WIA11: We Came, We Saw, We Kicked It's (Bad) Axe!


The marketplace gathered around the Hand Tool Olympics booth.
Well, my friends, another Woodworking in America has come and gone. This was certainly the most frantic and fun WIA I’ve yet attended (it’s my 2nd full WIA and 3rd overall).

Panorama of the party.
The festivities began with the Blogger Community Party. It was an absolute blast. Thanks, Nik for setting it up. For me the party ended a very long day (12 hours of driving to get to Covington) with a very long night. A night that was to set the stage for the entire event.
Charles Brock talks chair joinery.
Friday began with the sun glaring through the hotel window (I had forgotten to close the shades at 3:30 am). Somehow I dragged my butt to a 9:00 am class and I settled in for “The Maloof Leg-to-Seat Joint with Charles Brock”. The class was interesting, and Charles is a nice, considerate southern gentleman. Unfortunately, I’ve already seen this joint demonstrated by Andy Chidwick, and having listened to Shannon Rogers’ interview with Charles Brock during my drive to Cincinnati, I had already heard all the anecdotes.

"Find the hidden drawer."
After Charles Brock, I headed to “Secrete Drawers and Hidden Compartment with Chuck Bender”. Though camera issues frustrated our instructor for the first two thirds of this class, Chuck soldiered on and told us about how it was so boring in the  18th and 19th centuries that secrete compartments were built into furniture in order to play the “find the hidden drawer” game. No matter why they were built in, they provide some very slick hiding methods and this was definitely and interesting class.

"This is how you cut it" says the Hand Tool Headmaster.
By the time I had finished looking for hidden drawers, I was dragging my butt. So I skipped out on the next class and headed to the marketplace. There, the first thing I did was visit the Hand Tool School booth. And based on that visit I can now confirm for you, my dear reader, that Shannon Rogers is in fact, a real person. I touched him and everything.

Matt records Rob making a dovetail joint. No pressure.
After chatting with Shannon and Chris & Garth of Time Warp Tools (with whom Shannon was sharing a booth) I ran into my Penultimate Basement Workbench teamate, Tom Iovino and was blown away by the speed and accuracy with which he had cut his dovetails. Egged on by Tom, I headed to the Hand Tool Olympics booth and cut some wood.

Vic gets a little "illegal coaching" in the Hand Tool Olympics.
After dominating the boring and crosscutting Hand Tool Olympic events, I chatted up Richard Hummel of Woodpecker’s for a while (and bough a new story stick). If you’ve never talked with Richard, or used Woodpecker’s tools, you must. Richard is as passionate about milling aluminum as we are about wood and the tools he turns our are absolutely beautiful.

You MUST take a class with Adam Cherubini
By this point I was dragging my butt, so I went back to the hotel to drop off the story stick and take a shower. When I got back to the convention hall, I ran into Shannon and followed him to “Nailed Furniture of the 18th Century: The Other Traditional Style with Adam Cherubini”.

Following Shannon to Adam’s class was the revelation of the weekend for me. Though Adam’s traditional 18th Century methodology isn’t the way I work wood (did I mention I own 9 routers?), he is a fantastic speaker and educator. The detail he goes into, the historical perspective he brings and tangents he goes off on are all amazing to watch and listen to. Even if I would make it with a table saw and Domino, the 18th century nailed furniture style piece he discussed was a beautiful cabinet.

Silly, Tom. Dancing is allowed on the seats, not the tables.
How many woodworkers can you fit at a table?
When the Friday classes were done, we went to Hofbrauhaus. There, they served delicious 1 liter mugs of fine beer. We had a nice time.

Another great class with Adam Cherubini. Did I mention you must
take a class with him?
Unbelievably, I received a work call on my cell phone at 8:20 on Saturday morning, and then there I was, on time for “Rabbets, Dadoes & Grooves by Hand with Adam Cherubini”. As with the previous day’s “Nailed Furniture”, “Rabbets, Dadoes & Grooves” was a witty and informative class, even if I would make the joints with a router.

With speed and accuracy like that, how'd we lose?
From Adam’s class, I went down to the marketplace and did my duty at the Hand Tool Olympics again. Thanks to equally impressive performances by my teammates, Matt Vanderlist and Tom Iovino, we failed to win.

His plane making makes up for any deficit in public speaking.
Following lunch, Saturday afternoon was spent listening to “Tradition Improved: Lie-Nielsen Toolworks with Thomas Lie-Nielsen”. This was an interesting (if dry) account of how the Lie-Nielsen toolworks came to be and how they make some of the sweetest hand tools around.

Matt Gradwohl, hand model to the stars.
I cut out of Thomas’ talk a little early with Matt Gradwohl, and we headed over to Adam Cherubini’s final talk of the conference: “Chisels Through Ancient Eyes”. This was a great primer on chisels though the ages and had many lessons relevant to chisel use and purchase today. It was also fun to see Adam use a piece of MDF and to discover that Matt is a world class hand model.

Nothing to add. Just a great bunch of guys.
After Adam’s final talk there were no classes left needing to be taken, so I headed down to the marketplace again and met up with my blue shirted brethren. We managed to amuse a few spectators (and maybe even Charles Brock) when we shooed folks away and took our group photo in front of the fantastic Sinclair Tool Museum.

Yes, we can dominate a dining room.
After the photo I bid the conference farewell and we headed over to Pompilio for what this New Yorker would say was a great Italian dinner. After dinner we managed to frighten the poor woman who was on the trolley when we got on, mostly by telling her how nice we were and how we weren’t frightening.

See you next year, my friends.
Saturday night, and Woodworking in America 2011, ended at the Behle Street Cafe. It was great drinks, great woodworking and great friends. I hope to see you at Woodworking in America 2012.

Oh, and did I mention that Rob Bois won a tenon saw?
Rob Bois: Tenon Saw Winning, Woodworking Underwear Model.