I have been anxious about all the conflict and flux in the woodworking universe. To help calm myself, I went out seeking woodworking comfort food.
Klingspor is a global abrasives manufacturing company with an American division. This division has three retail woodworking stores in North Carolina. They are having their 14th annual Woodworking Extravaganza a third of the state away in Hickory, NC. It has all the usual extravaganza stuff, various manufacturers, demonstrations, competitions and lots of sandpaper. They sell roll ends, surplus, discontinued products. Boxes and boxes of the stuff. I am still working through my box of sheet sandpaper bought three or four years ago.
This year there was the added attraction of the (in)famous Scott Phillips. For those not familiar with Mr. Phillips, he has been the host of Public Television’s The American Woodshop for 17 years. This is a little unusual in that Mr. Phillips has been associated with Woodcraft. In North Carolina and on-line, Klingspor is a competitor of Woodcraft’s. Who knows how relationships in corporate America work.
Watching Scott work, I realized that there are some differences between Scott and the legendary Roy Underhill. The obvious one is that Roy eschews the use of power tools while Scott embraces them. Sometimes while they are running. Roy has studied and is a practitioner of traditional methods and techniques. Scott is not bound by tradition and is willing to stretch and experiment with ideas on the use and application of tools. Scott is a pioneer and I do not think we will see his like again.
There are similarities between the two. Both are entertainers and know how to work a room. Both are passionate about their woodworking. Neither is afraid of hard work. During a demonstration, Scott realized the Kreg Foreman was not plugged in. He didn’t raise a fuss and demand that someone fix it. He humbly crawled under the table and plugged it in. I also have never heard Roy ask anyone to plug-in any of his tools.
While I was there, Mr. Phillips was showcasing the year’s best new woodworking product. As luck would have it, the manufacturers of the best new products all had booths there. It just goes to show that Klingspor only invited the best manufacturers to their show.
A few years back, I had the chance to talk to Mr. Phillips at a Cincinnati Woodcraft the day before Woodworking in America opened. I think he really does understand his place in the woodworking firmament. He views himself as the guy that demonstrates that anyone can woodwork. He tries to keep things simple and fun. Many of us watch his show and roll our eyes. I don’t think those who do are his target audience. His show is always entertaining although perhaps not for the intended reasons.
It’s a living…
Update: This blog has been modified to correct a word omission.