Monday, March 29, 2010

Northeast Woodworkers Show

So, many of you from the chat knew a few of us were meeting up in Saratoga NY for the Northeast Woodworkers show. I picked up Charger in the morning and we headed up together. Meeting up with everyone else proved to be easier than I thought. Despite arriving a little late which was complicated by a lack of parking, we got in to the first Chris Schwarz demo just after it started. Who was sitting in a few rows from the back? Mystyk. Bingo - one down, a few more to go. A couple of phone calls later and Gotham showed up in the demo. In the lobby after the demo, we met up with Dannyboy. Go figure...

So, my critique of the show. Thank God for the Schwarz. I went to 4 demos, 2 by Chris and two others by what turned out to be rank amateurs. I'll give it up to the guys in being able to stand up in front of a small crowd and show a slide presentation. that was about it. The guy doing the marquetry demo seemed to know what he was talking about, but spent more time talking about other artists and their work. he did offer some structure to his lecture, but 5 minutes of online research could have gotten you that info. The guy doing the guitar building demo was worse. Very little structure to his lecture, and it was clear he's only built one guitar and knows little about it. Granted, I've never built one but I've played for 30 years and am pretty versed on how the process is done. I guess my disappointment was mainly because I had some real questions about some details that he had no clue about. Something as simple as the effect of scale length on the bracing or tap tuning the soundboard. Oh well...

Chris Schwarz's presentations were much better. His first about joinery planes was very good, but still a bit rudimentary. At least it had structure, and it was a pretty complete review of joinery planes. His second seminar on workbench evolution was quite entertaining. He's an excellent speaker and laid out the info well. In hind sight, I wish I skipped the joinery plane demo and went to see Phil Lowe carving a ball and claw foot, but how could I miss the only demo on planes - I'd never live it down.

The vendors were OK, but most of us agreed that there were few deals to be had and we felt little desire to buy anything. That was very strange. I did come across a couple of antique tool dealers, but no transitional planes that I have been looking for. One of them had too many Norris planes - it was overwhelming. I heard angels singing as I picked up an A4, only to hear the same angels cough at the $375 price tag. I know - not bad, considering, but still. This was my first time fondling a Norris, and frankly it didn't feel heavier or better quality than most of my iron planes. Back on the shelf. The same vendor had an old, funky Stanley #72 chamfer plane - pretty cool and the first time I saw one of those in person as well. Lots of back saws, levels, shoulder planes, plenty of semi rarities and such.

The exhibits were nice. there were some amazing work, some stuff that didn't excite, and one guy that obviously needed to get laid based on his sculptures. But the major disappointment was that we really didn't get to spend much time with each other. I would've gladly given up a couple of demos for a long lunch and hang out with everyone. The show was over before we knew it, and Lance and I grabbed a late lunch on the way home. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday, just wish I had more time.

And, ironically, I had good weather on the ride home for the second time.

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