The road to IWF

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It’s almost time once again for the biggest woodworking event of the year.

The International Woodworking Machinery and Furniture Supply Fair—USA, thankfully better known simply as “IWF,” is scheduled for August 20-23 and is the largest show of its kind in the country; maybe even the world. It takes place in even-numbered years, alternating with the also-huge Association of Woodworking and Furnishings Suppliers Woodworking Machinery and Supply Fair—Vegas, which, even more thankfully, is usually called “AWFS” or just “Vegas.”

These shows are enormous, usually covering thousands of square miles of exhibit halls fully decked out with millions of tools from billions of manufacturers. Like other such endeavors – Disney World, the Mall of America, my wife’s shoe closet – it’s impossible to see everything in a single day. Even allowing multiple days to take everything in, it’s still not an easy task.

There’s a lot there for pro shops to see and learn, but it’s understandably difficult to take the time off and lose shop time to attend these shows. It’s also easy to spin your wheels at the vast array of offerings without, for lack of a better description, a plan of attack for attending a show of this size.

For that reason, Woodshop News has asked me to write a Pro Shop article for the August issue with ideas and tips for getting the most out of IWF. In my years at the magazine I attended every one of the shows and covered a lot of miles in doing so. In the process I learned some of the right ways and wrong ways to go about it, and I’ll share some thoughts on making the show a pleasant and productive experience.

Now, for those of you who have been to IWF before, I’d like to get your input as well. What’s your best suggestion for someone attending the show? What worked well for you, and helped you cover the most ground in the least time? What are your tips for making the show fun? What is the number one not-to-be-missed aspect of IWF?

Give it some thought and e-mail me your ideas and suggestions, and I’ll include the best ones in my article. Be sure to include your full name and your shop location (just city and state is fine) and send your show tips to me at IWFtips@yahoo.com. I’ll check the mailbox daily and acknowledge all letters.

Till next time,

A.J.

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