especially to Leland’s gracious wife Gina for an unforget-
table traditional Italian dinner!” Krig wrote in his CMA post.
“A word of caution – pace yourself if you are ever fortunate
enough to share a meal at the Thomassets’ table, as it just
keeps coming, and you must leave room for dessert!”
Krig and Dehmer also ended up taking a side trip from
the shop and hiking a bit of the Appalachian Trail.
In hearing the three talk about the visit all these weeks
later, it’s apparent that they didn’t know just how inspiring the
off-the-cuff idea would prove to be.
“Weeks later, we are still thanking each other for what we
learned, implementing changes in all three of our shops and
giving updates,” Krig says. “While it was not cheap, as we had
some lodging, food and travel expenses, the experience was
invaluable, and I hope that these guys (and more) will come
to my shop next summer to give me an earful.”
Thomasset is happy to have been part of the experiment,
and he hopes the enthusiasm expands among other CMA
members. (Multiple conversations about planning more
“work visits” are happening on the CMA forum.)
“We did quite a bit of talking about what it was that we
were doing together,” he says, “and how it could or would
really help grow the CMA in the way its founding fathers
pictured it – cabinet makers helping cabinet makers, with
hands-on learning and teaching each other.” ✚
Recipe for a great “work visit”
Krig and Dehmer offered some specific advice on
how to make these get-togethers effective.
1. Keep it small.
“After leaving Leland’s shop, we talked about how
important it was to keep it small — for instance, saying you
could invite only as many people as you could ride in a car
with,” Krig said. “This would create the special sauce that
allows each person a chance to get in, do the work and
share in-depth observations.”
Thomasset agreed and added that keeping it local (or
regional) might also be helpful from an expense standpoint,
but “travel is always good for getting a new perspective.”
2. Don’t just drop by and observe at a shop for a couple of
hours – plan a true work day.
“What made it work for me was being a part of an
entire work day and being able to see the flow of work,”
Dehmer says.Krig echoed this. “Be willing to get dirty and
do what they do, not just be a passive observer,” he says.
3. Be honest – and be ready to hear honest feedback.
“I want to hear it all – good and bad,” Dehmer says.
“Don’t be sitting in your car driving home thinking ‘Why the
hell does he do it that way?’ I want to hear it. If my feelings
get hurt, so be it – I promise I’ll get over it. To me, this is the
only way this works for all involved.”
In an unusual collaboration, three Cabinet Makers Association
members from three different states converged on one shop to work,
learn and share experience. Matt Krig of Northland Woodworks,
Blaine, MN, came ready to work.
SMALL SHOP SUCCESS
Participants said it was lots of little things they learned from, such
as this storage center for abrasives, glue and other supplies.