On Thu, 1 Feb 2007 01:25:52 +0000 (UTC), Bruce Barnett
how pleasant it is to go into my local Woodcraft store. It's well
stocked, there are knowledgeable sales staff to help you and they do
not seem bitter about working there. Moreover, I can sit down and
browse through a large collection of woodworking books, drink a cup of
coffee on them, and unlike the big box stores I usually find what I
went there for. It is now franchised and the new owner seems to be
doing well. As a matter of fact he has opened another store on the
other side of town. The stock has expanded since Woodcraft franchised
it out. There is a large section of the store devoted to a
woodworking club where one can stroll around and see what people are
making. I wish the new owner well. He is keeping some money in the
community instead of it going off to wherever Amazon is located. If
there is a problem I can return the item and understand the person I
am dealing with instead of spending hours on the phone with someone in
India. I can carefully examine what I am buying and not worry about a
two week delay if it arrives by UPS in a box and turns out to be the
wrong item or defective. I might pay a little more for all this but
it is well worth it to me. Of course, since most of the Woodcraft
stores are now franchises I supposed the local operator has a lot to
do with the quality of one's experience there. I usually leave my
Woodcraft store happy. I usually leave Home Depot or Lowes with an
absolute loathing for the whole operation.
Don't get me wrong - I LOVED the Woodcraft store. I probably spent
about $1000 a year there - as a hobbyist. I spend much less than $100 a
year at HD and Lowes for tools/woodworking. There's a big empty hole
in my heart when I drive past the empty Woodcraft store.
I'm just saying that Woodcraft says "sale" - don't assume it is.
TANSTAAPS - There aint no such thing as a perfect store.
Sending unsolicited commercial e-mail to this account incurs a fee of
$500 per message, and acknowledges the legality of this contract.
Not if you need a roll of roofing felt, (2) melamine shelves, some PVC
conduit, two sheets of blue foam insul-board, a downspout, contact
cement, some 15 ga. PC finish nails, and a Tony Stewart or Jimmie
Johnson water jug in the same trip. <G>
The BORGs do have some value when kept in perspective.
Define "pay a little more". That seems to be the key issue with all
of the mail order/internet/big warehouse/out of town versus local shop
discussions on the internet. It applies to all recreational
pursuits. Woodworking and bicycling for me. Cameras for others.
If the local shop is charging 5% more on a $100 sale, no big deal to
me. If its 10% more on a $1000 sale, it means more to me. 10% more
plus 6% sales tax on a $2000 Unisaw, it means a lot to me. Compared
to $1800 and free shipping from Amazon. How much service work is
needed on a cabinet saw that has been made the same for about 70 years
now? Is it worth paying $320 up front for an extended warranty
basically? I don't buy extended warranties on electronics and such
when offered. Why pay it for a Unisaw at my local Woodcraft? I've
dealt with Amazon on purchases and they went fine.
And 5% or 10% markup is maybe on the low end of the difference in
price between mail order/internet and local shops. If its 20% or 30%
or 40% more plus 6% sales tax from the local shop, will you still buy
locally? What if its a product where no service is needed such as
drill bits or router bits or chisels or saw blades? Are you paying
the extra just because the local shop is a nice guy or maybe in the
future you will need his service for something that cannot be worked
out fine with a non local vendor or if you need something NOW and
cannot wait 2-3 days?
I've bought tools from local stores, mail order, internet in the US,
Canada, England, and Australia. The foreign purchases were at a
considerable savings from any of the US mail order places. Why mail
order from a US mail order if you can save 40% from a foreign mail
order place? I have local shops in verious recreational pursuits that
are run by very nice people and involved in the community, etc. But I
still have a hard time paying full MSRP and sales tax for a product
they have to order in because they do not stock that brand/model, when
I can get the same item delivered to my door via internet for 30% or
more less including the shipping charges.
Of course, since most of the Woodcraft
be an incredible conceit for me to say that my decision in such a
situation is "right" for anyone else.
FWIW, I am lucky to live near Highland Woodworking. And I shamelessly
pick their brains as I get stumped on projects, with answers that
often involve tools I already have, or something from another
supplier. When I bought a jointer, I looked at how much more I would
pay from them versus Amazon and decided to buy from HW--not for any
sense of consumer protection on that purchase, but rather as a
"gratuity" for the help I had received for free.
Alex -- Replace "nospam" with "mail" to reply by email. Checked infrequently.
The Woodcraft in West Des Moines, Iowa went out of business 2-3 years
ago. It was in operation for 2-3 years if I recall correctly. Metro
area is about 400,000. Started/owned by two former Woodsmith Store
employees. Des Moines is the home of the Woodsmith Store. Woodsmith
Store is owned by August Home Publishing. August Home produces Shop
Notes magazine, Woodsmith magazine, Workbench, a couple gareding
magazines, and maybe some other stuff too. Woodsmith Store has been
in operation for 20 years I think. New location a couple years ago.
Big, big new store. Old store was sort of in the heart of town and
not as easy to get to. Still had lots of space for lots of tools and
such. Also in town are three different contractor tool stores. All
carry the full range of Delta, Jet, Powermatic, etc. tools on the
floor. And every power tool imaginable and then some. They do not
carry the specialty woodworkign tools or turning tools that Woodcraft
and Woodsmith Store carry. Also have three Menards, four Home Depot,
and one Lowes in town. Woodcraft was in a strip mall in a good
location. Not huge but enough space. They had more or less the full
range of everything in the catalog. Including all of the small
expensive non moving carving tools and turning tools quoted above.
Offered hands on classes, which I took a couple of. There was just
too much competition for them to survive. And the inventory costs as
mentioned. And the fact the local woodworkers were already committed
to the Woodsmith Store and bought their specialty woodworking items
there. Internet for most power tools hurt Woodcraft store. Amazon,
etc. Contractors buying power tools today went to the very well
established Kel Welco, Puckett Tools, Bob's Tools. Which as mentioned
carried far more hand held power tools than any woodworking store
every did. And the same stationary power tools, or even more such as
the big, big bandsaws. Quincy and Rol-Air compressors. And dozens of
other compressors besides just Porter Cable red and DeWalt yellow.
And dozens and dozens of air nailers. I suspect the owners were fed
up with the way things were done at the Woodsmith Store where they
worked and thought they could steal business away and do things their
way. Their was not enough business to steal away from Woodsmith, or
they could not steal much away. And could not steal any business from
all of the other established places contractors shop. And the people
who buy at Menards, Home Depot, Lowes go to the internet, not
Woodcraft. And the high cost of inventory and employees and rental
space in a decently placed strip mall. I don't know what business
plan the owners had but anyone with an elementary education knew
beforehand it was not going to work. The decision to open the
Woodcraft was not based on anything financial, it had to have been all
emotion. I enjoyed the store while it lasted. Don't get to Woodsmith
Store much even though its very close to me and I go by it about every
There's a Woodcraft store in the San Francisco east bay area, where I do
some business on occasion. A Unisaw, a drill press, a dovetail jig,
clamps, etc. At one time, it was a franchise, run by a fellow I know now,
but did not know then. The headquarters was running it for a while, and
now there are new franchise owners back in the saddle. They're pretty good
about staying in contact with the woodworkers' clubs, running specials and
classes and activities, but it's not at all easy to run these as profitable
businesses. The first fellow is pretty happy now, too, I think. He's
active in the turning community, and happier than if he were running retail
seven days a week.
After spending as much as I have, on a hobby, you do tend to back away a
little bit, if only to let the checkbook heal, or to find more room to put
the tools when they're not in use. I can't tell if the overall market is
down, but you DO have to find new customers every month.
By the way, I like my LN chisels, short handled from the factory. I might
make a longer handle or three to see whether the changes are happy ones for
SNIP> Probably not what you want to hear, but socket chisels aren't really
The LN chisels are not required to make dovetails, but they are a real joy
to own and to use.
As far as a long reach paring chisel needed to make dove tails, I don't
understand. I only use a bit of the end of the chisel and at most use about
IMO, the handle length is a matter of personal preference.
If you're going to use them for chopping waste out of the socket
you might want to go with butt chisels - short stubby beveled
sides chisels. Your going to have your left hand holding and
the chisel down at the wood and right hand swinging the mallet. A
handled, top heavy chisel will be harder to control when you're
at the other end with a two fingers and thumb grip.
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