- 26 February 2015 at 8:47 am #125070
So, i wonder into the new wood craft store in my area, which is about a 75 minute drive from my rural town. I know nothing of this store, at least at the time. I assume, given the name, that it caters to wood workers. Blasted at the front gates by all the amazing machines I look them over getting a sense of the store lay out. Make my way over to the saw section as the isle indicates, low and behold what do i see but two lonely backsaws. Cool. I needed a saw set, that’s what brought me in. When i say backsaws i mean Western Saws, not the heap of Eastern goods. The guy at the counter was completely bewildered, “A what?” he asked. After i described the odd pliery mechanism he tells me Japanese saws feature removable blades that can be replaced. Great i think to myself, the store name has mess-lead me. I rummage around, note the prices on wood, the poor selection of chisels, and the fact that oldest member of the staff has no idea what a spokeshave is. I bought the one and only Garlick & Sons tenon saw, and scoffed at the galavnized backed german imitation.
Later at home I do some research, leading me to understand what WoodCraft is. A mere chain. I suppose an internet search for wood tools would have lead me to this discovery much sooner. But i prefer brick and mortar mom and pop shops, which that devil, Assumption, lead me to think that’s what this new store popping up was. I read the chains history, I find their mission statement and then share my disgust with the feed back line. The message filters down from corporate to the individual store owner, whom tried educating me on supply and demand yada yada. I used to manage a company, i walked away from it a few months ago. No lesson needed.
What truly bugged me about this whole experience is that i was lead to believe this store was about wood working. They have all the “things” to make it seem that way. After i did my research i feel like i was just served a front, a pretty facade to peddle both the cheap and expensive domestic and import garbage. A saw section with only Japanese saws, and a zillion circular saw blades. In my email from the store owner he states this:”Conventional (European-style) hand saws are in lower demand every year, being replaced by Japanese pull-saws, as the American woodworker learns more of their benefits and applications.”
Benefits and applications i think to myself again. That’s what somebody told you, and you’re taking it as truth. I’ve handled a good number of eastern saws, own a few…don’t see myself buying anymore. They work, cut wood as any saw should. They also cover your line with dust on the pull stroke and most are nothing more than replaceable. This not what i want. I dont want to keep buying and buying and buying. I dont want to promote the idea of East or West tools being better than one another and vice versa. Where the hell are the western tool makers, gobbled up in conglomerates.
I told the store owner that the chain he’s a part of is not at all working toward sustaining or reviving in any way western wood working culture, and that it’s simply peddling profitable items on uneducated new comers. Which i consider myself to be, I was after all brought up by a generation in awe of machines. I put in my two cents as to why i thought the guy should become an independent store, carry hard to find items even if they only sell one a year. Told him even if charged 100% mark up and sold one and only one a year then that item had a place on it’s shelf. Told him if there was just one class that showed folks how to sharpen a saw the potential demand created by that for western saws and the tools to maintain them would be far smarter move than continuing to peddle the replaceable.
Am i alone in this, was this just a bad experience at what is otherwise a respected chain? Yet another guise of corporate money hoarders who have no respect for quality to influence our minds? Are there others dawning on their 30’s that are just fed up with this crap? Without a line to the past, a tradition to follow and learn from, what else do we have? Advertisements, opinions paid for to sell products, articles wrote on the benefits and applications of Eastern tools in Western wood working. Personally i hate it….
Perhaps I'm Just Over Eager, Better to Curb the Enthusiasm26 February 2015 at 9:01 am #125071MooncabbageMember
In Australia there is Carba-Tec. It’s the only largish woodworking place I know of. They sell a combination of the good and the bad, from veritas to groz, and quite a bit of no-name chinese junker stuff. Like any store, they sell what people will buy. It’s always best to know what you’re looking at before you buy though, because these places are retailers, not necessarily specialist woodworking stores. The older guys might know something, or think they do, but the clerks are basically useless.26 February 2015 at 12:45 pm #125073Derek LongParticipant
Woodcraft is good for what it is: a step-up from the big box stores. In America at least, as Paul has commented on often, “woodworking” in the popular culture is “machined-wood working.” The store mostly caters to that, and a step up from the more cheap stuff at Home Depot aimed at rough carpentry.
Woodcraft has its place. They carry Veritas products, so I use it to pick up some Veritas items I otherwise wouldn’t want to pay individual shipping for. You can also often get good deals when a sale comes along. I got a good price – better than the Internet price – on my diamond stones, for instance. It’s also good for picking up the odd piece of exotic lumber in a dimension or vaneer you’re looking for on the quick, like ebony or paudak you may not be able to get at the local lumber yard at all, or in small quantities.
I do understand your frustration. There just seems to be so few places other than Internet distribution to get real quality tools anymore (unless you live in Canada and have Lee Valley nearby.) Wish there were.
Denver, Colorado26 February 2015 at 3:50 pm #125078Peter GeorgeParticipant
For tools, my choices are Lee Valley (about an hour away) or ordering online. I’m old fashioned in that I like to be able to see and handle something before I buy. Needless to say, most of my kit comes from Lee Valley. Their prices are not at the low end of the scale, but they stand behind what they sell and the employees are generally woodworkers or gardeners, so they know what they are talking about. Also the customer service is awesome.
Seeing as I have limited choices, at least one is a good one. 🙂
"New York is big, but this is Biggar"26 February 2015 at 4:28 pm #125079
When the store owner hyped up the pullsaws due to the replacable blade I’m pretty sure Henry Disston rolled over in his grave. There’s got to be something to do about this. How can we create the demand that would force a shift in the market? There are few to none half decent quality domestic tool makers. There on the other hand a few very fine tool makers, Lie Nielsen etc. Their tools are out of many people’s budgets. Where is the medium? After a search for US made tools most places appear to be either retailers and don’t make anything themselves, or are machine only. What would a craftsman grade user tool price be, what would be the expectation of its quality? Thoughts anyone?
Perhaps I'm Just Over Eager, Better to Curb the Enthusiasm26 February 2015 at 4:32 pm #125080CraigParticipant
I commiserate with you.
I’m really, REALLY sorry to have to be the one to tell you this… Ya better sit down.
Those shops with the creaky wood floors and walls covered with bins and bins of stuff, the glass fronted cases filled with every kind of plane and chisel, the rows of every version of pristine Disstons neatly racked and the aproned gent that actually knows what a Clevis pin is and asks “what size?”….Well–those have been gone for at least 45 years.
I wish it weren’t so, but it is. So we have to deal with what is, not what we wish was.
You’ll have better luck online with the boutique makers, online stores and antique dealers.
There’s plenty of good stuff to be had and nice people to deal with.
SW Pennsylvania26 February 2015 at 4:58 pm #125081
indeed, I’ve been told a few times i was born about 100 years to late. I’m not hopping on that boat though, online, boutiques, antique dealers….they will do for now. But 30 years from now…. Perhaps all this really boils down to consumerism, we all know it’s true.
There is a rebirth it seems, a back to basics thing starting to happen in the states. People are fed up with chemical laden food, they’re growing there own. People are sick of Ikea boxes, and would prefer a pile of pallets that they nailed together themselves. Call me a hopeless optimistic, but i think there can be a return to craftsman instead of hobbyists. Not as a whole, as you said those times are gone. Many enjoy the fast paced consumer metropolitan lifestyle, but more and more young people are seeing through this garbage. Realizing hands are More than a conduit to the digital world.
Perhaps I'm Just Over Eager, Better to Curb the Enthusiasm26 February 2015 at 5:06 pm #125083CraigParticipant
The one advantage we now have is right here. The attendant tools may be a bit harder to track down, but this level and quality of instruction hasn’t been readily available in decades.
We really are blessed.
Be ye not discouraged.
SW Pennsylvania26 February 2015 at 5:26 pm #125084Jonathon JongsmaParticipant
Woodcraft is certainly not what I wish it would be, but I can’t find myself too upset about it, because all of the other options are so very terrible. Home Depot? Yeah right. Even something as basic as a chisel, and you’re basically out of luck — you can probably find a low-quality butt chisel if you want one of the 3 or 4 sizes they have in stock. The only other specialty “woodworking” store around here is Rockler, which is deep deep deep into the machinery aspect of woodworking. If you want to choose from 35 different router tables, that’s your shop. At least Woodcraft has *some* decent-quality stuff that a hand tool user might need, even if it’s not ideal…
Minnesota, USA26 February 2015 at 5:49 pm #125085Maurice VillariParticipant
I for one am on your side JM.
It is very heartening to hear someone actually wanting to do something positive even if it is against the tide of indifference and resignation.
I would love to be able to fix my toaster, my kettle or resharpen my saw, instead of wasting all that material.
I started to lobby the large retailers and have written to manufacturers, but I’m afraid without political will and regulation it is not in the industrialists’ or retailers’ interest to change a profitable model.
Now I intend to write a few letters to the politicians and will try to start a petition to convince the politicians (they are always scratching around for a vote or two) to encourage manufacturers to stop promoting waste of increasingly disappearing resources. I can hear you thinking that I’m just wasting my time, but at least I am trying.
Good luck JM, do not give up.26 February 2015 at 5:56 pm #125086
Very true, and thank god it is. Instruction is where it starts. Yet another nod in Mr. Sellers direction. Discouraged, more like invigorated. The frustration I suppose I’m feeling, is based on my own consumerisms, call it today’s personal revelation. How dare I expect a woodworking store carry whats needed, instead of whats popular. How dare I expect it to fit inside my means. I can make what i need, i was actually stunned at my own lack of self reliance. My first will be a saw to fit Langdon Acme miter box. The second will be for my son. But first, some steel and some brass, and a very primitive method of tooth setting.
Perhaps I'm Just Over Eager, Better to Curb the Enthusiasm26 February 2015 at 6:16 pm #125087
Certainly not a waste! But the corporations will bend to the masses. They always have, historically. At least until the point in time when they started telling us what we want, instead of catering to needs. Now they create the needs for the people so they can sell products that are more profitable instead of practical.
The way you create a change that would either impact the business model, or leave the popular stores out of the loop is through education. Teaching people the means in which they themselves can do this or that for themselves, and it can be of a greater quality than what they can afford to buy. Once people start doing this, and corporations realize they are not making the money they used to, what do you think they’re going to do? Flood the market with options of tools that cater to a “New” need. There will be many poorly made things, but some will stand out. The ones that eventually stand out in the crowd are those that need the support, financially and morally. After all, great independant companys tend to be bought up to eliminate competition. Competition in the market is what breeds excellence. Smaller makers besting each other through means of quality. The spin off of that is cheap shit sells fast, so avoid it!
Perhaps I'm Just Over Eager, Better to Curb the Enthusiasm26 February 2015 at 7:34 pm #125088judeParticipant
Where is your local store located? It would be useful to know for others that are reading this thread.
The one nearest me is in Woodridge, Illinois (USA). They stock Veritas saws and a couple of Rob Cosman dovetail saws, Lynx 26″ rip and crosscuts saws, and Japanese saws.
I bought the Veritas dovetail saw there last year. The shop assistant was helpful and had no problem with me taking it out of the box to look over it and see how it felt. I didn’t ask to cut any wood with it, as I was going on others’ recommendation and I just wanted to see that it looked OK.
Last week I went on a hunt for a quick-release vise. I stopped by Berland’s Tools in nearby Lomard for a look. This store is definitely for contractors and small scale shops with every Powermatic tool you could drool over. Their hand tool dept is now aligned with the Rockler store, so they carry similar brands. It is very router and table saw centric. They did have a Shop Fox vise and an Anant 52-1/2 on display. The Anant look OK, but it was about $200.
So, I went to Woodcraft and saw that they had the Jorgensen 41012 and an Eclipse 9″ quick-release (copy of a 52-1/2). They were in boxes, so I asked if they had any on display and the shop assistant said he’d open the boxes for me.
I took both vises out and set them on top of a bench so that I could check how they were made and test out the release mechanisms. The assistant let me stay for fifteen minutes or more just playing around and trying to see which would be better.
So, I learned a lot about the product I was interested in from having gone to their store. People’s relationship to some tools are very personal and I like to see how they work in real life. I ended up ordering the 10″ Eclipse vise.
The store does have a lot of very expensive tools. It is mostly a high-end hobby store though. Aside from the furniture aspect which is of interest to us on this site, there are also numbers of people who are into wood turning or carving. Woodcraft seems to cater to these people a lot with the small wood blanks for pens and the huge number of gouges for carving. I was also in the market for a rasp, but they seem to start at $60. I’ll just stick to my basic set I got at the local big box store for now thanks.
Also, a lot of hobby woodworkers really like to use machines. I was in this camp too before I found Paul’s youtube videos. I’m not saying it was because of philosophy, just I didn’t know any different. I built a blanket chest for my sister using a table saw and trim gun. Stores like Woodcraft and Rockler exist to meet the demands of people who like to work this way.
Lastly, Woodcraft has a range of planes that they had on display. So, I got to check out the Woodriver #1 plane to see what one is like in real life.
Anyways, the store by me must be different. It is not ideal, but I don’t know if an ideal store has ever existed.
Near Chicago, USA26 February 2015 at 7:54 pm #125089judeParticipant
there is a hardware store in a suburb near me that is a holdover from the creaky floor days. They’re pretty much part of the Ace Hardware chain.
One day I was riding around wondering where to get some files and I stopped in. They mostly had the new Nicholson files. I asked if they had some that were not Made I Mexico and the shop assistant says to take a look in the storeage unit behind the display as some old files had been in there forever.
Inside this storage unit were cardboard boxes of old files. Each in a box of 12 with thin paper keeping the edges from rubbing on one another. 5″, 6″ and 7″ files. Some mill files etc.
It was like being in Ollivander’s wand shop from Harry Potter.
Near Chicago, USA
You must be logged in to access attached files.26 February 2015 at 8:44 pm #125093
And from what i gather, most WoodCraft Stores are far superior to this one..
Im not looking to attack anybody, merely voicing dismay. A disadvantage exists between a person entering into this in that most tools of average quality dont exists. It’s either really cheap and performs as such, or beyond over budget. Now why is that? Because it’s a special interest, and those have dollar signs attached. Sure there’s ebay and antique stores. What is in my mind is as the number of people getting into this grows, there is only a finite amount of affordable old tools to go around. As the next 15-20 years pass by i feel that people will be showing a lot more interest in what they can do for themselves, aside from they can buy. All of this is a matter of opinion, just a persons thoughts. A little encouragement from retailers wouldn’t hurt though.
Perhaps I'm Just Over Eager, Better to Curb the Enthusiasm
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