Garden State Woodworking

I've been attending The Woodworking Shows annual visit to Somerset, NJ every year since about 2002. Back then it was a fantastic event. I used to attend lectures (Graham Blackburn was particularly entertaining as his lectures never made it past "these are the tools and techniques you need" and into the topic). The vendors used to include companies I love such as Lee Valley and Forrest Saw Blades. Over the years it became less of a "must see" event and more of a way to spend a workday afternoon in a semi-full exhibition hall in New Jersey.

There were actually people this year.
This year, it rebounded in a big way. The lectures are again worth attending, the vendors are worth buying from and there are people attending.

Andy Chidwick of the Chidwick School for Fine Woodworking was the highlight lecturer in my book. I was first introduced to Andy by Todd Clippenger over Twitter a few months ago. From the chat Andy and I had when I first arrived, through the two (2) of his lectures I attended, to the discussion I had with his wife, Sherry, about the future of woodworking shows, it was an absolute pleasure to hang out with and learn from the Chidwicks. If you make it to one of the Woodworking Shows this year, be sure to sit down with Andy.

Andy talks shaping wood.
Of the vendors this year, Lee Valley was of course there (truth be told, they've been one of the only good vendors to stay through the lean years) and I finally broke down and bought a Starrett combination square from them. My new favorite purveyor of fine marking tools was also there: Woodpeckers. If you don't know them, Woodpeckers makes the most beautiful marking & measuring tools out of machined aluminum. Richard Hummel (Woodpecker's President) is as big a nut for machined aluminum as we are for wood and it shows in everything his company turns out. I picked up a 24" T-Square from Woodpecker's that is an absolute thing of beauty.

Andy and me.
The final joy of The Woodworking Shows 2011 was the people. Besides the great time I had with Andy and his family, I also got to meet and talk with Alan Z of the Wood Talk Online Forum and I gave Chuck Bender of the Acanthus Workshop what I hope he saw as a good natured ribbing at the bequest of another well known hand tool instructor.

2011 was a good year for The Woodworking Shows. I hope 2012 is even better. I know I'll be there.

What woodworking shows or events do you go to?