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Shop talk

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I had a rare treat this weekend. I got to have a lengthy woodworking chat session with a friend I've known for years, even though we've never actually met before.

Thanks to the Internet and the many online woodworking forums, the woodworking community has grown larger than ever. Because we've traded ideas, advice, tips, tool gloats, shop stories (and, yes, shop lies), we consider a lot of them to be close friends, though we’ve sometimes never even been in the same state as them, much less the same room.

Back in my editor days, I often attended about a half-dozen or so yearly woodworking events in various spots around the country. These usually involved seeing new tools introduced at shows or media briefings held by the manufacturers, and while seeing and playing with new tools is always fun; the most enjoyable part was hobnobbing with other woodworkers. Some events were attended mostly by other woodworking editors or writers, while others attracted woodworkers who had nothing to do with the publishing industry. Either way, it was always time enjoyably spent with other woodworkers.

Now that I'm a freelancer I rarely get to attend those events. Heck, I can go days without leaving the house. Add to that the fact that I live in a very, very small town that's a suburb of a very small city – to use the term generously – and there just isn't much here that's of any importance to other woodworkers. As a result, I only rarely get to interact with them, except online.

This weekend, though, a woodworker I've known for about five years – but only through online woodworking forums and the occasional phone call – was on a trip from his home in Michigan to deliver a commission on the East Coast. His itinerary brought him within an hour of here, and since "here" was roughly halfway from his eastern destination and home, I invited him and his wife to spend the night.

It was a great visit. The four of us chatted about all the usual things like jobs, kids and such, but after the wives hit the sack it was just two woodworkers; from that point on the conversation was entirely woodworking. I showed off my shop (which I'd cleaned minutes before his arrival), we discussed projects, talked tools and all the things you might imagine two woodworkers would do till well after one o'clock in the morning.

I consider it some of the best "shop time" I've had in recent memory.

Till next time,


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