Beware the current "Woodworking Shows"

I just returned from this year's show in San Mateo, CA and am completely disappointed. I've gone to this show for many years and always looked forward to a wide range of demonstrations and interesting deals. Last year the show was obviously much smaller than in the past and this year it was almost comatose. What once overfilled an exhibit hall was now so small that much of the hall was blocked off with curtains. Almost none of the large machines where there. Delta, Bosch, Jet, Powermatic, Dewalt, Makita and others who always had a strong presence in the past were nowhere to be found. Not even Leigh was there to do their jig demos. The biggest displays were a few walls filled with cheap Chinese router bits.
The $7 parking plus $9 show entrance fee was a complete rip-off for chance to look over the wares of a few dozen exhibitors. I can't believe I paid that much money to have the privilege of buying a few rolls of sandpaper and some glue. For $9 my ticket lets me get in all three days! What good is that when it took less than two hours to get a good look at everything there. It is pretty sad when a trip to a large Home Depot yields more interesting stuff to look at than a Woodworking Show does. At least Home Depot and other retailers don't charge me a fee to walk in the front door.
Apparently the show has gone through a change of owners. Maybe it will improve, but if you do go, don't get your hopes up. Personally I hope they get their act together as I really enjoyed going in the past and have taken some useful classes at those shows, but it sure isn't even a shadow of what it once was.
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Yes, the show is under new management. There was mention of this by Ellis Wallentine, the host of WoodCentral.com. If I recall correctly, he knows and has worked with the new person and holds him in high regard. The hope is the show under new management (ownership) would start to turn things around. I've gotten to know several of the demonstrators and the last show I was at they were all pretty unhappy with the old management/owners. Several said they were having their worst year ever - and the schedule was crazy, jumping back and forth acrossed the country, shows scheduled 100 miles apart and one week apart, space fees climbing while advertising - and attendance was dropping. They WERE NOT happy campers by any means.
The hope is that the new guy, who is apparently a woodworker and has written for various woodworking magazines, will turn things around. But it may get worse while the changes get put in place.
So I'm going to go Saturday AND Sunday. Saturday I'll take the Miata so I don't make any large impulse buys (always good to Sleep On It first when it comes to laying out a chunk of change, though I haven't regretted getting the Festool DOMINO on the way out the door on the last day of the show). Then, if I need to, I'll go up in the trusty old, haul all kinds of stuff, Aerostar.
Now some questions:
Was Glenn Drake's Tite-Mark there?
How about Woodturners?
Micro-Fence show up?
Lee Valley?
Laguna Tools? They're shown as doing 3 Bandsaw Clinics each day. Was it Torben doing the demos?
What about Marc Sommerfield's cabinet making demos?
Mesa Design there with their magnetic featherboards?
Any Festool stuff out and/or demonstrated?
Was the wood burning/pyrography guy there demonstrating Razer pens etc.?
Anyone selling shellac flakes?
Were the veneer packet folks there?
Who the hell is "3D Saw Blades Sales"?
Was Forrest there?
charlie b
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A couple of years ago, I went with a freind as we have done every year. At that time we had a chance to talk to someone who worked for the show. He told us that at that time the owners of the show and one of the retailers (who happened to be the biggest of the shows) had parted ways. This made the show loose several of the big booths. Since then a bunch have jumped ship. I'll be going in Febuary, but my freind and I have already start talking about canceling. Lou
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I went to several, but the last one I went was in 1999. I took a day vacation to go to the big Woodworker's Show in Cleveland, paid $10 to park, bought nothing, and was disappointed. I should have gone fishing that day.
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Same here. Last show I went to was probably 2003, spent too much to park and get in, bought nothing, saw nothing I couldn't see online for free, said the hell with it and never went back again.
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After going to the San Mateo show both Saturday afternoon and most of today (Sunday), here are some of my observations and comments about the show.
Yes, the show was a lot smaller than even the one here 6 months ago.
No Mike of Mesa Design (the magnetic featherboards) doing his Everything You SHOULD NOT DO When Ripping On A Table Saw high wire, daredevil act. (People in the "audience" who have never experienced or never saw a kickback, nor even heard the word "kickback" looking on wondering what MIke is selling and seeming a bit confused and bored while the "rest of us" are running for cover or finding a big dude to hide behind.)
No Wood Turners Supply or the Razer pyrography and carver guy.
No JoinTech booth but I did see an Incra.
I didn't see Leigh with their DT jigs and FMT jig - but did talk with a guy on the way out who bought a 24" Leigh DT Jig.
Didn't see any books, videos and DVD booths,
Ridgid was there but no Delta Dewalt Porter Cable General etc.
No Rockler or WoodCraft booth and no booth for The Saw Dust Shop or CB Tools (local tools and supplies outfits)
Festool was there with a small corner booth, with all their stuff - but no demos and damn few samples. I talked to two guys attending the show about the DOMINO, did a quick tour of the DOMINO with them at the Festool booth, gave them the url to the DOMINO stuff on my WWing site and wandered on. Ran into both of them later. Both had bought the DOMINO full package. Stopped by the both later and helped a guy who'd brought his wife get their Plunge Saw (TS55?) after I asked the Festool guy to turn on the Dust Extractor to demonstrate how quiet it is and pointed out the variable vac force feature. After she listened to the speal about the dust extractor - quiet, variable suction, wet/dry, double filtering and so on - she noted it was a LOT quieter than her vacuum cleaner, and had a LOT more suction. When she saw the accessories for "vacuum cleaner" mode she was sold - AND - if he got the saw (and guide) it was on the condition that she get to use the "dust extractor". THAT put a smile on his face. I left my silver bullet, mounted up and rode off with with a parting Hi Ho Silver! - AWAY!
Annie was doing her Jool Tool demo, and as usual guys were looking at her and not at what she was sharpening - or what she was saying. She's a pretty lady and it's understandable that I initially thought she was one of those pretty ladies at the car shows who stand around and just look attractive. Passed up her demo at two different shows before actually stopping to pay attention to what she was saying and what she was doing. Having gotten into turning, and not having a fast easy way to sharpen curved edges and some of the "unusual" grinds common to bowl gouges and spindle gouges, I wanted a Jool Tool. She was pretty busy so I talked with her kids 'til things quieted down and she had some time to make out my order. Today she had me work on an Ellsworth type grind bow gouge and show that this thing does a great job AND is easy as hell to use. I think I persuaded at least two guys to get a Jool Tool - AND picked up a few sharp- ening tips from Annie. (she really should wear a MuMu and wear curlers in her hair so guys will listen to what she's saying, and look at what she's doing.
Marc Sommerfeld did almost continuous Making Kitchen Cabinets demo, sometimes to just two people. The guy's a demonstrator work horse and has somehow kept his enthusiasm for cabinet building.
The inventor of the Micro-Fence System was there and pretty discouraged with the turn out and his sales. I bought something for my "system" and happened to have a hundred dollar bill on me. The total came to $102 and change so it perked him up just a little bit. He noted as he wrote the receipt that this was his EIGHTH sale - of the entire 3 day show. He's decided to give up on the show and go back to making furniture - the show being about 50% of his Micro-Fence business. He'll keep his web and mail order Micro-Fence business up, but not spend time and energy sitting alone in a booth at a woodworking show. That's a real pity because being able to do a Hands On with the Micro-Fence really makes you appreciate this precision tool system.
The Lee Valley / Veritas booth was big and well stocked with plenty of knowledgeable people to help you - but nothing you could purchase and take with you. Now I get to wait for their pair of little Squirrel-Tail Plam Planes (they're so CUTE!) and their cam clamp bench hold down thing. Played with a couple of their Low Angle planes and there's something to all the hype. Leave if to Veritas to through away all the "rules" and actually improve on some of the old Tried and True designs (witness their shoulder planes - subtle changes - but significant only when you've used one - AFTER using a Tried & True version (I had a Clifton before getting the Veritas "medium" shoulder plane. The Clifton now rests queitly and seldom used in the tool cabinet)
And I must admit I spent some time drooling at the Lie Nielsen booth - and making some see through curlies off a gnarly piece of highly figured maple. While I appreciate the look, quality and quality of cut Lie Nielsen is famous for, Veritas equivalents do just as good a job - for my money - and for an appreciably less amount of my money. Your mileage (and bank account) may vary.
I learned that WoodLine and the outfit that drills holes in files have bought the show and the hand over has gone - well let's just say "less than smoothly" - witness the Woodworkingshow site being down, glitch with the e-mail list and late show reminder Post Cards (mine came two or three days before the show). But the show has been on the decline for the last two years at least and the new owners have a daunting task ahead of them - sort of like trying to turn an oil tanker around. I'm going to give them a couple more shows and see what happens. I'd hate to lose the Twice A Year Woodworking Show - with new things to see and try, stuff to lust after - and the opportunity to talk woodworking with other woodworkers I'm not apt to encounter except at The Show.
SO - if it isn't a REALLY BIG hassle for you - give 'em another chance or two before tossing in the towel. Internet shopping is often cheaper and easier - for sure - but Hands On and getting to ask questions, exchange ideas with vendors and show attendees can't be done from a keyboard. Face To Face is what made this country's business go. Somehow htting "send" just ain't the same as a handshake and a smile - from both parties in the transaction.
charlie b
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charlieb wrote: .....

....
I really hope they pull it back together, but from what I saw it was a terrible disappointment. Handing out a flyer to everyone at the entrance asking for feedback and then having the email address on said flyer be dead is Not Good!
If they are going to bring this thing back from the dead they need to offer free entrance fees the next time around along with a plea to give 'em one more try. Their mailing list must be fool of people who used to go but don't plan to go again.
John
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Unfortunatly, we here in central America (Oklahoma) don't seem to get woodworking shows. I've never even seen one advertised down in the DFW area. I might make a weekend trip down to a sibling's house if I heard of one there. What I've heard described on this newsgroup reminds me I've seen as a trend in gun shows. For a while they're great - good prices, lots of vendors, lots of stuff to go through. Then the tide yurns and the junk dealers come out. The shows fill up with people wanting the sky for trash. Stalls are full of people selling beanie babies, perfume and pens (this is a *gun* show!). Attendance drops off to nothing then the organizers turn over mgmt and start over.
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"Smaug Ichorfang" wrote:

What?
Nobody selling Jerky or antifog sheep dip for your eye glasses.
Standard items at the boat shows these days.
Lew
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snipped-for-privacy@nobody.com says...

have ever seen, less than half its usual size, and not even worth the price of what it cost to park the car.
I was told, on what I think is pretty reliable authority, that the owners of the show just ran it to the ground, but the new owners are bringing it back to what it was. Obviously I don't want to name my source, but I think it is good information, for what it is worth.
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I will answer as best I can from memory. The ones I note that I didn't see does not for sure mean they were not there.

Didn't see.

Didn't see.

I think so, but it might have been another gaggle of fences company.

Yes, they had one of the nicer booths.

Laguna was there with a smaller display than in years gone by. I didn't stay for a clinic, so I'm not sure who might have been doing them.

I saw the sign but didn't see a demo.

Didn't see.

They had a booth. A bit pricey for my taste. I didn't notice them doing any demos, but I wasn't in the market. I'm waiting for someone bringing a domino-like system down to near biscuit joinery machine prices.

Didn't see.

Didn't see.

I'm pretty sure they were not there as I've bought from them before and was looking for them.

Probably one of the vendors with truck loads of Chinese cutting tools. I saw more Chinese saw blades, drill bits and router bits than I ever want to see in one place again. I can go to Harbor Freight if I'm looking for the really cheap junk.

Yes, they had a small booth doing their typical demo.
John
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charlieb wrote:

Oddly enough, the "official" web page doesn't work. I've tried for two days to get into http://www.thewoodworkingshows.com/ and get a server not found message.
They handed out flyers at the show encouraging people to go to the website and gave an email address for feedback. My email bounced and the website is stone cold dead.
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No I think he was at Japan Woodworker sales tax free event on Saturday

No
Yes
Yes they had a really nice booth.

Yes a fairly large booth.

Yes it was large booth and Marc was doing great demos as always.

Dont think so.

Yes and they had a really good representative

Dont recall.

Dont think so.

Dont think so

Dont know

Yes and had some really good prices (79.95 for Forrest II)

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When I go to those Home Shows, Bat Shows and such, I look for the Outdoor Exhibit area. Often one can access that area at no charge and get into the rest of the exhibit (indoor area) by "returning." All these "shows" are advertising. With or without the demonstrations. I even did this in the Jamestown thing in VA on at least two different occasions by going in the Exit instead of the entrance - never paid a dime.
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On Sat, 10 Nov 2007 03:22:41 GMT, John Horner wrote:

I spent this past weekend at the "WoodWorks!" show in York PA. I went primarily for a few of the seminars. You see, I'm relatively new to this, and I am thinking about taking some real classes. I have not had any formal training in woodworking aside from one year of "wood shop" in high school 40 years ago. I figured that seeing the likes of Garrett Hack teach a seminar would help me decide what to do.
The display area was tiny, and _very_ underpopulated relative to what I'd seen at this show two years ago when it was in Ft. Washington PA. In York, except for the laser engraving folks, none of the large tool manufacturers were present. The only catalog/mail order retailer of note present was Lee Valley. Frank Klausz was there showing how he makes dovetails by hand, and mouldings using custom built wooden planes. There was one local brick & mortar machinery store represented, and it looked like they were doing a brisk business selling Jet and Powermatic stuff. One local lumber dealer was represented, and I took advantage of the opportunity to get some ebony and holly for inlays. The ladder, gutter guard, and bath refitting folks were there, but to me, they don't really have a place in a woodworking show. At any rate, I found the small size of the show to be depressing; I can't imagine it can sustain itself (financially) this way.
In the past, I've found both "WoodWorks!" and "The Woodworking Shows" to be a great place to see tools and machinery up close. All of my stationary machinery purchase decisions were made after seeing the machines at one of these shows. But in general, both seem to have been shrinking. The "Woodworking Shows" version is due in Somerset NJ in February. Last February it was still a very nice show. My fingers are crossed. I'd be very disappointed if these shows shut down.
--
Art Greenberg
artg at eclipse dot net
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I was at the same show and wasn't too happy with the size. If I had the funds I would have pick up a sawdust collector ( I need one pretty bad)

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"noreaster" <noreaster1athotmaildotcom> wrote in

Well, brooms only cost a few dollars. ;-)
Puckdropper
--
Wise is the man who attempts to answer his question before asking it.

To email me directly, send a message to puckdropper (at) fastmail.fm
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wrote:

Went in March to Chantilly show. Some recollections:
The good: got married so got in for $3 (divorced just inside the gate) . free parking got a Great! deal on the Makita Li-Ion set (LXT600), plus extra battery, plus I got them to throw in a nifty florescent (ML183?) flashlight (and hat).
The bad: did not find any of the specific items I went for (nevertheless, spent too much on stuff I didn't know I needed ;-) yes, the number of vendors is diminishing each year. The shows are a far, far cry from those of ~6-7 years ago. there were only 2 large tool vendors (Delta and Steel City) lots of vendors didn't have stuff on hand (though free shipping was offered) many fewer demos. many fewer smaller vendors.
Since it's a 50 mile drive to either Baltimore or Chantilly, and I'm hearing a lot of negatives, it remains to be seen whether I succumb to temptation this time around.
Renata
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