First the bad news;
Michael and I got stuck on the smoking floor of our hotel–my room smelled much worse than his, but he disagrees. The last time I remember walking into death like this was when I forgot to bring in my duffel bag after a hockey game–that bag stayed in my trunk for about a week–you get the idea–and in case you don’t there were mushrooms growing on my shin pads. Moving us to a non-smoking room was not possible–a direct punishment for making reservations on a discount site.
In addition, we had a direct flight from Philadelphia to Portland and we both got stuck in middle seats–I would rather get bitten by a Mongolian Death Worm than ride in the middle seat–again, punishment for purchasing discount airfare I am sure.
Lastly, whoever thought of the idea of opening the exhibit area at 8 am each day needs to be bitten by the Mongolian Death Worm. When it was slow on the floor, this is ALL WE TALKED ABOUT.
There. I feel much better.
It sure appeared that the attendees had a grand time–it is fun to be around positive vibes. Orders were tough, but it has been this way for a while in this business so that is no surprise.
On Friday, I assembled for the first time, a new rail system for the Jointmaker Pro. It worked great–for about a half-hour. I give myself a great big “F” for that idea. However, like all engineering problems, failures are solvable and I can’t wait to lick this one. More on this later.
I really enjoyed talking to the other toolmakers and several inquired into our business model–meaning how do we survive without inventory? The math is basic–with credit lines diminished or gone completely, inventory is worse than the bites of a thousand Mongolian Death Worms. We make-to-order and are constantly refining this process–as of this writing, I don’t see us ever going back to the days where we have millions of dollars of cash tied up in inventory.
On Friday evening, we joined several other tool makers at a clients house (whose name shall remain anonymous since his basement is the Ft. Knox of hand tools) for a hand prepared meal. Check this out–the pesto for the handmade pasta was made in San Diego, put on dry ice and flown in specifically for this feast! How cool. Oh, and how tasty!
THIS JUST IN: I just received an email from a customer admonishing me for showing the prototype of the CT-16 without posting it here first. We will formally announce this new tool next week with a couple of videos. Meanwhile, here are a couple of pics of black chrome and stainless steel;
Two well received tools at WIA were the MG-5 Marking Gage/Gauge (both are correct) and the DJ-1 Drilling Jig. We were particularly thrilled with the DJ-1–the demo where Michael drilled a perfect hole on the corner of square stock–while hand holding both the stock and the drill–dropped more than one jaw and opened several wallets.
The MG-5 surprises people with its ergonomics and ability to sit where put. And, the verdict is in, all those that voiced an opinion thought my fetish for black chrome is worth pursuing.
The exhibit hall had many lulls which, as weird as this sounds, I welcomed. I don’t get many opportunities to play with our tools and these moments provided many new seed ideas.
UNRELATED TO WIA DEPT: I was thrilled to read in the New York Times today that as of December 1, the FTC is requiring any blogger/Twitterer or other social media sites which post product reviews to disclose any connection to the advertiser, including the receipt of free products and other forms of compensation. This is a slimy practice in my opinion and any attempt to fix it is most welcome.
THE BEST NINETY-NINE CENTS I EVER SPENT DEPT: I happen to be one of many, I am sure, who are addicted to the smell of WD-40. There is just something about smelling like WD-40 that makes me feel productive and that is just part of the story… I have been spraying this stuff on my ankles for over 50 years and have never been bitten by a Mongolian Death Worm–so there.
I am sad to report that smelling productive just may be over. WD-40 has recently released a new dispenser that is fantastic. It is a felt-tipped pen that puts the smell right where you want it. We bought this at a local box store in Philadelphia because Michael forgot to bring the JM-P lubricant and this turned out to be a great mistake on his part. DISCLAIMER: Although it is not December 1 yet, I have no affiliation with WD-40 other than as a customer who likes to smell like petroleum distillates. What I really like is the benefit to the environment–how many times have I needed to silence a squeaky door hinge and ended up painting a 2 square foot area with lube? Those days are over. It’s ninety-nine cents folks and tell them John, your Tutelary Lubrication Angle sent you.
I can’t close before mentioning that the staff of Popular Woodworking did an outstanding job (except for that 8 am stuff) and are very gracious hosts. I have not heard where the next WIA event will take place but I am sure it will be another stellar event.
First the bad news;