Are 'The Woodworking Shows' Any Good?
Issue: Issue 90
Posted Date: 1/13/2004
An Ohio woodworker asked his cohorts if the Woodworking Shows were worth a 90-minute drive (to Columbus or Indianapolis) and the price of admission.
The first few responses were favorable to attending. A two-time attendee (Costa Mesa in the fall and Pomona in the Spring) enjoys the shows, noting that anything he brings home (particularly from the Lie-Nielsen booth) is OK with his wife! One described the admission as cheap with plenty of on-site parking (and advised getting tickets online in advance to avoid lines). Several described the deals they'd scored:
- A Baltimore show attendee felt he got a good deal on a router table, fence and list system.
- Getting 10% off a new Powermatic band saw, a woodworker also came across (but didn't buy) a number of other bargains.
- One attendee felt he got a good price on a JET Mini Lathe ($89), though he wished he had more time to attend all the classes offered with the price of admission.
- A newsgroup member thought he got a great deal on a DeWalt 20" scrollsaw, stand, and stool and came across some other good packaged deals & especially from offshore manufacturers.
- Having the chance to operate a DeWalt surface planer confirmed one attendee's opinion of the Delta 2-speed, which he then bought for a good price. When he bought a grinder (he doesn't say which brand), they threw in a free tenoning jig for his table saw.
- A post mentioned getting good deals on clamps and other small accessories. Another found bargain prices on sandpaper, glue, shellac flakes, dyes, and other consumables.
A more cautious woodworker suggested checking the list of exhibitors ahead of time to make sure it covers the tools you want to see in action. A few thought attending every other year would be enough.
But a couple of responses were negative about their experiences. Some of those who'd attended seminars and demos at past shows were disappointed with this year's on-the-floor format. Having to fight through crowds of people was another common complaint. And several woodworkers mentioned the costs and difficulty of parking. A Cleveland show attendee explained that he now prefers local arts and crafts fairs, which are usually free and he gets to talk with and see woodworkers in action. Concurring with that view, another newsgroup member thought the prices offered were no better than retail. Though he found some deals, he came away empty-handed and probably won't attend next year.
One attendee described how attitude affected his enjoyment of the show. He'd gone on a Friday with a friend whom he described as a nationally known woodworker. They'd breezed through the show in 20 minutes, found nothing to see and left. But the next day, he'd attended the show in the company of family members, whose fresh, unjaded attitude made the show more enjoyable.
In the meantime, the original poster attended one of the shows and found a long wait to get inside and few deals. What he liked, however, was the chance to see the hardware in action. He'd heard good things about the Performax 16/32 drum sander and not so good about the Delta 'X5' 16/32, but seeing them side-by-side convinced him to go with the Delta.