The 2014 Columbus Woodworking Show

Columbus-Bleachers_1I spent some time this past weekend at The Woodworking Shows in Columbus, Ohio. First off, trekking to the show is much better now that Columbus is an hour and a half away (as opposed to the 7 hours it took to get there when I lived outside Philadelphia). The second thing that struck me about the show as I arrived was the size of the crowd. It was huge.

Because this was my first time at the show as something other than a vendor or educator, my take was completely different than in years past. Sure there was the usual banter with Bob Jevons (who informed me his web site is currently down but you can find his 3D squares at retailers everywhere…Google it) and Rich Wedler, but I got to see the show in the same way you see it when you attend. I got to sit in on a class from my friend Jim Heavey and got to poke around at all the tools.

Columbus-Bleachers_2The part I liked most was seeing a bunch of new vendors. Sure I enjoy seeing the core vendors who’ve been part of the show for years but it was refreshing to walk in the entry and see a big Powermatic/Jet display. I also enjoyed spending time in the Arbortech booth getting lessons on how their new products work (look for a tool review of some of their products in an upcoming issue of the magazine). It was great to get to look at the Guhdo saw blades and the new Silky Japanese style saws (which are nice enough that I came very close to purchasing one even though I am a devout western saw user).

Columbus-From-FloorI had fun playing around with the left handed version of Lee Valley’s Veritas shooting plane (for my review of the right handed version click here) and checking out Grex‘s pinners and the latest from Bosch. To me this is one of the greatest benefits to attending The Woodworking Shows when they come to your area; you get to handle the tools. You also get to talk to people who know the tools and in many cases designed them.

The other major change I saw in the show is the amount of education. There were more classes than ever at the show. Since Bryce Beerman (the new owner of the show) took over two years ago there’s been a marked uptick in the quantity and quality of educational programs. When combined with a rise in the number and diversity of vendors, it’s no wonder the crowd seemed larger than any in recent memory.

— Chuck Bender 

 

 

3 thoughts on “The 2014 Columbus Woodworking Show

  1. Christopher Hawkins

    I agree is was better than the past and the turnout on Saturday was excellent. I especially enjoyed the “Bush Oil” seminar. I don’t know if the products are better, but the sanding demo was helpful and the stories were fun. The Lee Valley display was wonderful as usual. The fancy bandsaw guides guy who cuts reindeers in about 20 seconds is to me a a bit of a snake oil saleman. It isn’t the guides, it the fact that he has made 1000s of them. Michael Fortune can teach you to set up a bandsaw to do what you want for a lot less. The BullDog twist bit and Forstner bit demos were especially impressive. The book display section is always a winner.

  2. dkisker

    I agree that the WW show has improved dramatically since Bryce took over–the vendors are much more positive and the planning is clearly improved. And the education aspect is important–both the formal stuff and the less formal. Our WW Guild booth had great traffic at the Denver show this year.

    The thing I miss though, is all the ‘little guys’ who used to show up, maybe only one or two years to promote their latest and greatest idea. (Do you remember the “Rout-r-Mortise?) That’s the way that guys like Robert Jevons got started. Now, it’s mostly the same guys each year, at least here in Denver. It will be interesting to see how things go from here.

    1. Chuck BenderChuck Bender Post author

      I’m glad to hear the show was better in Denver too (though I had little doubt that would be the case). Bryce is working hard to improve the show in every city. As he brings in new vendors, the crowds will continue to increase which will bring a greater diversity of vendors, and so on. I’ve been championing for years, if you want a better woodworking show, attend and spend some money. Vendors large and small can’t continue to travel to, and staff booths at, shows across the country if they aren’t making a profit. As one of the former small vendors I can tell you it’s even harder on the little guys. So, if you like Silky’s saws (or any of the vendors), buy one at the show and tell a friend. If they break even or lose money, they won’t be back.

      Another thing we need to do to continue the shows (magazines and conferences…WIA comes to mind) is grow woodworking as a community. Get your kids, grandkids and friends into your shop and show them how much fun it is. Or, to borrow a phrase from my friend Tom Iovino, Get Woodworking.

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