W shop / Materials & Finishes Show NEC


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14 Oct 2011
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I went to the show yesterday, what a change since the last W Show. Anyone who hasn’t been to a W show, it used to be multiple halls at the NEC with every major manufacturer of wood working machinery displaying almost everything they made. It would take a couple we of days to see everything. The new show, which has been renamed, is significantly smaller, with very few major brands exhibiting and those that are bringing only a very small selection of their machines. The show was quiet, very quiet. I really felt sorry for the people on the stands. Time must have dragged by.

I’ve no idea what’s changed, why the show changed its name or why the exhibitors didn’t attend, but regrettably it won’t be on my list of must see shows going forward.

Anyone else been, what’s your view?
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That's interesting to hear, I have been bombarded with messages in the run up to this, along with the promotion/mention of all the youtube celebs being there, its was also interesting to read what @SimonStevensCanes said about Makers Central, sounds like the best part of that was the P@@s up afterwards...
same happened with the photo shows i used to go to many years ago.
Cost to much to exhibit and if they dont get the return

Tool shows seem to be the same , same companies exhibit and as i discovered not any real great saving
I saved once on so toughbuilt kit , that was at the D&M show - BUT i think they made a mistake as when i went back to collect the deal had changed a lot - I got a free belt & they throw in the braces , if i purchased 2 of the tool bags - or maybe 1st x customers
then Erwin Clamps I saved a few bob , BUT all the dewalt gear , i could get as cheap elesewhere at the FFX show, D&M matched price

I guess unless you are looking for new inovations or items just not aware of , its not worth it

we also went to the ideal home exhibition , every year, BUT on year back in the 90s i think , they only had i hall i think , what ever it was so much smaller , we havent been since

catch 22 - needs to be big to get people to attend , and needs people to be big
I think the big machine companies have realised spindle moulders are out dated and dangerous :) customers have moved onto much safer router tables!

I remember pre Covid talking to one of the reasonable sized W exhibitors and the show cost them £250K to set up, and one the first questions visitors ask is "How much show discount?"

Exhibitions are very expensive to set up and man, its usually a case of not how much money you made, just how much money you didn't lose.

I have exhibited and visited a few woodworking shows this past year both in the UK and overseas, foot fall is down and show takings reducing. If people want the shows to survive they need to go and support them, use it or loose it comes to mind.


Yes like anything it can only exist if used so times might be tight and budgets stretched but I would say that just visiting an exhibition when in your area shows support and gives the exhibitors some hope for the future.
Has digital marketing not had the biggest impact on attendances to these shows, I have to make a huge commitment to go to any of them, logistically its 3 hours of traveling to and from for me, when I can make a reasonably informed decision on my purchase from the comfort of my office.

Also begs the question who are these "show's" aimed at the professionals or hobbyists.

spindle moulders are out dated and dangerous
Respectfully, Peter, I couldn't do what I do with a router table, and personally don't see any difference in the safety argument, (your fishing I'm sure :cool:) which goes back to my comment above about the pro or hobbyist audience.
For me getting hands on tells me far more than any catalogue. For instance one PT on the show looked good…..until @Sideways looked under the tables to find that they were fabricated not cast! The casing on another had two welded none machined or ground merchant bar reference supports welded to a flimsy base that was trying to hold the two lift up cast iron tables coplaner with each other. In our opinion, neither construction suggested long term stability probably creating frustration, and poor results for the users.

A high end brand had an outfeed table on a slider that flexed a good 1/4” (6mm) which would make cut finish and accuracy a bit more interesting.

Talking with Martin, I still don’t understand why they don’t have a sliding table for their spindles or indeed a T slot in their tables to facilitate false tables for back support / pressure when needed.

Equally although I’d love a set of Aigner fences, there still seems to be no solution for creating a stop on them to facilitate dropping on stuff without drilling them. Something I wouldn’t have appreciated from a catalogue, but that’s just me.
People like pictures so here are some things from the show that caught my eye.
The UK distributors of Piher clamps from Spain had a stand and the quality of the products look nice.




when I can make a reasonably informed decision on my purchase from the comfort of my office
Not always, sometimes I find that handling a tool is needed to make the decision and at shows you get the chance to handle potential purchases from different vendors to find what suits you. It is easy when you are buying known quality or from a good supplier but there are a lot of more dubious outlets and tools not being advertised honestly. Then there is a social aspect and the chance to talk with the vendors so I think of them as a day out.
It was interesting to look at proper commercial / industrial machinery.

The build quality and engineering of Martin machines is impressive.










Festool were demonstrating their panel saw with the blade retraction system. No cartridges, no damage, reset and back to work in 20 seconds after triggering. Impressive, and probably the second best we saw in terms of build, but a long way behind Martin.

Robland. Their machines featured some very decent looking cast iron tables but these sat on surprisingly flimsy looking chassis fabricated from sheet metal and I just couldn't see how they would achieve rigidity to keep everything rigid.

Wadkin Bursgreen were there with some new and some refurbished vintage Wadkin cast iron. The restorations looked good so if you have £4 to £5k and want a classic, then they can still be found.

Wadkin who sell the bright green machines were there with the modern Taiwanese machines that they now sell. Those were interesting to see because I've never seen machine tables before where the stiffening ribs on the underside were fabricated - steel strip welded in - rather than cast as part of the tables.

It was fun to play with a shaper origin, and nice to see that the Yeti portable full sheet CNC router has got distribution in the UK through Trend. They are a little known but innovative UK company who seem to have been doing well abroad while many of us had never heard of them in their home market.
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This was the type of professional show where you could get to see and touch the products in the flesh, but it's all about making contact and setting up future conversations / demos and visits. No one is selling anything that you would pay for and take away from the show.

W2000 four years ago did have a scattering of actual retailers in among the big machinery companies and materials / fittings manufacturers. I remember coming home with a few boxes of Abranet from Isaac Lord. This show was a lot smaller.
A comment from one of the stand staff about their experience of using a spiral block planer stuck in my mind.

It cost just under £1000 for a full set of replacement carbide cutters to refresh the block. 96 cutters at £10 apiece.
The machine was in use for production, processing hardwood.
One set of cutters lasted a whole year.
So by implication, they must have had to rotate the cutters to a new edge roughly every 3 months.

I went and it was quite.
I found a few stalls that were of use to me but it was more of show and tell type event than show and sell.
Lots of big ticket items

You could cover all the stalls in an hour or two and be done.
Lots of coming and going quickly.

I spoke to friend whilst I was there who normally exhibits - he said the costs have got just too much and the after sales don't compensate for the costs.

The NEC are the only winners