NWA Saratoga Springs, New York #1: Annual Conference March 31-April 1, 2012

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Blog entry by Ken Fitzpatrick posted 04-02-2012 12:32 AM 2068 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Had a wonderful weekend in Saratoga Springs, New York. As I discovered last year, the work submitted for judging was superb. I was all over the place looking, wanting to touch and photographing all of the work that was on display. Here’s a link to my pics of those works of art. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Saturday I spent the entire day taking classes with John Wilson (Shaker Oval Boxes John Wilson). I describe John that way because he truly is considered the top expert in box construction and provider of materials so necessary for box building. In the morning we built a carrier and in the afternoon a #4 lidded box. While I have been making Shaker Oval Boxes for about 6 years, I promissed myself that if John gave a class anywhere near where I live that I would be there. It was just as I imagined. I give great credit to the gentleman I originally learned from, Paul Labossier, but even Paul would love to have taken a class with John Wilson.

Watching the differences in the way John approaches his projects I learned a wealth of new knowledge on the do’s and don’ts of oval box making. The one major change for me was the ability or I should say the willingness to complete a project from start to ready to finish state, all within a couple of hours. I was taught that once you bent your bands for the box and the lid, you should leave them on the stretchers over night and probably up to 24 hours. John came up with this process so that when teaching classes all over the country, his students would walk out with a completely built box that only needed a finish to be applied.

While it was un nerving to think I would be placeing bottoms and tops in to cherry bands that were recently in boiling water, we did it and with considerable success. All students in both morning and afternoon classes were successful in completing thier projects in less than 3 hours from start to finish. I believe that the time could be cut almost in half once you get the hang of working with wet bands.

It was really nice to listen to those in the class who were so excited to have completed their projects. Everyone who has done it will tell you that you get a feeling of peacefullnes while building the boxes. It was proven to me once again that this was certainly true for those who participated on Saturday.

I saw the excitment for everyone as they finished their project but even more so in anticipation to getting to their home shops to build even more. Ideas were shared about top and bottom materials either solid or veneered panels. Before I left on Sunday afternoon I was fortunate enough to run in to some of my classmates who were busily purchasing exotic veneers for their soon to be completed projects.

I thank John and his associate Eric Pintar for their thoughtfull guidance and friendly way of teaching these classes. I also would like to bring to everyones attention a new Book that John has just self published focusing on construction of your own hand tools. It’s a beautifully illustrated book that will give you clear and concise directions for constructing a number of hand tools from a router plane (my favorite) to many variations of hand planes, bow saws scraper planes, spoke shaves, too many to mention here. Also include are directions for some of his workbenches and tool totes. My favorite in that group is his Boat Tote, a tool carrier in the shape of a boat. You have to see it to appreciate it. Sorry to go on about this, I probably should do a much more expanded review of the book in the review section.

If this seems a little rushed and mabe disjointed it is because I wanted to get this up today as I had promissed a number of fellow Lumberjocks that I would.

One last thing before I go, I had the opportunity to meet one of our fellow jocks Charger 1966. His adirondike boat was on display with several others that caught my eye. Charger has done a beautiful job on his boat. I really liked it very much. As with all of the other projects on display, I didn’t touch, even though I wanted to. Thats the one part of shows that we as woodworkers dislike. The first thing we want to do is touch the wood. I understand why we can’t but that doesn’t take away the desire.

-- • "I have noticed that nothing I have never said ever did me any harm."....... Calvin Coolidge

6 comments so far

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 3873 days

#1 posted 04-02-2012 02:13 AM

Glad you enjoyed the show!! I’m an NWA member and I can tell you that a LOT of work and planning goes into this show. We are meeting Tuesday to discuss what went well and, more importantly, what didn’t go so well so that next year’s show will be even better. I tried to organize a booth for LJ last year, but couldn’t find anyone to help with the booth, so it didn’t happen.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View Ken Fitzpatrick's profile

Ken Fitzpatrick

376 posts in 4538 days

#2 posted 04-02-2012 02:18 AM


It was really evident that a lot of hard work and effort was put into the show. Your group should be proud of what they accomplished. This was my second year at the show and enjoyed both very much. Thanks to NWA for such a well organized well run show and educational event.

-- • "I have noticed that nothing I have never said ever did me any harm."....... Calvin Coolidge

View Don W's profile

Don W

19342 posts in 3082 days

#3 posted 04-02-2012 12:47 PM

I went to the show as well. I spent some time talking to John Wilson and bought his book on making tools. He seems like a great guy. He mentioned he just learned of a way to eliminate the need to use a dowel in making a krenov style plane when aligning the sides. Place a few grains of salt on the wood. They act as a hold, and will dissolve with the glue. Not only is it a cool trick, I thought it was nice he mentioned he recently learned it from one of his students.

My only complaint about the show was parking. I’ve been to the city center to many times to rememeber and never had a problem before.

I managed to walk out with a few new tools from the Lee Valley tent, a nice piece of Bloodcote and a few other trinkets.

The Lie-Nelsen bench was hard to walk away from. Ohhhh to wonders.

It was a good day at Saratoga. Thanks for the review, I planned to write one as well, but you’ve done a fine job here.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Dusty56's profile


11852 posts in 4202 days

#4 posted 05-24-2012 01:09 AM

Hi Ken , I don’t know how I missed this , but it was a good read now that I’ve found it. I could sense your excitement while reading the story. Now on to your photos. : )
Glad you had a great time !

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Ken Fitzpatrick's profile

Ken Fitzpatrick

376 posts in 4538 days

#5 posted 05-24-2012 12:08 PM

Hi Len,

Thought I had sent you a note when I posted, guess I didn’t. Had a wonderful time. The classes were great and the show had so many wonderful entries. Ive made up my mind I’m going to try and attend each year. Glad you enjoyed the post.


-- • "I have noticed that nothing I have never said ever did me any harm."....... Calvin Coolidge

View Dusty56's profile


11852 posts in 4202 days

#6 posted 05-24-2012 10:11 PM

I also enjoyed all of your photos…well done , Ken : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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