LANCASTER, Pa. – The first Wood Pro Expo in Lancaster drew larger crowds of woodworkers to its new home during the two-day exhibition.
A variety of equipment, supplies and services exhibitors met with local woodworkers and makers of cabinets, furniture and millwork at the Lancaster Host exhibit hall east of Lancaster.
“We sold out our Wood Pro Expo exhibit space at the Lancaster location this year, and we drew more attendees than the previous two events in Baltimore,” said Tim Fixmer, CEO of CCI Media, parent company of Woodworking Network and FDMC Magazine.
“We are planning on returning to Lancaster with a second Wood Pro Expo event in October 2018.”
Both exhibitors and attendees were reported to be pleased with the event.
“The exhibitors we talked to were pleased with the result,” said Carroll Henning, CCI Media director of marketing and events. “They said the Lancaster location was the center of a lot of woodworking activity.
Benefits of a business plan
Will Sampson led off the event with a keynote address describing seven ways woodworkers can improve their businesses. Sampson discussed the benefits of a business plan, and how price is determined by labor plus material plus overhead and profit all equals price. Sampson suggested shops know their real costs, find and know their market, and let suppliers help them.
On the second day of Wood Pro Expo, Lean manufacturing was the keynote subject. Mike Roth of Lean-Six-Sigma.com described value stream management, mapping the big picture, the need to start with a commitment to lean and the expected benefits of a lean deployment.
During Wood Pro Expo the 2017 Best in Wood winners were announced. See https://www.woodworkingnetwork.com/best-wood/best-wood-winners/2017-best-wood-winners-announced-wood-pro-expo
Quartersawn and sustainability
Also speaking was Criswell Davis of Frank Miller Lumber, who showed how the other half lives with examples of high-end millwork jobs. He spoke about hardwood lumber trends, sustainable forests and details of quartersawn lumber techniques. Davis said to keep specifying American hardwoods for environmental reasons. Cutting down older trees benefits the forest.
Cold weather fabrication was discussed by Bob Schaefer of Fessenden Hall Inc. Schaefer detailed characteristics of different types of panel and laminate products and the effects of moisture content and temperature changes. He also discussed characteristics of contact and PVA adhesives.
What’s in your spray booth? Bob Karmonick of Russell Plywood provided examples of possible challenges in finishing, and suggested that the finishing supplier should be working with the shop.
Here too, maintaining the right temperature of the coatings themselves can have big benefits in achieving finish consistency. Sanding should get more attention and sanding shouldn’t be a punishment area, he said.
Karmonick said that finishing suppliers should be able to suggest or provide methods for hazardous waste disposal. The individual shop doesn’t want this responsibility. Russell Plywood and Fessenden Hall were WPE exhibitors.
Also speaking was Matt Buell of Buell Wood Design, who uses template routing to make high quality furniture and residential and commercial products. He outlined tools needed, explained fixed-base vs. plunge routers, edge templates and how he experimented with template routing. Buell explained that he didn’t know the rules, and he wasn’t afraid to try something new.
Mike Littlejohn of Vero Software and Cabinet Vision discussed practical advice for software users in a question-and-answer session with FDMC editor Will Sampson. He talked about different types of software for shops, and suggested that woodworkers shop for software as they would other products.
Greg Pilotti of Greg Pilotti Furniture described his hiring and retention strategies, and how he has dealt with his younger employees. Pilotti provided a great deal of information on his own experiences and his company, which makes high-end custom solid wood furniture, such as live-edge conference tables.
His relationship with Thaddeus Stevens College has been a major factor in his own career and in identifying potential new employees. He tries to have a student working part-time on a permanent basis. He was also willing to recognize what the company doesn’t do well, according to employees.
CNC tips and tricks was the subject of a presentation by Leland Thomasset of Taghkanic Woodworking. Thomasset provided hands-on practical information on solid carbide stock router bits, workpiece holding, and examples of unusual or difficult work that had been made on his company’s Omnitech CNC router. Thomasset was also speaking on behalf of the Cabinet Makers Association, which was an exhibitor at Wood Pro Expo and held their own plant tour event.
Lancaster County is home to many Amish woodworkers, but most of them are making traditional residential furniture. Steve Riehl of Knot & Ore spoke about his company’s startup as a manufacturer of contemporary solid wood furniture, incorporating live edges and metal components.
Current plans are for a return of Wood Pro Expo to Lancaster in October 2018. But interested exhibitors and potential attendees won’t have to wait that long. Wood Pro Expo Carolinas is planned for the Charlotte Convention Center in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina, February 15 and 16, 2018.
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