Searching for Supplies

November 2021, by Angie Landsverk

Scott Smith is pictured in his shop by his main lathe, which is 20 years old. He has outgrown it, so he bought a new one on June 28
for September delivery. Delayed four times, was expected to arrive on Dec. 3. 
Photo courtesy of Scott Smith 

Artists Wait for Materials, Seek Alternatives 

Artists are continuing to broaden their supply chains but are sometimes still waiting months for materials to arrive due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I purchased a new lathe in June for mid-September delivery. It’s being shipped directly from the manufacturer in China and has been pushed back four times. It’s now expected to ship Oct. 29,” said Scott Smith. “A new bandsaw was delayed two months until I found a vendor with one in stock. It arrived two weeks ago with parts missing — unusual for this manufacturer — a possible sign that things are being rushed at the factory.” 

Smith lives in West Boca Raton, Florida, where he turns rescued wood into art. Much of his raw material is what he refers to as “urban lumber” — yard trees that are knocked or cut down. 

He said some of the supply issues happened immediately. The nitrile gloves and N95 filters Smith uses while working in his woodturning shop became impossible to find by April 2020. 

“Intermittent shortages have delayed shipment by months on a variety of items from router bits to a helical cutter blade for my planer,” he said. “Lumber wholesale prices have plunged, but retail prices are at record levels. Same for nitrile gloves — they are largely available, but for 50 cents a pair. My hands have been stained all kinds of colors due to that shortage/price.” 

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