Pilgrimage To A Woodworking Tool Store Holy Place

Finally made the pilgrimage to Hida Tool & Hardware Co..
Like many places of myth and legend - The Alamo, with a Wool- worths store acrossed the street - Hida Tools was not at all like I expected. Narrower than I'd imagined - narrower than my living room - with some sort of screen just behind the tall narrow display window obstructing the view inside, the outside gave no indication of legendary tools on the wall shelves in the store.
Inside there were no glass display cases, with special lights to "properly present the tools" I've only read and heard about. Instead, they sit on shallow shelves, many in thin cardboard boxes, some sharing a box with several of its twins - five or six 6mm bench chisels, each in its own thin plastic bag, hand written price - in ball point pen - on a white paper tag.
Next to the chisels, hanging on a piece of plywood, fine toothed pull saws, blades in thin plastic sleeves, price on white paper tags. No UPCs, no bar codes, no printed item number on anything in the store.
Next to the saws are Japanese waterstones. In a wooden box, a single stone, about the size of a brick. White paper price tag - $1,180. Very, very carefully place that one back on the shelf before taking another breath.
The rest of the pilgrimage was a blur - sensory overload. Left the store with a small blue plastic bag containing - 3mm Masashige brand specially-designed white steel dovetail chisel - the sides beveled at 75 degrees to get into the corners of dovetail tail sockets - the place that keeps otherwise perfectly cut dovetails from fitting together just so. - a small squeeze bottle of camelia oil (which doesn't smell like camelias) - the special little screw lid camelia oil applicator - the book "The Care and Use of Japanese Woodworking Tools by Kip Mesirowand Ron Herman - some bonsai wire, small ball cutter pruning pliers and small pruning shears
Safe bet this wasn't my last trip to Hida - but only after the checking account recovers a bit.
Robland Factory in Brugge, Belgium - check Hida Tool and Hardware Co., Berkeley, California, USA -check
Still on the list Lee Valley Lie Nielsen Knight Toolworks JoinTech
Your pilgrimage list?
charlie b
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charlieb wrote:

I don't know if LV falls into the same category, but at my skill level, I felt the same the first time I walked into the store here. And I think you summed it up perfectly with "sensory overload". Kid in a candyshop.
When I first stepped foot in the Lee Valley store here, I was on a mission for one single item, and knew what I wanted. Being results oriented, I was too enmeshed in the ordering process to really notice where I was until I slowed down a bit at the order desk.
Then I looked around and was drawn into it. There were tools the likes of which I had no clue. Without a label on them, I'd never know what to call them. Even with a label, I was out of my depth to figure out what purpose they had in life.
Like you with Hida, that was only the beginning of my many trips to the store. Sure you'll go back. Hell, you may even some day walk in and say "I'll take that $1200 waterstone please". Or maybe not. But you'll look at it again and a smile will come to your face.
I left my job a few months ago to move somewhere else. My former job was in a building kitty-corner from the LV flagstore. The folks I worked with made up a calendar that had 12 goofy things I'd done while I'd been working there. Three of the months dealt with Lee Valley. One month dealt with a TS accident I'd had in the previous year. It's not just a private little thing. It spreads to co-workers.
Your post caused a few smiles.
Tanus
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Hardwick & Sons in Seattle - Check.
A truly Astounding collection of tools and hardware!! The smallish presence on the street, on the inside turns into the warehouse where they put the Ark of the Covenant at the end of "Raiders of the Lost Ark". Everything from oil lamps to high end planes and some power tools I'd not seen before. Supers sensory overload. After a couple hours I stumbled back onto the street with a handled staple puller (gets carpet strips with ease) and a couple Japanese kitchen knives. I was actually Looking for the staple puller. I'd never seen one before, but just knew it had to exist. Lot of hand written tags and boxes of loose chisel, etc.
The sort of experience where you figure the shop will not exist if you go back the next day and in its place will be a parking lot that has been there for forty years.
Did I say that they also have a lot of Hardware ....
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I'm lucky enough to say I've been to a Lee Valley store, and that was indeed a wonderful experience. Lots of toys to drool over, and helpful employees who are just as excited about wood and tools as I am. Maybe my favorite "pilgrimage" experience, though, is the first Rockler I visited. I hadn't been a woodworker very long, but I'd carefully examined a variety of catalogs. There isn't a local dedicated woodworking store, so I convinced LOML I needed to stop at a Rockler while on a road trip to visit family. A whole store devoted to my newfound hobby, with real tools and materials in 3D, rather than just a picture in a catalog! I've since visited several Woodcraft and Rockler stores on various trips, and LOML is still pretty forgiving of a quick visit ("hey hon, there's a JoAnn fabric right around the corner!"). Another favorite first time experience (no, get your mind out of the gutter) was strolling around the Stickley showroom - one of the salespeople actually came up to me and the first thing she said was "I can see you love furniture". I made a point of keeping my mouth shut and wiping up the drool from that point on, and since then, I've realized it's not too difficult to make something that's actually better quality than the modern Stickley stuff. Their furniture sure is pretty, and they do use nice wood, but if you know where to look, they frequently scrimp on hidden stuff. Anyway, stores still on my "pilgrimage list" include: Tools for Working Wood (NYC) Japan Woodworker (CA) Hida Tool (thanks for the description!) Lie Nielsen (ME) Grizzly showroom (Probably PA - I know, it's completely different than the stores above, but impressive in it's own way, from what I've heard) Highland Hardware (GA, IIRC) Lee Valley, again, whenever I get the chance (Rob, when are you opening a store in the US? I'll be in Ogdensburg NY next week, but that's apparently only a distribution center...) Guess that's all, Andy
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