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Fine Woodworking Live has been a long time coming, and finally, it was here. We loaded workbenches and tools into the Student Union at SUNY New Paltz, checked the closeup video cameras and projection screens in each classroom, put the beer on ice, and then saw the cars start pulling in from points far and wide, and off we all went.
At the opening night reception, I pointed to the words on the back cover of our 25th anniversary issue, “Working Alone but Sharing a Passion,” and share we did. For three busy days, attendees from as far as Israel, Brazil, Germany, and Malaysia had a ball meeting each other, flipping through iPad portfolios, filling their notebooks with invaluable info, and having a laugh.
They rotated through power-packed seminars where Steve Latta took apart classic pieces to unlock the fundamentals of construction, Rollie Johnson took apart flea-market hand planes to show how to easy it is to turn them into top-notch tools, Michael Fortune demonstrated five amazing ways to bend wood, with steam rising, air pumping, laminates flexing, and on and on.
FWW Live: The sessions
There was plenty of time between sessions to chat with one’s woodworking heroes, eat good food, hang out with the demonstrators from Lie-Nielsen and Lee Valley, and make new friends. We’ll be sending all attendees a contact list including all their fellows who were willing to share info.
And if that wasn’t enough, there was entertainment. Almost 100 people showed up for game/music night. At one point, we had people from all corners of the globe singing House of The Rising Sun, with the amazing Rollie Johnson filling in on mandolin. And I got my butt kicked at billiards by a guy 30 years my senior.
One of the big hits of the weekend was “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” an all-conference morning session where our so-called masters of the craft risked their reputations by showing the biggest clunkers of their career. We cracked up at Steve Latta’s “curb furniture,” Rollie Johnson’s giant chicken feet, Mike Pekovich’s diving board table, and the capper, Michael Fortune’s unintentionally fecal salt and pepper shakers.
And FWW-groupie Nick Offerman, from NBC’s Parks & Recreation, both charmed and alarmed the Saturday-night banquet crowd with original songs written for the show, like “I Chalk the Line,” and edgy excerpts from his college comedy tour. Let’s just say I’ll insist on a full preview from next year’s entertainer! Click the video below for his loving and hilarious homage to the presenters.
In the end, I heard rave reviews for the whole experience, with valuable feedback for next time (no more turkey bacon). Fine Woodworking Live finally happened, taking people who work alone and giving them a wonderful opportunity to meet each other and share their passion for the craft, recharge their woodworking batteries, and just have fun.
I hope a few of you will post a comment below to share your experiences.
My undying thanks to all the presenters, food-service workers, camera operators, special guests and everyone who made this amazing event happen.
The core of the event was live woodworking demonstrations. After making a blade for his scratch stock, Garrett Hack offers a closeup of the tip.
The vendor area was packed between classes, with showgoers getting lessons and advice from the experts at Lie-Nielsen and Lee Valley.
Michael Fortune demonstrated five ways to bend wood, in 1-1/2 hours! To stay away from the sprinkler system(!), we headed outdoors for steambending.
At the all-conference design seminar, FWW authors showed their best work and their most hilarious misfires. Here Michael Fortune describes his greatest success, his No. 1 chair.
But maybe the best thing of all was people who normally work alone having a chance to make priceless connections and share a passion.
The bookstore was filled, the name tags ready, the vendors waiting, and the folks started rolling in.
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So glad you all loved it as much as we did. One of our goals was for the event to recharge people's woodworking batteries. What I didn't anticipate is how much of a recharge all of the organizers and presenters would get. just like all of you, we can feel isolated sometimes. What a great way to connect!
I have savored every minute of my three days in New Paltz. The morning plenary presentations, the small group sessions, and the in-between times of chewing the fat with like-minded folk: it was all worth my six months of anticipation. Thank you to Asa and the whole crew at Fine Woodworking!
What a fantastic event! I can't say enough good things. I've been reading the magazine, and watching video content online for years and it was really pretty amazing to meet people like Roland Johnson and Christian Becksvoort in person. It was even more amazing to discuss cutting and drying lumber over breakfast with a fellow participant from Newfoundland, and discussing inlay over lunch with a fellow participant from Brazil. Great sessions, great instructors, and great people! The sessions really reinforced for me the value and importance of in-person instruction. You can learn a tremendous amount from articles and videos, but being able to see something in-person, and to able to ask questions and get thoughtful answers in real-time makes a huge difference. The event changed the way I sharpen tools, approach joinery, and moved my work from the table-saw to the bandsaw. It was a great event and I'm already looking forward to next year!
P.S. I was having such a great time Friday morning that I didn't even notice that I was eating turkey bacon!
ASA, I really enjoyed the show. Getting to know some fellow sawdust generators and hanging out with my woodworking heroes was the best. And lets not forget the tools....
For the maiden voyage I think the show was a great success. I would like to be included on the attendee contact list you mention in your editorial and look forward to next years event.
Again congrats to your team for a successful event. Scott Oak Mountain Custom Woodwork
It was our pleasure. Hope to see you both next year. And let's get that competition for youngsters going!
Jalen and I would like to you and your team for putting on a great event. It was one of the highlights of our year. The classes were great but I think the best part was meeting all of the people from the writers and editors to the fellow woodworkers. I believe those will be what keeps people coming back year after year. I know this was a tremendous amount of work and we would like to just say thanks again.
Last night I tuned-up my Dad's old No. 6 Stanley using the recommendations from Rollie Johnson's and Mike Pekovich's presentation. It cut like never before, slicing through end grain like butter. As Nick Offerman described it "gossame shavings".
Nick's entertainment was hilarious, I was no more offended by it than I am by today's editorials. "I think we ought always to entertain our opinions with some measure of doubt. I shouldn't wish people dogmatically to believe any philosophy, not even mine."
Hope to see you at FWW Live 2013, Vic!
Asa, congratulations on a very successful event. I've heard nothing but accolades! I hope I'm able to make the trek next year.
Cut nails and a clever lid clinch a traditional Japanese toolbox
Shaker-inspired design is comfortable and practical
Fast, fun approach to making a comfortable, casual seat
In this video Michael finishes the first of the three boxes. Gluing-up, planing, sanding and finishing bring a new piece of art to the world.
In this video Michael starts work on the second box, a carved and painted Saddle lid box.
Michael begins carving the saddle lid box with his ripple pattern along the top. Then turns to his 5/30 gouge to texture the sides of the box. This isn't work…
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