If you happened to be in Cincinnati last weekend you might have seen a lot of folks walking around with hand saws. Most of them were smiling. This years WIA (Woodworking in America) gathering was a special event that keeps getting better each time. The only complaint I heard was that there was too much to take in. I whole- heartedly agree, as I spent the bulk of my time upstairs conducting sessions on furniture design. So many people I wanted to connect with and classes I wanted to take.
This was my 3rd WIA and the conference has become something more to me than a place to drool over hand tools and learn from the masters. Those things are worth the admission all by themselves, but I’ve been richly blessed by all the new friends and lively discussions. Most of the toolmakers are the most un-pushy sales persons you’ll ever encounter. They don’t need to tell you that much. They do something much more tempting. They put a (you fill in the blank) ______ plane, backsaw, float, chisel, drawknife in your hand and invite you to feel what a perfectly tuned and well made tool feels like when it slices through wood fibers like butter. Words like shazaaam, come to mind.
I had the chance to talk furniture design with quite a few people. Ron Hock (Hock Tools) and I have agreed to get together some time in the future and kick around the modern vs traditional approach. Jim Tolpin (Port Townsend School of Woodworking) and I snuck away for our own pub crawl. It’s always a pleasure to hear what he’s up to. Jim pointed out something about using dividers that never occurred to me but I’ve been practicing for years. Pressing the divider point into the work at hand provides an accurate and positive indent to register a pencil or a marking knife. Important for pre-industrial artisans under bad light, and still valuable today for over the over 50 crowd fumbling with crappy vision no matter the light. Also had a chance to compare notes with Don McConnell and Larry Williams (Clark and Williams). Don is a storehouse of knowledge on period design literature and we enjoyed looking at some engravings for a 1732 edition of Gibb’s “Rules for Drawing the Several Parts of Architecture….”
I want to thank all of you that attended my classes and were kind enough to encourage me in my writing and research. The last several months I’ve been buried in a business commitment that’s consumed everything in it’s wake, including this blog. The tide should be receding soon and in coming months I’ll get back to sharing more regularly about furniture design. Your questions and enthusiasm has reignited a spark. Much appreciated.
George R. Walker