Woodshop News to lead IWF software session

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it looks like computers are more than just a passing fad. Heck, they might even be part of our daily lives for quite some time.

I’ve been getting a lot of mileage out of that rather lame joke for several years. It works best when a colleague has trouble accessing his e-mail or has to wait more than 15 seconds to view a page on the Internet. It’s an intolerable situation, he’ll declare, followed by a few choice adjectives about how computers have become the bane of his existence.

Obviously, we couldn’t do our jobs without computers (there’s a typewriter buried somewhere in my basement — a high school graduation gift, as I recall — near my equally passé set of wooden golf clubs), and I’ll bet your woodworking business would be sunk, too. At the very least, most shops use computers for accounting and design purposes, and an increasing number use them to run their machines.

This is a somewhat long introduction to plug our technical session at the IWF 2008 in Atlanta, titled “CNC Software from A to Z.” The 90-minute panel discussion, scheduled for Friday, Aug. 22, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., is for shop owners who are considering the move to CNC or have recently taken the plunge. I’ll share the specifics of our discussion in a moment, but attendees can expect to learn from my distinguished panelists how to establish criteria for software needs, what to expect during the learning-curve process, and what pitfalls to avoid.

As the moderator of the technical session, I’ll be joined by Mark Smith, national director of WoodLINKS USA, who has used and taught various CAD/CAM programs over the last 12 years; Patrick Molzahn, director of the cabinetmaking and millwork program at Madison Area Technical College in Madison, Wis.; Joe Knobbe, senior project manager for Exclusive Woodworking Inc., a Chicago-area manufacturer of high-end cabinetry and millwork; and Bernie Davis, owner of B.H. Davis Co. and a maker of solid wood curved moldings in Grosvenordale, Conn. In 1999, Davis purchased his first CNC router and has since developed numerous methods that take advantage of CNC technology.

We’ll discuss the availability and importance of technical support, ease-of-use factors, software costs (both upfront and for updates), how you can add software modules for specific tasks, how to assess your manufacturing needs, examples of software suited to particular applications and more. We also promise to stop talking and answer questions from the audience.

The cost to attend the technical session is $35 if you register before July 25. Space is limited, and we’re expecting a sellout, so sign up now. You can register for “CNC Software from A to Z” and other technical sessions at www.iwfatlanta.com.

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OK, I’m done asking. This time I’m telling you. Check out our two new blogs at www.woodshopnews.com. David DeCristoforo and A.J. Hamler are typing their fingers to the bone, each producing two blog posts a week. This is original content, folks; stuff you won’t find in the magazine.

DeCristoforo is a veteran designer and maker of high-end furniture and cabinetry who’s presenting firsthand information about running a woodworking business in his blog, “This Business about Woodworking.” So far, he’s offered his two cents on immigrant labor, the client/maker relationship and customer service. I’m a little scared about what topic he’s going to tackle next, and the only way you’ll find out is if you visit his blog.

Hamler should be a familiar name to longtime subscribers. The former editor of Woodshop News writes in his blog “Over the Workbench,” about whatever he happens to be doing in his shop or what tool he just obtained (and there’s usually a story that goes with it). If you want to talk about woodworking, share a story or a new joke, or simply enjoy his latest adventure, then stop by A.J.’s workbench for a chat.

These blogs are free and open to all. Check them out today.