In a nod to David Letterman, here’s my Top 10 list of reasons to attend the 2015 AWFS fair in Las Vegas:
10. Get out of the shop!
Aren’t you tired of the same four walls? It does a woodworker good to get out and about every now and then and, if you’ll only get out once, come to the fair. Hands down, it’s the best opportunity of the year to see new products, talk with knowledgeable people, find manufacturing solutions and network with your peers.
9. Did I mention it’s in Las Vegas?
I’m not sure that what happens there, stays there, but it’s a crazy town. A walk down Las Vegas Boulevard at any hour of the day will always be interesting. I look at it as an adult’s amusement park, even though parents bring their kids for some reason. If gambling’s not your thing, dine out or see a show. The possibilities are endless.
8. Visionary new product awards
These recognize exhibitors for innovation for new-to-market products, which includes any product that has been introduced to the industry since the 2013 fair. There’s usually something that makes you say, “This is going to be a game-changer.”
7. Get SMART
If you’re an early riser, register for the SMART (Special Machinery and Relevant Technology) seminars. These are technical in nature and are conducted on the show floor to take advantage of the machines before the show opens in the morning. Early registration is recommended.
6. Student woodworking competitions
There’s a gallery of finalists for the Fresh Wood competition for high school and post-secondary students. You’ll see some impressive work, get to vote for the People’s Choice award and discover who’s the best of the best from the next generation.
This year’s show also features a new Turning to the Future student competition, sponsored by American Association of Woodturners.
5. Educational opportunities
The fair’s College of Woodworking Knowledge is packed with more than 60 speakers and 50 topics to enlighten, inform and elevate your business practices and know-how.
Topics cover software and technology, techniques and applications, furniture, safety and environment, business management and cabinet and millwork. And there are special tracks for teachers and small shops of 10 and under. It’s cool to go back to school.
4. Free stuff
This is probably my lamest reason, but I’ve seen woodworkers get pretty happy about receiving a free hat or T-shirt. Exhibitors have been known to pass them out. We tried it once, but never again.
3. Plastic program
This year, AWFS will be placing a special emphasis on plastics and plastics fabrication. There will be more than 60 exhibitors offering the latest technology and supplies, including cutting, polishing and edge-finishing machinery.
2. Software focus
The Stage, otherwise know as booth No. 5531, will present a series of mini-presentations from various software exhibitors. There will also be power tool demos, award ceremonies and celebrity appearances.
1. Great deals
Most exhibitors will have special show pricing. There will be representatives to talk about financing and other purchasing options. This is one-shop shopping at its best.
— Tod Riggio