Author Topic: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers  (Read 6976 times)

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Offline ForumMFG

  • Posts: 990
Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« on: April 09, 2020, 10:16 AM »
I just recently learned that Blue Spruce Tools Works was purchased by Woodpeckers this past year in July.   Apparently, all production will be eventually moved to the woodpeckers facility in Ohio, it could of happened by now, and the original owner Dave will work behind the scenes designing new tools and I’m sure he will have other responsibilities as well. 

I have mixed emotions about this.  Back in 2010 when Blue Spruce was still a young company i purchased my first set of chisels from them and they were absolutely stunning, performing perfectly, and the quality was outstanding.  A few years later i ended up having to sell them because life happened.  Now that things have calmed down for me, i placed another order with them for 8 chisels and a mallet.  At the time i placed the order in March, i had no idea that they sold the company and that my chisels are possibly being made by a different company so i am very annoyed that I wasn’t told this.  We all know woodpeckers has a great name and produces exceptional tools but i fear that Blue Spruce products made by them just won’t be the same even though they say it will be.  Woodpeckers is a mass production shop, i don’t see the quality being identical at all.   There’s something to be said about small shops producing the best products in the world whereas we all know what can be said about mass produced products.  Knowing your tool is produced in small batches means someone is carefully going over every single detail without missing anything. 

I think by the time Blue Spruce sold, the company was only 15 years old so I’m also shocked it happened so soon.  But to the owner Dave, i am happy for him, he built up a great company and name that’s known for some of the best tools in the world so hats off to him.  And knowing that he has more time on his hands now, that hopefully means we will see new products and designs in the future and i’m excited for that. 

Again, nothing against woodpeckers, i own a lot of their tools.  I just have some mixed emotions right now and definitely very annoyed i was not informed that someone else would be making my tools.


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Offline StanB

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2020, 11:41 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.
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Offline forestmount

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2020, 02:42 AM »
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 have always felt changing the country an item is manufactured without changing the RRP and making the change well known is misleading.

I never really got past this when a well known Japanese power tool company did this. I bought what I thought was a quality sander and it simply did not work, not faulty just did not work.

The motor was too fast and underpowered to be useful. This was 25 years ago and I have never given them another cent.




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Offline Michael Kellough

  • Posts: 5263
Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2020, 09:39 AM »
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.

Glad my iPhone is “from USA”.  [tongue]

Offline SouthRider

  • Posts: 195
Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2020, 07:35 PM »
Remember? Back in the 60's when everything from Japan was poorly made - we all called it "Japanese Junk". So they stopped putting "made in Japan" on many products and moved production of many items to USA - Usa, Japan, a new city filled with factories!

Image matters!
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Offline martin felder

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2020, 08:48 PM »
I still have the Made in the USA Lifetime warranty Craftsman sockets I got when I was in high school and have always used Craftsman for my sockets and wrenches (but no longer have my Craftsman Radial arm saw from high school).  Not all that long ago, I added some sockets as I put up a set of common non-metric sockets along the back wall of the shop to get to easily when using lag screws and bolts.  They had the fractions written in big numbers which was a bonus as my reading vision is not what it was in high school.

Anyhow, last month I went to replace a missing one and saw they sold Craftsman at Lowes.  How convenient!  I found the socket I needed, but the numbering and lettering was very different and super cheap looking.  I looked at the packaging and saw it was made in China.  I did not get it but found a matching socket at Sears.  I guess they have 2 product lines of the same sized sockets at this time. 

In this cases, I thought the made in China product was not as good.  Hopefully that will not be the case with your made in the USA chisels.

Offline Birdhunter

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2020, 09:29 PM »
I own a set of Blue Spruce chisels and a lot of Woodpecker tools. My guess is that Woodpecker has deeper pockets and can fund expansion of the Blue Spruce products. Maybe, not a bad merger?
Birdhunter

Offline StanB

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2020, 10:06 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.

Glad my iPhone is “from USA”.  [tongue]

Yes but the iPhone was never made here. Part of the prestige was that bct was a bespoke USA made in Portland tool. Now it’s made China. Would you buy festool if they changed all manufacturing to China or Taiwan?
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Offline neilc

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2020, 10:23 PM »
Before you criticize the BCTW tools from China, take a look at them.  John Economaki (BCTW Founder) and Jack Xu (Harvey Founder) are producing very high quality tools at a much lower cost.   Great industrial design and inventive functionality at a lower cost.  That comes from higher volumes thru global distribution.  John first started getting Jack to produce his chopstick maker years ago, and ended up selling the company to Harvey Woodworking.  Their line of tools is far better than any of the knock-offs at several of the big woodworking and homeowner tool retailers.  if you've never met either John or Jack, you'd be very impressed with their commitment to quality and very cool designs.

John exited doing any manufacturing after the financial crisis.  He found manufacturers from around the world for the components and that's how he ran across Harvey.  Check out their tablesaws, lathes, and other large machinery.  Or their line of dust collectors at www.harveywoodworking.com.  Made in China, but very good quality.

I have BCTW tools from 1984 and later and I have been very impressed with the new tools that John and Jack have produced.  I too had mixed emotions about that sale and John and I talked about it while he was contemplating a sale due to his age and a challenging market for high end tools.  But through the new relationship, they are bringing back many of the designs that John designed many years ago.

Blue Spruce and Woodpeckers should also be a great union.  Manufacturing and marketing scale plus strong design and quality manufacturing.  it's very difficult with a declining market for quality hand tools to sustain a small business like that.  And this years pandemic crisis will only exacerbate this shift.  Most 'hand tool lovers' are older males and there are not many younger buyers coming into the hand tool requiring trades, particularly those that will pay what a Blue Spruce or US made BCTW tool might cost. 

BTW, Harvey has done some of the manufacturing for Apple as well.  So their quality is quite good. 
« Last Edit: April 10, 2020, 10:35 PM by neilc »

Offline WillAdams

  • Posts: 91
Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2020, 08:41 AM »
I have a Chopstick Maker, and some of the small earlier U.S.-made tools, and have been pleased with them.

I bought an Ultimate Coping Saw from Blue Spruce Toolworks and have been thrilled with it.

I hope that one of these manufacturers will make a nice brace --- missed the Kuri Kuri Mini Drill and can't justify the prices of the older Bridge City Toolworks designs.

Offline jeffinsgf

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2020, 09:27 AM »
A little "behind the scenes" perspective...

We approached the Blue Spruce Toolworks merger as a chance to build on what Dave has already accomplished. We're doing everything we can to scale up production while maintaining specifications exactly as Dave designed them. The long game is that Dave will be designing and prototyping tools while we focus on manufacturing here in Strongsville.

Rich Hummel (president of Woodpeckers) is a hand-tool junkie himself (no surprise, is it?), and also looks at BSTW as a chance to bring out hand tools that are more "unplugged" than the Woodpeckers brand. For example, in a couple weeks we're going to launch a limited production run of a really cool hand-forged marking knife.

I am blessed to work for a company that has matched market base with manufacturing scale of economy perfectly. We're proud of being a U.S. manufacturer. We don't design tools to make millions of them, we design them to make thousands. There's a difference in manufacturing approach, and one that I think matches our market.

At one point I would have echoed Neil's opinion that the market for high end hand tools is shrinking, but after working at Woodpeckers since 2016, I am starting to feel that there's a movement among younger people (at least some) toward using their hands when they're not sitting behind a computer.

Offline six-point socket II

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2020, 09:44 AM »
Totally hear you @ForumMFG ! While I have no opinion on this particular merger, I can relate that one feels it's just not the same anymore after (a) major change/s.

Legacy, staying true to your heritage & roots matters. This is what builds real brands, known by, used by, and cherished over, many generations. Not M&A and shallow marketing phrases to generate quick & high returns while some hype lasts.

Kind regards,
Oliver
Kind regards,
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Offline Jim Kirkpatrick

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2020, 09:47 AM »
I don't have an opinion on the merger except to say if it's Woodpecker, expect the Blue Spruce tools to quadruple in price.   [scared]

Offline T. Ernsberger

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2020, 10:31 AM »
I wonder if the quality will drop.  I’m not a fan of Woodpecker products.  Anodized aluminum for precision marking tools is not quality in my option. They do offer some stainless options but the majority is aluminum. 

Offline grbmds

  • Posts: 2054
Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2020, 10:33 AM »
High quality tools are just the, high quality tools, no matter who manufactures them. The US economy is a global economy for a reason, no matter how much some people fight that concept. The US must be involved globally and successful US companies understand that. It's hard to imagine that there are many companies, especially large ones, that don't buy at least some components for their products which are made other places in the world. The US just doesn't have all the resources and expertise and trained affordable labor to compete these days. We might all wish that things were the same as they were when many of us grew up, especially those of us who are "old", but they just aren't.
Randy

Offline Richard/RMW

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2020, 11:41 AM »
My [2cents] echos several others, I'd expect quality to remain the same otherwise it defeats the purpose of acquiring established brands/companies.

I also believe the old stigma of Made in China is nearly irrelevant theses days. Mostly gone are the days of rough casting and poorly designed tools. Chinese factories contain the same high end cnc machines as companies in other countries. The caveat is that design matters as does quality control, there are still cheaply made tools out there but it's not because they can't produce quality, they just don't.

Bangood seems to have a lot of quality WP-ish tools an they are not particularly inexpensive. This leads me to believe the paradigm was shifted.

I have to admit I don't get the frequent complaints about WP's business model or pricing. If I don't see the value or want to wait months I don't buy it. Not that I don't think that some of the offerings are a stretch in terms of functionality, a solution in search of a problem, I just skip those.

Welp, Gotta get out to the shop. Stay safe everyone.

RMW
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Offline Holzhacker

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #16 on: April 13, 2020, 12:46 PM »
I can hear the Blue Spruce prices running up already.

I own a number of Woodpecker tools. I like their stuff. Great quality and all work well for me. I'm a bit over the one time tool nonsense and the prices. The pricing isn't overly high but its just a bit too high so that I'm far less interested in ordering anymore of their products. The cost to value just doesn't work anymore. The waiting months on end for one time tool production is also annoying.

Oddly I've been looking at the Blue Spruce website lately to figure out a few things to order. Guess I better hurry.
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Offline HarveyWildes

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2020, 11:48 PM »
I thought that I was getting more emails from Blue Spruce lately.  I was wondering why they started marketing to me out of blue (so to speak), since I've not bought anything from them.  Woodpeckers has a higher volume of email than even the Festool refurb program, and I guess BSTW will follow suit now.

Offline Gregor

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #18 on: April 14, 2020, 02:26 AM »
I also believe the old stigma of Made in China is nearly irrelevant theses days.
When remembering how made in Germany came to existance... it is also likely for made in Chine to backfire at a certain point in time.

Offline Bert Vanderveen

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #19 on: April 14, 2020, 07:47 AM »
Bangood seems to have a lot of quality WP-ish tools an they are not particularly inexpensive. This leads me to believe the paradigm was shifted.
Yeah, but do note that "WP-ish" really means "totally ripped of". The lack of concern for IP in China is disconcerting. Without investment in research and development and with government-supported marketing and distribution (cheap shipping, because China has third country status!), it is very easy to sell 'cheap' tools. The fact that lately the prices of these rip offs have risen is an indication that far too many consumers have fallen for them (you know: supply and demand).

I stay away from Bangood and Alibaba because every 'imitation' product you procure from them is a kick in the face for the people who originally invented it.
Cheers, Bert Vanderveen

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Offline hdv

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #20 on: April 14, 2020, 08:25 AM »
Amen! I wholeheartedly agree with Bert!

Just take a look at  what is on offer on those sites. It is ridiculous, almost everything is a copy. That doesn't necessarily mean the quality is bad, nor that I want to join in the currently popular China-bashing. But I do like to support OEMs. That "O" really means something to me.

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 8718
Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #21 on: April 14, 2020, 10:25 AM »
This discussion reminds me of the several years that Woodcraft carried the line of Lie-Nielsen planes. Everytime I visited, I'd go to the LN display and try to decide which one I was going to purchase, the next time they went on sale. A tough decision because at the time, I only owned a beat up Stanley with a cracked handle and a chipped knob, so essentially I needed several of the LN planes.

Then, one day I walked into Woodcraft and the LN display was bare. I asked why and was told that Woodcraft had talked directly with LN himself about ramping up production to supply the demand. LN replied that he was unwilling to ramp up the supply because he was worried about potential quality issues. Consequently, Woodcraft filled the display case with WoodRiver hand planes instead.  [sad]

So the question is, was LN just mired in the past while Blue Spruce is looking to the future? Time will tell.  [smile]

Offline derekcohen

  • Posts: 564
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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #22 on: April 14, 2020, 10:32 AM »
Not quite what happened, Cheese. WoodCraft sent a LN plane to China and had them mould a copy from it, which became WoodRiver series I. LN took them to court and removed their planes.

Regards from Perth

Derek
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Offline ChuckM

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« Last Edit: April 14, 2020, 10:46 AM by ChuckM »

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 8718
Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #24 on: April 14, 2020, 10:51 AM »
This is the published version of the L-N / Woodcraft story:

https://www.finewoodworking.com/2009/12/19/lie-nielsen-toolworks-and-woodcraft-part-ways


Interesting that LN still has 3 Woodcraft stores as retailers.  [huh]

Offline ChuckM

  • Posts: 2766
Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #25 on: April 14, 2020, 11:05 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.

Offline zapdafish

  • Posts: 607
Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #26 on: April 14, 2020, 12:06 PM »
I knew about LN dropping Woodcraft but never bothered to find out why. It's interesting that the reason in the FW article is similar to Festool experiences I have read about where Woodcraft has very spotty service regarding product knowledge.


This is the published version of the L-N / Woodcraft story:

https://www.finewoodworking.com/2009/12/19/lie-nielsen-toolworks-and-woodcraft-part-ways

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

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #27 on: April 14, 2020, 12:31 PM »
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
Visit www.inthewoodshop.com for tutorials on joinery, hand tools, and my trials and tribulations with furniture builds.

Offline JimH2

  • Posts: 1052
Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #28 on: April 14, 2020, 01:10 PM »
I believe Stanley Black & Decker owns Craftsman. Lowe’s is just a reseller.

Offline six-point socket II

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Re: Blue Spruce Tool Works is purchased by Woodpeckers
« Reply #29 on: April 14, 2020, 01:33 PM »
Bangood seems to have a lot of quality WP-ish tools an they are not particularly inexpensive. This leads me to believe the paradigm was shifted.
Yeah, but do note that "WP-ish" really means "totally ripped of". The lack of concern for IP in China is disconcerting. Without investment in research and development and with government-supported marketing and distribution (cheap shipping, because China has third country status!), it is very easy to sell 'cheap' tools. The fact that lately the prices of these rip offs have risen is an indication that far too many consumers have fallen for them (you know: supply and demand).

I stay away from Bangood and Alibaba because every 'imitation' product you procure from them is a kick in the face for the people who originally invented it.

This needs a full quote!

So, so, so true!!

Kind regards,
Oliver
Kind regards,
Oliver

"... . Say yes to stuff, and it will take you interesting places." - Anne Richards, CEO Fidelity International