Sorry, no pictures.
I didn't know that I would be able to get up to the NWA Showcase in Saratoga Springs until yesterday sometime. I was only able to go for about four hours this morning, from 10 to 2, but it was well worth the 2.5 hour drive each way. I spent about an hour and a half in a presentation by Pete Follansbe, whom I respect quite a bit.
Sadly, due to the way the room was set up and the audience his presentation was geared toward, I feel that I could have benefited more from Chris Schwarz's presentation that was at the same time. I say that because I follow Mr. Follansbe's blog, and have spent hours reading the archives, so I was already familiar with 99.9% of what he discussed (it appeared that the majority of the rest of the audience had significantly less background information). The layout of the room was also what appears to be typical of presentations at woodshows, which more-or-less means that I would have been better served watching it on youtube (which is no fault of Mr. Follansbe). However, it was great to see him in action, in person. It was also great to check out a few pieces of his work in person, and appreciate the scale and tactile pleasures for myself.
After that, I explored the vendor floor, and had several terrific conversations with a few different people, including some that I follow online through their blogs. It was also terrific to experience the wonders of a fine handmade infill plane made by Daed Toolworks, leaving a silky smooth finish on a piece of Curly Maple...planing against the grain! (Not across it, exactly in the opposite direction that you are supposed to). I also tried out a couple of planes by Matt at M.S.Bickford Planes, and it was awesome to have a go at putting into practice some of what I've been reading on his blog. I only made a few cuts because my time was limited, or else I could have spent the whole day doing that. He invited me to visit his shop, and I imagine I will as soon as I can. Luckily, he doesn't live far from me. It was also a pleasure to get my hands on a wide range of tools by both Lie Nielson and Lee Valley. I really want a couple of new planes, but what I want comes up to about $1100. I'm thinking a Nielson #8 with a couple of spare blades, and a bevel up smooth from Lee Valley with a couple spare blades. With my scrub that I already have, I think I would be totally set up for just about any dimensioning or smoothing task. Not happening too soon, sadly.
After that, I only had enough time to do a blitz run through the showroom, which was a shame because I could have spent a week inspecting all of the incredible work in there. There was a selection from the A Gathering of Spoons collection, and I did have the chance to get my mitts on a spoon carved by Jogge Sunqvist, as well as a beauty by Del Stubbs. Both were terrific to hold, I wish I could have spent more time studying them.
Overall, it was an incredible show (what I saw of it), and I wish I could have spent the whole weekend there. I hope I can make it to many more woodworking shows in the future.
Oh, and the Silky katana is truly something that needs to be held to be appreciated.