Chris Schwarz's Blog

Got Skills? Help Plan the 2010 Woodworking in America Conference

We’re hard at work this month planning the 2010 Woodworking in America conference, which is scheduled for Oct. 1-3 in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area.

Because this conference will be in our backyard, we’re excited to show off the Queen City a bit, and we know we can make this the best conference yet. There are lots of events we’re toying with now: tours of the unrestored White Water Shaker Village, bourbon tastings, an evening at the magazine’s shop and the list goes on and on.

However, our first goal is to get the program lined up and the speakers invited. And that’s where we can use your help. If you’ve been to any of our Woodworking in America conferences, you know that we always seek your feedback about what you like and don’t like about the conference. And after putting on three of these programs, we think we’re now dialing into the best way to deliver a huge fire hose of woodworking information in a short three-day weekend.

Thanks to our careful selection of a facility (more details on that soon), we’re going to be merging the hands-on sessions with the lecture sessions. And we’re going to be offering more and varied topics than in years past. What will this look like? For example, we’re planning a room that will be devoted to handsaws. During all three days, that room will be staffed with instructors and volunteers who will be giving short lectures on a variety of topics (selection, sharpening, use, etc.), and there will be workstations set up for attendees to work on these skills at their own pace. And there will be a similar room for handplanes and edge tools. And so on.

The net result is that you will be able to go from room to room to gather the specific skills you want. There will be more time with the instructors. And more time for you to get your hands on the tools.

To this end, we’ve assembled a short survey to find out what sort of skills we should ask the instructors to cover during the three days. The list covers a wide swath of material, and it’s not just oriented toward hand tools , we’re considering adding a power-tool component (at the request of some attendees).

If you could please take this five-minute survey, it would help us immensely. And one of the respondents will receive a $100 shopping spree in the WoodworkersBookshop.com. We’ll draw the winner on Feb. 8.

Thanks in advance.

Start the Woodworking in America survey.

– Christopher Schwarz

10 thoughts on “Got Skills? Help Plan the 2010 Woodworking in America Conference

  1. Grant Springer

    I have never been to the conference although I have wanted to attend from the start.
    I completed the survey and must admit that there wasn’t much of anything I WASN’T interested in.
    That being said. After reading the above comments I would have to concur with the hand tool ONLY proponents.
    Let the conference continue as HAND TOOL ONLY.
    Perhaps a power tool conference or some type of a blend is in order at a different place and time.

  2. Chuck Nickerson

    I’m a little concerned about the proposed format. It sounds like the Lie-Nielsen hand tool events, which do have a weakness. It’s not uncommon for a dozen people to surround the bench and stay there all day. It limits the number of people who get quality instruction.

  3. Allen Lindsey

    Living in Cincinnati myself you have given me no excuse not to attend again this year. I was in Berea for the conference and kicked myself most harshly for not making it to Valley Forge.

    I will also, and I’ll apologize in advance Chris, be forced to wear my "May the Schwarz be with you" t-shirt for at least one of the days.

    Very jazzed about this and can’t wait to hear what the venue will be.

  4. www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlxVZgNNs1aygFq6XXe-z6452LhZdMYdjY

    Although I know it is a feeble excuse, the cost in terms of time, airfares etc for me to attend WIA makes the conference registration fees pale into insignificance. I was wondering whether you might consider a way for others in this position to participate virtually.

    I know that the blogging and podcasting communities will try to help keep the non-attendees up to date with the conference. However, it might be more useful if an official source was available. Perhaps pay-per-view videos of the more formal lecture parts, so that those of us unable to attend can at least get some of the conference atmosphere?

  5. Don Peregoy

    New Question: Do Power tools have a place at a Hand Tools & Techniques Conference.
    Answer: (expletive deleted) NO

    I have nothing against Power tools. Some of my best friends use power tools. I am not ashamed to admit it there are power tool users in my own family.

    But there is a time and a place – just the thought – as the screech of a power saw drowns out Roy’s punch line.

  6. Caleb

    Hello Chris,

    I very much enjoyed the conference at Valley Forge. The reason I went WAY out of my way to attend (all the way from Mexico) was because of the unique hand-tool focus. I am not against using power tools, but your hand-tool love and focus is what sets you guys apart from the rest of the crowd. Keep up the great work!

    Caleb

  7. Ken S

    Chris,

    Just taking the survey got me enthused about this year’s conference. I would, however, like to echo Kevin’s comment on power tools. There are many sources of guidance for power tools that are readily available. Let’s keep WIA for hand tool users.

  8. Kevin

    Hi Chris

    I am glad to hear you are planning another Woodworking in America Conference. I missed last year due to family commitments which was good too. However, I very much enjoy the first year I liked the small town atmosphere and the fact that it was all about hand tools. I can appreciate people would like more knowledge and demos on power tools and I use them myself and I enjoy working with them, but I find there is already enough out there on the use of power tool, most Wood working shows focus on power tools, so I would like to see this Conference continue as a hand tools only.

    I would also like to see 1-3 day courses offered on various projects or skills before and/or after the conference for an additional charge of course. Such topics could include inlay and marquetry, building a workbench, finishing wood, making a hand plane etc.

    Aside from the fact the Conference focused on hand tools other things I liked about it was the speakers, they were fantastic, yourself, Klaus, Underhill and Boggs were the speakers I very much enjoyed. I liked the BBQ dinner and guest speaker evening, provided the opportunity to meet other people like myself. I thought the woodworking olympics was a great idea although I missed that year. I also like the market, focus on handtools only, and very specialized tool makers. Of course all this came with a big price, as in my bank account, I usually bought my tools from Lee Valley and still do but I have now been buying tools from Blue Spruce, Chris Vesper, and Lie Nielsen to name a few as well, as each of these guys and others make tools very specialized and unique.

    Anyway, keep up the good work, look forward to the next conference, and am eager to see the newly merged magazine.

    Kevin
    Terrace BC

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