A lesson from the Royal Melbourne Show

Every few years I head along to the Royal Melb Show, and have a look at what is on offer there. Know what I see? Variety, entertainment, and SHOWBAGS! I keep looking each time for a bag orientated more towards me (yeah, chocolate etc are still interesting), and I’m not talking of the Ralph showbag, or some other version of a male-orientated equivalent of the Cleo bag or all the others geared towards the fairer sex, and nor am I looking for a Men’s Health bag, or Beyond Blue bag (not like they are going to include Prozac or little blue pills marked with a V, or something useful anyway!) but what I’m looking for is a woodies showbag, something actually geared towards what we’d really want.

Fast forward to the Working with Wood show, and what is missing? Showbags!

Imagine a Dovetail showbag, including some instructions, a japanese saw, setting gauge (a cheaper bag having the still very nice gauge from Wood Review and a clutch pencil, a more expensive bag having a Colen Clenton gauge and a Chris Vesper marking knife), and some timber to practice on.

Or a pen turning bag, with pen blanks, some pen kits, a lathe mandrel, instructions etc.

You could have a lot of fun coming up with some differnt bag concepts, and each costing between $50, $100 and $200 or so. Some filler material to flesh it out a bit (stubby holders, the obligatory chocolate, etc!)

I’m working on the concept of having a genuine Stu’s Shed stand at the next show in Melbourne- and am looking at the way to take the online stusshed.com and create a real version of the online experience. And I’d love that to include a showbag (not specifically something for sale, a giveaway but still with useful things inside (stubby holder, pens, timber etc)). So now I have 12 months to plan, come up with some concepts, a schedule of demos etc, and see if the concept can fly.

So over the next few months I will be looking to you, my constant readers, for your input into what you’d like to see, what you’d like to do (having some genuine “come and try” experiences), and what could be included in some sort of showbag thingie.

Thinking too of some sort of woodworking Olympics event or two (say a dovetail olympics as some US shows do), with a dovetail saw as a prize. All just vague ideas at the moment, but 12 months will fly by!

A tale of two doves

It was the best of joints, it was the worst of joints,
it was the age of modern methods, it was the age of traditional techniques

At the woodshow you see many different items made by many different methods.
Domino, dowel, screw & glue (thankfully not much of that!) but by far what you see time and again, are dovetails.

Handcut and machine cut alike, the dovetail is the joint of choice for one that is both strong, stylish, and decorative.

Whether it was on the Gifkins stand


The stand for Melbourne Fine Woodworking




Or Raf on the Wood Review stand quietly cutting, showing just how well a joint can be made with the minimum of fuss, dovetails abounded everywhere.


The numbers of beautiful items to view with dovetails either subtly included or proudly on display makes one think that for a woodworker, this is a joint to master.



And that doesn’t seem to be a fact lost on the attendees either


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