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AWFS Fair delivered on what was missing

Congratulations to the AWFS for hosting a successful in-person trade show, July 20-23, in Las Vegas. It wasn’t the biggest or most well attended, but it got the job done by helping the industry return to some degree of normalcy.

Have to admit, I was apprehensive about attending. The Riggio household debated whether Vegas was the best first trip since the pandemic. Seemed like a bold choice, but duty called and after 18 months of home confinement, it was go anywhere time.

Vegas was mostly as I remembered it, except for the masked dealers. The show shined in the new West Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. There were over 400 exhibitors, representing every segment of the woodworking industry. Robotics, material handling, digital fabrication, pre-finished panels, air humidification systems and hardware were some of the categories that really stood out to me. Automation was a major theme.

Attendance was OK. Booth traffic was light to moderate during the four days. There were ample opportunities to speak with exhibitors and learn about their products. It was the most accessible show, in terms of getting face time with an exhibitor, I can recall.

The setting was ideal. The West Hall still had that new convention center smell. It’s about a half mile west of the previous venue, thus a longer walk from the Monorail stop. Fortunately, Tesla built a tunnel to ferry attendees. A strange but appreciated service. The new hall allowed AWFS to have the entire show under one roof. No more back and forth to meet with a machinery rep in one hall and a hardware exhibitor in another.

Overall, I was very pleased with the show. It felt good to get out and about, see some of the tools and machinery that have been behind the curtain recently, and interact with the fine folks in our industry.

It felt like it was about time.

Happy 1,000th

A belated congratulations to A.J. Hamler for posting his 1000th entry to the Over the Workbench blog.

I consider this a remarkable achievement for several reasons. First, just coming up with that many topics is impressive. He started the blog in January of 2008, making this a 13-year effort. His blogs make me laugh, learn and think, which pretty much checks all the boxes.

He’s already up to blog No. 1,006 since the milestone. It’s available at and the magazine’s social media channels. Thanks A.J.

Finishing writer wanted

Woodshop News has an immediate opening for a freelance finishing writer.

This magazine has a proud tradition of presenting expert finishing advice from Bob Flexner, Greg Williams, Mac Simmons and others. This is an excellent opportunity to join their ranks, writing on topics of interest to small and medium-sized professional shops.

Make inquiries to

This article was originally published in the October 2021 issue.

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