Education is already one of the biggest bangs for your buck at AWFS, but a little homework goes a long way in adding greatly to the value of educational sessions at the show.

This year’s AWFS College of Woodworking Knowledge offers two ways to choose your educational menu. You can select seminars A La Carte for $75 each before June 27 and $95 thereafter. Or you can save by selecting Seminar Packages of three sessions occurring on the same day for $195 before June 27 or $245 thereafter.

Seminars on the schedule this year cover Business Management; Culture & Workforce; Cabinet, Millwork & Furniture; Software & Technology; Techniques & Applications; and a special Teacher Track.

In several categories there are special SMART seminars. The acronym stands for Special Machinery and Relebant Technology. These are sessions conducted on the show floor at exhibitor booths to take advantage of the machinery available. They take place before the show opens in the morning and focus on new technology applications, understanding machine processes, comparative processes and more.

And if your travel plans permit, you can come a day early to the show and take in special daylong symposia covering Finishing, Closets, CNC Technology, and the Woodworking Network 40 Under 40 Leadership Conference.

You can find out all about all of these offerings by going to, but you need to pay attention not just to the course titles and schedules. Check out the speakers and their backgrounds and expertise. Start compiling a list of questions for each seminar you plan to take. Share your list with everyone in your business who might contribute positive input. For example, if you plan to take a program about CNC routers be sure to involve anyone on your staff who has anything to do with CNC manufacturing. You might even consider sales staff who develop new clients and business development. If you are considering new equipment, write down the questions that you need answered to make a better purchase decision.

When you sign up for the education sessions, plug them into the calendar in your phone with an alert set to give you plenty of time to get to the seminar on time or early. AWFS at the Las Vegas Convention Center is a big place, and you don’t want to miss key introductory information while you are scrambling to jog to the session. Be sure to bring a notebook, laptop, or tablet to take plenty of notes. If the speaker has handout materials, scoop them up. Use your mobile device to take pictures of key slides.

As each session ends, if you’ve still got questions, ask the speaker for contact information. Most speakers at AWFS are happy to answer more questions after the show. Also, pay attention to other attendees in the session who are asking questions or providing information that suggests they are doing similar work or facing similar challenges to those confronting you. Introduce yourself after the session and ask if they don’t mind trading information. Some very successful networking groups have started that way.

Finally, think of exhibitors at the show that might add to your educational experience by answering even more questions before you have to go home from the show. The great thing about education at AWFS is that it is everywhere, and you can get as much out of it as you care to put into it.


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