Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Boston Chapter Inaugural Event - WoodExpo 2012

When woodworkers gather, fun ensues.

This past Saturday, the Boston chapter of the Modern Woodworkers Association held it's formal kick-off event to coincide with the WoodExpo2012 held at the Boston World Trade Center convention center, as part of the New England Home Show.

The Wood Expo showcased a few dozen furnituremakers of varying experience, from students from North Bennet Street School & self-taught business startups, to some of the best-know, well-respected artisans in the country.

Modern Woodworkers gathered inside the show to chat with the makers of all stripes, learn techniques, admire design, get to know one another, and generally talk about the passion we share.
After the show, we gathered at a local restaurant for dinner and drinks (16 of us, including visiting Long Island MWA chapter head Dyami Plotke and his wife, some of the presenters, including Chuck Bender and Tom McLaughlin, and some of the event's organizers: Scott Oja (@swedishiron), Justin DiPalma, Rick Waters, and Eli Cleveland, plus exhibitors from New Jersey, New York, and our own Boston members Rob Bois, Mike Morton, Mike McCoy, and me. (Sorry the photo is fuzzy, I was balanced on one foot on a wobbly chair hanging over the head of a mean-looking bouncer...oh yeah, did I mention, the place turns into a 20-something pick-up joint after 10 on Saturdays...who knew?)

Left to Right: Left Front Table: Eli Cleveland,  Justin DiPalma; Left Rear Table:  Mrs. Dyami Plotke, Mike Morton , Niels Cosman, Dyami Plotke; Right Rear Table: Mike McCoy, Rusty Burwell, Rob Bois; Right Front Table: Rick Waters, Tom McLaughlin, Chuck Bender, Scott Oja

As far as the Expo itself is concerned, I've written a perspective about it why YOU should be there on my own blog here.

Among the exhibitors, Modern Woodworkers were very well represented in Mike McCoy, Mike Morton, and Rob Bois:

Morton and Rob talk with master furnituremaker Glen Guarino
Morton Makes a Plane

Mike shows off his 'Sydney' lamp

Besides my personal objectives for the weekend (learning as much as I could absorb), my Modern Woodworkers goals (aside from having fun) were to hear about how social media and the internet is leveraged in the field today, from the masters, as well as the new generation of furnituremakers, and to invite as many of these talented people to the fold if they were interested in participating, sharing, networking, or just hanging out and talking wood with like-minded members.

I'm happy to say, on the latter, the Modern Woodworkers Association did very well, in that nearly every maker I spoke with expressed interest in knowing more about it, if not asked to be signed up on the spot.  I will be posting a separate entry to welcome these new members once I get the list updated, and many names will be recognizable  to many of you.

For the former goal, learning what place social networking and the internet play today, I'm afraid there is a drastic, perhaps generational divide.  Responses to one question posed to the first panel (Glen Guarino, Tom McLaughlin, Terry Moore, and Tommy Mac) clearly showed that while most were aware that these existed, they regretted not knowing enough about it to leverage the technology.  Even some of the younger makers have minimal web-presence beyond a website.  I'm happy to say, every one of these guys expressed genuine interest (to me) in learning how to make more of the technology in helping to grow the craft and to leverage it for their businesses and schools. Rob Bois was filming, as was the WoodExpo crew, so I'd expect footage of the panel discussion to be available in the near future.

L to R: Glen Guarino, Tom McLaughlin, Terry Moore and Tommy Mac answer questions in a panel discussion.

 I left motivated to design, build, network, collaborate, and with a bunch of great ideas for woodworking-related meetup events for the coming year, including museum visits, educational workshops, design critiques from fellow makers, school tours, workshop tours, and more.. (Note: your ideas are also highly sought and encouraged!).  Stay Tuned!

How did Rob think it went....um....strong?

Rob conquers his stool

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fine Modern Woodworking

The guys at Fine Woodworking are a nice bunch. How do I know? On February 17, 2012 I was lucky enough to be among a group of Modern Woodworkers to attend a private tour of the Fine Woodworking offices and shop. Unfortunately, space was limited so we weren’t able to publish detail of the tour before hand, but here’s my best recounting for everyone who wasn't able to attend. We're hoping to make events like this a more frequent occurrence, so hopefully everyone in the MWA will be able to attend one soon.
No, you sit first.
We began in the Fine Woodworking / Fine Homebuilding break room where, to the man, we were too polite to sit after the late arrivals (Me, Chris & Doug). In the break room Matt Kenney began by explaining the history of the magazine and a little about the great Taunton publishing empire that has grown up around it. Taunton is still a family run business, even 37 years after starting. They maintain a strict firewall between advertising and editorial staffs. Matt said he won’t even take a complaint from a manufacturer (that’s the advertising staff’s issue if manufacturer’s don’t like their reviews). Also, they are apparently named after the local Taunton Lake. Mike Pekovich then wrapped up the discussion of the corporate history and structure and we moved into the offices proper.
We squeezed into a narrow isle between cubicles and gazed at the magazine spread out on the wall. Matt & Mike then explained that once the articles are laid out and the draft of the magazine is assembled it is hung on the wall here for all to see. Everyone is then encouraged to look it over and over for mistakes, incongruities or other errors.
Make a list (or magazine) and check it twice.
They also discussed how articles are formed. I’m sure I’m not getting it all right due to my lack of notes, but the process involves editors pitching ideas to the entire staff, then going back to the authors to form the story. Finally the editors visit the author and take the photos. Due to space restrictions in the magazine, the articles tend to focus on the unique aspects of projects, rather then the fundamentals the projects are based on. They have regular, occasional articles on fundamentals to supplement the basics left out of project articles.

After the talk of how the magazine is built we moved onto the meat of the tour, the workshop.

Jointer/Planers to test and lumber racks against the wall.
Fine Woodworking has three (3) workshop areas. The first, and largest area is most often used for tool tests and photo shoots. At the time of our visit, it was still housing the Jointer / Planer combo machines that were tested for the April 2012 issue. This first area also houses both the magazine’s and staff’s lumber racks. As a staff member, you’re allowed use of the workshops for personal use and by all accounts all the staff does.
More power tools than fit in a standard photo.
The second room is the power tool room. This room has the tools you'd expect (a Saw Stop and an old Powermatic drill press). It also houses a 16” jointer and a monster Powermatic planer that probably weighs more than my truck. The power tool room doesn’t get as many photos, as they try to only show tools that most readers could own.

The third room is the hand tool room. This is a small room, with a bench in the center. The walls are lined with counters and tool racks. This room gets its share of photos and it was home to the demonstrations that Matt and Mike provided.

When they asked me what we’d like to have demonstrated, I immediately replied: “efficiency.” I never have enough shop time, and I’m sure most of you don’t either. The Fine Woodworking guys didn’t disappoint.
The key to efficient hand tool use in the shop is
to have another woodworker do the work.
Matt gave a great demonstration on how he used bench jigs; a plane stop, a saw hook and a shooting board, to work efficiently with small pieces on the boxes on small cabinets he like to make. Mike showed us a very cool method of making dovetails using a custom ground table saw blade to make the tails and repeated, accurate hand saw cuts to make the pins.
Hybrid dovetails begin at the table saw with a custom ground blade.
After the demonstration we all headed over to the main Taunton building down the road for lunch in the “T”. As we ate, Matt and Mike were great company (as they had been the whole time). We all talked of our shops, our projects and everything else woodworkers talk of.
L to R: Steve Branam, Nick Roulleau, Me, Morton, Michael McCoy, Doug Plotke
Chris Adkins, Jim Ashley & Freddie Ellis.
On behalf of everyone who attended, I need to thank Matt and Mike and express how much I’m hoping we get to hang out at Fine Woodworking Live. I know it’ll be a great event, because the guys at Fine Woodworking are a nice bunch.
Be safe, my friends.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

The FIRST Modern Woodworkers Association Florida meet-up!

I love when the Woodworking Shows come to Tampa. It’s a great opportunity to see my friend and fellow Wood Magazine contributor Jim Heavey (and, Jim, yes, you are welcome back to the house for more Jambalaya, if you are up for it!), sit in on some awesome classes and get hands-on time with some great tools.

This year, there is going to be something else to look forward to – the first ever Florida meet-up for the Modern Woodworkers Association. With online woodworking now a huge deal, the MWA is a place for us all to hang out virtually… but, it’s always good to get folks together in person to talk, shake hands and swap some tall shop tales.

This year, the Woodworking Show at the Tampa Fairgrounds is held the weekend of March 16 – 18. I plan on being there on Saturday, March 17. Since that Saturday is St. Patrick’s Day, I’m sure most of you would like to get your Irish on at a St. Patrick’s Day celebration, so we’ll make the meet up from about 10 – 3. I won’t be sporting any green, but I will be wearing my Modern Woodworkers Association t-shirt I got last October, so I should be easy to find. I will look a lot like the guy in this photo:

While we won’t have a formal ‘agenda’ for this meeting, it should give us a good opportunity to get together. Since the St. Petersburg Woodcrafters’ Guild will have a table at the show, this might not be a bad meeting spot around noon…

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone next month!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wood Expo 2012 - Boston MWA Kickoff - details

Alright folks, I've waited long enough, and I know, the suspense has been killing you.

Here are the details of the First 'official' Boston Chapter MWA meetup on Saturday February 25th, and will be an the first annual meetup at WoodExpo.

The meetup itself will be held informally inside of WoodExpo and starts whenever you wish to arrive on Saturday.  We (MWA) will have a bench around which to congregate, and a room available if we feel the need, but the day will be replete with fantastic woodworkers doing demos, showing their work, including at least 3 of our own, so I'd encourage you to go around an take in as much as you can, chat with as many people as you can and enjoy some presentations by top-notch furnituremakers.  Here is the schedule of events from the Main Bench.  Don't forget to get your tickets online before the show ($9), or they'll be $12 at the door.

When you arrive, I'd start by finding one of at least three MWA- Boston members exhibiting at the event:  Mike Morton, Rob Bois, and Mike McCoy, they'll point you in the right direction for finding the other MWA people.

I'd like to say I'll be hanging out at the MWA bench, but I probably won't. I'll be taking the opportunity to meet, chat with, be inspired by and learn from all of the other talented folk that'll be there.

So, here's the rest of the plan:

Following the exhibitor awards (which begin at 7P) we'll invite MWA folks to join us for dinner and drinks in the neighborhood. (The plan is to go to the Atlantic Beer Garden, next door to the show venue, but depending on the number of people who plan on coming out, we may opt for a short walk down the waterfront to the Barking Crab, which can usually take larger parties more easily.)  If you're planning on joining us just for the after-show meetup, call me directly (Nick, 508-801-5651) around 7:30 on Saturday, and I'll let you know which venue was selected.

I'm excited to kickoff the local chapter and meet everyone at such a great event!
You can contact me with any questions.

See you there,

PS.  Don't forget to buy your MWA shirts!

Wear your MWA

Big news. We've finally set up a Modern Woodworker's T-shirt site.

Check it out here: http://www.cafepress.com/modernwoodworkersassociation or at new button on the right of the page bar.

The shirts all feature the Modern Woodworkers Association logo on the front. We've come up with following styles:

  • MWA Logo on the Front, Short Sleeved T-Shirt; $20.99
  • MWA Logo on the Front, MWA QR code on the Back, Short Sleeved T-Shirt; $29.99
  • MWA Logo on the Front, Fitted Women's T-Shirt; $21.99
  • MWA Logo on the Front, Long Sleeved T-Shirt; $24.99
  • MWA Logo on the Top, Fitted Wall Clock; $10.99

Cafepress is a little pricey, but we we've set up our storefront to sell the shirts at cost to keep the price as low as we can. We decided on Cafepress because it was a simple way for us to make shirts available to MWA members and fans without any of us having to front a big order and then handle payment from and shipping to individuals.

We'd ask you to please show your support and make MWA gatherings a sea of Modern T-Shirts.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Modern Woodworkers, Now on Google+...and iTunes!

While many of us have personal and business pages at Google plus, Modern Woodworkers didn't have one...that is, until yesterday.  Check out our newest frontier on the social media scene, add MWA to your circles, and follow along with the latest news, links and info on the MWA.

While you're at it, if you want hear the latest in book reviews, discussions, interviews and more subscribe to the

Sunday, February 12, 2012

With The MWA Community's Help, We're Gonna Rock FWW Live

I’m late in reminding everyone, but tickets to Fine Woodworking Live, August 2nd - 5th in New Paltz, NY have gone on sale. Though I don’t know how many have bought tickets yet (I have), the event is limited to 300 participants. Tickets for the conference are currently at $400 as the “early bird special offer”. There’s no indication as to when the early bird deal will end, but when it does tickets go to $450. I’d recommend you buy tickets as soon as you can.
A woodworking reception (typical).

The opening day, Thursday, August 2nd is a quite day with just registration and a welcome reception from 5:30 to 6:30. I think we’re going to change that.

After the welcome reception, we’re going to have an MWA get together. Hopefully it’ll be like the fantastic event Nik Brown pulled together at WIA11.
Woodworkers, talking wood (& Vic getting his groove on) at the
WIA11 Blogger Community Party Nik Brown organized.
Here’s where I need my fellow MWA member’s help:
  1. It’s been about 15 years since I was last in New Paltz. All I remember about the place is that nothing is shinny . . . except your future. Does anyone know the area well enough to recommend a bar/pub/restaurant for our Thursday night get together? Would anyone be willing to set it up?
  1. If our get together is anything like the evening activities at WIA, then we’ll be out late, and in no condition to drive. That’s why I’d like to suggest that we all stay in walking distance of the college and location of the get together. Based on a quick scan of Google hotel finder, the 87 Motel New Paltz seems like a decent choice, but it’s on the opposite side of the through-way (and it’s site says it’s not available those dates), so it might be a bad choice for walking. Again, if anyone is familiar with the area and can make a recommendation for us, it’d be appreciated.

Thanks for the help. Let’s have a discussion in the comments below. I’ll post again when there’s some consensus and a plan.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

MWA Review #1: Rough Cut - Woodworking with Tommy Mac

A few months ago the founding administrators of the Modern Woodworkers Association were given the opportunity to review the new Rough Cut book from Taunton. It’s a companion to the first season of the TV show entitled “Rough Cut - Woodworking with Tommy Mac”.
The book dedicates a chapter to each of the season one projects with an additional chapter on finishing. It does a good job of walking readers through the projects and with a basic understanding of woodworking and the corresponding episode as a supplement most of the projects should be easily achievable.

For our full review, please listen as four woodworkers banter on and on about actually having read a book.

MWA Podcast Episode 1

We’re working on setting it up in iTunes and we’ll update this as soon as we do. Until then, please listen here.

Also, thanks to my fellow MWA Admins for making this happen.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

About WoodEXPO--the #Woodchat Transcript 2/1/2012

A great group of #woodchat-ers met online to talk about WoodExpo 2012, and similar shows, featuring several of the event's organizers, @elicleveland, @furnitology, @splinteredboard, and @swedishiron.  Follow WoodExpo news on twitter with @WoodExpoUS

 Here is a link to the transcript of the chat for February 1, 2012

If you haven't already seen the earlier post about MWA's presence at WoodExpo, read more about it here!

If you're not a part of woodchat yet, get yourself a twitter account and join us Wed Nights (9P EST/6P Pacific Time) in Tweetchat.

A couple of notes:
  • This transcript reads top to bottom chronologically, and the times shown are GMT (+5hrs from Eastern Time).  
  • For those waiting for #woodchat migration to Google+, it's coming with a users guide.  Start by adding woodchat to your circles.  More to follow on that. 
  • Lastly, please visit this page and add your topic suggestions by filling out the poll at the bottom in the "other" box.  The more topics we have, the better #woodchat gets!

MWA-Boston at WoodExpo 2012

The Modern Woodworkers Association - Boston Area Chapter's inaugural meet-up will be held on Saturday February 25th at WOODEXPO 2012.

All Boston Area members, those visiting from elsewhere in the country, or those who want to know more about the group are invited to join us.

We will have a meeting room at the event, where we can meet, chat, learn more about the association, and more, and will also be treated to some good demos to see as a group.

The evening activities will also include dinner and drinks at a local restaurant to continue to talk wood, and get to know each other.

We are excited to have at least two MWA-Boston members exhibiting at the show, Rob Bois, and Michael Morton, so please come out and see their outstanding entries, and support their work.

For more information on the show here is the Wood Expo 2012 Information sheet

Subscribe to and stay tuned to this blog for details to follow.  You can also contact us to be added to the mailing list, follow me on twitter @mansfinefurn , follow #ModernWoodworkers hashtag, or just watch this blog.  Time and place will be announced as soon as we've finalized the plans.

If you know any area woodworkers who want to learn more about MWA, send them this link!