Tag Archives: Woodworking Design

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.

A Case For Pocket Hole Joinery

When I made my son’s table a couple of years ago, I had one rule that I followed regarding how it was to be built: Keep it simple since it is a child’s work table. It should not be made of expensive materials, and it should be, to the best of my ability, repairable should something happen. After all, kids tend to be a bit rough on their things.

The material I used was poplar – check on the inexpensive material. The joinery I chose to use to join the table legs to the apron was pocket holes and screws. Yes, some folks poo poo the idea of using pocket hole joinery as a “true” joinery method to be used in fine furniture, but, I never claimed this piece was fine furniture.

It is though, a functional furniture piece.

My son was playing one day and got a little rambunctious, and then fell into the table, splitting one of the table legs. He was fine, pretty annoyed, but carried on.

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This is one reason I chose pocket holes to join the legs into the apron – it was this scenario, along with the reason that should the table last into his adolecent years and beyond, I could easily replace the legs.

So that’s what I did here. I prepared a new leg, same as the others.

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Once ready, I simply removed the pocket screws, removed the old leg, and then placed the new leg in position and rescrewed into place. Repair complete.

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The Sawdust Tour & The Woodworking Shows

I recently had the chance a couple of weeks ago to take a Friday off from work and take the couple hour drive out to West Springfield, MA for The Woodworking Shows stop at the Big E (aka the Eastern States Exposition). This was my first trip to one of the Woodworking Shows, so of course was interested in the vendor booths setup there, but I especially was interested in what education opportunities were going to be offered.

I found one such opportunity at The Woodworking Coach booth run by Andy Chidwick of The Chidwick School. Andy is travelling with the show in what’s called the Sawdust Tour – a “social media blitz” where Andy is teaching at the show, and in the process taking the opportunity to meet with other woodworkers along the way, including visiting folks’ shops if possible, such as Todd Clippenger and Matt Vanderlist.

Of course I checked out the vendor booths and caught parts of a few other seminars, but after attending Andy’s first seminar of the day, it was clear I was going back to hear more. Andy spoke about steam bending, picking out the best grain direction from a board, sculpting work – and the joinery that goes into a sculpted chair, and also encouraging us to think outside the typical woodworking publications – to become an observer anywhere and gain inspiration from something that could then be used in a project in the shop.

I had a chance to talk with Andy after the seminars. He’s a great guy, very knowledgeable, and clearly has a passion for the craft along with the desire to pass that along to others. Check out the site for the Woodworking Shows to see if one is near your area. I highly recommend going if you can and check out Andy’s seminars. You can learn quite a bit and they are highly motivating. Also check out The Chidwick School site as well. Andy offers classes in Montana, and soon will be offering an online curriculum as well.

So Andy, it was great to meet you, and thanks for the Sawdust Tour shirt!