Woodworking shows disappointing?

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Forum topic by scottstef posted 01-04-2015 11:08 PM 1036 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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13 posts in 697 days

01-04-2015 11:08 PM

At the risk of sounding like an old timer reminiscing about the old days, but are the wood working shows getting a bit disappointing? i haven’t been to one in about 10 years before today, but i remember there being more vendors such as incra, and large tool manufacturers there. i also seem to remember a lot less “flea market” type vendors.

Just seemed to be a little lite, in vendors, and seemed like peach tree took up half of the show.

maybe i am just getting to be an old guy, and i should start talking about how i used to walk 8 miles, uphill each way to school in 6 feet of snow bare foot….

11 replies so far

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732 posts in 2003 days

#1 posted 01-04-2015 11:26 PM

I go to one at LL Johnson’s lumber in Charrlotte MI. On the weekend after Labor Day. They have vendors from Kreg, General International, Steel City, Powermatic and Jet, Bessy, Sawstop and a few others. It last two days and they have presentations on a variety of topics. Scott Phillips gives a presentation on Saturday. I like the show and there are discounts on wood and tools. I am going to attend every year as long as they have it.

View pintodeluxe's profile


4823 posts in 2230 days

#2 posted 01-05-2015 12:05 AM

Well, woodworking technology advances at a fairly slow rate. There are a couple new tools every year, but nothing you haven’t seen at specialty woodworking stores. Sometimes the prices aren’t much better that retail. I go for the classes and demos. There was a good class on Sketchup this year.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 1618 days

#3 posted 01-05-2015 12:53 AM

It takes huge bucks for these companys to show up at a show, Space rental, Insurance, Hotel rooms, transportation, loading and unloading not to mention I bet the pay sucks….. So I am sure they are very selective on which ones to go all out on.

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

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4669 posts in 1627 days

#4 posted 01-05-2015 01:55 AM

The Woodworking Shows definitely went downhill a while back. A new owner bought it out a couple years ago and I’ve felt the last two shows were a bit better under his guidance than the years immediately before. If you hadn’t been for 10 years, I can see where you might be disappointed.

I’m willing to give the new owner a chance to continue to make improvements and see where it goes. The large vendors haven’t been there in force for a while and the only way they will come back is if they see the possibility of significantly increasing sales. Until then, the vendors that are there pay the bills and I’ll try to support them as best as possible.

Another thing to consider is that several of the name brands don’t actually purchase the booth. For companies like DeWalt, Kreg and Bosch a local retailer must buy all that inventory and then the manufacturers will send reps to help sell at the event. If those local businesses are getting stuck with a lot of unsold inventory, it makes them very leery of laying out the money the next year.

Whether we want to admit it or not, woodworking isn’t as popular as it once was and there is not near as much money being spent. That makes it difficult for vendors and the local retailers. Not sure what the solution is, but all we can do is continue to support those that support our hobby and try to get more involved.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View a1Jim's profile


115166 posts in 2993 days

#5 posted 01-05-2015 02:07 AM

I’ve had the same reports from some of my students. I think they use to promo guys like Norm or David Marks being at their shows,but I think those guys have better things to do.With the economy being down I think it makes sense that that the shows and the companies attending just have to make sure their investment and time it takes attending or putting on shows pay off.From my experience, many woodworkers are a very thrifty bunch even when the economy is good.

-- Custom furniture

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5688 posts in 2725 days

#6 posted 01-05-2015 04:44 AM

years ago when the shows were going full throttle they didn’t have the vast amount of info, reviews, videos and all of the online competition for sales that the internet provides. It’s much more exciting to go to a live woodworking and tool show but it is also so much more expensive to do so when they can be found. I am not aware of a single woodworking show here in Louisiana…but I do remember that years ago there were some really exciting ones within an hour or so driving distance…

View crank49's profile


3979 posts in 2387 days

#7 posted 01-05-2015 06:51 AM

Things change.
As a young man I went to my first iron foundry show in 1976 in Chicago. A million square feet of exhibits, thousands of companies represented, over 100,000 visitors during a week long show.
Then the global market happened and EPA decided the USA didn’t need no stinkin foundries.
Last show they had to combine US, Mexico and Canada and also include all forms of metal casting to scrape together a show with a couple hundred exhibits and about 4000 attendees.

There is no way in hell we could go to war with China because they probably wouldn’t sell us any guns or tanks.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View paxorion's profile


1100 posts in 1462 days

#8 posted 01-05-2015 02:36 PM

I agree that times have changed, but not necessarily for the worse. After going to the Baltimore show this weekend, I mentioned to my wife that I won’t be going to another show for some time now for a few reasons:
  • Seminars – The seminars are informative, but not anything that you can’t get online if you take the time to look for the right sources. For example, I think the 360 Woodworking booth had the most informative sessions, but not anything that I haven’t seen from those 3 guys online and on 360 Woodworking. I won’t say I was disappointed, but it helps me put things into perspective. A show is helpful IF there are multiple sessions of interest, but I for one didn’t pick up many new tidbits of knowledge. There is so much information online now, and the good and relevant information isn’t changing fast enough to warrant constantly hunting through the swath of content being pumped out there. All in all, depends on how you learn best and if the Internet will empower your learning.
  • Marketplace – This show might as well be called the Peachtree Woodworking market. With half of the space filled by them, I think I only bought 2 things from anyone else. Nevertheless, getting hands on with some of the premium tools may be worth while. The two booths I enjoyed are the Lee Valley/Veritas and Woodpeckers booths. For example, I got told off for demoing/taking apart the planes at Lee Valley/Veritas w/o someone on their staff assisting. It answered a burning question in my head about my preference between Lie Nielson and Veritas. And I think some red measuring/marking tools may very well be in my future.

-- paxorion

View Tennessee's profile


2410 posts in 1931 days

#9 posted 01-05-2015 02:51 PM

I used to have to do a lot of shows when I worked for Watlow Heater, and then years later for Catnapper Furniture. For sure, these shows are market driven. Why have a show if few are there to buy?

Jay mentioned that there are fewer woodworkers these days. I’d say that within limits, that is true. There are still a lot of cabinet people out there, and millwork people, but these things go with housing. US based furniture builders and custom people, not so much. So the shows suffer.

-- Paul, Tennessee,

View Waldo88's profile


188 posts in 713 days

#10 posted 01-05-2015 05:07 PM

Whether we want to admit it or not, woodworking isn t as popular as it once was and there is not near as much money being spent. That makes it difficult for vendors and the local retailers. Not sure what the solution is, but all we can do is continue to support those that support our hobby and try to get more involved.

Eh, I’ve said this before, but I don’t think this is the case at all.

There is no great singular way to gauge popularity, however you can look at the fact that tool companies are doing quite well, old quality tools are only increasing in value, and a large array of high end specialty toolmakers are supported.

Some segments of the hobby sure are in decline, but other segments are very strong. Remember younger generations have far more DIY energy than older (living) generations.

Shows OTOH…. they are almost surely going to die off. There is no competition with the efficiency of the internet.

I’m still relatively new to finer woodworking (been doing carpentry type stuff for a long time tho); it wouldn’t even occur to me to go to a show; spending hours being annoyed by various salespeople doesn’t sound like a particularly good time.

View TravisH's profile


438 posts in 1351 days

#11 posted 01-05-2015 05:09 PM

The issue is the divided target audience in my opinion. Most shows I have went were dominated by guys that aren’t there to really buy anything, learn anything, etc… they are just looking to shuffle around, pick things to look at and put back down, and have a few moments of chat with a fellow guy before heading home.

I think a huge issue is you have a group of woodworkers that are very comfortable just using the net to find products, content, and purchase. Yeah it is great to get an item in your hand but I don’t bat an eye ordering from many companies as I have no doubt the product is top notch, made well, customer service spot on, etc…. The shows become more of a time sink that I would rather spend in the shop or doing something else.

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