Changing Times

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Amateur

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Hello everyone
Over the years I've dipped in and out of the forum. I'm cracking 70 years old now but am still enjoying the smile on folks faces when I've made something for them.
One thing I have noted over time is how the internet forums today have slowed in the volume of traffic that used to come through. I can couple that with the reduction of outlets for machinery today as opposed to 20 odd years ago.
I remember the pages being stuffed with folk starting as a diy woodworker and then some time later setting up businesses. Building large sheds and workshops to launch into bespoke furniture etc.
It was a period when money didn't seem to be a problem and their was so much choice of machinery from suppliers. A place to view machinery upgrades in every town or within drivable distances at any rate.
I can only assume the interest has gone, lost to the monthly wage packet that can't be guaranteed in the shed at the end of the garden.
Oh I've contemplated having a go.
I took an order for 200 carriage clocks for a PR company. Prizes for a season of golf payers competitions.
Overjoyed I set to work. A steady rate of production.
I can tell you it drove me nuts.
Meeting deadlines, being hassled to drop prices and constantly being shown photos of stuff that had started coming in from China selling for pea nuts.
"But mine has a, sticker!" I'd try to explain , "Hand Crafted from Sustainable Forests"
The repetitive days turned into weeks, then months.
I made carriage clocks in my dreams.
Low and behold if anyone asked me what I did for a living down the pub.
Then there was the electric bill, the heating bill, the hourly rate keeping the machinery tip top....and even down time for both machinery, sharpening, getting rid of offcuts, sawdust...The list was huge.
That one job was enough.
I digress. Rambling is age related I'm afraid.

My planer thicknesser broke down just before Christmas. 15 years with my faithful JET 260 with no problems.
Getting down to change the capacitor and messing releasing the motor isn't something I can do at my age. So I wait for an engineer.
While doing so I Google planer thicknesses reviews.
I appreciate now the difficulty for anyone taking up this hobby.
The choice for a new workshop machinery looks minimal.
Even good old Axminster and Record Power have limited ranges and I'm now bamboozled at which company owns which company? What happened to SIP? Hundreds of units sold.
Reviews are either old or non existent.
Gone are the days of reviews. Maybe everyone is on YouTube now so that's it?
In a changing world where B&Ms are becoming a thing of the past it all looks like pot luck Chinese bought on the internet today.

In 1751 the people of the UK tooK a liking to gin and Gin Lane was in full swing.
Let's hope it doesn't take 270 years to 're start the woodworking rejuvenation?

Maybe I didn't post in the right place but I hope some of you can reflect on my gobbledygook ramblings.
have a Happy New Year!
 

Spectric

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Hi

One thing I have noted over time is how the internet forums today have slowed in the volume of traffic that used to come through. I can couple that with the reduction of outlets for machinery today as opposed to 20 odd years ago.

Well I think the world has always changed but it is now the sheer pace of change that is making it so much more noticable and the newer generations are not so hands on, just happy to walk around as a phone zombie staring at the screen and sharing meaningless trivia. Why, because there is more cash around and everyone wants everything now, the days of kids building bikes from secondhand parts and building models from balsa & Airfix kits seems to have gone, do model shops even exist anymore! so growing up using their hands has also gone, how many ten year olds now could repair a puncture? This theme carries on in life, we used to accept that not everyone is academic and so had technical colleges and apprenticeships but now every one has to go to uni and get a degree in something and then get a job in McDonalds or some other junk food establishment to help the obesity crisis expand. So you have less people with a hands on interest and therefore less demand for things like woodworking machinery and tools because it has just not been planted in them by their dads from a young age. You may have noticed also that there is no longer as many good woodworking books being published, many seem to have been around the late nineties and now fewer are being written, less demand or has online video replaced them. So if in twenty years it has decayed to this level can you imagine in say another thirty, it will be a zombie apocalypse with many more people wandering around looking lost, staring at phone screens and posting even more stupid digitally altered photos of themselves, with the females looking like they have swallowed the sink plunger and living on junk food with no hobbies.
 

Terry - Somerset

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I belong to the generation growing up in the 1950s and 60s. This was the "black and decker" and "Barry Bucknell (remember him?) era.

The Chinese reputedly survived on a bowl of rice a day. Hong Kong and Singapore made cheap plastic rubblish. Japan made mopeds, Germany dominated the three wheel car market.

UK was home to craftsmen who (strikes etc aside) could out engineer the rest of the planet (slight exaggeration). BB and B&D allowed people who could otherwise not afford consumer goods to enjoy them.

50 years on there is limited manufacturing left in the UK. That which is left largely relies on advanced IT & technical skills. There is no economic imperative for woodwork as a hobby. Most jobs and careers in UK are service industry based.

It is no surprise that general interest in crafts are losing ground. The young may seem to be smart phone, app obsessed etc, but for them it is social interaction, a source of knowledge, the means through which they control their environment and careers.

If I look around the house, items that previously were wood, possibly crafted with care, are largely gone. Displaced by UPVC windows, IKEA bookcases laminated flooring, MDF and foil covered kitchen units, etc.
 

Spectric

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Next decades along for me, but yes Black & wrecker was too tools as hoover was to a vacuum. Don't forget the soft spanners from Japan and the rise of MFI and chipboard furniture, I think they may have invented it in which case they were pioneers of recycling sawdust, but who kept the wood!
 

Cabinetman

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I am now feeling quite depressed! You are unfortunately not far off the mark.
But at least this dad did his job properly and trained his son as a Cabinetmaker before encouraging him to get a proper job, i.e. one that is actually sustaining him and his family. Ian
 

Sandyn

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I think times have never been so good for home amateur woodworkers and DIY'ers. I think for businesses it's different, but what I see:- The selection of things available is WAY beyond what was available years ago. I remember in the very early 90's travelling to the States, visiting Sears and drooling over the equipment and prices. There was nothing like it available in the UK, now we have a huge selection of equipment at all prices, There are cheap, low quality, machines, but there are still high quality machines available. They just seem so very expensive compared to the run of the mill far east stuff.
We have Screwfix, Toolstation and other retail outfits, open all hours, on-line ordering. You can get most stuff, click and collect, or next day. You can get all kinds of stuff direct from China at ridiculous low prices. We have a good second hand market for used equipment and Marketplace/Gumtree/Ebay to sell or buy. It's a complete revolution. I love it! I'll be moving house before long and one of the factors in deciding where to stay, is how far the nearest cluster of Screwfix/Toolstation is :LOL: :LOL:
There has been a decline in good old British Manufacturing, but that would happen anyway. The world is changing rapidly, but a lot of it is positive change. People have more time on their hands and much more disposable income. You just need to look at the expansion of companies like Screwfix and Toolstation to see there must be lot of people doing this kind of stuff.
 

marcros

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have some faith. The youth of today are not as inept as you believe them to be. Interests may have changed and skills are (in many cases) different.

The skills that many graduates and even school leavers have now probably dont include woodwork, metal work, home economics and car maintenance. That doesn't mean that they are unskilled.
 

billw

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My B&D drill is so old it says "Made in England" on it.

I took up woodworking because my job was professional and you never end up with anything to show for your work. With more automation and less jobs I can see hobbies and interests like this making a comeback at some point.
 

gregmcateer

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have some faith. The youth of today are not as inept as you believe them to be. Interests may have changed and skills are (in many cases) different.

The skills that many graduates and even school leavers have now probably dont include woodwork, metal work, home economics and car maintenance. That doesn't mean that they are unskilled.

I agree. Yes, as said above, it's a heart break to see loss of engineering, woodwork, etc in schools, but just my own kids as an example, (not bigging them up, just I know them best).
They are INFINITELY more socially, environmentally, race, creed, colour, gender.... aware and tolerant than previous generations. Yeah, they sit on crapchat, faceache, instaspam etc, too much, but also they do learn from around the world, not just our narrow Britain-centric perspective. My son has pretty self taught Caribbean cooking, hence tonight's goat curry with plantain and ackee and callaloo - woohoo!

Keep the faith, folks. Dem kids ain't gonna screw the world up, methinks 🤞
 

marcros

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I agree. Yes, as said above, it's a heart break to see loss of engineering, woodwork, etc in schools, but just my own kids as an example, (not bigging them up, just I know them best).
They are INFINITELY more socially, environmentally, race, creed, colour, gender.... aware and tolerant than previous generations. Yeah, they sit on crapchat, faceache, instaspam etc, too much, but also they do learn from around the world, not just our narrow Britain-centric perspective. My son has pretty self taught Caribbean cooking, hence tonight's goat curry with plantain and ackee and callaloo - woohoo!

Keep the faith, folks. Dem kids ain't gonna screw the world up, methinks 🤞

curry goat, not goat curry!!! :)
 

Amateur

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A few years ago I visited the Birmingham Exhibition Centre to see the professional woodworking machinery exhibition.
I stood in awe as a chap loaded a block of wood into a machine that milled, drilled and machined a delicate butterfly that was unbelievably thin section and detailed. It changed the tools then placed the finished article into a tray.
Another company has another machine set up making chairs for dining tables, knocking them out at a ridiculous rate. The thing here was providing you bought six sets including carvers as an option they cost virtually nothing to purchase.
Our capabilities are still there but a few years later who really needs a dining table and six or eight chairs when we've swapped tradition for take aways in front of the telly?
 

Phil Pascoe

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I had to fit a three port valve. I looked at the wiring and took fright, so I rang a sparks I didn't know (my tame one was away). He was very helpful and told me that if I was a bit handy the wiring diagrams were on line, but to call back if I needed him. The wiring in itself was simple ............. but the wiring on the household side wasn't so I called him. He did the job and told me I was wise to have stopped.
I told my wife later that paying someone really bugged me and she asked how long it was since I'd paid anyone to work on the house. I thought about it and said other than a small electrical job about fifteen years, She said considering the work that had been done over that time I should feel proud rather be beating myself up about paying someone for an hour.

The reason I say this is because had I not done the work I couldn't have afforded the house. My children will be the same, although my 25 y. o. daughter's (bought her house just before Xmas) man is a builder. We live in an area with some of the highest prices and lowest wages in the Country, so there are many tens of thousands of young people who, unless they can do a certain amount of work themselves will not not be able to own houses. This is more applicable now than 15 - 20 years ago. They all have to start and learn somewhere.
 
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Nigel Burden

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Both my children live in the village. Both are not into DIY, especially my son. So when they both bought flats within four months of each other, guess who was called on to decorate etc. The flats had both been owned by elderly ladies and needed a fair amount of work, especially the daughters which had wood chip wallpaper on almost all walls that needed re-plastering after stripping. The whole process was a rude awakening to both of them, but I bet that I'll still be called on to help, in other words do most of it.

As the average property price in Corfe Mullen is in excess of £400K, a run down flat is all they could afford on one salary.

Nigel.
 

Jacob

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Hi



Well I think the world has always changed but it is now the sheer pace of change that is making it so much more noticable and the newer generations are not so hands on, just happy to walk around as a phone zombie staring at the screen and sharing meaningless trivia. Why, because there is more cash around and everyone wants everything now, the days of kids building bikes from secondhand parts and building models from balsa & Airfix kits seems to have gone, do model shops even exist anymore! so growing up using their hands has also gone, how many ten year olds now could repair a puncture? This theme carries on in life, we used to accept that not everyone is academic and so had technical colleges and apprenticeships but now every one has to go to uni and get a degree in something and then get a job in McDonalds or some other junk food establishment to help the obesity crisis expand. So you have less people with a hands on interest and therefore less demand for things like woodworking machinery and tools because it has just not been planted in them by their dads from a young age. You may have noticed also that there is no longer as many good woodworking books being published, many seem to have been around the late nineties and now fewer are being written, less demand or has online video replaced them. So if in twenty years it has decayed to this level can you imagine in say another thirty, it will be a zombie apocalypse with many more people wandering around looking lost, staring at phone screens and posting even more stupid digitally altered photos of themselves, with the females looking like they have swallowed the sink plunger and living on junk food with no hobbies.
And a happy new year to you to Spectric!
 

Just4Fun

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50 years on there is limited manufacturing left in the UK.
That could be open to interpretation. I read somewhere that manufacturing, measured by £ value, has always increased year-on-year in the UK. What has declined is the number of people employed in manufacturing. Fewer and fewer people produce more and more. Much the same happened to agriculture before that. I have not checked the statistics but I would not be surprised if this is true.
 

Phil Pascoe

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Interesting. I don't know what counts as the S.W. but I suspect it's a lot larger area than I would say it was - probably up to Swindon. :) £175,000 average house price? This is the poorest area, and £175,000 would just about get you on the ladder. £300,000 - £400,000 would buy you a decent enough house. My neighbour in an adjoining two bedroom bungalow was told a few weeks ago to to put it on the market for £235,000 - but to ensure she had somewhere to move to as she would sell it the week it went on the market..
 

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