At the beginning of October I made the trip to Cincinnati/Covington to check out the Woodworking in America conference. This was my first time to a WIA and I just went to check out the marketplace and see what was going on, I wasn't a formal attendee. Anyway, if anyone out there is wondering whether it is worth the trip just to attend the marketplace my answer would be a resounding: Yes!
If I had to choose one thing about the experience that stood out for me was the opportunity to use some of the tools that I've only seen on line. And having the tool maker there to show you exactly how to use it is a great opportunity.
I had three individual experiences that I thought made the trip extremely worthwhile. First was a stop at the booth of Matt Bickford, maker of molding planes. Matt gave me an opportunity to make a molding with his planes and some pointers on technique. While I already own a half set of hollow and round planes it was great to spend some time with someone who really knows what they are doing. Now I'm really looking forward to the release of Matt's book on making moldings from Lost Art Press.
Next I spent some time at the Tools for Working Wood booth where I was excited about getting a chance to use their Gramercy Tools bow saw. I've been looking forward to trying one for years to see if it was something that I want to add to my shop. After a quick demo of technique from Tim of TFWW I was left to try it out on my own. The agility of the saw and the quick cutting definitely make it a go to for larger work. I would have never believed how easy it is to cut a curved line and keep square to the face had I not had the opportunity to try it and its definitely on my wish list.
Third was at the Old Street tool booth where Don McConnell took the time to chat and demonstrate to me some of the Old Street bench planes, in particular the coffin smoother. I had never had the opportunity to use an all wooden bodied bench plane before and after some demonstration from Don and a little practice I was getting some smoothing done. Definitively an eye opener to a different style of plane. Don was also kind enough to take the time to talk with me about some issues I've been having with the rabbet plane I made and suggest some solutions.
Add to all of that some live presentations by Roy Underhill, and Peter Follansbee, participating in the Hand Tool Olympics rip, joint, and dovetail events, the mobile version of the Sindelar Tool Museum, vintage tools from Patrick at the Superior Works and the fun of just meeting and talking with people about the many ways to enjoy working with wood.
I know I'm looking forward trying to be an attendee next year.