More woodworkers in their shops because of pandemic

Man in workshop

The COVID-19 pandemic that has disrupted all countries for the past year is a challenge for most people. In February 2019 we conducted a short survey to find out how COVID-19 was impacting woodworkers.

Our survey showed that 49% of the 796 respondents are spending more time in their shops while 28% are spending about the same as before. Some 20% of respondents are reporting less shop time because of the the colder weather and unheated shops.

We asked people to indicate if they had been woodworking for 7 years or less, 8 to 20 years or more than 20 years. The ratio of responses to time in the workshop were similar for all three groups, except for those under 7 years woodworking – 11% of that group said they didn’t have a shop or weren’t woodworking.

“During this trying time, I am really glad that I had my shop to keep me occupied,” says one new woodworker. “Some of my friends have been restricted to their homes with nothing to do. The cabin fever has been extremely hard on them and it is not good for their mental health.”

“If anything the pandemic has re-ignited my love of woodworking,” says a woodworker of 20+ years. “It gave me the desire to DO SOMETHING and make some projects for my new apartment which i moved into just as covid hit. I’ve rediscovered working with hand tools, and learned how to use my power tools in new ways – thanks for a great magazine.”

Time spent in shop - Canadian Woodworking survey Feb 2021

How woodworkers get materials

We also asked about sourcing new tools, materials or lumber during the pandemic. As with many other goods, 30% say they had items shipped, 28% did curbside pickup and 27% said they waited until stores were open so they could shop in person. Not being able to secure items, especially lumber, was also reported by 11% of respondents

In the hundreds of comments, many expressed dismay about the sudden and steep increase in lumber prices.

“I have found it surprisingly easy to buy online with good results – even buying maple and walnut boards without seeing them until delivered,” says a respondent who calls himself a novice wood worker.

“I find the price of lumber is ridiculous,” says one.

“Lack of material availability has taught me to be more conscious of material waste and also recycling and repurposing materials,” says another.

“It’s been tough not being able to go into stores and browse products,” says a long-time woodworker. “Many retailers have online shopping but the websites don’t have a complete line of their inventory and the store’s search engines can be frustrating.”

Method for sourcing items - Canadian Woodworking survey Feb 2021

Time in the shop

On average, people say they spend 9 to 13 hours a week in the shop – but there is a big range from 16% who are in the shop for 2 hours or less a week to 8% spending more than 31 hours a week in the shop. Woodworkers were precise – 1 hour, 2 hour, 3 hour, etc – but we grouped the ranges in the chart to give an idea of the spread. In comments, cold weather was cited for time not in the shop.

Hours in the shop - Canadian Woodworking survey Feb 2021
Couple in shop

Profile of the responders

About half of those responding say they have been woodworking for 20 years or more. Another 25% grouped themselves in the 8 year to 20 year segment and 27% specified less than 8 years.

How many years woodworking - Canadian Woodworking survey Feb 2021

“The inability to do other outside activities has allowed me time to focus on getting my workshop properly organized,” says one long-time woodworker.

Draw for survey responders

To thank people for answering the survey, we provided an option for respondents to enter a draw for an Armour pocket hole jig. A random draw picked Ian D. of Hamilton, Ontario, as the winner.

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