AWFS 2015 Shows Off New Products and Outstanding Craftsmanship
For the most part, woodworking trade shows are regional, but once a year there is a show that garners national attention. This year, it was AWFS 2015 (Association of Woodworking & Furnishings Suppliers) in Las Vegas.
Vegas in July? Yep, you guessed it. It was HOT. A strange mix of people were drawn to various events. AAU Basketball, RollerCon (a roller derby show and exhibition), CHAMPS (counterculture B2B expo) and AWFS were all co-mingling throughout Vegas.
While the sprawling convention center played host to a number of trade shows it was the AWFS 2015 show that took the center stage. With about 600 exhibitors, 50 seminars and classes, CAD/CAM presentations and The STAGE, where exhibitors demonstrated their wares, there were plenty of things to do and see.
When it comes to the big names in power tool manufacturers, not everyone has a vested interest in this particular show. DeWalt, Milwaukee, Ridgid, Makita and Hitachi were absent as were Jet, Powermatic, Delta and Grizzly. When it comes to pneumatics, only SENCO and Grex were exhibiting.
Even without some of the power tool industry heavyweights there was an interesting undercurrent that almost pulsed like a Dueling Banjos performance. SawStop was first to market with its blade stopping technology and Bosch is poised to introduce their ReaXX table saw with a similar technology. SawStop has sued Bosch for patent infringement, however, so we’ll need to see how that all plays out.
Of note, SawStop created an app that helps demonstrate how quickly an individual would have to react before making contact with the running blade. They had demonstrations throughout their booth where attendees could “try their hand” at saving their fingers. While I had the fourth fastest time, I was still 230 milliseconds too late.
While the large, automated machinery dominated most of the floor show space at AWFS 2015, there were a number of interesting products on display.
One small company, System130, had a few new takes on increasing productivity. Their adjustable nailer guide, in its current state, only works with a SENCO nailer, but it could be expanded in the future. A guide snaps onto the bottom rail of the magazine while an attachment with a thumbwheel and positive stop glides along the length of the bottom edge while you nail.
Users can simply guide the nailer and use the positive stops along the edge of the material being fastened. It will positively place the fastener at exactly the same height from the edge, each and every time. This is of great importance when nailing butt joints so that the fastener hits the exact middle of the members to reduce blow-out.
They also had a handy system for routers that serves a couple of purposes. One, it integrates a flat plate with a hollowed out portion that helps facilitate dust collection. With an attachable guide driven by what resembles a roller blade wheel, it helps keep the materials lined up squarely against the guide fence.
While not entirely new, System130 has concocted a table saw driven by a standard circular saw. Using the saw’s dust collection properties, it means that dust is removed from below thus eliminating added hoses above the blade guard.
While most everyone at AWFS 2015 focused on the creation of new pieces, one company concentrated on restoration: Franmar. They offer a wide array of products that are specifically engineered to fit the task at hand. From paint and urethane stippers to mastic removers to brush cleaners to pitch eliminators, all are marketed under the Blue Bear brand.
All of their products are made from soybeans, are biodegradable, environmentally friendly and clean without the odors associated with traditional chemical based products. (Suddenly I’m rethinking eating any soybean based foods) For older homes or furniture pieces, they offer a lead-based paint stripper that neutralizes the lead so that paint can be removed without the need for expensive remediation efforts.
When it comes to moving materials or creating highly detailed pieces, large, expensive, computer based machinery is often employed. AWFS 2015 showed off several of these as well, including the machines that made these fun pieces.
While the tools are always interesting, the craftsmanship was stunning. The official winners from AWFS 2015 are listed here. I can say that I was humbled by the exacting precision and elegance of the pieces on display. These are a couple of my favorites:
Next year, IWF (International Woodworking Fair) will be the hosted in Atlanta, and we’re planning to be there to keep you up-to-date on all the latest and greatest tools.