commented on how much they learned from Frank. He is truly a master and a great person to be around. I’ve found him to be very friendly and quite humorous. Having been one of my childhood idols, I’m very happy to have gotten to know him even if just a little over the last year.

The demonstrations were not limited to the “official” demonstration booths. As typical with a WoodWorks event, many of the vendors took it upon themselves to help educate the public. Sure, you get the folks who are merely demonstrating their products but then you also get folks like Lyle Jamieson and Bill Bush who are running free mini-seminars right out of their booth. It’s great to see others educating folks from their booths much like I try to do from mine. And that brings me to my opening picture. My only complaint about the folks from Michigan was their timidness. After demonstrating hand cut dovetails numerous times and drawing a constant crowd of nearly two dozen people, I had a hard time getting some of them to step up and try cutting a set for themselves. The woodworkers in Michigan are friendly and attentive but they are a bit shy. Amid a crowd of twenty or so stood a young lady who showed them all that there’s no harm in trying.

After trying for a bit to get someone to step forward out of the crowd, I turned to find eleven year old Riley looking over my shoulder to see how my dovetails turned out. Naturally I asked if she’d like to give it a try. While she hesitated at first, she looked up at her father who nodded and she jumped right in. During the time she spent cutting her first set of dovetails ever, I found out that she isn’t really even a woodworker. Sure, she’s helped her father on occasion with a project or two but she had done very little in the way of sawing or chiseling. As you can see from the enlarged close-up, she shows a lot of promise. For me, this is the best reward for all my efforts to get to, set up and do a show. I truly enjoy seeing people learn and achieve something they thought was beyond their ability.

WoodWorks Events are limited in number. This season there are only three (two of which are now part of history). If you’re looking for a show where you get lots of fast talking sales folks and cheap imported woodworking tools, this is the wrong venue. If you’re looking for a different experience, one that’s geared towards more personal growth, this is the show for you. If you’re within a day’s drive of West Springfield, Massachusetts make sure you take the trek on January 9th, 10th and/or 11th to the Eastern States Exposition Center and check it out. You may, or may not, go home with a car load of stuff but if you go home with an empty head it’s your own fault. I came home from Michigan psyched to try some new techniques I saw demonstrated at the show. I’ll bet you will too. Take a tip from Riley, just try it. What do you have to lose?


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