Woodworking in America 2013 was awesome! Let me just get that out of the way first. There is too much to say on the topic and a lot of it is hard to put into words because it has more to do with the experience as a whole and the people rather than one specific class. I will endeavor to look at some detailed takeaways this week as the woodworking community basks in post conference glow. Honestly I didn’t get to as many classes as I wanted. I specifically did not get a booth in the marketplace this year so I could mingle more and attend classes. Somehow the marketplace still sucked me in and ate up a lot of my time. However though I didn’t attend many complete classes, I still got to pop in and sample quite a few of them.Interestingly enough the one class that excited me most was Megan Fitzpatrick’s “Dovetails by Design” class. It was standing room only in there so I stood against the back wall anxious to find out what was so interesting about dovetails. I mean lets get serious, how many dovetail videos and posts exist on the internet and in books and videos in traditional form? Do we really need to see more on this topic? Apparently we do as not only was the room full (and rather warm) but the crowd was engaged and asking questions. This could be because our red headed presenter is so likable but without casting offense on Megan I don’t think that was it. I honestly think there are just that many people who still are new to dovetails. Or there are that many people who have not discovered the cornucopia of online woodworking and don’t know about all those “how to” posts out there. To me this indicates a growth in our craft that gets me really excited.
So let’s be pessimistic and assume that all the people in this class know how to dovetail and they aren’t new to woodworking. So what are they all doing there? When I brought this up to Chuck Bender later he said that many of these folks may already know how to dovetail but they want to see how someone else does it. In this case maybe I can’t get excited about the growth of our craft, but I can be excited by how open minded and willing to improve my woodworking brethren are by choosing to forgo some other amazing classes to sit in on a dovetailing class. That’s pretty exciting considering many think there is nothing new under the sun in woodworking.Regardless of how you look at it, as a demographic statistic, this bodes well for woodworking. I’m inclined to believe that the majority of these folks were there to learn from a very non intimidating presenter who would break down a cornerstone joint in such a way that they would be able to attempt it when they returned to their workbenches. I add to this my own experience of talking to hundreds of woodworkers who claimed to be beginners with less than a year of experience. No matter how you slice it, woodworking is growing and conferences like Woodworking in America provide a great barometer to gauge this growth. I saw a lot of familiar faces, but many, many new ones this year.
Now I’m wondering if I need to finally make that dovetail video I have been avoiding for fear of adding to the noise. It occurred to me that outside The Hand Tool School I don’t believe I have a dedicated post or video that shows how I cut them.
What do you think?
What indications have you seen that our little community is growing?