Two is better than one when seeing IWF 2012

todmug_newSeeing all that IWF 2012 in Atlanta has to offer is a challenge. While it’s possible to walk the show floor in a single day, the strategy doesn’t allow for much meaningful interaction with exhibitors. It’s like going to Disneyland and skipping the rides.

I spent all four days walking and talking, yet undoubtedly missed something of value. Fortunately, staff writer Jennifer Hicks covered equal ground and I got an unexpected assist from Bernie Davis.

Davis is the owner of B.H. Davis Co., a maker of curved moldings in Grosvenordale, Conn., and a woodworking machinery expert. I call him MacGyver because he’s really into the mechanical aspects. He made a last-minute decision to attend IWF and was soon enlisted as a scout of “cool tools.” We met on the show’s third day for a quick tour.

Davis quickly led me to the booth of General International for a look at the company’s wide selection of benchtop CNC routers. Davis is a CNC guy and marvels at this emerging category, which brings high-tech design to the everyman. I pointed out General’s new explosion-proof dust collectors and router table kits before it was off to another booth.

At Oliver Machinery, Davis and I were like two kids in a candy store as we watched a CNC benchtop lathe in action. “You press a button and walk away,” Davis said as the 10” IntelliCarve, model 1010, produced a spindle. We both admired Oliver’s extensive offerings, which now include edgebanders, sliding table saw and membrane press, but were hypnotized by the lathe.

But Davis really wanted me to see the Aerotech replacement tool-holder in the FS Cruing booth. It extracts dust at the source of CNC cutting, while extending tool life and all but eliminating cleanup. Before Davis could reach for his credit card, we stared some more at Kearne’s HSE laser system, which had cut a detailed portrait on a full sheet of veneered plywood. We both had a ‘What will they think of next?’ moment.

Then it was my turn to lead the tour. We hit the ShopBot booth to see a drag knife from Donek Tools, used on CNC machines to cut exact curves and sharp corners in wood veneer, plastics, gasket materials and more. Then it was off to Lee Valley Tools, which featured a collection of new planes and bench chisels, and Stiles Machinery where a vertical, space-saving CNC machine drew a consistent crowd of curious onlookers. Finally, we got a demo from Cabinotch, a source for cabinet boxes. You can order online and get the parts in a few days.

We spent about 90 minutes on our tour, hardly enough time to see the whole show. Judging by the teetering stack of show literature and notes perched on my desk, we’ll be writing about new products from IWF 2012 well into next year. This month’s coverage continues on Page 8.

The next time you’re at a show with a friend or colleague, split up and compare notes later. It’s the best approach I’ve found.

This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue.

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