This was my second time attending IWF, which made the overall experience much more approachable and relaxed. The feeling of being completely overwhelmed by the sheer size and magnitude of the Georgia World Congress Center had almost completely vanished, and only once did I get myself turned around and lost in the catacombs of the building.
Two years ago when I attended the show, everything was new for me: massive convention center, flying solo in a large metropolitan city, huge business trade show, temptation to spend boat loads of money on fancy new machines. OK, that last part wasn’t new, but you get the point. It was like trying to drink out of a fire hose. I visited just about every booth and learned and absorbed everything I possibly could, and it was a great introduction to the woodworking world outside of my little business in Boise, Idaho.
Last year while attending AWFS in Las Vegas, I went in with a game plan. No need to visit every booth and see every machine. Instead, I went to the show to visit select vendors to ask questions and discuss specific issues, which was a great way to make a large show more approachable.
This year at IWF, I had much the same approach. I would focusing on researching and pricing CNC machines and software. Currently, in my three man shop, which includes myself, I use Excel and SketchUp to create shop build sheets and cut lists, which is time consuming, prone to user error, and not scalable, hence the need for software. We also do not have a CNC machine, instead we use a sliding table saw, dado table saw, and a double line boring machine to process all of our sheet goods. In order to grow to the size I want my company to be, software and a CNC machine are key ingredients.
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