Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sharing the Joy at the Perth Wood Show 2014.

The Perth Wood Show is always a big weekend, 3 hectic days of it - the culmination of several days of preparation before the event and still more afterwards. This was the third year that I have been there doing woodwork with mobs of kids. Why are there so many kids at the Wood Show? -  it is because the WA Craft Fair is now combined with it in one whoppa event.
Here's the promo:

Friday 01 August - Sunday 03 August

WA Craft Show & WA Wood Show

Two great Western Australian events for the price of one!
Come along to the WA Craft Show and WA Wood Show this August to discover what is new, fashionable and trending in each industry.

The WA Craft Show will include craft excellence and expertise in scrapbooking, patchwork, quilting, cardmaking, paper crafts, machine embroidery and much more.

The WA Wood Show features tools, machinery, exciting new products, displays, demonstrations, leading suppliers and tools for all the trades expo.

Venue: Claremont Showground, Exhibition Centre



My space all set up early Friday morning and ready for the crowds.

Friday and the "Hand Tool Olympics" Experiment.
On the Friday of the Show each year, busloads of Design and Technology students from the high schools normally come in to visit the Show. Each year I have watched them get bored and then the young males start to strut around like young roosters, getting up to mischief at times. Last year, after one of these kids nailed my demo Kitchen Spatula to the bench, I resolved to offer something different. I am a youthworker by trade as well as a woodworker, so I already had a few ideas brewing. The plan would be to hook into all that testosterone and competetive spirit, and channel it into some positive woodworking activity.

After the Wood Show in 2013, I had gone to the "Woodworking in America" Conference in the USA (WIA). There I saw the "Hand Tool Olympics" in action, run by the Mike Siemsen's School of Woodworking. I was impressed, and saw in action the very ideas I had been contemplating for our Wood Show Friday.
The Hand Tool Olympics at WIA2013, USA.
The WIA Hand Tool Olympics in the USA involved 8 skill challenges:
  • Cross-cut a board with a hand saw.
  • Rip along a board with a ripping hand saw.
  • Shoot that ripped edge straight and square, using a plane.
  • Make a tenon to fit an pre-existing mortice.
  • Hand cut a dovetail joint.
  • Bore a perpendicular hole with an auger and a shell bit.
Participants were scored by time and accuracy. A stopwatch gave the time score, and playing cards inserted into gaps give the accuracy score. The lower the total score, the better. The scores were recorded as people took part over the weekend. A good system. With credit to Mike's Team, they also used this as a coaching opportunity for any participants who were not experienced in any of the skill challenges. The tools used for the challenges - very nice quality ones, too - were the prizes for the people who scored the lowest (best) score over the weekend in each skill challenge. There was another big prize for the overall winner. After watching and participating in the event at WIA2013, I sent an email immediately to Mareene, the Perth Wood Show organiser. Something like this would be worth trying with the student at The 2014 Perth Wood Show, and I hoped to give it a bash.
A tenon under construction at WIA 2013. The clock is ticking!
I'm told John Lennon allegedly said: "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans". Well, as the 2014 Perth Wood Show drew closer,  life was getting in the way of my intention to run a form of Hand Tool Olympics at the show. However, in the week leading up to the Show I finally got a few things organised.
Ripping a board at WIA2013.
On the Friday only, we tried out the concept and ran the Hand Tool Olympics. Offering the opportunity to the passing High School students to participate, we offered three skill challenges:
  • Cross-cut sawing across a 19mm pine board, 250mm wide.
  • Rip-sawing along a line the length of a 19mm pine board, 900mm long.
  • Shooting that ripped 900mm edge, to square and straight, using a No7 trying plane. 
Each participant was scored for time and accuracy in each of the three skill challenges, and their scores recorded and totalled. We found the activity was hungry on our staffing resources, as each participant needed someone to walk them through the process, to time them, to coach them where appropriate, and to score their accuracy. In our little experiment, we had 20 students participate across the three skill challenges - so there were 60 individual skill challenges undertaken.
A participant and his companions check progress with a straight edge during the edge planing challenge at .
Thanks to Phil for the great photo.

The verdict?  The trial run on the Hand Tool Olympics for the Friday at the Perth Wood Show was very successful, and has the potential to become a real feature of the Show. It is scary how generally poor the hand skills were across the bulk of the students.  Hopefully developing the Hand Tool Olympics in future years will help to raise the profile and the teaching of hand tool skills in high schools in future. This would be my aim in pushing this whole concept further.
 
Saturday and Sunday - woodworking with kids.
Since the WA Craft Show has been operating in the adjacent pavillion, there have been a heck of a lot of kids around across the twin events. What better opportunity to give kids a chance to have a go at woodworking!
Parents and kids creating stuff together.
We were mostly offering "free creative play" - lots of wood pieces, benches with hammers and nails, and saws at the sawing station. We'll commonly have 25-30 hammers out across the benches, and it's not unusual for people to be queing up waiting for a hammer to become available! Such is the popularity of this activity.
So many possiblities!
Thanks to my wonderful staff Thom, Phil and Megan who assisted me so reliably again as they worked their magic with the crowds.


The Perth Wood Show is a fantastic event, and a "must attend" gig for woodworkers of all levels of expereince and skill in Western Australia. It is, however, heavily oriented towards power tools and machinery. The Joy of Wood and the Hand Tool Preservation Society of WA are the two stand-outs when it comes to hand tool woodworking at the event. We provide a chance for kids to experince the joys of woodworking, and they sell the best tools in the whole place - good old fashioned hand tools. It's a good synergy between the two, really. Many a parent goes to the Hand Tool Preservation guys to buy a pre-loved tool for their kid after seeing the delight and engagement of their kid as they discover the joy of wood. Hundreds of kids had a great time and took home all that they made. 

Yep, we love to share the joy around...

Shooting an edge, Hand Tool Olympics on the Friday.
Another great photo by Phil.

1 comment:

  1. Great to know about wood show in Perth!! I liked the furniture and all designs. They all showed great combination of craft and patchwork. I am living in Africa and here African Ebony wood suppliers are very famous and popular for their creativity and designs of the wood products.

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