Author Topic: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers  (Read 5602 times)

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Offline grbmds

  • Posts: 2023
Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #30 on: April 14, 2020, 02:39 PM »
Too bad we can't just all just wait and see what happens. Regardless of what you think about Woodpeckers and/or Blue Spruce, they are both companies who have made high quality tools for awhile. They both have demonstrated that they value innovation and improvement in the manufacturing process to make the tools they sell reach a higher quality. Woodpeckers provides some of the best, if not the best, support to its customers and I believe that Blue Spruce does the same (although that is based on comments from other, not my own experience). There is absolutely no reason to believe that Woodpeckers will compromise the quality and innovation of Blue Spruce's products. As for price, Blue Spruce tools are definitely pricey, as are Woodpeckers, but the quality and before/after sale support justify it for me. If I think a WP tool is priced too high for the use I will get out of it, I just don't buy it, but it's not because I think there is any question it's a high quality tool.

I have a number of Woodpeckers squares and measuring devices, as well as their Domino add-on set. Even if I don't use those tools everyday, I appreciate the accuracy, precision, and quality of each and everyone of the WP tools I own when I do use them. Plus, I have personally experienced their guarantee and support, having dropped my most WP expensive squares on my shop's concrete floor. Even though this was my fault, and without question, WP replaced the damage parts and sent the tool back to me within a week as good as it was brand new. For me, that made the price I paid worth it, although given it's value to me in its frequent use, I would have not been upset with anyone but myself for dropping it if I had to pay to have it repaired. So, yes WP tools are expensive, but worth it. Blue Spruce tools are also expensive and innovative as well as beautiful. I think WP just wants to incorporate some of this beauty created by wood into its line and the time was right for Blue Spruce to sell.I'm looking forward to seeing what the combo yields. As always, if I think the price is too high for the tool's value in my shop, I just won't buy it. Everyone has that choice.
Randy

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Offline HarveyWildes

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #31 on: April 15, 2020, 08:57 AM »
Not sure about the current status as the article was a decade ago. At the time, those three stores were independently owned from the chain, and L-N and those stores were on good terms.

That is my understanding.

Cheese, that comment by Patrick Jackson was an essay in diplomacy. The second article tells the real story ...

https://www.finewoodworking.com/2009/05/21/who-begot-who-comparing-planes-from-lie-nielsen-wood-river-and-stanley

The time frame between WR planes arriving on the scene and the WR/LN conflict arising (as I said, it went to court), was too brief for WoodCraft to not have been planning this long beforehand.

I was around at the time and hearing the story from related manufacturers. LN were not the only company whose tools were copied, and the copies sold at WoodCraft.

Regards from Perth

Derek


Interesting, but there is design and then there is execution.  If you are going to copy a design, then you should be able to execute the design as well.  Wood River may have copied the Lie Nielsen design, but from all I've heard, they have not executed on it as well.


I visited the Lie Nielsen factory about 1 1/2 years ago on a beautiful fall morning in Maine.  I walked into the show room, looked around, and (of course) bought a few things that caught my eye.  The sales person was knowledgeable about the tools, and demo'd a couple for me.  Another person eventually came in the store (coincidentally, someone I had taken a woodworking class with in Colorado 10 years previously) and I took my stuff out to the car.  As I was contemplating driving off, I thought to myself - chances are that I will never get this way again.  So I went back in and asked for a tour.  The other customer thought that was a good idea as well, so the salesperson yelled up the stairs for someone to listen for customers while she gave us a tour, and off we went.


I was impressed.  People at the factory know their part of the process, but even more, they know why their part of the process contributes to a quality product, down to the smallest details of fit and finish.  They understood that they could have done things more efficiently or with less care, and they could explain why that resulted in an inferior product.  There is a lot of CNC work, but surprisingly a lot of hand work as well, for things that just require the right feel.  The description she gave of the guy who does final sharpening and inspection on the saws was wonderful (he had just left for lunch, so I didn't get to meet him).  He works on machines that date back to before there were motors, and although they have retrofitted motors to them, apparently they can still be operated by hand if needed.  The bottom line was that I saw people who were passionate about quality, proud of their work, and produce products that rank with the best in the world.


And at the end of the day, that's why I will buy a Lie Nielsen plane over a Wood River plane.  Wood River may have copied the design, but they didn't capture the parts of the process that require passion and pride to get right.  I've bought a lot of stuff at Woodcraft, including Lie Nielsen planes back in the day, but in this case they lost my plane business not because Wood River planes are knock-offs, but because they are just not as good.


Of course, that's why people buy Blue Spruce, and to some extent Woodpeckers as well.  My feeling is that both companies have passion and pride in quality, but they have a different design sense.  Blue Spruce is concerned with the aesthetics and feel of their tools in a way that Woodpeckers is not.  Woodpeckers is more concerned with precision tools that are very functional, but not beautiful.  They make some great stuff if you need it, but they also leverage that model to tools that seem a little gimmicky to me - products in search of a good reason for existence.  That is reflected in marketing as well, as Woodpeckers sometimes feels like slice and dice TV marketing rather than something that appeals to the soul.  I think the challenge for Woodpeckers moving forward will be to protect and learn from the Blue Spruce aesthetic.  If you don't think that is important, imagine a Blue Spruce Chisel with a red anodized aluminum (or red plastic) handle.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2020, 09:14 AM by HarveyWildes »

Offline WillAdams

  • Posts: 68
Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #32 on: April 15, 2020, 10:43 AM »
I was _very_ impressed by the Lie-Nielsen No. 60½ Adjustable Mouth Block Plane w/ nicker which I bought myself for my birthday, and agree w/ the aesthetics assessment.

While I love Lee Valley as a company, the LN tools are more attractive to me --- the Veritas stuff is sort of updated and streamlined in appearance, but it's not quite where I usually want to be when doing hand tool work (and I say that as a person who feels a bit of angst every time he hauls out his plastic-handled Stanley #12-250 combination plane and is sorely tempted by their grooving plane) --- the Woodpeckers stuff is at least unabashed in its modernity, as is Bridge City Toolworks.

That said, my Ultimate Coping Saw is flat out amazing, and "just right" in terms of aesthetics and design --- it's simultaneously modern and traditional in a way which pleases me every time I have occasion to use it (I hope it has been nominated for and won the design awards it so richly deserves).

Maybe the Veritas stuff is better in person --- I suspect I'll eventually find out when I replace my Stanley (unless I re-handle it and decide to live with it) --- that said, one of the first two tools I'll be getting when I finally have occasion to have a dedicated workspace which isn't a bench at one end of the laundry room is an LN #51 (and I hope by that time that they're able to offer the dedicated metal shooting board).

Offline Cheese

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #33 on: April 15, 2020, 11:08 AM »
Not sure about the current status as the article was a decade ago. At the time, those three stores were independently owned from the chain, and L-N and those stores were on good terms.

The current status is NO. Those 3 Woodcraft stores offer only WoodRiver & Clifton...not a single LN item in sight.

Offline TSO_Products

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #34 on: April 15, 2020, 12:57 PM »
-All: we, TSO,  appreciate the wider ranging comments on this topic as they relate to our space as well. For us very useful insights.

We know it is unrealistic to expect retail store chains like Woodcraft and Rockler to be able to staff the caliber of product knowledge you get from a visit with Lie Nielsen. Yes, there are some truly exceptional people in these chain stores but not the rule.This means there is not enough transfer of knowledge and appreciation  for the prospective customer to understand the "Difference" between a quality production tool and a high end tool like Blue Spruce and L N.
The internet poses an even bigger challenge because there is no touch and feel at all. Customers who purchase the Canadian knock-off of our patented GRS-16 series Guide Rail Squares on-line don't know what they are not getting. This is where customer experience reporting in well moderated forums like the FOG plays an important role for customer and manufacturer alike.

For Woodpeckers and Blue Spruce we think the move makes sense for each party. It is much, much harder to operate as a small business like Blue Spruce than an outsider can appreciate. And it is even harder to scale up from there.

I take pride in my decades old Bridge City tools and use them every chance I get. Some years ago I bought a KM-1 KerfMaker. Only later did John Economaki tell me it was made in China - still Bridge City super precision and quality. Now look how hard it has been for BCTW to get traction in US retail at anything like the price point they really need.

I'll place an order for BLUE SPRUCE chisels with BSTW /  WP now, expecting the same quality, knowing customer service will match the tool.

I hope my perspective is helpful to some of you.

Hans


Online ChuckM

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #35 on: April 15, 2020, 02:25 PM »
With regard to BCTW, there's no denying that people look at China-made BCTW products differently regardless of how John still remains associated with the line (as a designer, for example). Previously, people valued the boutique tools as high quality work MADE IN USA, and they now have lost appetite for the same quality stuff though it's offered even at a lower price, purely because of the change of origin of country.

Just imagine his customers' reactions if Chris Vesper outsourced his tool making to Asia, while staying as the Chief Designer.

It might not make much difference if you're talking about a jig to make chopsticks...but for heirloom woodworking tools, the feeling could be different.

I still remember years ago, a friend of mine told me how proud he was of his new Lexus RX because the shipment came from Tokyo, not from the Ontario plant.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2020, 02:29 PM by ChuckM »

Offline Brian Livingstone

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #36 on: April 15, 2020, 03:03 PM »

This is a note for Hans with TSO Products.  I am Canadian and own the GRS-16.  I really appreciate how great this tool is. 

I am looking forward to buying the full range of your tools in the future based on the positive experience with the GRS-16.

All the best.

Brian
Kapex, TS75, MFT, OF1010, OF2200, DTS400 REQ, Parallel guide rails, 800, 1080, 1400, 1900, 3000 guide rail, Domino 500, CT36, CT Midi, , RS2E, RO150, Boom Arm, Crown stops, 6 drawer Sortainer, Carvex, Syslite II, Festool safety glasses must start to wear.

Offline ForumMFG

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #37 on: April 15, 2020, 03:18 PM »
At least they are still made in USA. Bridge city tools are now from China. I like their stuff but now it just seems meh. Not worth a premium price if not from USA.


I am a VERY big fan of Bridge City Tools, i own a ton of their tools from when John was around and they were amazing.  Just like festool everyone bitched at the price but both are of exceptional quality and you pay for what you get.  I was disappointed manufacturing went to china for them.  Since that happened ive bought a decent amount and ive  had to return 3 tools due to defects.  That never happened once before.  With all of that said, the quality of the tool does seems to be there.  My tools were sent back because of careless scratches.  My biggest issue with John selling the company is that it says made in china now and the instructions come with chinese language.  Annoyed.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Offline TSO_Products

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #38 on: April 15, 2020, 06:24 PM »
@ChuckM  - you observe exactly what I saw regarding BCTW country of origin - the difference of being "the Original".
Bottom line: customers who appreciate fine tools and buy them through established channels keep specialty manufacturers like us in business.

Keep the comments coming  [smile]
Hans

Offline Peter Halle

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #39 on: April 15, 2020, 07:13 PM »
Customers have the right to hold the manufacturers of tools responsible for quality.  Festool, BCTW, Woodpeckers, anyone.  If you are not satisfied let them know.  Send an email, call them.  Immediately trying to bolster your inner worth by immediately going to the internet prior to reaching out directly and following up if necessary doesn't work anymore.  They have already gotten that and now it might be considered belly button lint to them.  Remember the physics class and "...and an equal but opposite...?"  That comes into play.

Talk to them and they will probably respond favorably to rational requests.

Just my 2 cents as someone trying to be helpful.

Peter

Offline StanB

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #40 on: April 15, 2020, 10:46 PM »
@ChuckM You said this perfectly and much better than my attempt. I own several BCTW tools and now rethink how I value them and the new ones that are made in China. I think going forward I would rather have Blue spruce or wood peckers. One because they are excellent tools, and two, I just like supporting originators and Made in USA (or germany ;))

With regard to BCTW, there's no denying that people look at China-made BCTW products differently regardless of how John still remains associated with the line (as a designer, for example). Previously, people valued the boutique tools as high quality work MADE IN USA, and they now have lost appetite for the same quality stuff though it's offered even at a lower price, purely because of the change of origin of country.

Just imagine his customers' reactions if Chris Vesper outsourced his tool making to Asia, while staying as the Chief Designer.

It might not make much difference if you're talking about a jig to make chopsticks...but for heirloom woodworking tools, the feeling could be different.

I still remember years ago, a friend of mine told me how proud he was of his new Lexus RX because the shipment came from Tokyo, not from the Ontario plant.
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Offline demographic

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #41 on: April 16, 2020, 03:10 PM »
Err, aren't Lie Nielsen planes mostly copies of Stanley planes anyway?  How is that a copyright issue?

Offline TSO_Products

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #42 on: April 17, 2020, 02:39 PM »

This is a note for Hans with TSO Products.  I am Canadian and own the GRS-16.  I really appreciate how great this tool is. 

I am looking forward to buying the full range of your tools in the future based on the positive experience with the GRS-16.

All the best

Brian

Brian, what a nice thing to post for all to see - thank you!

I will cut and paste it where folks on our production team get to see it. They are the silent heroes in our business.
Your post also raises expectations by everyone but that's OK. We need to continually improve in all respects.

We have quite a following in Nova Scotia as you're probably aware - beautiful country !

stay well!
Hans

Offline derekcohen

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    • In The Woodshop
Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #43 on: April 18, 2020, 08:55 PM »
For those interested, I posted a short review on WoodCentral of the BS chisels I have used for around 15 years ...

http://www.woodcentral.com/woodworking/forum/handtools.pl/page/1/md/read/id/492669/sbj/a-short-review-of-blue-spruce-dovetail-chisels/



Regards from Perth

Derek
Visit www.inthewoodshop.com for tutorials on joinery, hand tools, and my trials and tribulations with furniture builds.