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Keith Smith

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This is the preview for the competition which will appear in The Woodworker and Woodturner; unfortunately Mark Ramuz has confirmed that it won't be in until the issue out mid April. Charlie and Alf have both contributed to this and I thought you might like to see it first.

Keith




It is now pretty much impossible to find a local woodworking club that doesn’t specialise in turning or carving; the once common woodworking club has all but disappeared. Meanwhile over the last few years the internet and its use has grown dramatically, allowing people with diverse interests to form clubs without geographical restraints.

There are quite a few internet woodworking forums, most are American and of variable quality, but one of the best woodworking forums is the UK based UKWorkshop.co.uk. I was more than surprised when I discovered that Charley the brains and administrator of the site is 19 years old; he started the site four years ago when he was only fifteen! He was interested in both woodworking and computers and when he looked on the internet he couldn’t find a woodworking website aimed at the UK woodworker, so decided to start one himself.

What is even more remarkable is that Charley left school when he was twelve due to being diagnosed with M.E. The idea was that he would take a year off school to recover but seven years later he is still at the “recovering” stage; although he assures me he got over the worst of it a few years ago. He now works from home as a web designer and is a system administrator for a company in Lincoln.

In 2001 UKWorkshop.co.uk started out hosting basic woodworking information and a crude but functional message board. In 2003 Charley redesigned the site, bringing in the new forum which now has over 750 members. This has made it one of the UK’s largest woodworking websites and internet communities. It is certainly one of the busiest; when I last looked there were 45,172 articles.

On the site you can find step-by-step projects and how-to guides, tool reviews, links to other woodworking related sites and a popular forum for discussion about all things woodworking. One of the reasons this is such a friendly and popular forum is down to the members and in particularly Alf and the moderators Adam, Neil, Noel and Tony, who devote a great deal of their time to the forum ensuring it runs smoothly.

Charley has funded nearly all the costs of the web site himself up until the start of this year, but as the site has grown so do the costs. In November last year the site reached a record 20,000 unique visits and he has now started to look for companies to advertise on the site. His first major advertiser is Chestnut Products, the well known manufacturer of wood finishes.

One feature of the internet is that it is easy to be anonymous, most members use a nickname; this is how I managed to be known as woodsmith. One of the most prolific and popular contributors to the UKW site is Alf. Now some of us have been caught out because, and it is not letting too great a secret out to let you know, Alf is actually Alice. She tells me that she is not usually much of a talker but since having access to hundreds of fellow woodworkers online she has reached a point where she can’t stop talking. This has had some unforeseen consequences; she managed to talk herself into reviewing all the range of Veritas handplanes for the benefit of the forum. These reviews are excellent, more than professional, and it is worth visiting the site just to look through them. Against some very stiff competition she also won the recent competition held on the site, with a lovely and beautifully made table.

This leads me neatly on to their latest competition which is being sponsored by The Woodworker and Woodturner and Smith Abrasives, of Wrexham. This one is rather different from their usual competitions.

My original idea was that the entries should be made from a man-made material MDF, ply etc but we widened the brief to make the competition open to all; I couldn’t quite envisage anyone turning MDF! So now although the entry should be most made from wood any man-made material may be used to form part of the finished work; although the odd screw or hinge doesn’t count.

So as to allow for more varied entries and in particular to allow turners to enter this competition does not award any points for quality of construction or for the joints used. The judges will focus more on the choice and use of the material and the overall quality of finish.

There are some great prizes; for the Advanced category a Lie-Nielsen No4; for the intermediate category a pair of coarse and fine 11.5inch diamond bench stones and for the beginners category a Mckeller 18v combi drill, Mckeller circular saw and a Black and Decker Sandstorm detail sander. Plus the runner up in each section will win an annual subscription to The Woodworker and Woodturner and the winners of the competition will have their work featured in a forthcoming article in The Woodworker and Woodturner.

The closing date for the competition is Saint Georges Day, April 23rd, by the time this goes to press unfortunately the competition may well be over but come along to the site and have a look anyway. Members come from all walks of life, their ages range from teenagers to octogenarians and they come from as far afield as Nigeria, Brazil, Canada, Europe, Australia and America.

You can have a good look round the site as a guest without actually joining but membership is free and I am sure there will be many more competitions to enter in the future.

As Charley says “If you have access to the t’internet come by and say hello”
 

Chris Knight

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Keith,
An interesting and informative piece.

I do think the closing date might be a lot too soon for readers of the mags!
 

Keith Smith

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Thanks Chris, the competition is aimed squarely at the existing members, it was never our intention that readers would enter, imagine if we had 500 entries in the competition, it just wouldn't work. The article is just to publicise the site.

The competition should make an interesting article in the magazine, hopefully some of the readers will come along to look at the competition and maybe join.

Charley needs advertising to keep the forum going and it is all about bums on seats, the more members the more chance of creating interest in sponsors.

Keith
 

Keith Smith

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Thanks, you need to enter the comp and try to win the L-N for the good of the site :roll: :lol:


Does anyone have a photograph which they think would go well with this item?

It does need to be reasonable resolution to go in the magazine.

If you have one you think may be suitable please PM me.

Thanks

Keith
 
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