Tag Archives: Fine Woodworking

A Day At Fine Woodworking Live 2013

This post is following my usual theme of “better late than never”…

I got the chance a few weekends ago to spend a day in New Haven, CT to attend Fine Woodworking Live. The event was the whole weekend, however Fine Woodworking also offered day passes for this year’s event. Not to get into too much personal info, but since I have a special needs son, which has meant a very “tag-team” approach for my wife and I, I’m very happy the day passes were offered. I could go for the day, and be back that night.

It was great to see a couple of folks I hadn’t seen in a while, and meet for the first time others. Getting to spend time with fellow woodworkers is always a great part of an event like this. The day began with a presentation to all the attendees, and was then followed by the classes. What was nice is that the most popular classes (determined by a survey they gave to attendees prior to the event) were offered at multiple times. The common thing I took away from the event was the approachability of the instructors and the Fine Woodworking employees at the event. All the folks I spoke with either after classes or in the hallway were easy going and willing to answer questions and feedback.

Of course I took some pics while there (click on each for larger image):

I think I would be remiss if I didn’t share my thoughts on Fine Woodworking as an organization. When I first became interested in woodworking, my impression of Fine Woodworking was that it would be the magazine I would get once I “got good” at woodworking. It was the magazine for folks that had a great deal of experience, which I had yet to obtain. Shortly afterwards, I was invited by the Modern Woodworkers Association to take a tour of their offices and shop in Newtown, CT. It was then that I figured it might be a good time to check out the magazine, so I subscribed.

Once I had magazine in hand and took part in the tour, I realized my first impression was a bit off. With their mix of editor and contributor authored articles, it is a very much “how-to” magazine, with content suitable for multiple experience levels. When on the tour with Matt Kenney and Mike Pekovich, it was clear they were regular guys with a love for the craft.

Now that I’ve been a subscriber for a couple of years, attended Fine Woodworking Live, and listened to their podcast Shop Talk Live for some time now, it’s clear to me that they are working hard to lose any image they’ve had as a publication only for the professional or well experienced hobbyist with an aloof air to it. Shop Talk Live I find entertaining, and they don’t hide the fact that mistakes will be made (Smooth Moves is great section of their podcast).

So for anyone reading that may have a notion that Fine Woodworking is not for the everyday hobbyist or new woodworker, I would say to give them another look. Check out the magazine and their online membership, as well as their Shop Talk Live podcast. Of course, if you can make it to next year’s Fine Woodworking Live, I would highly recommend it. Even if you can’t make the whole weekend, I hope they will continue to offer the day passes – it was definitley worth going.

Hangin’ With Woodworkers

It’s been a busy few weeks – I recently was in a remote training class for work for a week that was on west coast hours (I’m on the east coast). That was followed by a different than usual work schedule afterward. This is a blog post I’ve been wanted to do for a bit now that involves two recent opportunities to join other woodworkers for two different events.

Visit to Fine Woodworking Magazine

The first of these events was a visit to Fine Woodworking magazine in Newtown, CT with the Modern Woodworkers Association folks – a great reason to take the day off from work and get a long weekend out of the deal. Our hosts were Senior Editor Matt Kenney and Art Director Mike Pekovich, who gave us an overview of how an issue is produced, and afterward a tour of the shop area that included a discussion and demonstration of tips for shop efficiency. I don’t want to simply redo the excellent and detailed posts that Steve Branam, Dyami Plotke, and Nick Roulleau did about our visit – click on each to read their posts, they’re well worth the read. I had a great time and for me, I valued the tour and workshop efficiency tips (while I was doing this before, I am now even more conscious of setting realistic, obtainable objectives for a finite session of shop time). What I also valued though was seeing fellow woodworkers in person. What the MWA is all about is translating online social interactions into in person ones. Folks I had been interacting with in Twitter, Google+,  blogs and forums I got to meet in person, as well as some I met for the first time (from both an online an in person perspective). Matt and Mike were gracious and treated us to lunch at the Taunton cafeteria, and it was more good conversation that  continued at the lunch table.

WoodExpo 2012

Just over a week after the Fine Woodworking visit, it was time for WoodExpo 2012, part of the New England Home Show. I was just as impressed, if not more so, with the projects this year. What really struck me this year was that they had more real estate at the show, and that it was placed in a better location for more people to be exposed to some very fine pieces. It was also quite busy. I went on a Saturday as opposed to a Friday last year, so that may account for it being that much more busy. I did get a chance to briefly chat with Tommy MacDonald and Eli Cleveland, and a bit more with Rob Bois, Mike Morton, Mike McCoy, and Steve Branam (all four exhibited at the expo); as well as Dyami Plotke and Nick Roulleau. I also got to meet Chuck Bender who had a booth setup at the show. My biggest regret is that I could not stay longer. The Boston area Modern Woodworkers Association (MWA) had their kickoff that evening and I was not able to stay for the dinner after the expo. I had hoped to get to talk to Tommy and Eli a bit more as well, but unfortunately when I had to leave, they were just beginning a panel discussion regarding the state of the craft and the relationship with the buyer – I would have loved to stay to hear that discussion.

I hope to be able to plan a bit differently next year, and for other folks perspectives on WoodExpo, encourage folks to also visit Dyami’s post, as well as Nick’s two posts on his site, and on the MWA site.