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The influential journal "Woodturning", published by GMC Publications, carried an article in the July 2000 issue (No. 89) by Ian Hirst, investigating the shopping services available on the Internet to woodturners.  This review was carried out independently by the author, without our knowledge, but we are very proud of his conclusions and reproduce here an unedited facsimile of the article for you reference.

Ian Hirst looks at items of interest to woodturners on the Internet

This month I decided to try shopping on the Internet. For a few years there have been a number of excellent on-line shops selling woodturning products through sites on the World Wide Web (WWW), but most have been US based.  
   This does not, in itself, stop the UK turner from buying products but the carriage charges are higher and the products are subject to import duty and value added tax.
  In practice, small packages sent using the US Postal Service (USPS) usually seem to escape the customs demands, but items sent via UPS almost invariably seem to be charged together with a hefty bill from UPS to the recipient for handling the tax collection.
   So my criterion for going shopping was that the store location had to be based in the UK.  I'll look at European locations on another occasion.
   I started my search using a meta search engine called metacrawler (www.metacrawler.com). Meta search engines issue your search criteria to a number of standard search engines, and collate the results.  My search words were (UK, Shop, Woodturning).  This gave me the following sites: Woodworking on the Web with Coeur du Bois www.woodworking.co.uk
Axminster Woodturning & Craft Centre
 Craft Supplies Limited


Axminster were the biggest disappointment, as while they do have products to buy on-line, they don't have any details of their comprehensive catalogue, and only a selection of 'specials' are available to be bought on-line.
   The Craft Supplies site felt as if it had a split personality!  You can peruse their highly detailed catalogue, but when you want to buy you are taken to another part of their site.  Here products are referenced with cryptic part numbers and even more cryptic descriptions.  They still have some way to go before shopping on their site would be an enjoyable experience, but with perseverance, it's possible.


The Coeur du Bois site provides a link to the ToolPost www.toolpost.co.uk which seems to be run by the same organisation. The ToolPost site is an interesting and highly informative site with very good integration with the selling side.
   The biggest danger with this site is to your wallet.  By the time you have read a description of a tool, and a short article on its use, the temptation to put in your credit card details to order it is almost irresistible.  This is a really great site, and well worth a visit.



I was disappointed by the quality of the sites I found in my search for on-line suppliers of woodturning supplies in the UK.  The software to implement on-line catalogues and shopping is now easily available at low cost, and existing suppliers risk losing their position in the market to upstarts who master the medium of selling on the web. 
The exception is the ToolPost site, in the UK, the site which the others should use as a benchmark.

#1 in E-commerce

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