WIA Midwest 2012 – The Classes

After a couple of weeks to reflect, this is the first of several posts to review Woodworking in America 2012 – Midwest, which took place in Popular Woodworking’s backyard of Covington, KY. Today we’ll look at one part of what makes WIA the “ultimate woodworking weekend” – the classes.

Due to things we’ll discuss in yet-to-come portions of this review, I didn’t attend as many classes at this WIA as I had in previous years. Thankfully I feel like I finally have a grasp on which things I personally will get the most from, unlike my class selection at the first WIA I attended back in 2010.

On Friday the first class I attended was Adam Cherubini‘s talk on Moulding Planes.

Adam discussed the use of hollows, rounds, and rabbet planes, along with some history on mouldings and how they were produced in period shops. Throughout the talk he was working on actually using the tools to stick a short crown moulding. I really enjoyed the talk and Adam’s presentation style.

Later in the day I caught the tail end of Jeff Miller‘s Furniture Design talk (along with Andy Brownell, who manages to sneak into the foreground).

I managed to catch the first half of the talk on Saturday morning. Overall it was a really good discussion of Jeff’s methodology for going from inspirational spark to finished piece. It was a lot like Michael Fortune’s design class from two years ago, but Jeff had a more personal touch, giving specific examples of his pieces going through the process – such as the chair above and stool below:

My Friday afternoon classes finished with Paul Schurch‘s Veneering & Inlay class. I had’t given much thought to veneers, let alone marquetry, in my work – but I have some thoughts about an inlayed design I want to put on my bench‘s leg vise chop, so I was intrigued enough to check out this class. On the surface, marquetry seems very like a highly technical and difficult to do – at least it did to me. If you listen to Paul talk about about it for more than 20 minutes, you’ll be convinced you could paint the Mona Lisa with veneers!

Saturday morning started off with me catching the first half of Jeff Miller’s design talk (see above). Once I had heard all of Jeff’s talk, I moved over to catch the second half od Keith Bundy’s Finials, Pulls, Knobs, & Tool Handles talk. It was nice to see the Ohio Valley Woodturners Guild step up and provide some turning classes at WIA Midwest. I don’t own a lathe (yet), but I know that turning is something that will get its hooks into me, so I appreciated this new subject being presented at WIA.

After lunch I went back to another Jeff Miller class – this one titled “Working Smarter.” The talk was a synopsis of Jeff’s recent book “The Foundations of Better Woodworking.” There were a ton of great quotes/snippets from this talk:

And arguably the most important quote

I was on the fence about whether or not I wanted to get Jeff’s book, but after this class it’s definitely on the list of books to pick up.

Sundays at WIA are condensed, with only two time slots for classes. First up I had another turning class, this time it was “Bowls & Platters” with Dale Miller. As I look at what I would turn (did I mention I envision falling head over heels on love with a lathe?), I imagine making a lot of bowls. I’ve had possible bowls blanks for over two years without yet owning a lathe! Dale did a good job explain his processes for how he turns bowls, as well as some other techniques one could incorporate. Note to the PopWood brass – bring back turning to next year’s event!

My final class for the conference was Chris Schwarz‘s Furniture of Necessity. This talk was a working preview of his next book where Chris talks about the common forms of furniture that seem to pervasive and defy proper dating, due to their ubiquity. Chris talked about wanting the community’s feedback on these forms and has published his plan for a six board chest.

Overall there were plenty of great topics being covered, including a few that I didn’t have time to attend. The level of instruction was great and is just one of the reasons why I recommend attending Woodworking in America if you can.