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Do you attend woodworking shows each year?

Readers of the message boards were asked: “Do you make it a point to attend one or more woodworking shows each year, and why or why not? How can the shows be improved?”

… Ellis Walentine

“I stay away because I have always fallen under the spell of the seductive product displays. I go home with a bag of ‘just had to have these’ in one hand and a list of explanations to the wife in the other.” 

“I don’t go because of the distance. Closest would be a 4-hour drive. if they were closer, I’d go for the seminars, good prices, and fun.”

“I like the idea of all the vendors in one spot. I try to purchase one tool at each show, pre-assembled and no tax (can’t beat it.) Demos, if you can get close to them, are great. I only bring the money I want to spend, and good deals are had on the last day.”

“I like shows because I can ask pointed questions directly to factory reps. It is scary to spend thousands on a machine sight unseen; all my large machines came from these shows.”

“I prefer bigger shows, but American Woodworker had nice seminars. Nowhere else can I afford two hours with Frank Klausz. The shows usually have good selection, though the pricing ain’t that great compared to the internet. More seminars would be worthwhile. They need to offer things you can’t get on-line. Maybe a complete traveling seminar series?”

“I have to admit that I have never been to a woodworking show, and I don’t know why. Maybe because I consider power tools secondary to hand tools. If they had a traditional hand tool show, I’d travel hours and miles to see that!”

“I went to one, and that was plenty. Seen one, seen ’em all…not worth the drive. Maybe better hands-on classes, better discounts. Make it worth my time.”

“I like the big Atlanta IWF show and the Anaheim show best. They’re huge, and you can see everything from the smallest accessories to the largest factory machines. For me, the smaller consumer shows are impulse-buying events, with occasional good machine deals and lots of odd supplies I can’t find locally. The seminars at the smaller shows are geared mainly for the hobbyists.”

“I like to go to examine tools, and often buy supplies there. I’ve had help from vendors with tool problems, and I’ve met Kelly Mehler and other well-known people when they gave presentations. I like meeting folks from the on-line forums there, too.”

“A lot of tools are displayed that you don’t see anywhere else, but most stuff you don’t really need. There are lots of great demos, but nothing’s as easy as it looked when you get home. My advice is to compare prices while you’re there, record a vendor’s name, address, and phone and take a camera along. Don’t bring credit cards, only cash. Think about your purchases. Have fun and get motivated!” 

“I go mainly to shop for trinket items and see new gadgets. I go to the CWB show in Dallas for seminars. The shows are good for reviewing and comparing products.”

“I try to attend each year to see what’s new and to stock up on supplies at discount prices. It is a sell-a-thon for the tradespeople, but I wouldn’t change anything.”

“It’s now hard for me to walk around these shows, but I used to love going. It’s exciting to watch the demos, and I’ve bought several tools at shows, though I prefer to support my local economy.”

“I go to both shows in Michigan, but the American Woodworker Show has gone downhill in recent years. They charge too much for what they offer. I like walking around and watching the demos, but don’t really buy much anymore.”

“I go to The Woodworking Show to meet up with friends, but I’m not in the market for a tool purchase. I may take in a seminar, because the lineup of speakers looks impressive. I’ve been to two of the last three American Woodworker Shows and was disappointed by poor vendor turnout and lack of deals.”

“I try to always get there to window-shop, and to meet other forum members. There are usually at least one or two there.”

“A friend and I have new shops, so we attend every year. We are buying supplies and always like to look at new stuff. More free seminars would be nice, such as local wood suppliers, wood identification, or something on solar kiln designs would be interesting.”

“I like the demonstrations. I saw a demonstration of the Incra saw miters, and I left with one. Later, I ordered another. You can read magazine reviews all day, but its not like a demonstration. I also like hobnobbing with the factory boys. Seeing all their stuff and being able to put your hands on it is worth a lot to me.”

“Frankly, I don’t give a rip. Every year, it’s all hobby and small manufacturer centered. No high tech, no Neanderthal, no wood sales, and the hamburgers cost $4.”

“Eight years ago, the Chicago show was a ‘must see. Now the admittance price, parking, and gas cost me over $20. The crowds are massive, so I can’t have a meaningful discussion with a seller or speaker, and the interesting little vendors are squeezed out by fees and the big guys. They need to decide if this is a selling show or an educational show, then make the demonstrators, manufacturers, or presenters more accessible to the public.”

“The nearest show is 165 miles away, and I try to go every year. I compare tools at the show, but buy at home, though I often buy gadgets at the shows. It’s always a good excuse for a weekend in the big city,”

“When I go, it’s mainly to see the presenters, and meet people. After taking Frank Klausz’s dovetail workshop and using a Lie-Neilsen dovetail saw, I bought one at the L-N booth.”

“When I first got into woodworking, I attended a few, but I feel it is less critical now. I’m looking more for hand tools and seminars. I’d like to see more variety in big-name presenters.”

“I have found show prices to be competitive with the internet, but not great. It is fun meeting other forum members at a show, and some of the seminars are good. But how many times do I need to see how to sharpen a scraper? My experience with factory reps has been mixed, and we need more variety at these shows.”

“Show deals can be duplicated away from the shows, so they really aren’t a big money-saver. It’s just fun and helpful to see the catalogs come to life. Plus, the fellowship is great, and when I wear my WoodCentral hat, people notice.”

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