Saturday, October 16, 2010

Field Trip!

I'm from a pretty rural area and certainly enjoy a lot about that lifestyle. There are, however, quite a few perks to living in a metropolitan part of the world. One that's unique to Atlanta is having Highland Woodworking right around the corner. I'm not a well-traveled man, but Highland has got to be one of the premier shops in the country. There is stuff there that you just can't get anywhere else in the US. Lining the walls of the store are photos of just about every note-worthy woodworker from the past 30 years or so who has come to demonstrate or teach a class at Highland.

Today was their Fall Tent Sale and despite the lack of any actual tents for sale they did have quite a few good deals for tools going on. This is reason enough for a visit on a crisp Fall Saturday morning, but throw Roy Underhill into the mix and it's a can't-miss-occasion. He was there with his treadle lathe and drawhorse demonstrating traditional drawknifing and woodturning.

I also got a shot of his tool chest:
If you click on the picture to enlarge it you can see that it is the "deluxe" edition. Hilarious. $10 says that came off a refrigerator.

Highland also got Roy to demonstrate the SawStop table saw. SawStops are pretty cool. Electrical current runs through the blade and it can detect if it hits any skin. Upon detecting skin a mechanism nearly instantly withdraws the blade. Here's the video I shot from the balcony:

Here's a better clip from the Highland folks:

My two favorite lines from the clip:

"It detects when you yell..."
"This is the chicken-safiest saw I have ever seen."

It's no secret the Roy generally eschews power tools--with steam-power as a possible exception--so it was a little funny to see him as the huckster for the most high-tech saw out there. I suppose he adopts the accent and the character to enhance this juxtaposition and sort of say, "Yeah...I don't personally endorse this."

I'm sure Roy does dozens of these appearances each year and I'm sure that the experience for him gets pretty repetitive: a lot of old white guys with beards telling him about their latest projects. I'll say this though: you'd never know it. His enthusiasm for the craft was redlining the whole time I was there. I can't imagine a better ambassador for traditional woodworking.

Thank you, Highland and thank you, Roy. It was a lot of fun.

See him in action here.

Here's a post script question: can anyone name someone who has bled more often on TV than Roy? I'm talking actually bleeding, not theater blood, and were're talking # of occasions, not quantity of blood.

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