A predictable outcome

If I was a Woolworths shareholder, I would have been more than a little annoyed at their somewhat questionable strategy of going head to head with Bunnings.

I’ve spoken about it a few times, such as

Rockem Sockem
Thought it was a stupid strategy, and today’s news is clear evidence why.

Guess we will watch this space, but it isn’t good from a competition perspective, or challenging Bunnings customer service.

Going…….going………and soon will be gone


Update: I wonder what this is going to mean for Triton, seeing as they finally had just managed to negotiate their way back into a large box hardware store (and Bunnings historically have not wanted to take them on again after the GMC saga)?  901 tools (aka the old GMC) that was being sold again in Masters will be without a home too, and I am sure that will be true for many products.  Not always a bad thing in the case of some brands.

Wonder if there will be a  (very large) garage sale on the horizon?

The B-M Wars – World’s Smallest

A year or so ago, I wrote about the Bunnings-Masters battle that was heating up, with stores being co-located in a decidedly provoking manner (and equally pointless where it comes to community benefit of store-type availability). It would be no different to Burger King and Hungry Jacks stores being placed alongside each other – both have the same menu, same recipe, same prices.

It continues, in an interesting direction. A few years back, I blogged about “The World’s Smallest Bunnings”, about a store I came across in Sydney. Well, there’s now a smaller one. In the Carrum Downs shopping centre, a Bunnings Outdoor was set up, obviously to draw attention away from the local (massive) Masters. I had a look around, and it was pretty spartan.

However, in the meantime, they have received so many queries, that Bunnings have chosen to turn that store into a fully fledged Bunnings store. And I must say, the result is impressive!

It has a tiny floorplate in comparison to a normal Bunnings or Masters, but the product range is incredible. They claim to have about 90% of the range of a normal Bunnings- don’t know if that is quite legit, but what they have, how they have fitted it all in is worth a gander.

There is talk they may build a ‘normal’ Bunnings in the vicinity of the current Masters. Personally, I would be disappointed. For better or worse, Masters is already there, and it is of no benefit to the community for another identical store. This current mini-me Bunnings can definitely stay. It is a useful location (walking distance from the local supermarket, and the carpark), carries a great range in spite of its size, and is a point of difference to the Masters.

I know that opinion won’t matter to Bunnings- it is world domination or nothing, but this is a pretty cool model too, and reminds me more of the local hardware shops of my youth, before the monstrosities became the norm and drove the little hardware stores to extinction.

Master Lowes

While down in Mornington last weekend, I spotted one of the new Masters stores (Lowes in the US)


Couldn’t resist a bit of a look around. This won’t be news for everyone, some have obviously had an opportunity to shop there already. Some of us haven’t!


Racks and racks of tools. A bit of range: 909, xtreme, Hitachi, Panasonic, Bosch, Worx. Some interesting relationships right there. 909 is pretty much identical to old GMC tools, same mouldings, same everything, different name. Xtreme according to one of the staff is the budget range from Worx. Now Worx is owned by Positec, who also own Rockwell, and Rockwell is the budget version (in Australia). Worx Pro is the premium range (and is called Rockwell in overseas stores). So where does Xtreme fit in? Confused? Me too.


A whole wall of Sonicrafters. Back to my discussion: another tool I saw is called the iDrill. In white or black. Rather Apple-like. But it is a drill people! Had a quick look at it, and took the battery out. Now that is interesting- a very familiar battery shape. Looks the same as my Rockwell Li-Ion range of tools. Wonder if that is a Positec tool as well?


One or two Dremels (& accessories)

A whole wall of extension cords


And good to see I can get some reasonable Bessey clamps from more than one source down under.


It was really interesting to see some very familiar GMC tools again, now under a 909 brand. The relatively low cost (at the time) GMC thicknesser really opened some interesting new woodworking doors for me back in its time.


And yet another version of the Triton Superjaws. Boy did GMC really stuff up not maintaining that international patent.


There were shopping trolleys that looked like racecars, motorised scooters for those tired of walking, but I really found interesting was this rack of plastic. Wrap your project for transportation, line your boot. All really simple, neat touches.

Interesting times!

Sydney Checklist

Did a bit of the tourist thing in my latest trip to Sydney.  While I was in the Navy, Sydney was almost a second home, so it was interesting treating it as a first-time visit.

Opera House @ night (handheld camera)

Bondi Beach

World's Smallest Bunnings

A cool fast-food place based around crepes Xquisito @ Chatswood

Visiting Carbatec Sydney

Ferry on the Harbour

City from the Ferry

My old stoming ground - Garden Island East

Climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge (w FIL)

Smallest Bunnings Ever

Was driving around Sydney (another short trip recently), and unlike Melbourne where there seems to be a mega-sized Bunnings every second intersection, I only saw 1 Bunnings store, and it was the smallest I have ever seen.  Not a massive building in the middle of a huge carpark, but a small shopfront on a busy street, no parking (don’t think there is any real parking in Sydney).

Standing outside the smallest Bunnings I've ever seen!

Just how small is it?


Garden Supplies Section

Plant Section - Choices Choices!

Speaking of parking, we headed down to see the Opera House one evening, and used a carpark that advertised 1 hour for $9 – oh well, expensive but bearable.  When we left the carpark after 40 minutes – $32!  Apparently there was fine print at the bottom that said there was a fixed rate after 5pm.

Opera House

There is a theory that there are more cars in Sydney than parks, so you have to have a certain percentage of cars always on the road, or rather no matter what happens there will always be a percentage driving around looking for a non-existent park!

If it’s Pretty in Pink…

A winner in (Telecom) Gold, what is it in Ryobi Blue?

Thanks to Sparhawk for the pics- can’t believe how wrong the SuperJaws looks in blue, and particularly how irksome seeing the traditional Superjaws logo on a non Triton branded box.

Bet Ryobi, and Bunnings are laughing long and hard at Triton & GMC, finally scoring the best tool Triton ever produced (although I’m not a big fan of the Chinese manufactured version).

It is interesting reading some American user reviews and opinions of the JawHorse- some really don’t “get it”. At least one went on and on how unstable a 3 legged one would be- how much more stable a 4 leg one would be (I still think they are under the misconception that a Superjaws or Jawhorse is some form of sawhorse).

Bunnings Redefines “Hardware”

Bunnings appears to be diluting its placement as a hardware store, with the potential inclusion of whitegoods, such a fridges into its product range.

The question is, with the store currently fully stocked with goods, and the physical dimensions of the store being fixed, what is going to be lost to accommodate less and less applicable product lines?  My guess would be there will be a continual decline in the variety of products, resulting in less choice and more “this is the brand/model everyone is expected to buy”.  This inevitably leads to “Ryobi is the only brand of power tools you can choose” etc.

Perhaps I am being overly harsh, but after fridges and other whitegoods move in, what’s next?  Do we (as shed dwellers) need a list of suppliers where we can still buy real hardware, consumables and tools, so we still have the variety of choice of brands that we deserve?  It may result in having to use a little more petrol going from location to location, but I’m sure we can fill up at a Bunnings Petrol Station when they again diversify into another non-hardware related marketplace.

Ending not with a Bang but a Whimper

What is an approximation of the first sentence from the book “Wargames” (of the movie of the same name) seems an appropriate description of the end of Triton in Bunnings.

A local store I visited today had just empty shelves where Triton once proudly occupied an entire isle in the toolshop, and there was no Triton (or GMC for that matter) powertools anywhere on display.

I found the last small stock of Triton in the store, unceremoniously dumped on a pallet amongst other discontinued and end-of-line sale items.

A couple of 1400W routers (not for $99- I checked!) for $250, a router stand, dust bucket, bit of glue, sanding disks and a old-stock 185mm saw.

Don’t know if it is just one store or many, although I suspect it will be widespread. Knew the day would come. Never dreamed it would actually happen.

As I wrote the caption for the following photograph, I am reminded of a different pallet of Triton – back when I was still a Triton demonstrator.  What is left here is such a pale comparison to what was once a product range that was (probably) the envy of many other tool companies, and definitely evoked envy in visitors to sheds equipped with a healthy collection of the range of orange tools.

To quote another movie to end the chapter “Everything that has a beginning, has an end”

A Pallet of Triton

Story from the Shed

As mentioned, I’ve been reading through “Stories from the Shed” and have been coming across many truths in it that so resonated with me. Instead of recounting those that did here, get the book and find some gems of your own. 🙂

The book really speaks the old language of sheds, back before sheds were filled with cheap Chinese crap. I can’t completely knock those though- I certainly still have enough of them, so they have been a means to an ends, and a way into more serious levels of woodworking. My journey is still very new- it will take many, many more grey hairs before I feel like I might have a shred of credibility. What I see around me when I walk through the shed door does give me a good feeling of having made a valid start.

So many sheds I’ve seen are nothing more than a house overflow, with no possibility of anything being created, fixed, or at least attempted. Others are pristine demonstrations of inactivity- neatness being so profound that nothing can actually be made in their surgical white sterility.  I’m not proposing those being either end of a spectrum, more two corners of a polygon defining the gamut of shed types out there.  As those who have been reading this blog for a while (or have been committed (committable) enough to read back), mine has undergone a huge transformation over the last 12 months. Getting hard to even remember what it was like. 12 months on, and there is so much still to do to complete the transition. But I’m getting there.

It is a fine line to walk between functionality, and (potentially) useful item storage. I grew up with my Father’s shed- occasional garage and item storage, but still with a shadowboard full of tool- spanners, & ring spanners, hammers and screwdrivers. Even some jars with their lids nailed to the underside of a shelf and the glass jar screwed into the lid to store them (and more than one became unscrewed by me in search of a rogue bolt and had the whole jar slip and break!), and at least one box labelled “odds & sods”.  I may not have gone the glass jar concept (and these days it is probably listed in some house and home show or magazine) but storing every nut, bolt, screw, nail and washer is still strongly engrained, and there is hardly a week that goes by where I’m not ferreting around in one tray or other looking for the perfect nut and bolt combination for a job.  I even have a spun metal bowl just for initially throwing these items as I come across them, ready for a future (semi) sort. Of course I could head down to the local hardware store (and let’s face it, 99 times out of 100, these days that means Bunnings – there are no other hardware stores left it seems) and bought a bolt, but a. that defeats the purpose, b. they don’t carry a decent range of bolts anyway, and c. these days they seem to be primarily made out of crap materials that you can strip and or break with hardly a thought anyway. (There is a bolt shop near to where I live, so I know I probably should just buy the bolts nuts etc I need from there – like everyone, convenience is so attractive).

Guys – a bolt and the associated threads NEEDS to be put into tension – that’s how it works.  You have to make the bolt capable of being tensioned or it is useless, and I might as well have used chewing gum.  Oh, and while on the subject, that tension is achieved by rotating the nut with a degree of torque, and that causes torsion stresses, particularly in the stress raised area of the threads.  If you can’t make a bolt resistant to torsion stress, then think about a career change. Please. (Hmm – wonder if they also designed the Souther Star Observation Wheel, and didn’t even take into account a moderate amount of heat stress – a few days of 43C temperatures causing it to be shut down ‘indefinitely’ because of warps and cracks.  Did you somehow forget that metal expands when it is heated? Even 3rd world engineers in places that are subject to desert heat seem to be able to make rides, bridges, rail systems and power stations capable of withstanding thermal stress. It’s covered from the very first year of an engineering degree, so perhaps you shouldn’t have slept through that lecture.)

I guess my back shed (which is more storage than anything) is a bit of a testament to the changes in my shed. As I improve and upgrade my tools to a quality I want, the previous tools are relegated to deeper and deeper storage, until they find their way onto eBay or similar, to raise funds for the next venture. At this stage, it is still mainly my old Triton (and GMC) gear, so hopefully it will get to a point that both sheds will have space that is useable for the present, rather than a testament to the past.

A Type of Tool Storage

A Type of Tool Storage

That pile of timber there is part of a load that was being thrown away from the local Tafe – during a course some staff approached my course and said – take what you want from the pile, it is all going to the tip at the end of the day.  Luckily I had the stationwagon with me that day – I loaded it to the top with a massive amount of pine (all short lengths, all with nail holes etc, but timber is timber!) In the next week or two, I will be making a new wood rack for it to free up the space it is currently commanding in the lower shed, and hopefully I will find room to move once again.  It really is incredibly beneficial to have 2 distinct spaces (sheds), even if one is tiny (3m x 3m), as it means I have somewhere to store the clutter that would otherwise overrun my work areas.  This 3m x 3m shed was once the only shed I had, and I had a 1m long lathe, a tablesaw, a router table and a bit of a workbench all operating in this space, and still stored the lawnmower, garden tools, and all my other woodworking (and non woodworking) tools in there.  No idea how – must have been a Tetris Master in my previous life!

So enough of the rambling. Onward and upward as they say. So many plans, so many projects, so much contemplating……so little time!

Unwitting Stand-up Comedy

Was in Bunnings this afternoon getting a few bits’n’pieces, and one I was hoping to find (but seriously doubting I’d find) was a Triton Woodrack. Like Superjaws, you are hard-pushed to have too many.

After (unsurprisingly) not finding one, I just asked in the tool shop if they happened to have any woodracks. The young lady didn’t know what a woodrack was, so asked her team leader. Her reply was “Woodrack? Is that anything like a wine rack? Try the home storage section”

Only if you have 50kg bottles of wine!

Think I left my jaw on the ground there somewhere if anyone finds it.

I’ve got a stack of pine taking up room in the small shed, so am going to make some outside covered storage for it. Thought I’d use a Triton Woodrack but no matter- will just have to do what everyone else has to, and make my own. I still have a stack of round steel 1 1/2″ dia pipe that will work well. (The stuff I was trying to give away when I was offered a couple tonne of it for free- I kept a couple hundred kgs of it for myself just in case, so it’s good to discover a project for some of it). I also have some roofing sheet steel left over from the shed I’ll use.

Anything to free up some shed real estate.

I managed to get a little more organisation and sorting done out in the shed this morning before the sun really kicked in. The days at the moment remind me a bit of the 2nd Chronicles of Thomas Covenant – a nice day begins with shining sun, but as it rises in the sky a much more malignant presence is exposed. 44.5C day today, and still 43C predicted tomorrow. I certainly can sympathise with those in Adelaide, but Melbourne was hotter today, and again tomorrow. Granted they have had many more days of heat, and that’s the real killer for shed time.

Perhaps we could all move to Tasmania.

Oh, and as far as the roving reporter’s solution was valid, my version has been sitting with my daughter in a wading pool, beer in hand (don’t drink much, but days like this beg for it!)

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