Best of Shows!

Most of the Woodworking Shows I’ve attended through the past three decades have been 98% selling more and more stuff no one really needs to people who buy it with hopes that what they buy will suddenly make them highly capable woodworkers. Often what taken place is not increases in knowledge skill and empowerment but a general malaise and confusion but sadly it’s often where the feeding frenzy begins.

Let me introduce you to something different. just to raise awareness of an organisation I know of that puts great effort into helping woodworkers in the Northeastern region of the USA to get connected with one another. To say that they put on the very best woodworking show in the whole of North America if not the world might be an understatement but in my view they do. There is no hard sell at the show, anywhere! You might want to join up though.

The reason I am doing this now is because it needs planning ahead for. You need time to pull it all together because to take it all in will take you the full two days of the show. The show itself is a sort of jewel of shows but the true jewel in the crown is what takes place behind the scenes in months of planning and preparation—woodworkers serving fellow woodworkers in providing hands-on training, workshop space, scholarships and so on in a spirit of generosity, caring and sharing. The images here are what you will likely find at the show. I took these in 2012, but the standards of the show always improve so I have no hesitation in posting.

Again, looking behind the scenes is evidenced by the wonderful exhibits and the people behind them. It doesn’t matter if it’s guitar making you are into or you just love looking at hand mades.

You might love the organic shapes of diversely different canoes and boats. Violins finely crafted sit alongside carved eagles and shaker boxes. Mixed in with the crowds of woodworkers looking to expand their horizons and for inspiration you will find the show supported by vendors with hand tools like Lee Valley Veritas or the New York Forest Owners Association who will tell you about their work in forestry and conservation work, folk like that. My last visit was in 2012. I mingled with the crowds and loved it and being on the side of the fence I was I could have spent twice as long there as I did.

The main difference between this show and any other is that the Northeastern Woodworkers Association is exactly that, it’s an association of people who work wood in every which way you want to mention. In 2018 the dates are 24-25 March and you can go to the link for details.

Behind the presentation is the reality of evening and weekend workshops for all people who want to learn how. At the show they offer some masterclasses too, so you can learn while your’e there. Plan on staying two nights overnight. Saratoga Springs and the surrounding area has a wealth of hotels and B & Bs because of the race track in summer. The event is held at the Saratoga Springs convention centre and it is a nice venue.

At the show you’ll find different types of art work with a woodworking theme undergirding everything. The guitars and violins for instance should wow you and of course a close friend, Marty Macica is a highly skilled maker that teaches instrument making as well as makes them.

7 thoughts on “Best of Shows!”

  1. I thoroughly agree about a lot of woodworking shows being tool shows ! and that a lot of effort is put into getting people to buy kit they don’t need. My present gripe is getting people who can’t sharpen a chisel, to buy several hundreds of pounds worth of diamond plates and/or waterstones before they can sharpen at all. When I take my kit on to a job I take an India stone (oilstone) which, with a bit of old leather will get any chisel and plane I have with me as sharp as I need(or want). And yes I do have couple of diamond plates in my workshop kit.
    PS most of the old chippies I used to know would “dress” a newly sharpened saw to stop it being too “catchy” !

  2. Steve McGonigle

    Seeing this type of work truly warms my heart. Whilst out shopping for Christmas presents, I was struck by the banality and shoddiness of so much that is for sale. Poorly built, and with a limited lifespan, items like those displayed are the antithesis of that ethos. Heirloom pieces which even though expensive probably don’t really reveal the true cost of manufacture.

    Buy less, and buy quality. A better use of resources and a reward for talent. It would be nice if that caught on, alas I suppose we’ll continue propping-up the economies of the far east. I bought a knife set today as gift. Taylor’s Eye Witness, made in Sheffield. It cost more than others I could have bought, but maybe it’s another job saved here in the UK.

    Save resources, recycle (especially wood) and put thought into gifts and purchases. As the saying goes,’Think global, act local’.

  3. Not only is this a great woodworking show, but it also occurs at the same time in the same venue as Totally Turning, an equally great woodturning show. I believe that entrance to either show gets you into both. Well worth attending whatever your workworking interests.

  4. I live near Saratoga Springs and had attended a number of shows then stopped attending for a couple of years. Returned last year. It seemed like it was better in terms of free seminars, The woodworking on display is wonderful and very diverse. I only had a chance to attend one day last year and regretted not being able to attend all the seminars I was interested in . Definitely a 2 day attendance at least a day and a half. There are many equipment demos pushing products but I found the staff not pushy on the big sell and when not busy very willing to talk and discuss their products.
    Go and enjoy it! glad you reminded me to put the days on my schedule!

  5. Thanks for this posting — I live about an hour from Saratoga Springs, and I will put it on my calendar to get over there.

  6. Hi Paul, This post is best directed to whoever controls your blog space. I started reading your blog a few years ago witb the intent of readimg them all, including the comments. I made it to May of 2015 offerings when your blog changed, the links to the next or previous blog disappeared making it much more difficult to follow along chronologically. I’m hoping yhe liknks can be put back. As it stands I haven’t mafe half the progress I was making. Keep up the great work you do and I’ll leep plugging along.

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