Charles Neil - Finishing Workshop (Rating: 5)

I just got back home from attending Charles Neil's Finishing workshop at his shop in New Market, Virginia (which may not be the end of the Earth, but you can see it from there. ;) The workshop was three days, giving him an opportunity to lecture us on many topics, and more importantly gave us plenty of hands-on time to spray finishes, screw up, and more importantly learn from our mistakes how to do it correctly.

Charles suggested that we each bring our own guns and turbines, which was great having a finishing master show us how to get our own equipment to work at its best (actually, my gun worked at its best when Charles was using it, but that's another matter.)

We spend time dying, glazing, repairing, rubbing out, using mostly water-bourne finishes (to have us learn on a more challenging finish) as well as solvent lacquer with a Kremlin air-assisted setup (sweeeeeet!!!!!!!!). We were presented with a daunting variety of finishing challenges, and shown how to properly accomplish them. The only thing we weren't asked to do was shooting a finish while hanging from the ceiling, and I was afraid that was the purpose of the chains that were hanging down. Charles dispelled a plethora of preconceived notions that we picked up from miscellaneous drivel on the Internet. Invaluable.

I'm SO much better at finishing than I was just a few days ago. Absolutely worth the trip. But the best part was meeting Charles, Sherri, Bob, Ed, as well as my classmates. They truly couldn't be nicer, more helpful people. Charles answered every question we threw at him, from finishing screw ups, to opinions on equipment and finishes, to health care reform, to Civil War history. All with his wonderful charm and sense of humor.

If you have the opportunity to attend this, you will be a far better woodworker to show for it. Plus have a great time.