Passing of legends marks calendar year

With summer behind us and the leaves still turning here in New England, perhaps it's a bit early to reflect on 2009. No question, it's been a bummer of a year in terms of the economy. While there are signs of a turnaround, it's not happening quickly enough for most of us in the woodworking community. So we continue to soldier on and survive as best we can, believing that 2010 will bring renewed prosperity.

Personally, 2009 has brought great joy and sorrow. I've been blessed with a healthy and happy son who greets me with a smile from dawn to dusk, then sleeps through the night with only the occasional cry for attention. While I revel in the joy he brings me, professionally I've been quite saddened by the passing of Sam Maloof in May and James Krenov on Sept. 9.

I had the chance to meet Maloof on more than one occasion and, while the encounters were much too brief for a friendship to develop, I know he would insist I call him Sam rather than Mr. Maloof. I found him to be incredibly gracious and forthcoming about his career, but with a refreshing dose of modesty mixed in. Like his work, he was truly one of a kind.

Unfortunately, I never got to meet Krenov. But I know that many of our readers and many of the shop owners we've profiled during the last 23 years held him in the highest regard. We've included some of their thoughts with Krenov's obituary on Page 12. You can share your thoughts by e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . We'll print the responses in an upcoming issue.

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As reported in September's "Taking Stock," attendance was down approximately 50 percent at the 2009 AWFS fair, but there were few, if any, negative comments from exhibitors.

Angelo Gangone, AWFS' executive vice president, summed up the show in the trade group's summer newsletter and I think his words are worth repeating here:

"This event was about showing support for our industry and our exhibitors made a very clear statement that we are still very much alive and, most importantly, there will be much better days ahead. This message was echoed over and over again by exhibitors and appreciative attendees as well. In fact, for as challenging as the show was to produce, it turned out to be a very positive experience when it was all said and done. I can say with confidence that I have never been prouder of our industry or the wonderful individuals whom comprise it."

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While this might rate in the "this comes as no surprise" category, a recent survey by Metabo concludes that battery features are most important to cordless power tool users.

The survey evaluated 10 features of cordless tools, including battery charge time; work time per charge; comfort (weight, size and balance); power/torque; tool life/durability; length of warranty; whether the tool was recommended by someone else; inclusion of a worklight, and battery service life. Participants rated tool life/durability as the most important cordless tool feature. Battery service life ranked second, followed by work time per charge.

When I buy a cordless tool, performance is what I value most, followed by battery compatibility with my other cordless tools. Since I already own several brands, I've got plenty of choices.

What's your criterion for selecting a cordless tool - or any other shop purchase? We'd really like to know.

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Fans of "60 Grit" - and I know you're out there - can now buy a collection of Steven Spiro's woodworking cartoons. The Wisconsin furniture maker has published a book of more than 100 cartoons, titled "Woodchuckles," available from www.amazon.com or www.woodchuckles.com for $11.95.

"I've got boxes of these books in my basement and I've run out of relatives to give them to," says Spiro.

Spiro has collaborated with artist Dave Sanders to make many of the cartoons previously published in Woodshop News even funnier. "I've sized the book so it fits conveniently on the back of the average toilet. I wrote it because I love to laugh and see other people laugh," says Spiro.

Spiro has offered to autograph books upon request, which will surely make it "a real collector's item in about 300 years." All kidding aside, this book surely deserves a place on everyone's toilet.

This article originally appeared in the November 2009 issue.