Woodworking in America 2011: My Favorite Classes - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Woodworking in America 2011: My Favorite Classes

 In Chris Schwarz Blog, Chris Schwarz Woodworking Classes, The Woodwright's Shop, Woodworking Blogs, Woodworking In America

I would be flat-out lying to you if I said we planned out Woodworking in America for you, our beloved readers.

That’s crap. The truth is that we plan out Woodworking in America for us, the staff of the magazine. We sit around our conference table and wonder: Who would we like to meet? What would we like to see? What would be cool to do at night?

The fact that you guys are invited to the conference makes it better (it’s always fun to do stuff in mobs).

For the last couple months I have been working with the staff to plan our 2011 conference, which is back in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area where we held it last year. And while the venue is the same, a lot of things are going to be different.

1. We have hired more instructors than we ever have before.
2. We have more classrooms.
3. We have more optional (but fairly cool) evening activities planned.
4. We nixed the rubber weasel banquet and are going to give you lunches instead.

Registration for the conference – with full details on pricing – will open in three weeks or so. Until then, here are some of the classes I’m looking forward to attending.

You can come, too. This is, by the way, just a small sampling of the classes – I haven’t even listed nearly all the instructors. If you want to be notified the minute that registration opens, sign up for our newsletter at WoodworkinginAmerica.com.

— Christopher Schwarz

The Secret of the Rising Dovetail
Roy Underhill
Every since Roy Underhill demonstrated the “rising dovetail” on his show “The Woodwright’s Shop,” woodworkers have been clamoring for details on how to cut this amazing self-tightening, knockdown joint. Underhill shows you how to lay out and cut this joint, and how you can incorporate it into your next workbench – or mallet.

The Maloof Leg-to-Seat Joint
Charles Brock
A great chair joint has mechanical strength, has maximum glue surface, can be easily adapted to various angles and is visually stunning. This joint can be crafted with a table saw and two common router bits. It may look complex but is very simple. Learn how to design with your projects utilizing joinery that will set your work apart from the rest. Charles will demonstrate how to first cut the joint and then fit it using a router plane and a sanding block. A question and answer session will follow the demonstration.

The Best Oak Money Can’t Buy
Peter Follansbee
Before the advent of powered saws, it was simpler and easier to prepare oak boards by riving the wood using simple tools. And the resulting radially split stock is the best quality a log will yield. It’s very stable, milder and easier to work than sawn stuff. Peter Follansbee, the joiner at Plimoth Plantation, takes a log to pieces during this demonstration of the 17th-century joiner’s art.

Combination Planes
Ron Herman
Make mouldings, grooves, dados and rabbets with the much-misunderstood combination plane. Housewright Ron Herman shows you how to choose, set up and use these versatile planes, which Stanley advertised as a single tool that replaced a toolbox of iron and beech moulding planes.

Shoji Basics
Jay van Arsdale
Shoji – sliding Japanese rice paper screens – are a joinery-lover’s paradise. Japanese joinery expert Jay van Arsdale shows you the basics of designing and building the iconic shoji. plus you will be able see examples of shoji work and view demonstrations of them being built.

Tenons & Sliding Dovetails with Routers & Jigs
Brian Boggs
Chairmaker Brian Boggs has built some of the world’s most ingenious jigs for cutting tenons using off-the-rack hardware and routers. In this class, Brian demonstrates some of his router jigs that can cut double and angled tenons with great ease and accuracy. If you have ever wondered how to take your router joinery to the next level, this class from Brian is a first and significant step.

Dovetails Three Ways
Chuck Bender
Learn to cut through-, half-blind and stunning Bermuda dovetails with a minimum amount of fuss. Master craftsman (and we don’t use that term lightly) Chuck Bender might be one of the best dovetailers alive today. He is fast, proficient and can teach you to become just like him. And if you have never seen Bermuda dovetails, you owe it to yourself to watch Chuck’s amazing demonstration.

A Winchester Desk – Taken to Pieces
Jeff Headley & Steve Hamilton
If you want to know how traditional furniture was built – really built – there is no better learning tool than assembling and disassembling it piece by piece. Period furniture makers Jeff Headley and Steve Hamilton offer you a rare opportunity to see how a piece of furniture from Virginia was constructed from the plinth up. They have reproduced this piece, but all the joints are unglued. So they reveal how all the assemblies work by taking them apart piece by piece before your eyes.

The Contrarian Cabinetmaker
Steve Shanesy
What is the appropriate joinery for non-period furniture? This seminar will challenge the accepted ideas about what is “best” and what is “quality” by looking at the engineering of case goods and box building (including drawers). It will also touch on the question of why woodworkers are so chained to the past when it comes to styles and methods of work. Does it not strike anyone as contradictory that woodworkers are eager to learn SketchUp so they can head to the shop and build 18th-century furniture using a lot of hand work?

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Showing 11 comments
  • CarlosJD

    Is it really true that 2011 WIA is sold out? I attended last year and have heard nothing about the beginning of registration for this years event. I have been looking forward to going all year and am very disappointed.
    Are you sure there isn’t just one more space available? I’m not that big and won’t take up much room . . . honest.

    Oh . . . I just read up and see that registration doesn’t begin until early June. I anxiously await the day I can sign up. YaPaDaPaDoo!!!

    • Megan Fitzpatrick
      Megan Fitzpatrick

      NOOOOOO!!!! We just started talking about it before registration to generate excitement…and apparently fear. Registration is expected to open the first week of June.

  • jazzman

    Well that takes care of most of the weekend right there.

    But can we have a class on finishing PLEASE?

    “Proper application and uses for shellac as a primary finish”

    by Mr. Flexner would be an awesome choice.

    That was the one thing missing form last year’s WWIA. Not a single course on finishing.

    Too bad, because proper finishing is the other half of any woodworking project.



  • Karen

    When will registration take place?
    I hope I have not missed it.

    I check in often and have signed up for updates about the conference but I still don’t have any idea.

    When I go to the WWIA site it looks like all the classes are full–but then there is something there lingering from last year too–so I’m hoping that the “sorry we’re full” sign that put my heart in my mouth is actually referring to last year’s conference.

    These classes all sound fabulous. I don’t want to miss out!

    Any help is appreciated,


  • Artisan Flamingo

    I am sad because I think I wont be able to go, but I´d like to share how to learn clearly the rising dovetail joint, one of my favorite
    Have fun !!


  • MikeZ

    You sure listed some great sessions, Chris. My hotel is already booked and am just chomping at the bit for registration to open in early June.

    I have seen no reference to our National Treasure, Frank Klausz. I know the list of presenters isn’t final yet, but I’m hoping Frank will be there.


    • Karen

      Phew! I just read that registration begins in early June.
      (Thanks Mike Z)


  • xMike

    Now this is just not fair.
    I had already decided not to go this year as I had seen everything Last year. Now you have to go and list a bunch of stuff that I haven’t seen yet. Interesting stuff. Stuff that I may someday need to know, someday. Hummmm.

  • mrogen

    Well it will certainly be worth the effort. And since this may be my last chance to attend, I’m sure going to do my best to get there.


  • Village Carpenter

    It’s going to be a long five months. Can’t wait!

  • MarkHochstein

    Well I’d say you guys did a great job! All of those classes sound like “must see” events!

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