Matt Vanderlist

Sep 152014

10473395_10152488808894024_638895723507353061_oIt’s Sunday afternoon on September 14 and I’m on my way home from Woodworking in America 2014. As I stare out the airplane window I can already feel the beginning of what I refer to as “the WIA mourning period” kicking in.

It’s not a regret that I attended or didn’t make it to every class on my list, instead it is a feeling of loneliness that occurs shortly after I leave the event and head home.

As a fellow woodworker, you know ours is a solitary hobby. We frequently work alone in our shops for hours on end, and equally often we don’t have nearby friends or family who are also woodworkers. So outside of the shop there’s no one to share our enthusiasm and excitement over mastering a new skill or purchasing a tool.

At Woodworking in America the whole paradigm of solitary woodworking is turned upside down and on its head. You find yourself surrounded by people who not only know exactly why it is that you get excited about a hand-cut dovetail, but share with you their own elation for them.

And while at home, typically the closest you might get to seeing some of the instructors who were talking at WIA is by reading an article in a magazine, picking up a copy of one of their books, or even watching a DVD. While at WIA you’ll have had a chance to watch them speak in front of a class, ask them a question in the hallway, and maybe even hang out with them at an event in the evening.

10661715_10152488810279024_4450297477606545514_oOf course what really brings on the “mourning period” for me is the last night. When we meet for dinner and drinks one more time, talk about what excited us, show off what we bought in the marketplace, and what we’ll get started on when we get home.

We exchange contact information, take pictures and maybe even make plans to get together long before the next WIA. It’s no exaggeration when I write that every time I’ve attended Woodworking in America I’ve left with more friends than I arrived with.

If you ask me what my favorite part of the weekend was, you better plan on having a long conversation, because there wasn’t just one or two things, it was everything!

The staff at Popular Woodworking Magazine manage to consistently pull off an event that can’t be topped. Year-after-year they bring in top-notch instructors, assemble an amazing market place and plan extra events that are like nothing you’ll find elsewhere.

If you’ve never attended an event like Woodworking in America, you need to plan on it at least once. I can say without a doubt that you won’t regret it.


We’ll have additional coverage of what went on at WIA – pictures, videos and blog posts – as the week goes on! Keep an eye on this space for more.

Sep 102014


Woodworking in America 2014 is only a few days away as I’m writing this post, and I’m so excited about attending this year! WIA is billed as the “ultimate woodworking weekend,” and I couldn’t agree more with that statement. I’ve been very fortunate to have been in attendance at almost all of them since the inaugural event took place in Berea, Kentucky in 2008.

What started out as a small symposium dedicated almost entirely to hand tools, with a small number of attendees (compared to recent attendance numbers) has grown into an event that requires a convention center to contain it.

Why is it the ultimate woodworking weekend? It’s simple. Over an entire weekend, attendees have the opportunity to learn from some of the predominate woodworking instructors and artisans in the field. Woodworkers you’ll recognize from magazines, books, DVDs and even online content are leading classes ranging from “bench plane basics,” “saw sharpening 101” to “table saw joinery,” “Historic Marquetry Processes,” and so much more.

WIA is a weekend full of learning for every type of woodworker and for every level of woodworking experience.

And aside from the educational classes, there’s also one of the most talked about features of Woodworking in America, the Tool Marketplace. Vendors ranging from specialty hand tools to leading power tool manufacturers, woodworking schools and many more.

The marketplace at WIA is the heart of the event, and after years of attending, I’ve observed that this is the location where attendees congregate to talk about the class they just attended, to get hands on experiences with the tools they want to add to their own shops, and to talk one-on-one with the manufacturers to learn more about whether it’s the right choice for them.

Woodworking in America is an experience unlike any other. So whether you can make it for the entire weekend, a single day, or only a few hours to hangout and purchase something in the Marketplace, you’ll be happy you did.