The last weekend of June 2010 saw the latest of the perennially popular 'Open House' events from The ToolPost.
This leading supplier of woodturning
, woodcarving and woodworking tools and equipment to woodcraftsmen
around the world regularly throws open its doors and hosts a weekend of demonstrations. This year's Spring Open House proved that the renown of The ToolPost and its Open House events is spreading: demonstrations from
some of Europe's finest woodworking talent – some never before seen in the UK – drew a record number of visitors and contributed to an extremely successful event.
The roaring success of The ToolPost's
Spring Open House this year may be attributed to three main factors. Firstly, The ToolPost shop in Didcot, Oxfordshire now stocks an even wider range of products –
in particular – than ever before. The breadth of the range, including regular introductions of the newest products on the market, has come to the attention of woodturners and carvers all over the country, who now realise that as well as carrying a wide range of domestically-produced tools, The ToolPost is the partner of choice for overseas manufacturers seeking representation in the UK and Europe. As one visitor to the Open House commented, "
the range of products just gets bigger and bigger which means that we will have to keep attending your open days to keep abreast of what's new in
woodturning". Open House visitors can marvel at demonstrations from some of the finest woodturners, woodcarvers and woodworkers in Europe
and then purchase both the tools they have seen demonstrated, and others, enabling them to recreate what they have seen when they get back to their own workshops. Whereas a tool suppliers stand at a typical trade show
might carry 500 products, visitors to The ToolPost Open House have access to the complete and substantial range of thousands of tools and equipment in The ToolPost shop, and can benefit from the advice of both the
expert shop staff and visiting demonstrators.
The opportunity to seek advice on a massive range of products from both the knowledgeable shop staff from the attending experts from supplier companies and
tool manufacturers and the presence of so many experienced fellow woodworkers is a further factor behind the success of the Open House, as well as the appearance in the audience of many "household names" from the woodturning
world. Peer review is one of the best ways to glean reliable, unbiased advice on what products really deliver and the Open House offers a highly enjoyable and social way to get such advice.
perhaps most importantly, the success is down to the fact that the Open House showcases Europe's finest woodturning and woodcarving
talent. This year's Spring Open House featured, as principal demonstrators, Jan Hovens, Tracy Owen and Simon Clements. Jan Hovens, from the Netherlands, has never before demonstrated his outstanding woodturning
skills in the UK. Specialising in turning miniature screw-threaded items, Jan delighted the crowds by making an acorn box which involved the creation of a screw thread in a genuine acorn cup, upon which he fitted a turned "nut" lid. Tracy Owen is one of the UK's best known turners and showed Open House guests his expertise in creating carved, coloured and decorated off centre pieces. Tracy also demonstrated his uniquely designed "signature" shear scraper tools, newly released by Henry Taylor tools and (naturally) sold in the ToolPost shop. Simon Clements is a professional wood carver and expertly demonstrated to the crowds just how he makes his living, practising relief and sculptural carving, using skills which he has honed over a lifetime of professional architectural restoration work on many listed buildings, through teaching and in his artistic endeavours.
Trade demonstrations came from Heinz Wiedemann, Chris Pouncy, Francis Tacq, Ron Van Zaltbommel, and Mark Terhöerst, Clive Day and Peter Brown. Heinz Wiedermann, hailing from Germany, is another
craftsman never before seen in the UK. Heinz had a significant number of visitors using his hook tools under his expert direction – despite the trepidation with which most British woodturners view such tools: a view
conclusively proven to be mistaken! With Heinz's tips and advice, these tools became easy to use and astonishingly versatile. Chris Pouncy of Robert Sorby demonstrated the company's popular range of tools while Francis
Tacq of Belgium was on hand to demonstrate the benefits of the WivaMac range, specifically WivaMac lathes – as used by all of the demonstrators at the show - and carving reproduction machines. Ron Van Zaltbommel and his
wife Els provided an enlightening demonstration of wood finishing using the U'Beaut Shellawax finishes range, astonishing the audience to such an extent that Shellawax rapidly became "the product to own" on the day.
Mark Terhöerst from OneWay Europa explained the extensive range of OneWay products and gave detailed demonstrations of the Wolverine Sharpening system. Clive Day of BriMarc showed how to use the Tormek Sharpening system
to get a razor edge on hand tools as well as demonstrating the operation and features of both the Leigh Dovetail Jigs and the Kreg Pocket Hole Joinery system. He also advised visitors on the range of Veritas tools
and Sjöberg benches, whilst Peter Brown of General Finishes explained the benefits of using products from their range such as milk paints, glazes and gel stains, not otherwise widely available in the UK. Visitors
were also treated to a demonstration from local pyrographer Burt Butterfield who entertained the younger visitors and guided their attempts at using pyrography tools.
Although much attention was focussed
on activities within the shop and demo areas, further activity was in progress outside. Andy Harrison brought along his mobile bandsaw wood mill from his base in Northamptonshire and was soon to be seen planking up
butts of various hardwoods - oak, ash, beech and sycamore – boards of which were subsequently available for sale. Many woodworkers remain bemused by the process of timber conversion - happening as it usually does so
far from our normal workspaces - so it was a real eye-opener to have an expert on hand not only to discuss the operation of taking timber from the tree all the way to the lathe but also to demonstrate the operation to
the visitors. Andy, being no mean turner himself, is an ideal guide to the process with his understanding of the needs of both the timber supplier and the user.
The runaway success of this year's
ToolPost Spring Open House has cemented these events as being among the most popular dates in the woodworker's annual calendar. Woodworkers can now look forward to The ToolPost's Autumn Open House, due to take place on
November 5th and 6th, as another opportunity to be immersed in the world of woodturning and carving.
For further information on The ToolPost, visit Toolpost.co.uk or call +44 (