The Slightly Confused Woodworker

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An Open Letter to Popular Woodworking Magazine


I received an email from Woodworking in America to remind me that the early bird registration for the conference was still open for a limited time. I’ve never been to Woodworking in America but I hear it’s a pretty good time. Many of the bigger names in woodworking attend and give seminars, and you also have access to the woodworking market place featuring just about all of the top names in woodworking tools and equipment. I unfortunately cannot go because of my work schedule, and because of the conference location, just outside of Cincinatti Ohio.
I live on the east coast about 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia( where I grew up ). I did run the numbers to see how much the trip would cost me if I did go and I came up with just around $1100.00 (that is if I didn’t buy anything at the market place) That included $375.00 for the early bird registration, about $150.00 in gas and tolls for the roughly 600 mile drive (flying would have more than doubled the travel cost for myself) About $400.00 for the 3 night stay, and $150.00 for meals. I kept the estimates on the lower side but they are at least within the ball park. If I were to guess I would say any person attending the conference is probably spending roughly the same amount, plus or minus the travel expenses which obviously depend on your location. I would say that the money is well worth it for a conference such as Woodworking in America. But I do have one problem with it:
Popular Woodworking magazine, a magazine that I truly enjoy, is the conference organizer. From what I understand they do a great job. However, for the past year or so they have been heavily campaigning against the so called “Sawstop Legislation” currently being considered in California. Now, when it comes down to it, I don’t care either way if this legislation passes or not. I want to see a safer saw, if not, so be it. I’m experienced enough to where an accident would probably be carelessness on my part. But I do care that PW has been railing against this legislation so heavily because of the apparent added cost to table saws with flesh detection technology. One editor in particular is so quick to dismiss the costs put forth by proponents of the legislation as overly inflated, but also any injury statistics as unfounded scare tactics, yet he has no trouble accepting the cost and injury figures that the table saw manufacturers affected by this legislation put forth as gospel truth. The fact that he is somehow privy to cost numbers that even the shareholders in these companies don’t have is somewhat surprising to me. Or are these just “educated” guesses?
Now to my point: Ask any editor at PW if they think the $1000.00 you spend on the Woodworking in America conference is worth it and you will most likely get a resounding “Heck Yeah”. And I would agree. The conference sounds amazing. But….Ask any editor at PW if they think the added $1000.00 cost of a table saw that can quite possibly save your fingers and hundreds if not thousands of dollars in medical bills is worth it. If I’m reading the editorials rightly, and I am, you will get a resounding “NO!” Something here isn’t adding up…

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