Monday, August 03, 2015

AWFS show - Day Two

From 500 feet away, you can hear the drone of machinery inside the convention hall. Walk-in the doors and it's almost deafening, especially if you're walking in near one of the big pieces of machinery. 

BTW - in my last blog, I posted pics of the furniture entered in the FreshWood student competition. Want to see who won in the various categories? 

 The show felt a bit different this year (I know, I say that every time!) but it seems a bit more focused on HUGE pieces of equipment, rather that individual tool manufacturers. Many of the prominent tool companies were nowhere to be seen - like Jet, Delta, Powermatic, Porter Cable, Kreg and more. 

Conversely - the large players in the game were all there. With automated equipment that performed tasks such as panel optimization, CNC milling, and material handling, as shown in the video below. Those things are interesting to watch, but small shops like mine aren't ever going to invest in any of that.  

There were a few highlights and cool things to explore, though. Like this booth on live-edge slabs. I loved their tabletop display. 

And their slabs were top-notch.  There's a lumberyard that sells slabs, but if I had the need, I wouldn't hesitate to purchase something from this company. 

I'm not sure why - but you can always bet on two things with SuperMax, maker of panel sanding equipment. They always have a great looking booth, and a bunch of people not really interested in talking to the the average Joe. I milled around for ten minutes a few different times, and the salespeople seemed more interested in talking to each about what they did last night in their hotel than approaching a customer to see if someone had questions. 

Oh well....

I've been buying replacement table slides from Osborn Wood Products for years, and they had an interesting new item - kitchen island legs with power threaded up into the leg. Great idea - that's what this show is all about - finding the newest and coolest things to add into your work. 

This impressive replica 1919 Crescent bandsaw was built by  seven students at Lincoln East High School in Lincoln, Nebraska and entered into the 2015 Fresh Wood student woodworking competition. Since it didn't fit the "furniture and furnishings" criteria, it was rejected. Thats' when Rikon Tools stepped up and offered to display  it in their booth. 

Very cool on everyone's part!

CNCs were big at the show  and there was a huge variety of choices - from the ever popular ShopBot,

 to C.R. Onsrud's massive 3-D router that was carving wine goblets all day long. Here's a terrific video about some of their tools.

Western Dovetail had a very nice telescoping display of their dovetailed boxes - this thing would telescope up with maybe a dozen different sized boxes towering up toward the ceiling. Damn, my video didn't come out!

The AWFS  bookstore is always an interesting place to browse, or run into old friends. 

Lupe said she counted four wooden bikes at the show, but I think I only saw three. I did, however, see one guy riding around the convention floor on a bike, so who knows.. maybe he scored some swag and was heading home with his new bike. 

Kayleen McCabe and I had a few minutes to chat - she's headed to LA to work on Ellen DeGeneres' upcoming Design Challenge, season 2, which started filming today. Love that show, and Kaleen has the perfect personality to get people inspired! She's going to be an assistant carpenter, helping the furniture makers create their masterpieces. In three days. Wow. 

The AWFS Assistant Education Director, Adria Torrez, graciously let all of my students to attend the show for free - even last minute enrollees who should have registered months earlier. Adria has been so helpful over the years, and she does a terrific job of bridging upcoming woodworkers together with major manufacturers and players in the wood scene. So - many thanks to her and all of her hard work. The show reflects her energy and dedication!

All in all - I'd give this year's show a "B" grade. The classes offered weren't that inspiring, and I would have liked to see a few more tool companies be represented, like Delta and Porter Cable. But still - this convention is THE place to be, if you want to see cutting edge technology, or just soak up the wood vibe. 

Count me in in 2017.


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