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Some sights to behold (and one not to) in Las Vegas

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What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas? I think not. Our post-show coverage of the 2013 AWFS fair begins on Page 9 with reaction from the show’s producer, exhibitors and attendees. The consensus is it was a good show for an industry that has wallowed in the recession for too many years.

From my perspective, I saw three standout new product innovations — which I’ll get into later — above-average show traffic throughout the four-day event, generally happy exhibitors and sights that ranged from the strange to the absurd. Perhaps nothing should really surprise me in Las Vegas anymore, but seeing two middle-aged men wearing diapers in an attempt to be Cupid, standing outside my hotel on Las Vegas Boulevard, is a memory I don’t really need.

According to the AWFS, there were 9,150 registered attendees and 503 exhibiting companies occupying 11 percent more floor space than the 2011 AWFS. “This is the first time since 2005 that our trade show expanded in all categories including buyer and exhibitor attendance, total number of exhibiting companies, exhibit space sold and seminar attendance,” AWFS executive president Angelo Gangone says. “It is a very positive sign for our industry as early indications strongly suggest this trend will continue for our 2015 show.”

The three new products that absolutely blew me away were the KCD Touch, Teknatool’s DVR direct drive motor and ShopBot’s HandiBot.

The KCD Touch is software for a tablet and a remarkable sales tool. With it, a cabinetmaker can design a kitchen or closet at the first meeting with a client, make decisions on the size, shape and style of cabinets, add details such as custom molding, countertops and edging, produce 3-D imaging of the finished look and save to a cloud-based server for instant review and production back at the shop. The software will cost out materials and labor based on your design and produce a contract that can be signed with a stylus. And there’s existing tablet technology to run a credit card for the deposit. In theory, the job can be designed, agreed to and started at the shop before you’ve left the client’s house.

Teknatool’s DVR direct-drive motor was showcased in a working drill press at AWFS. Teknatool is a New Zealand-based company and manufacturer of the Nova brand of woodworking lathes, chucks and related woodturning accessories. It’s a ‘smart’ motor with an onboard computer, delivering 1.75 hp at maximum torque throughout the speed range for a smooth, vibration-free and safer user experience, according to the company.

The motor has been available on Nova lathes for several years and more recently on the Shopsmith PowerPro machine. The drill press application makes a lot sense, replacing belts and pulleys, and the motor is very quiet. Teknatool has big plans for this motor with other manufacturers and is almost ready to bring a bolt-on kit for existing machines to market.

ShopBot’s HandiBot is a portable, handheld robotic power tool for precision cutting, drilling, machining and carving. It’s basically a compact CNC router without the table. When used on a bench, it sits on top of the workpiece. It’s app-driven and can be run from a smartphone or tablet.

This article originally appeared in the September 2013 issue.

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