How come?

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First some words about me and then the question.
My first employment was in the automotive machine shop that my father managed. Later on, I ran the place.
A boyhood interest in radio brought me a ham radio license and when I was 25 I went to work for Hughes Aircraft (later GM-Hughes) as an electronics technician. In the next 30 years at Hughes I was at various times: assembly line supervisor, senior research assistant, member of the technical (engineer), engineering group head, retired, contract consultant. When Raytheon bought Hughes, my contact was terminated and I was asked to hire on with Raytheon, which I did for a couple of years before I could no longer stand working for them. This brings me to today when I have time to pursue a long-time interest in woodworking. A couple of "woodshop" classes and the construction of about half of my house is pretty much my experience so far.
I have always been a "hands on" guy and a voracious reader; in fact, I'm primarily self-taught in my fields of interest, pretty much learning by making mistakes [g]. Some course work in photography proved to me that I was a damn good darkroom technician, but an artist I am not. I'm sure the same applies to woodworking. So, I take great delight in reading this group as well as FWW, et cetera.
By now, you're saying this belongs in the "How did you get into woodworking thread" so let me veer to the question:
Why do woodworkers put up with such crappy tooling and machinery?
My loving wife is encourging me to buy whatever I want for my shop so I am in the market (I think) for some new tools. (This is why I will continue to wear my wedding ring in the shop, but I digress) I have been reading this group and all of the other references I can find for reviews and opinions and frankly I appalled at what I'm finding.
In my former jobs, I have literally specified, approved, purchased and used several million dollars worth of machinery, electronics test equipment and components. *Never* would I, or my employers, put up with buying stuff that was in the sorry state that seems to be the norm for woodworking equipment. Neither would our customers put up with us supplying products of similar quality.
As a radio amateur I put together a number of Heathkit radios. These were of course, "kits"; it even said so in the company name. I suggest in the interest in truth-in-labeling that woodworking equipment suppliers should be required to add "kit" to their names. For example, the "Stanley Plane Kit" company.
The instructions would say, "Unpack your plane kit and disassemble the pieces. Finish the manufacturing process by, flattening the sole, filing the throat, adjusting the frog, grinding and honing the chipbreaker, flattening the back of the iron and refining the edge. Reassemble the pieces and adjust for a proper cut."
The instructions for Marples chisel kits would include instructs on retempering, regrinding and honing the blade (Other chisel kit manufactures could leave out the retempering part.)
If I believe the reviews, even a $2000 Powermatic PM66 table saw is a kit. The instructions would say something like, "Throw away the crappy table extension that was broken in shipment and build a new one out of hard Maple banded in Rosewood." Additional instructs would tell how to make shims to get the iron extension wings flush with the tabletop and file the miter gauge so it doesn't scratch the table. And, "Oh, by the way, we sold you a "saw" but if you want to actually cut something, you'll have to buy a "saw blade" separately and that motor cover you see in all of the pictures is extra too."
The Grizzly table saw kit would include instructions for contacting the trucking company that dropped it off the truck, to make a claim.
The General International table saw kit would include instructions for completing the manufacturing process by drilling the holes required to attach the "Made In Canada" fence to the "Made in the Far East" saw.
There have been millions of words written about arbor run out, table flatness, aligning the blade to the miter gauge slots, getting the miter gauge tight in the slots, getting the fence parallel to the blade, poorly designed blade guards, lousy dust collection, making new table inserts and on and on. All of this over a rather simple piece of machinery.
I very recently assembled a Jet 1100 dust collector kit. In this case, I knew it was a kit that required assembly, but why didn't they include the tap that I needed to chase the threads to get the paint out of them so the screws would go in without galling? A half hour job turned into two hours spent chasing down a tap.
What's up with this?
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"Wes Stewart" wrote in message

Why do you buy hamburgers, and countless other items through advertising, that barely have a resemblance to the item you spend your money on?
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 1/23/04
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Simple. Many of us demand low prices and that has become the main criteria for what we buy. Manufacturers can't give us precision machinery at low prices, so, we have to finish the machining/assembly process, ourselves. This, of course, is also the reason much of what we buy is manufactured somewhere else.
--

Best Regards, Phil

Living In The Woods Of Beautiful Bonney Lake Washington
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Next time, try cutting two slots in one of the screws with a Dremel tool. The slots will allow the screw to act as a tap well enough to finish the job and get on with things.
The slots won't affect the screw's ability to do it's real job once you've chased the threads.
Barry
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On Sun, 25 Jan 2004 19:17:35 GMT, B a r r y B u r k e J r .
| |>> I very recently assembled a Jet 1100 dust collector kit. In this |>> case, I knew it was a kit that required assembly, but why didn't they |>> include the tap that I needed to chase the threads to get the paint |>> out of them so the screws would go in without galling? A half hour |>> job turned into two hours spent chasing down a tap. | | |Next time, try cutting two slots in one of the screws with a Dremel |tool. The slots will allow the screw to act as a tap well enough to |finish the job and get on with things.
Sure, I could have done that.
Also, a lot of my remarks were slightly rhetorical. In the same vein, if I need Dremel tool to do the job, why don't they supply one? Just kidding [G].
Wes
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wrote:
snip--

snip--
ow that they are owned by rubbermaid, I guess we should be looking for their new rubber bladed line....

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Bridger wrote ...

and how would that differ from the set I have now?
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sorry about that...
wrote:
snip--

snip--
Now that they are owned by rubbermaid, I guess we should be looking for their new rubber bladed line....

snip---
So if you buy a cnc mill you expect it to come with all of the tooling?

the bill of sale oughtta have the damage claim slip attached with the relevant parts pre- filled out....

(insert) instructions for reading the instructions....

yep.
woodworking is older than metalworking, so the technology is more primitive.
    Bridger
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I believe that the answer is really simple. The quality of woodworking tools directly reflects what the consumers are willing to pay. You make the case of a Stanley plane being poor out of the box. With planes there are alternatives. Lee Valley and Lie Neilsen planes work great out of the box...but cost more than Stanley planes. You also mentioned tablesaws, and gave some examples, but you didn't mention the high-end saws that are highly accurate. Some of these companies send a technician to setup the saw, check specifications, and to train the operator on the use/features. The cost is high, and I don't think that most woodworkers want to pay $20K for a sliding tablesaw.
If the woodworking tool companies were extremely profitable then you might have a valid complaint but for the most part they are not getting rich. It would be great to think that they were making a $800 profit on a $1600 saw and that some white knight could start a company that could live with a $100 profit on a saw and put all of the excess profit back into the tool. It isn't going to happen.
From your description it sounds like you have some disposable income, and are interested in precision, so you might want to look at some of the high-end European companies. There are plenty of quality alternatives and it would be interesting to see the list of equipment that you purchase.
Good luck with your shop - Bob McBreen
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wrote:
[snip] | |From your description it sounds like you have some disposable income,
Oh, if it were only so. Disposable never [g] discretionary maybe, but my last name is Stewart so I try not to throw money away.
Furthermore, this all may be a passing fancy. I have some specific projects (primarily bathroom and kitchen cabinetry and a few small furniture projects) in mind where to get what I want, my only alternative seems to be build them myself or hire someone to do it.
When I built onto my house the crappist work was performed by "craftsmen" and "journeymen" who I hired and the acceptable work was done by yours truly so I'm reluctant to hire it done. Plus, as I said I'm a hands-on guy and take pleasure in doing this stuff.
So, I can rationalize the cost of equipment, up to a point, as a part of the cost of the end product.
|Good luck with your shop - Bob McBreen
Thanks, Bob, I appreciate your input.
Wes |
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On Sun, 25 Jan 2004 14:24:38 -0700, Wes Stewart wrote:

I justify the cost of my (mainly decent) tools by thinking of how much money I have saved by not paying somebody else to do the work for me. ie. Say I've built myself a nice cabinet I think to myself "How much would that have cost me to buy? 500 quid? I spent 100 on timber so I can get a Lie Nielsen plane and I've still made money!"
If you're not sure whether woodworking will be anything more than a passing fancy then I'd suggest just buying good hand tools. It means more time and labour using hand tools but if you decide you don't want to take it up `seriously' you haven't sunk too much money into your tools and the tools you've bought will always come in handy or you can always sell them.
If you take it up a bit more seriously then I'd recommend buying a couple of *good* power tools. They are available but always consider that you're not working to the same tolerances with timber that you would be in an engineering shop so the tools are inevitably a bit more primitive than what you are probably used to in your professional capacity. But there are good European machine tools and the Japs make pretty good power saws, drills etc.
I agree with your general point that a hell of a lot of tools are cr*p and a complete waste of money but then most of them are made for the hobbyist market and they compete on price not quality - a hobbyist probably wouldn't recognise a quality tool if it hit them over the head.
--

Frank

http://www.freebsd.org /
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Wes Stewart wrote:

You worked at Rayetheon too long. The machinery you specified, approve, and purchased came from much higher budgets than the tools we use. We can't go back the the Pentagon and get more money because we found a different way of doing something. If we worked our budgets like the typical aerospace contractor, our tools would be much better and we'd be subsidized. The manufacturers make what we can afford to buy, not what really can be made.
Safety is a concern in the shop, but we don't have the same life ensuring redundancy in the controls like a sspace casule, nor do we need them. Table saw castings don't get magnafluxed before assembly. Sure, some things could be better, that is why we complain to the manufacturers at times, but there is a practical limi to the tolerances we can afford. Ed snipped-for-privacy@snet.net http://pages.cthome.net/edhome
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wrote:
|Wes Stewart wrote: |> First some words about me and then the question. |> In my former jobs, I have literally specified, approved, purchased and |> used several million dollars worth of machinery, electronics test |> equipment and components. > |> What's up with this? | |You worked at Rayetheon (sic) too long.
I agree, I hated that company.
|The machinery you specified, approve, and |purchased came from much higher budgets than the tools we use. We can't go |back the the Pentagon and get more money because we found a different way of |doing something. If we worked our budgets like the typical aerospace |contractor, our tools would be much better and we'd be subsidized. The |manufacturers make what we can afford to buy, not what really can be made.
I believe that you miss my point. Let's use another example. If you bought the cheapest Hyundai or Kia automobile you would not begin to accept the defects that you would find in a table saw made in the same neck of the woods.
The car can be had for $12K and you can easily spend $2K+ for a Jet, General International or other Asian built TS. I submit that there are over six times the material, labor, transportation, advertising costs and markup, not to mention complexity in an automobile compared to a table saw. And, if what I read is any indication, table saws come with a 100% defect rate, few of which are corrected by the seller but are the responsibility of the buyer. If Kias were 100% defective and the dealer said tough shit buddy, you fix it, how long with they be selling cars?
|Safety is a concern in the shop, but we don't have the same life ensuring |redundancy in the controls like a sspace casule, nor do we need them. Table |saw castings don't get magnafluxed before assembly. Sure, some things |could be better, that is why we complain to the manufacturers at times, but |there is a practical limi to the tolerances we can afford.
Text based communicating where nuance, facial expression and body language are missing is fraught with the possibility of misinterpretation and besides being a "hands-on" guy, I'm a "tongue-in-cheek" guy. So nothing I've said or am about to say is personal or directed to anyone in particular.
I really do appreciate your comments. As a fairly long-time reader but only recent poster to this forum I hope that I'm not stepping on any toes because I get a great deal out of reading the group and I have a lot more questions.
But that said, in just the few comments received already, I think I've gotten the answer to my question, "Why do woodworkers put up with such crappy tooling and machinery?"
And the answer is.... Because they don't expect any better and the manufacturers know it.
Regards,
Wes
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<SNIP>
I totally disagree. I think that the answer is because most woodworkers are only willing to pay for crappy products. With your logic, a company could come into the market and sell a $800 cabinet saw with zero defects, all necessary accessories, and still make a decent profit. The intellectual property threshold for entry into this market is low, the manufacturing capability is sufficient, and the distribution channel is open, so why isn't it happening? It isn't happening because the margin is not there.
Your argument also implies that there must be some type of collusion between the manufactures. If not ,one of the companies could have a huge increase in market share simply by reducing the margins and drop the price, or increase quality at the same retail price.
As I stated in an earlier post, there are lots of high quality machines for woodworkers to purchase but for the most part they choose not to. They are willing to trade high quality out of the box tools for lower priced tools that have some aggravations.
Bob McBreen
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Wes Stewart wrote:

I've been programming computer since 1976. I probably have the world's greatest text editor. Drop by and for only $129,578.86 you can have a copy. Or you can get a freeware editor 98.5% as good for ZERO $. You may have to shim the freeware editor's cast extension tables.... <g>
-- Mark
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wrote:

If many people looked at any new car the way they looked at a new power tool, cars would also have a 100% defect rate. Most of these defects WOULD get a "tough shit, buddy" from the dealer. It's a perception thing. Most people jump in their new car, and drive away saying "wheeee, I'm in my new car!"
We woodworkers are anal, know it all, pains in the asses, who think a .003 dip in the table, or .001 error in the parallelism to the miter slots makes a huge difference. <G>
How many people roll their new cars onto a race scale and check to see if each wheel is weighted the way they should be, or chassis dyno it to see if the advertised horses are there? How would a dealer react if you brought your Subaru WRX back because it only measured 218 HP (or less) at the wheels, and the ad says 227? How may dealers or buyers would actually know where the advertised HP was measured? <G>
On a more realistic bent, how many cars leave the dealer's lot slightly misaligned, which won't show until the tires get 10-15k on them? At that point, the dealer will blame it on you for hitting potholes. Who _checks_ the alignment before accepting the car? <G>
I'll bet you and I can find defects, especially cosmetic and fit and finish, on every new car on a lot, you pick the lot.
Barry
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wrote:

Wes, You're right and your post rather ammusing, but what's the point? If we could all afford Bridgeport milling machines, surface grinders and fly cutters our furniture projects would all be super accurate and cold as the space shuttle. :)
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wrote:

BTW...Life is a carnival...Grab a handplane and have some fun!
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wrote:

Did you happen to know Bob Zimmerman, WB9BPX? He worked for Hughes for quite a while. I knew him for several years when I was N9AKE. I'm now K4QG. Licensed since '63; did my fair share of Heathkits...
LRod
Master Woodbutcher and seasoned termite
Shamelessly whoring my website since 1999
http://www.woodbutcher.net
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|wrote: | |>A boyhood interest in radio brought me a ham radio license and when I |>was 25 I went to work for Hughes Aircraft (later GM-Hughes) as an |>electronics technician. | |Did you happen to know Bob Zimmerman, WB9BPX? He worked for Hughes for |quite a while. I knew him for several years when I was N9AKE. I'm now |K4QG. Licensed since '63; did my fair share of Heathkits...
That name is familiar although I can't put a face to it, and I definately don't recall him by amateur call sign.
I was K7CVT in 1958 and had a Heath DX100 :-).
Nice to meet you,
Regards,
Wes
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