Since I first heard about it in the 1990s, North Ben- net Street School in Boston has amazed me with the caliber of work done by its students. But I’m em- barrassed to admit that until recently I had never
visited the school itself, and I was completely oblivious to its
historic place in trades education.
Founded in 1881, it is actually the nation’s oldest trades
school, founded to train 19th century immigrants for work
in Boston factories. That historic background is interesting,
because I actually had come to think of the school as a bit of
an anachronism in modern woodworking education.
In fact, about 15 years ago, I was approached by some
school alumni who were concerned NBSS, while providing
tremendous woodworking education, had shortchanged them
on the fundamental business skills they needed to survive in
the real world. The alumni asked me if I would perhaps help
with talks on pricing and business management skills for
small shops. I was amenable, but nothing ever came of it.
So, when I visited the school recently, I had to bring up the
subject with the new president, Sarah Turner. She was gra-
cious in response, and I was heartened to hear of the school’s
commitment to career educa-
tion, job placement, and business
training while still keeping true
to its motto, “A good life, built by
With our modern empha-
sis on technology, it’s easy to
forget traditions and traditional
techniques, but it is wonderful to
see that the nation’s first trade
school is still going strong and
fervently continues to place its
students in contemporary jobs. ✚
You have AWFS Fair on your calendar this month, right? The more preparation you do ahead of time the more productive your experience at AWFS Fair will be. Go ahead and make your plan
for AWFS Fair July 17 to 20. Visit for a day or two if you’re
pressed for time.
Look at the updated exhibitor list in this issue or online
at www.awfsfair.org and make a list of which companies you
want to see. Address your company’s most important needs
first. This should be your first task.
Study your list and the show guide. Try to see as much as
you can. Stop and talk to exhibitor personnel in their booth.
Ask them about their product or service. Tell them about a
problem that you’re having.
Cover the companies that are most important to you.
Once you’ve moved through the companies on your list, you
can walk up and down the aisles and stop wherever you see a
display that interests you.
Experienced attendees often tell us of the useful tool or accessory they saw at the show but did not know about previously.
Look over the list of the College of Woodworking Knowledge seminars and see which are
the most useful for your business.
The best AWFS Fair experience
would be to combine the exhibit
floor time with several educational sessions.
Make contact with other
woodworkers in town for AWFS
Fair. You might have a lot in common. No social network can compete with this kind of personal
interaction. Make sure AWFS Fair
is on your calendar this month. ✚
by William Sampson
by Karl D. Forth
“A good life,
built by hand.”
Make time for
AWFS Fair this year
✚ Follow Will
Karl online at