Tuesday, October 6, 2009

WIA Philadelphia Wrap-up

The Benchcrafted crew has returned after a whirlwind tour of Pennsylvania! 6 days and 2350 miles later we're beat, but happy. We have to say that the show was rewarding in multiple ways. As usual, we were fortunate to see many old friends and also make some new ones. Just a short journal here to document some of the happenings.

We started out from Eastern Iowa mid-morning Tuesday September 29th. Our first hurdle was loading our 15 passenger van. It was a daunting task to load everything, most notably our 8 ft. 500 lb. Ash Roubo with dual Glides. What a bear! We also brought our 6 ft. Travel Roubo, various display tables and other accouterments. It was a load. Finally we put about 12 lbs. of chips and nuts in to accompany the beer (this we put in a VERY accessible location, after all we'd be picking up Bob Zajicek the next day). We drove 7.5 hours to Toledo, OH the first day without a hitch.

The next day, Wednesday, we drove approximately 10 hours to arrive at the Philadelphia airport in time to pick up Ron Brese of Brese Planes and Bob Zajicek of Czeck Edge, our partners in crime. We packed em' in and headed for the Valley Forge Convention Center. The hotel was nice, but doubly so because we scored the rooms at the venue for half the going rate thanks to Hotwire. It also afforded us the convenience of being able to attend the show each day without driving anywhere. It's hard to beat staying at the venue.

Thursday morning we were the first ones on the show floor to set up. We knew ahead of time that Andrew Lunn of Eccentric Toolworks was right next to our double wide booth. Luckily Andrew wasn't there yet which opened an opportunity for a practical joke. Andrew's a great guy but a bit slow on the uptake. We quickly removed the provided venue sign from his booth and replaced it with this one.

We got quite a chuckle out of it but no so much as we did after we found out from Andrew that he thought it was a legitimate mistake on the hotel's part and proceeded to take it to the front desk to sort it all out! There weren't many people at the show that weren't talking about the Harbor Freight booth.

After setting up we jumped in the van for a day trip to the Winterthur DuPont estate. The estate was impressive to say the least, covering over 1000 acres, down from it's original 2500. It was at one time a full working, self-sustaining farm estate providing for all it's own needs with the exception of sugar and tobacco. The main building houses room after room of authentic period furniture, each room encompassing a specific period or style.

Bob Z. meditating on the natural beauty at Winterthur estate.

90 year old Redwood, already over 100 ft. tall!

Much of the estate contained vast amounts of hand laid rock walls. Very impressive and beautiful.

Vintage Shaker sideboard.

One of the many themed rooms. This was an 18th Century room containing several period pieces from the Federal style. Much of the china was owned and used by George Washington. Ron Brese & Jameel Abraham admiring on the right.

Steins designed and made by none other than Paul Revere!

Oriental room. Chock full of Chippendale.

Three-story spiral staircase.

Atrium. Bob Z., John (jr.), Ron B., Jameel A., guide.

Family room. Despite the sheer vastitude (yes, that is a word...) of this place, most of the rooms were meant as mere "walk throughs" simply for looking. This is one of the rooms that was actually used by the family. We were told they had some ripping good times in here. Certainly looks warm, cozy and inviting...not stiff or formal at all. This room just screams "Pinata"!

The show. We were happy as usual to be across from the Lie-Nielsen booth. We're huge LN fans, not just because of the tools but because of the people. They run a tight ship, treat people right and everyone walks away from that booth with a positive experience.

Thomas Lie-Nielsen giving a look at our new bench Skraper.

Being next to Andrew Lunn from Eccentric Toolworks was also a great boon. Andrew is an extremely affable fellow, someone we had corresponded with, but never met. He's also a VERY funny guy. We can say that we'd be dissapointed to not have the opportunity to share space with Andrew again.

Jameel, Roy Underhill & Andrew Lunn. Photo thanks to JoeMac.

Roy giving Andrew's dovetail saw a try on our 500 lb. Roubo. He liked them both!
Photo thanks to JoeMac.

A quick shot of the new Brese Panel Plane.

Another great bunch of guys were Dan and Kyle of DL Barrett & sons & Ed Paik of Medallion Toolworks. Fantastic products, the Barretts make world class plow planes and Ed makes beautiful saws. The best part is they are a bunch of good-natured cut-ups, even for a group from the great white North, eh'.

Ed Paik, Jameel, Dan Barrett, Kyle Barrett, Raney Nelson.

A stunning Barrett plow plane.

We'd be remiss if we didn't mention some others at the show. We didn't take as many pics as we would have liked but we were really happy to see our friends Ron Hock & his wife Linda Rosengarten of Hock Tools. They are simply great people and we always look forward to seeing them. Unfortunately we missed getting some good shots of Konrad Sauer's infills.

L-R: Andrew Lunn, Ed Paik, Bob Zajicek, Jameel Abraham, Kyle Barrett, Gary Blum, Ron Hock, Dave Jeske, Dan Barrett, John Economaki, John Abraham (jr.), Ron Brese, Fr. John Abraham. Photo courtesy of Tony Augruso.

In fact it's too bad we have to rely on these shows for everyone to get together, being separated as we are by typically great distances. People like George Walker, Christopher Schwarz, Megan Fitzpatrick, Angie Kopacek, Alex and the whole L-N crew and many others we are pleased to see.

Special thanks to the entire staff of Popular Woodworking Magazine for putting so much effort into making WIA the special event that it has turned out to be. We look forward to the next WIA and hope to participate in it.

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