My son and I got back from WIA West last night, we had a great time. I think that some of the classes were too much for Kolya, but it’s a lot to expect a 12 year old to sit through through powerpoint slide presentations for an hour or two at a time.
The highlights for me:
1. Gamble House Tour: The Gamble house is just amazing, whether you’re a fan of Greene & Greene or not, it’s an impressive piece of work. I happen to be a big fan, so this was a real treat for me. Kolya really liked it too. The docents took us through in groups of 10, and then we were able to wander through the house to our hearts content. No photography was allowed though (I don’t really get that, there were several details I would have liked to have a picture of). After the tour dinner was served on the lawn next to the Gamble house. The weather was perfect.
2. WIA Marketplace: Anyone who has read my blog has probably picked up on the fact that I love tools, almost as much as making things with tools. Don’t even get me started on making tools… I really enjoyed seeing the different vendors and talking to them about their products/services.
3. Lie-Nielsen Booth: Yes, I already listed the marketplace, but I need to have a special shout-0ut to the nice folks at LN. Kolya was just fascinated with their tools. He tried every plane they had, played with the spoke shaves, tried the chisels, and then went back and did it all again. The LN folks were unbelievable, they were very patient, and explained how to sharpen and adjust the planes, and what the differences were between the bevel-up and bevel-down planes. They do this with everyone of course, but Kolya spent a lot of time in their booth and got a lot of patient instruction. It made his weekend, and seeing that made mine too. In the end I bought him his own LN 5 1/2 which he decided was his favorite of the bunch. The smaller planes took more muscle to use, but the 5 1/2 has enough heft that he could do a nice job smoothing figured Maple with it by himself.
4. Roy Underhill: I went to two classes taught by Roy, one about making a wooden rake, and another about making a wooden sash. He is an engaging instructor, and even though I’d seen him cover the same material on his show I enjoyed this and learned a few new things. Kolya and I have watched Roy’s show online, and Kolya (who doesn’t have a shy bone in his body) saw Roy and went over and introduced himself and had a nice chat with Roy. Roy even gave him the story stick and pieces from the wooden sash project for him to finish at home (I’m looking for a sash plane on ebay as we speak). It absolutely warms my heart when folks include my son as just one of the guys. Later at the “Ribald Society of Old Moxionan’s” dinner Roy gave one person at every table a woodworking pun to read – and he choose Kolya to read from our table. This was followed by pelting with marshmallows, but that’s another story.
5. Classes in General: I got to several good classes during the show. I enjoyed Chris Schwartz’ classes on the “60 minute saw bench” and “furniture of necessity”. Glen Huey’s “Finishes that Pop” was also very good, it was one of Kolya’s favorites — which was interesting in itself.
I wish I could also go to WIA in Cincinnati in a few weeks, both for the conference itself, and to compare it with the west coast version. It felt like the west coast version wasn’t as well attended as I would have expected. The marketplace was missing a number of vendors that I really would have liked to see (that will be at the cincy event).
I was really disappointed with the “Hand Tool Olympics”. I’d watched some online videos from previous events and it looked like it would be fun, and instructive. When I went to the HTO booth (4 different times) no one would talk to me or even make eye contact. It was like a high school clique, and no one was interested in engaging with conference attendees. There wasn’t any information on how to participate, how the events worked or anything. I’m for voting that one off the island.