Saturday, 13 September 2014
Woodworking in America Show.
So here it was, the grand show, after months of internet hype we turned the corner and expected to see them queuing down the road to get in. No queues, were we in the right place?
We saw the WIA sign and downstairs we went, straight up to the counter, paid our entrance fee and in we went. What a surprise, the show was not very big, just 60 stands.
After I'd recovered and we started going round things got a lot better.
Above is a picture of the JDS Multi Router, a fine piece of kit, solid as a rock and built beautifully. With the multiple adjustments it would suit chair makers, particularly for small runs. At $2,695 it's not cheap and that doesn't include the stand and you have to supply your own router!
Below is the amazing results achievable with the Epilogue laser machine. Not really appropriate for your average woodworker with prices starting at $8,000 rising to $40,000.
Now this is much more like it, old fashioned fine quality branding irons. Available in manual from £75 through to electric heated from $235. Rick used to cut the designs by hand but now uses CNC which is a lot faster. They are best used in a drill press or fly press if you have one and the results were very good. They also have a charm that no laser cutter could match, I will be investing in one of these.
Next up was an unusual little sander called the Sand Flee. It is a very solid machine with a single rotating drum peeping through a flat aluminum table. It is really only designed for smaller work like box making but made very quick work of cleaning up the sides of dovetailed boxes. The work needs to be passed over the drum at a fairly even speed to get a consistently flat finish and the protrusion of the drum can be adjusted by altering the table height. It cost around $650 (from memory) and for the right type of woodworker I could see a great benefit.
Below is the Noden Adjust A Bench which I'd seen adverts for in the woodworking magazines. It was easy to use and felt very solid. For me I do a lot of work seated at my bench and I find an adjustable stool far quicker than an adjustable bench! However as a second bench I could see a lot of merit especially for glue ups with a height range of 28 to 45 ". The standard price of $430 for the end frames seems reasonable with $160 extra for the heavy duty castors. Another extra is a pair of brackets which allow one of the rails to be replaced by brackets to allow you to sit at the bench, glad to see I'm not the only one who works like this!
There was a hefty slice of tool porn at the Blue Spruce stand. I got all but one of the woods and even Dave Jeske didn't know what the last one (second left) was as this was a customer special. The standard of workmanship was faultless and they are lovely chisels to use especially for dovetailing.
Here's a sneak preview of a forthcoming knife design following the sloyd style.
The fit in the hand was very nice and I can see one of these coming my way when they are released.
Fellow planemaker Scott Meeks had a good selection of planes on display and set up for customers to try. They felt very comfortable and with nicely sharpened Hock blades, worked very well. It was good to see he has moved from round cross pins to flat bottomed ones which will hold the blade much more securely.
Mark Hicks from plate11.com has been making these benches for a couple of years now and does a fine job. After introducing myself, he said 'I'm making your bench for Hand Works!' which was a very pleasant surprise. I had asked if I could borrow a bench to demonstarte on, I didn't think it would be that grand.
The hardware is from Bench Crafted and works like a dream. This was the first time I had a chance to try both the new double lead screw as well as the criss cross clamping mechanism, they are both superb. The ship wheel handle also works very well and I don't see how this vice could get any better or easier to use, except maybe with a remote controlled motor (oppps that's let the cat out of the bag!)
The very graceful looking tool below is a travisher made by Claire Minihan which worked as nicely as it looks.
It's great to see a female woodworker and tool maker in such a male dominated field and especially one so young. She used the tool skillfully and quickly. I find the most useful tools come from users rather than designers.
And lastly some pictures from the Brian Boggs stand. Perhaps a surprise to see a woodworker selling his wares at a woodworking show and yet apparently 20% of his sales come from fellow woodworkers. I own one of his chairs which is daily use in my office.
The chair below is new and has an elongated back with a very striking black and white weave, very nice.
My son relaxing in one of his outdoor rockers. When you see the quality, comfort and price tag of these chairs I'd be very reluctant to leave it outside!
the curvacious bench was another beauty and the chair on the right was designed for guitar playing. When you sat in it the curves just hugged you. Brian is a man who has spent decades perfecting his craft and it shows.
My son spotted a knife show was also being held this weekend so we will be back tomorrow, he'll be upstairs and I'll be down, there's a few stands I haven't got to see properly. The show may be small but it's well worth a visit.