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Quality is Worth the Wait

12 years ago

I just received a late Christmas present from my mother-in-law. She was upset because this gift was something she ordered several weeks prior to Christmas and had only just arrived at the beginning of February. So while she was apologizing over and over and casting maledictions upon the US Postal Service, she handed me this little box.

“Wait a minute” I exclaimed. This isn’t late because of some postal SNAFU, this is right on time. I then climbed up on my soapbox and began to proclaim to anyone who would listen about the virtues of the small business making made to order products. Needless to say my audience quickly dissipated and I was left talking to my self. A very common occurance I might add. I guess that is why I started this blog: I can rant ad infinitum and no one rolls their eyes at me and finds something suddenly very interesting on the other side of the room.

We are seeing an emergence of a trend in our woodworking marketplace that makes me very happy. We have to wait for good products to arrive. Whether because the manufacturer has been “Schwarz’d” and cannot keep up with the demand, or because the manufacturer makes each product to order. We have gotten so used to placing an order online and having it in our hands within a few days, or walking into a local Woodcraft of Rockler and walking out with our treasure.

Lately, however there are a plethora of small boutique tool makers popping up and hocking their wares. When you place an order, you talk directly to the craftsman making your item, or if you order online, you will receive a direct email thanking you and sometimes asking about customizations. This intimacy between dealer and buyer extends to the products themselves as you can see how each product was lovingly crafted and even packaged. For instance, look at the care that went into the packaging of my new Blue Spruce marking knife.

And check out the detail where the wood meets the metal along the ferrule.

It is this revelation in tool making that is truly exciting in our marketplace today. I waited almost 3 months for my wood screw vise from Big Wood Vise to arrive because Joe Communale couldn’t keep up with the sudden demand for his screws. I have even waited close to a month for tools from Lie Nielsen because they schedule small production runs of their tools. Finally after two months, my Benchcrafted end vise showed up. This situation sounds completely out of place in our fast paced world, but it is the time and attention to detail that sets some of these manufacturers apart and keeps the quality of our tools very high.

These companies know that they are at a disadvantage to the large manufacturers who can churn out products and deliver them in days but they make no apologies and often times the lead time on an order is shown like a badge of honor. Dave Jeske at Blue Spruce Toolworks even sent me a free t-shirt when it seemed that my order would be delayed. What more can you ask for?

Now I need to convince my wife that it is the high quality of my work that takes me so long to complete anything in my own shop.

By the way, click on the link above to Blue Spruce Toolworks and check out Dave’s new Fishtail chisels. These things are B-E-A-U-tiful!

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