The 2008 Kansas City Woodworking Show took place in the Exhibit Hall of the Overland Park Int’l Trade Center.
I attended Friday afternoon, and most of Saturday. In Episode 7 I share the following (next time I am taking a Unipod, or something similar to steady the camera!):
- The breakfast at a local restaurant, attended by several members of WoodNet and Saw Mill Creek online woodworking forums. You have a chance (finally!) to meet some of us, together in one place. Some identities have not been revealed, to protect the innocent.
- Some comments about attendance by tool manufacturers large and small.
- The sights and sounds of the Show.
Prior to the show, a group met for breakfast at a local restaurant. For me it was a great pleasure to meet so many woodworkers I knew only from the online woodworking forums. I asked everyone, and they graciously agreed, to identify themselves, with their affiliation. One or two were highly reluctant, as they claimed to be in the WPP (Witness Protection Program). If I have revealed any identities that I should not have revealed, it is strictly MY mistake. Please notify me ASAP!
For me this gathering was proof of one thing: The Shows are not only about tools, but also about the people who use them. Networking should be something we learn to do better, as it will eventually help us become better woodworkers, as it does in our everyday lives.
After all, what would the tool manufacturers do if no one wanted to buy them? Or, worse yet, if people wanted to use them, but could not afford them? Interesting thought, as the implications could reveal much of what we might not know about ourselves, least of which is our ability to improvise and invent. I don’t even want to go there…
I won’t list the names of the attendees, as I don’t want to bore with a bunch of names. You can make a list if you wish. We had a great visit, and great food to boot.
This gathering also developed into a Show-and-Tell, as several fellow woodworkers brought pretty special items: An old Disston saw without a number (made before Disston started using a numbering system); several craftsman-made routers in various sizes, a gorgeous shoulder plane the size of a Stanley 9-1/2 (I almost “borrowed” it permanently), an all-stainless steel skew plane… I am sure I forget what else. C’mon guys, help me complete the list, please!
We finished the breakfast gathering with about one hour to spare before the start of the show. Steve Roxberg invited me to visit his shop. He has a terrific basement workshop, complete with a brand-new yellow/mustard cyclone dust collection system. He even gave me a wren bird house to bring back to my wife – she loves to build bird houses, and our granddaughters love them too. Thanks for the invitation, Steve; I enjoyed the tour of your shop tremendously, and your tips on making the jigs to make the bird houses!
Now, some of the highlights, and my reflections of the 2008 Show. You can see and listen to some of the sights and sounds in Episode 7, above.
I talked with several reps, distributors, and small business owners (I will call them collectively “this group”). One theme was pretty much the common thread: They not only wish for, but have a good feeling that the new Woodworking Show owners truly want to make them real winners. It will be quite interesting, in the remaining of 2008, to watch the trend in the sentiment of this group, and compare it to the sentiment of the people attending the Shows.
My extremely informal and (definitely non-scientific) survey of people I met at the show was that they also sensed “some”, or “much”, improvement over the Shows they attended in previous years.
Metro Hardwoods: The newest supplier of hardwoods in the Kansas City area. This is where I bought the spalted maple for the Krenov-inspired cabinet I am building. Terrific place to look at some of the nicest lumber, and some nice exotics too. Some people might wonder about the pricing structure for the exotics; but try getting them elsewhere… I use limited quantities of these, so I am not an expert in exotics, not by a long shot.
A little gold nugget: Powercrafter’s air-powered carver. This is a little marvel of fluid flow technology, spinning the bit at 500,000 RPM to do its thing on wood. I bought one for my wife last year, when they introduced the current model. It is not only a terrific engineering feat, but a wonderful tool to use to enhance your workpieces. I don’t use it, because carving has never been my thing – but this might change now that we have this carving tool. Episode 7 shows several examples of what one could accomplish, given a little carving talent <sigh…I lack this totally>.
I hope Episode 7 will give you a sense of attendance on Saturday (I did not shoot any video on Friday). There were good vibes in the air, as if people felt as I did – that something was better, with this year’s Show than in the last two years. The booths showing live demos were definitely better attended, people were buying a LOT more than in recent history (per my meager observation capacity), and the vendors had plenty in stock.
In summary, based on my attendance, the Woodworking Shows seem to be off to a better start than in recent years, and I hope the owners will stick to their plan to make them better. I wish them the best, as these are possibly the best way to bring to the general public the latest in the woodworking tools we all use, whether it is heavy iron or smaller hand tools. I also hope that the new Show owners can get more tool manufactures signed up to bring their wares on the floor. It will be good to once again see the manufacturers themselves be the ones showing their tools and talking to the people. I do not mean to imply that the distributors cannot handle it; on the contrary, they did a great job. But it will be the message the representatives of the companies that make the tools bring to us that will make the biggest difference. That, and having the *major* players present at the Shows sharing their latest tools.
If none of this happens, I might attend next year’s Show and it will be my last. Will it make any difference? It will, if enough people believe that not much has changed.
If you wish to read someone else’s point of view, and you have not seen it yet, I invite you to read the December 1, 2007 review by Marc Spagnuolo (The Wood Whisperer) of the most recent Show in his part of the country. On January 4, 2008, he wrote an Update. These will be worth your reading.
Happy Super Bowl, and may your favorite team win!