Or they see it as a calculated risk. Cheapen here, cheapen there and
see what the market reaction is. They can always put them back, slap
on a new logo and whip up a marketing campaign.
Latest Pop Woodworking has an aside talking about impending cost
increases. Manufacturers know they can't always pass them on, or pass
them on immediately - they must do it carefully. Cheapen the knobs
might be a way, in a bean-counters eyes.
With any luck - there are a number of peer groups in an organization
to keep the accountants in check. Just like the accountants nix ideas
like titanium wheels with diamond studs.
Or - they get smart and try to course correct before Chapter 11/7.
It's the natural cycle. I'm OK with it. Suppose I'm capable of
running a small shop that manufactures Router Bits. When Whiteside,
CMT, Freud and Amana give me an opening - I'll take it.
It's an opportunity!
This is the typical product of what is euphemistically called "free
market", but in reality is a greed-driven chaos: What to produce is
not determined by the need for the product but by its marketability,
which can be easily seen by the huge profits made with such utterly
useles crap like ringing tones for portable phones, drugs or SUVs.
Closest to 10 years back I could come up with is the Nov./Dec. 1992
issue of Fine Woodworking. There's a Tool Crib ad for a 3hp Unisaw with
Biesmeyer fence for $1629 *after* a $100 rebate. (page 24) My current
Tool Crib catalog lists today's comparable Unisaw at $1850.
Hardly double and really surprising given the 12 year span.
Not Owen but I personally think they've been subsidizing the
Unisaw with the sale of other machines. Like Owen I can go
back through past issues of magazines and find the full page
machinery/tool seller's ads and track back a "sameish" price
for at least ten years and maybe more.
As for sacrificing quality, yes the Unisaw has changed but
it's been things like the morphing of the dust door until
there was finally none, the changing of lock knobs from die
cast with a chrome finish to plastic (plastique David) and
of course the greatest crime of all the elimination of the
cast iron plinth.
As for the innards, there have been changes but nothing of
the magnitude that allows for an easy explanation of why the
saw hasn't kept up with the rate of inflation.
Now, there have been instances of bad quality control but
that seems to be hit or miss. In other words, you can still
buy a good Unisaw.
If anything the real change with the Unisaw has been it just
ain't as classy as it once was.
So did the knurled ones, problem is that they are paying somebody $20 an
hour to pull 'em outta the bin. Then that $20 somebody thinks the employer
owes them $12,000
worth of insurance to cover him, his spouse and every other blood relative
just because he's a trained knob installer. And now our insured $20 knob
installer gets a sliver skateboarding over the weekend, bides his pain till
he gets to work on Monday reports for workmans comp because those knurls got
slivers in the bin. Now knob installer is off for the next 3 months
protected by the FMLA so the employer can't even replace him to keep
production up but still collecting some kind of compensation for no work.
Then Billybob & associates runs across Knob installers name in the insurance
records and convinces him to sue the employer for an exorbitant amount of
money for "compensation". Employer knows better than to argue with the
insurance company recalling the same insurance company handled the "Miss
Offended" case in the broke her nail office scandle of '02. Ponies up the
cash and takes another shot on the chin. Just as he sits down thinking he's
past this and may be able to keep the doors open one more month sits down to
read the notice from those OSHA folks about the knurled knob saftey
It's probably worth writing nasty letters to the company. The bean counters get
away with this nonsense primarily because they convince the PHBs in management
that no one notices. I'd be willing to bet there are people inside the company
that would love to have angry letters from customers as confirmation that
people DO notice -- and care.
It's sad. I see all kinds of cost-cutting efforts that sacrifice
quality but Americans love cheap. I bought a Starrett Wade square
last month for $165 (with compass and center finder), yet I know
WalMart has the same thing for $12.95.
I have made all kinds of knobs from scraps of hardwood, make a hex
hole into them, then epoxy a nut into the hold. Makes it much easier
Starrett Wade? I know of Starrett and Garret-Wade.
The Wal*Mart job is probably OK for some work, but usually won't be as
accurate, as easy to read, as smooth operating. Depends on how much you
No, they don't. They might have something similar at that price, and less
accurate (probably much less), but it won't be "the same thing" as a Starrett
(assuming that's what you meant by "Starrett Wade").
Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
Get a copy of my NEW AND IMPROVED TrollFilter for NewsProxy/Nfilter
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You must use your REAL email address to get a response.
Wally World may have squares, perhaps even with both compass and
centerfinder, but I doubt it. They assuredly do not have
Starretts, nor do they havew the acuracy, precision or smoothness
of operation. Quality always costs more, and nothing but quality
will do in certain circumstances. The cheap knock-off may be
accurate if you are lucky, when you first get it it, but it will
lack precision, and over time, lose its accuracy. It will always
Dave in Fairfax
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