Woodworking in America 2009
An Eye-Opening Experience
I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect of the event when I arrived, but as the weekend went on, one thing became clear to me; I am nowhere near alone with my passion for woodworking. In fact, attending an event like this one provides each of the attendees with a confirmation of what we already know. Crafting something with our hands in wood is a truly organic and gratifying creative experience. Sharing those experiences and perspectives with others who truly understand what drives us, is exactly the point of an event like Woodworking in America. Granted, I know that woodworking is a niche craft, perhaps not as prevalent as knitting, scrapping or painting. But what separates our craft from others is that the product of our labors invites people to touch, sit on and enjoy first-hand, what we spend sometimes hundreds of hours on in a cold, quiet workshop. Most of what we build, if done correctly will be passed on to our grandchildren’s children, showing only the visible marks of use. If designed properly, it will endure the passing fads of what is considered “In” design, and always have a place among eclectic, yet purposefully chosen furniture that populates our homes.
A Woodworker’s Bad Dream
When I spoke briefly with Thomas Moser during a book signing, I asked him what kept him up at night. While I expected him to say something along the lines of “staying in business” or “staying relevant with design”, I was surprised with his answer:
“I have a reoccurring dream that all of my furniture (in all the homes it occupies) will simultaneously come unglued or de-laminate.”
Perhaps he was humoring me because he knew I was connected with Gorilla Glue, but I have to admit, it was pretty funny, and unrealistic. Granted most PVA or Polyurethane glues don’t have the history of hide glues, but I think Mr. Moser’s creations are safe. I did remind him that his furniture did have a lifetime warranty for any issues like that, so his customers need not worry. I’m not sure if his repairs department would have felt the same way. 😉
Even though this was only my second woodworking event, I felt like people recognized me from the first event I attended in Cincinnati a few months ago with Lie-Nielsen and Popular Woodworking. Angie and Deneb are always willing to share some great tips on tools use and sharpening, regardless of purchasing anything. Ron Brese of Brese Plane is happy to let people enjoy his work, incredibly precise and beautiful high-end hand planes. Someday, I’ll find an excuse to buy one, Ron. Ryan Messier of Prazi USA Tools (and a student at the North Bennet Street School) was a guy who had a passion for talking shop just like me, and was great company for dinner one night we were there. Seeing Jeff Miller (my woodworking mentor) after about a year or so was great too. He seemed to know just about everyone there, which only reinforced the notion of the woodworking community being a pretty tight-knit group of folks.
A Big Surprise
About a week ago, I was also notified that my name was pulled out of a hat at the conclusion of the event by the folks at the booth for the Dale Barnard School of Woodworking. I hope to take advantage of this great opportunity to learn a totally different style of woodworking and design from a true master of Greene and Greene and Art Deco furniture. I’m thinking sometime in early-mid 2010. It was definitely worth the trip!