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Girl@SawbenchThe title of this post is not a mistake. You can get paid to attend Woodworking in America in 2013. We’re not going to open the doors for free admission and we’re not going to send you a refund check. In fact, we’re not doing anything; it’s the Woodworking in America sponsors that are doing something. But you have to doing something as well.

The minimum you have to do is participate. The maximum you have to do is – drum roll please – win an event at the Hand Tool Olympics. That’s right. I’m talking about the event held in the Marketplace at each conference. (Marketplace admission is $10 with a $2 discount if you sign up online.) The event where you walk up and Mike Siemsen and the gang from the Society of American Period Furniture Makers explains the events and gets you geared up to give them a try. (Sometimes, at least it happens whenever I’m around the booth, they talk smack. But it’s all in good fun.)

Guys@WorkIf you simply participate, your name is collected for a random drawing to win the donated tools used in that event. If you win the event, you also receive the donated tools from that event. That’s how you can get paid to attend.

If you have been hiding under a rock, or away from woodworking for the past few years, below is a list of the events. (I should warn you that while we have not changed the events from last year’s conferences – thank you Modern Woodworkers Association for your work in the California Olympics – there is going to be a twist added to one of the events in 2013. (That’s a hint as to which event it is.) Get ready for:

1. One Meter Dash , Step away from your table saw and venture back into the 1800s. Each contestant is required to accurately rip a 36″ piece of 1x stock using a handsaw.  This event is judged mainly on time, with points deducted for going way off the line. (A kinked saw will result in immediate disqualification.) Click here to read and practice Adam Cherubini’s pointers doled out in “Secrets to Sawing Fast” from Popular Woodworking Magazine’s “Arts & Mysteries” column. (For more handtool information from Adam, pick up a copy of “The Arts & Mysteries of Hand Tools.”)

2. Shooting Sports , Use a jointer plane to straighten and square the edge created during the One Meter Dash. That’s right , you have to do it completely by hand. Crazy. Judging, with a test bar of aluminum, a feeler gauge and an engineer’s square is for straightness and accuracy.

Siemsen@Judge3. Crosscut Extravaganza , Hold your finger straight to sight down the saw (or simply channel your inner square) to accurately crosscut a piece of 1x lumber. This event is judged mainly for time with points deducted for going way off the line. (A kinked saw will result in immediate disqualification.)

4. Brace Yourself For a Hole in One , Before the advent of electric and battery-powered drill/drivers, carpenters and woodworkers used a brace and auger bits to bore holes. The challenge: Bore a hole in a plank, straight and square to the surface of the plank (no squares or other aids allowed). It’s not as boring as you might think! Judged for speed. Points off for major blowouts on the backside and any degrees out of square.

5. Pins First or Tails First , You make the call on which method you prefer; we’ll track the numbers to see which is more popular. Either way, you have to complete a well-fit three-pin dovetail joint on a 1×4, using hand tools. Goodbye jig. Judging is subjective , but we know it when we see it. If the competition gets close, we may call in a jury.

6. Greco-Roman Tenons , Produce a 3″-long, 3/4″-thick tenon on the end of a piece of 2×4 stock. Your attempt has to fit into a provided test mortise. This event is judged for time and quality , with some latitude allowed if the tenon is a bit tight, as most are hand planed to final fit.

Over the next week, we’ll announce sponsors for the Hand Tool Olympics and let you know what prizes are up for grabs.

What’s the easiest way to get paid to attend Woodworking in America? Practice. Practice. Practice. (No the event is not at Carnegie Hall. It’s at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center.)

— Glen D. Huey

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Showing 3 comments
  • renaissanceww

    I did a series of videos on these events back in 2009 (I think) if anybody wants some practice tips. This is easily the highlight of the entire event in my opinion. My advice is to get in there early, it increases your chances of posting the top result (if only for a few minutes)

  • ChrisHasFlair

    I’ll provide Magic Squares for the judges 🙂


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