Not sure what to think

So I’ve been to the wood show.  I think

Don’t actually know where to start, or if I really want to, to be honest.

The show was tiny – about 1/2 the size of the Stitches and Craft show.  Certainly doesn’t compare to wood shows of old.  Took me about 10-15 minutes, and I had walked the entire floor plate.  Takes about that long to walk the floor of the Ballarat Wood Show (and that is not a negative perspective of the Ballarat Show – Ballarat has a population of under 100,000 after all).  Given that the Ballarat show is only 2 weekends away, it might be worth a drive for those who didn’t find the Melbourne show provided enough.

For those exhibitors who had turned up, there are many who have put in a definite effort.  The new Carbatec demonstration area looked great.  The chairs that House of Dunstone bought along were beautiful.  I am seriously hoping that they branch out into running some courses in how to make such fine furniture.  Timbecon had a good display, covering a good range of heavy machinery, smaller machines, consumables etc. Carbitool had their normal, impressive range of router bits on display, Arbortech had their standard display, and their latest offerings.  HNT Gordon had a typically impressive range of beautiful planes, including the stunning new addition to the stable, the moving fillister plane. The Warrior Wood Mill was set up outside, showing a range of their new log mills.

But many more were MIA.  Perhaps it had something to do with the organisers moving the date.  And then choosing a date that clashed with one of the biggest woodturning events in Australia: the Phillip Island Down Under Turnaround.  It may be by registration only, but I bet there were many people, and suppliers there instead, including Carrolls, and I daresay Ubeaut as well. And given the typical (but not exclusively by any stretch) demographic for the woodshow would also overlap V8 aficionados, even more potential visitors are dragged away.

I don’t know what the crowds were like on Saturday or Sunday, but I sure hope for the exhibitors’ sake that it was better than Friday.  I remember wood shows of old (especially in the early-mid 2000s) when crowds were so deep that the place pulsed with the enthusiasm of all present.

I didn’t find any timber for sale.  I might have missed a small pocket of sales (outside?), but the only sales I could see were some long strips of veneer.  Some really nice strips, if you want veneer.

This, after all is what was promised.

The Timber & Working With Wood Show is Australia’s premier event for woodworking. From the weekend hobbyist and home DIY’er through to the most experienced enthusiasts, this is a show you cannot miss! See the best in the industry, share their expertise, have fun trying new techniques and tools – and experience some of the world’s finest timbers… all at the one location!

Can the wood show come back from this point?  I don’t think so.  Unless there is some plan for a small show one year, and a massive one the next (and nothing like that has been communicated), then I think the only way we will get to a show of any substance in the future at this stage is to head to the WIA in Las Vegas in 2017.

If the industry (suppliers) have any interest in future wood shows, I think they all need to come together and organise a new model.  1 show a year in the entire country.  One year in Sydney, the next in Brisbane, then Melbourne, then Perth, then Hobart, Adelaide, Darwin and back to Sydney again.  Pricing for exhibitors needs to be really affordable, to justify their efforts in attending the show.  Pricing for visitors also needs to be really affordable – the show needs bodies to attend, and spend.  Charge $10 max, and free for anyone under 18.  Under 18s need to be encouraged, as they will become the woodworkers (and consumers) of the future, so sewing the seed that woodworking is a worthy pursuit to be passionate about will pay off in spades in 10-20 years time.  Especially since we’d want as many people to attend from interstate each each annual show.  That is absolutely not to say that regional woodshows (such as Ballarat) shouldn’t still run annually – we need them more than ever now.

Anyway, this is all just my opinion.  Not everyone will agree with me.  I hope the show was a win for everyone.  I just can’t see, with the cost of exhibition space, the lack of visitors, and the lack of exhibitors how it would have been.

I miss the spectacle of a real wood show already.  And on that happy note, I’ll sign off here.  I’ll touch on what I did find at the show in upcoming posts.

10 Responses

  1. There was a big display of timber for sale outside of the venue as you walked in. It was hard to miss.

    • Damn – managed to miss it! Possibly as I was wandering around, it wasn’t obvious that there was anything outside (and I was concentrating on getting inside when I first arrived). I only got out to the Warrior display at the end of the day, and only because I ran into a mate that was working on that stand who mentioned where they were.

  2. This was my first wood working show and I boy was I disappointed. Recently retired I am looking to get back into woodworking, a hobby that went by the wayside during the working years.

    I wa hanging out for the wood show to build that extra enthusiasm, I was looking for things that would pique my interest. Tools and jigs that would make things easier and not break the bank. Walk away with brochures and plans that excite and enthuse.

    I walked out with 2 brochures, threw out one of the worst coffees I have ever had and wandered around looking at tools and items I would never buy.

    The day started with trying to find a car park. Where was the signage? I ended up walking some distance. I was there at 9:55am n Friday. Walked straight up and got a ticket, probably 30 or so people milling around the door. I wandered through the wood section until you were allowed in.

    The 2 biggest exhibitors carbotec and timbecom had good displays but having visited both stores recently there was nothing new to visiting the shops.

    I managed my first round of down stairs in about 20 minutes. Upstairs in 10 and that’s because I stopped and chatted to one of the woodworking forum guys.

    As a hobbyist I am not looking at a $500 plane that I might use occasionally. I am not looking at huge machinery because I have a small garden shed up the back yard that struggles to fit my tools now.

    I can find plans and jigs on the net and in magazines but gee it would have been great to see some of these items on display and in action.

    If you want to sell me an Indra jig then I want to see it in action, the pros and the cons, the set up, real time not on video I can see that online.

    I must say I did enjoy the spoon carving – not that I am interested in doing it. The guy gave some really good information with examples provided.

    Am I hanging out for the next show. Probably not!

    • Sorry to hear, but I full understand. Check out the woodworkforums.com.au and you should find lots of things to pique your interest, help you get right into woodworking (as far as you want), and has plenty of get togethers along the way.

  3. Should not your reference to HOUSE OF DUNSTAN actually be Dunstone Design?

  4. Should have been Dunstone, but otherwise, the names appear interchangeable. Their banner had both

  5. Great idea about free entry for the younger guys/gals. All apprentices should get free entry no matter their age.

  6. This was my first Melbourne wood working show in about 10 years and was disappointed that so much was missing compared to last time. Where was Makita, Hitachi and many of the other power tool companies ?
    The buzz was definitely missing and one of the exhibitors told me that “numbers were way down”.
    My kids enjoyed it and got to assemble some wooden gadgets – anything we can do to separate them from electronic gizmos is got to be a good thing !

    • To add to and counter some of the negativity of my earlier comments.
      I did come away from the show with a router lift and renewed interest in woodworking.
      My 13 year old son came home from school a few weeks ago with an ornamental box he’d made in wood-work. He’d routed the top and was quite chuffed with his efforts. I was happy to see his interest in this and it also kindled my interest in routers – of which I have no experience.
      So my interest in the show was focussed on routers. I only saw two makes on display, Festool and Triton. Was hoping to see Makita and Hitachi as these are the makes of my other tools – some dating back 30 years and still going strong.
      Since the show, I’ve been in the shed building a router table and the kids have been in the shed turning my good Tassie Oak into bird feeders, possum boxes and weapon-like things I can’t / won’t describe. There’s been a few cuts and a few tears (and a few from the kids as well) but we’ve all had a lot of fun, so the wood-working show had a positive effect on our house (until my wife sees the credit card statement).
      PS. My wife told me she “could hardly contain her excitement” when I proposed that we should go to the show. She kept muttering things about “grey haired old men !”
      PPS. Stuart, you’ve created a good thing with this site. Well done !

  7. My 11 yo daughter and I visited the Melbourne Wood show on the Saturday. Arrived around 1.30 pm. It was somewhat busy but certainly not a throng of people. I went to the 2014 show also and this year was smaller again. Prior to 2014 my last show was a decade or more earlier and I’m sure it was easily double the size or larger, and well represented by nearly all the major power tool marques and plenty of machinery (I still remember the SCM machines back then and how good they were).

    I think the rise of the Internet is actually partly to blame. There is simply so much information on the ‘net that we feel less need to go and learn and see stuff for ourselves. I have only gotten back into woodworking and a highlight for me from 2014 was getting hands-on instruction using a HNT Gordon Try Plane to shoot the long edge of a board, by Terry Gordon himself. Only 5-10 minutes of his time and mine, but It humanised the product, and whilst my head knew they were handmade, talking to the artisan cements the reality. I have 3 HNT Gordon planes now 🙂

    My experience talking to Chris Vesper in 2014 was similar, and likewise I now have some of Chris’ gear occupying my cabinet.

    What I want to see at a woodworking show is an educational event ahead of a sales event. This is where I think the American shows are potentially more interesting. More boutique makers manning the stands.

    Caulfield racecourse was a crap venue in my opinion. The parking was poorly signed. At the 2014 show you could leave your purchases with a valet then drive your car round the back of Jeff’s shed to pick them up. At Caufield I only bought 3 pieces of wood cause I had to carry them 200 metres to the car and I decided “bugger it” I’m not making multiple trips. Would have bought much more if pickings things up was more convenient (and who knows, maybe there was a better way, but it wasn’t clearly identified).

    My daughter and I loved the Tasmanian Violins stand, though. She’s a violin player in the making and it was a revelation for an 11 yo to see how her instrument comes to life (not that she has a $5000 violin).

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