Saturday, February 14, 2009

A new era of woodworking in Las Vegas

Mark this date down on your calendar: February 12, 2009. This will mark the beginning of a new era of woodworkers in Las Vegas.

Our first "meet and greet" of Las Vegas woodworkers took place a couple of days ago, and it blew away my expectations. We had about 30 people, who's talent ranged from beginners interested in craft work, to professionals making 17th century reproduction furniture. Some members of the Las Vegas Wood Turners showed up, including Don Finley, their president.

We discussed doing some cross marketing with our members, and everyone was invited to attend the next meeting, which is held the second Tuesday of each month at the Woodworker's Emporium.

Some of the highlights of the evening?

On the top of my list of favorite things was getting together a group of people who share a passion for woodworking. I've missed that, and am hungry for a connection here in town. Despite this great turnout, received quite a few e-mails from people who said they couldn't make it to this meeting. So I know that there a quite a few more people out there, just like us. It's exciting. To put it simply - I miss talking shop with other woodworkers.

One our the topics was about woodshop accidents. I asked if anyone had experienced any mishaps while working in their shop. The good news is - only one gentleman raised his hand. The bad news was that his raised hand was missing all four fingers. A sobering answer to a serious problem in the woodshop.

A common frustration was the fact that our city lacks woodworking resources, like lumberyards and supply houses that actually care about the average woodworker. Someone bought up a good point - there are other cities that are much smaller than Las Vegas, but have much more to offer their local woodworkers. I suspect this line of dialogue will continue as we share our tips with each other.

One of the best chuckles of the night? One of the few women in the crowd proudly told us that she'd made a pig cutting board
in junior high shop class.

Despite the fact that she told us that in jest, I think it illuminates something interesting - we all remember our first piece. (In fact, I blogged about mine here, a few months ago.) The first piece we build is special, and although it's often of lesser quality or poorer design than we're currently doing, I hope that most woodworkers recognize the significance of their first piece.

At the end of the evening, one of woodworkers brought in a prototype of a chair he'd been working on, for a critique. A lively deconstruction ensued, discussing everything from the joinery, to the foam density on the seat, to the curve of the back, to the depth of the chair. This gets to the heart of what I miss - a woodworking connection.

Finally, the answer to my question is YES.

I've been trying to decide if there is truly a need to open a small, intimate woodshop as that would serve as both a classroom and a gathering place. The answer can be seen in the faces and heard in the words coming from these woodworkers - a resounding yes!

I've got a lot of work to do before the next meeting!


Sister Creek Potter said...

Hey, Jamie, that is great! I was about to write to ask how the meeting went--I had checked earlier in the morning--but looked in again and found your post. Sounds very exciting--you've started a good thing! Gay

Rich Daugherty said...

Loved the meeting, can't wait for more! I'm especially interested in classes on the proper use of handplanes, and sharpening. Book learning can only take one so far. One minute watching a master is better, and 5 minutes with a master coaching one is a gift!