As Phil and I drove the coast road from North Wales to England and Harrogate yesterday the sun was bright all the way. We didn’t really know what we could expect since the new North of England Woodworking Show show owners took over the show and so there was a heightened sense of awareness that something new was about to happen.
One thing that was evident was the aisles were very full, but there was still room to manoeuvre to see the wares everyone brought to market. Funnily enough it wasn’t the big-box companies that were full but the littler box companies and that was so very refreshing because these people are the very ackbone of what Britain has always been about. Britain’s economy
Visiting with different people who stopped us in the aisles was very helpful and getting direct feedback on our Woodworking Masterclasses and YouTube videos made us want to go back and make more. Everyone made us very aware that we were at last addressing the issues surrounding craft conservation, woodworking training and much more. You may well recognise these two from their contribution to the woodworkingmasterclasses.com forums. They have both been to my classes at the New Legacy School of Woodworking in Penrhyn Castle and have been very supportive of our work though the years. We all enjoyed catching up on news as we ate lunch together .
Entrepreneurs are around everywhere and most often they are very much behind-the-scenes people that get the work done but are indeed seldom seen. I dig for them and I loved the entrepreneurial spirit with some people I found there. Jane is co-owner of of all things a rocking horse company called Rocking Horse Shop and has herself pioneered a Yorkshire enterprise producing top notch rocking horses and kits for woodworkers to build their own too. They ship everything worldwide from their workshops so if you want to build that heirloom piece contact them and they will give you everything from step-by-step how-to’s to the fully painted and harnessed Black Beauty.
Picking up some tools and some wood for a modest amount, and that included some Lignum Vitae and some more ebony for the upcoming star making videos as our Christmas star making offering in a couple of weeks, I was soon satisfied. Lignum is hard to come by but it’s the hardest known wood in the world. I wanted some for plane soles and other hard-wear areas for tools. I also picked up some lime for carving when we do the chip carving videos next year.
Tony’s booth at Antique Tools is always fascinating and I discovered some very nice looking riffler rasps there. I am about to test them out so I will let you know how they are. The price was certainly right for a hand stitched riffler. I think that Phil was most impressed by the secondhand tools but we picked up other stuff from the general tool and equipment suppliers.
Information in an information age can be hard to come by and so talking to reps and business owners proved truly invaluable and guess what! It was refreshing for me not to feel one ounce of pressure to buy. I spent much time with Record Power looking at some of their machines and equipment and I was impressed with the progress they have made over the past few years and what was really helpful was the knowledge of the industry Health and Safety they were up to speed on.
Of course anything without a plug on it and that didn’t need charging except three times a day grabbed most attention from me and from Phil. I can see a router or a water-bath sharpening rig just about anywhere, but watching a travisher and spokeshave in the hands of an expert is always fascinating. I wish that there had been some more real woodworking demonstrations going on and dare I say it less woodturning, but there is no doubt watching Reg Sherwin and Stewart Mortimer at the lathe is always fascinating and 20 minute well spent.
Not too sure what people see in routers run by computers but I must say that they are better now than ever before. Parts are a bit like watching paint dry but Phil gave it a shot before I moved him on to better realms. But, that said, this is just another industry diversification and that’s an interesting move we’ve seen over the years.
This lady, Margaret Garrard, didn’t just talk about her turnings as some were wont to do, she talked and turned through to a beautiful ornament and people were glued to her dextrous skill the whole time through; and that included me. I was impressed.
And another creative artisan, Michael Painter, not to be missed, has much fine work to look at. Few carvers reach this standard.
There was definitely a greater presence of younger people at the show which I was glad about. They were looking at and handling the different hand tools and that was great. A Design and Technology teacher stopped me and thanked us for the work we were doing in trying to steer educationalists toward developing hand skills again. he lamented the sad loss he had seen through the years and I encouraged him that we were making a difference and that I had a whole series of articles coming together for woodworking with young people that would help in the future.
I ran into the Ashley Iles range of tools at the show. The bevel-edged chisels looked really nice and I may get a set to try them out more fully at the bench. In terms of metal fineness at the edge of the bevel they had it. The handles felt nice to and I always like to see real brass ferrules. Very nice product. Now when I got to the Narex booth I was disappointed in the massive size of their new handle shape. They are great for their rasps, but not for chisels. Even my hands found them too large. I like their other model handles the best. I was glad to get my hands on them but they need to get back to the design table on that one.
Lunch at the shows can rarely be described as a culinary delight and paying through the nose is to rub salt in the wounds of hunger, but at this venue you get the best of the best for about £8 including freshly brewed coffee and porcelain mugs and plates and proper non-throwaway silverware. The Yorkshire Cafe had it down. Hot and tasty food and as close as you could ever get to home made desserts as you can get. I had their Steak & Ale pie and steak fries with peas washed down with hot coffee and the whole thing was delicious. I wish that all show venue cafeterias could reach this standard and the staff paralleled the quality of the food. In all the twelve shows I demoed at this year this was the best food ever.