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Handworks 2013 Followup, My New Backpack, and One Person Can Make a Big Difference  


Probably the most important advice I can say to anyone who has to work a woodworking show is to wear comfortable shoes and make sure that you have on underwear that doesn't chafe. Other good advice is to make sure you stay hydrated, eat lunch properly, and carry a bag of cough drops.

I put these hints to good use last week at the Handworks show in Amana. The show was awesome. And the barn has a wooden floor which definitely makes it easier for us and certainly anyone waking around. My legs were not killing me after a whole day of standing. The show was also a landmark for us because for the first time we brought merchandise to sell, cash and carry, in a long time. In spite of the rain pouring down all of Saturday, and the place getting super cold (I could not feel my fingers all Saturday afternoon), the place was packed and everyone had fun. Free admission meant meeting lots of significant others and children which is great because woodworking when it's a hobby, is also a family thing. Something you do at home with your family waiting for your results. The show opened Friday with a invocation by Jameel's father, Fr. Raphael. On Saturday, the very engaging talk about toolboxes in general and the H. O. Studley Toolbox in particular started off with movingly beautiful singing of our national anthem by Carl Bilderback. As cynical as this New Yorker is about formality these opening ceremonies were spot-on. When you hold a woodworking event in a wooden barn, and it's free so everything comes and hangs out, and you acknowledge the participants place in the larger context of the world, the country, and of course home and family, it's much easier to remember that Woodworking, and all do-it-yourself crafts are not about going to a store and getting some tool, they are not about consuming, they are about producing, it's about making things for your family, it's about tradition and handing things down, history and continuity.

Handworks 2013 was a massive success, not because as ironmongers we sold a lot of stuff, that just enables us to go on, it was a massive success because it enabled us (and everyone) to connect with the woodworking community and meet their families. We met old customers, new customers, famous faces, familiar faces, new faces, and we ended up feeling great. This was the first time I have ever been to Iowa, and it's lovely. It was a new experience for me, clear skies, clean air, and the thing that was most remarkable, a different kind of quiet. Really something and I enjoyed it very much. The second picture is Amana Village at dusk.

At the show we also introduced for the first time Easy-bits, our modern take on gimlets. People seemed to like them. We also brought our new Rivendell Mountain Works backpacks to the show. These are a Ben, our workshop manager and avid biker, hiker find and we have them in limited stock just in time for Father's Day and the hiking season. Its officially the start of the summer season when much more time should be spent outdoors looking at trees than doing them harm. You won't find a better pack anywhere than these American made packs. The maker is also a woodworker, and I really like the solid simplicity of his designs. I brought my new Lupine pack to the show, it holds tons, and I use it every day going and coming from work. The last picture is an actual picture of me picking out my new backpack when we first got the bags in.

The one person who made a big difference? My hat's off to Jameel Abraham of Benchcrafted, who came up with the idea for Handworks, organized the show, did all the heavy lifting, waited around for booth cargo to both arrive and depart, paid for the forklift, the list goes on. Jameel - We can't thank you enough for all the work you did to make Handworks 2013 such a rousing success!!!! (PS. Jameel - I know your bother and the rest of the family did a lot of work too but I think you're the guy who made it happen)

Tags:Product News, Sales, and Promotions,Misc.
Comments: 10
05/30/2013dale knab 
well said!!!!travelled there from michigan and thoroughly enjoyed the show and the town(s) of amana.....also finally got to meet you after sending lots of hard earned dollars your way!!!!!be well...peace
05/30/2013Mike Lingenfelter 
It could be said you should always wear underwear that don't chafe! I'm so disappointed I missed this event. It looks like it was well attended and successful. I hope this means there will be another show!

05/30/2013Jerry Dye 
Joel' I totally agree with your evaluation of Handworks! I enjoyed seeing TWW's products in the flesh as well as meeting all of you and shaking hands, not to mention hearing you worry about having enough stock to cover Sunday. We elected to return to Ohio on Sunday and got to drive through the rain that you suffered. i hope that you returned to home with your shipping crates folded flat. Peace.
05/30/2013dave ball 
It was a great time. Great to meet you guys and everyone else.

Thanks for the new shellac brush. Hope to get to using it soon.
05/30/2013Dan Westfall 
My son and I enjoyed the Handworks event as well. Matter of fact, thank you for being patient and letting my son try some tools at your booth. That made an impression on both of us.
The best part for me was just getting to touch, feel, try some of the tools. I know all of the quality makers stand behind their tools, but I like to try them out and narrow down what I like to avoid having to send something back.
Lastly, the timing with the weather stunk. But ya, Iowa is a pretty sweet place for a woodworker to live.
05/31/2013Stew Hagerty 
You said it very well Joel. Handworks was a great event. The only other show I've been to is WWIA, and while they have a wonderful variety of booths, companies, and tools there, and yet despite the number of folks that came to Amana for Handworks, it felt so personal there. I was able to speak in person to YOU about YOUR tools. What could be better than that? Sure, it was crowded at times, but it never felt overly so (although that could be attributed to the cold cold wind blowing through the huge gaps in the barn walls).

I picked up one of your cool cabinet makers rasps while I was at your booth (and I'm sure I'll be getting more soon), plus I was able to actually give your saw vise a trial run (also on my short list now). I even helped to pitch your ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC Finishing Brushes (feel free to mail me the commission).

And it wasn't just your booth, virtually every booth was the same way. Ron Brese personally showed me his planes, I had a great conversation with Gary Blum, and received some advise and instruction on using hollows & rounds from Matt Bickford. I was able to speak directly with Chris Schwarz and Megan Fitzpatrick about coming to our local club for a demonstration (They said yes by the way!), and I even did the star struck thing and got pictures of myself with them.

All in all, it was a fantastic event! I certainly hope that it comes back year after year. Besides, Iowa's not a bad place to visit...
06/06/2013Kent Huelman 
I really enjoyed the show. It is so important to be able to try the tools. They all look shiny and nice on the websites but to be able to try them was great. I have been to your site several times and always thought the tools like nice but never placed an order. Within about 5 minutes of being in your booth and seeing the veneer saw I was a customer. I now have a lot more confidence ordering tools from your site. My only regret is not hanging out in your booth a bit longer and trying the holdfasts or the rasps. They will be on my first online order. Thanks for supporting the show, I hope it was a success for your company as well.

I didn't get a chance to visit with you, because you were so busy, but I did get to spend some time chatting with Tim.

Can't wait to put my Gramercy vise into action this weekend in Matt Cianci's Build A Backsaw class so I can write the review Tim is anticipating (per the tag line I'm using).

Will also get to put my curved and rattail Gramercy rasps to work in the same class, as well!

Hand Works was definitely a fun time and I hope this was the first of many years we travel to Amana.


06/26/2013Ron Woods 
Did not know about the show wish I could have been there. Have been to Amana several times and enjoyed it every time. Did you have a chance to eat at Bill Zubers. Great family style meals.
07/03/2013Jim Belair 
I guess if one is a kilted woodworker like Ethan the underwear thing is a non issue.
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