Lie-Nielsen Toolworks and Woodcraft part ways
For the past few weeks, a rumor has been floating around Internet forums that Lie-Nielsen Toolworks and Woodcraft were parting ways. A representative from Woodcraft confirmed the split, but provided no further information. So I spoke with Tom Lie-Nielsen and he confirmed that Lie-Nielsen tools will no longer be available through Woodcraft. For further details, he referred me to Patrick Jackson, Lie-Nielsen’s vice president of marketing and sales.
I asked Jackson whether the split had anything to do with Woodcraft’s decision to introduce its own line of handplanes under the WoodRiver name. He declined to comment on that issue, but explained that Lie-Nielsen decided to end its relationship with Woodcraft for two related reasons.
First, as the popularity of Lie-Nielsen tools has grown the Maine toolmaker found it at times difficult to meet the demand created by the Woodcraft stores.
Second, Lie-Nielsen was concerned about the service that potential customers received at the stores, where the tools were kept locked in a glass case and where, he says, store clerks were not always able to provide critical advice about how to choose and care for their products.
According to Jackson, Mr. Lie-Nielsen believes that a potential customer should be able try out any tool he or she intends to buy, and have an experience similar to the one they would have at the Lie-Nielsen showroom and factory in Warren, Maine, and at the Lie-Nielsen handtool events that they put on around the country. (They did many of these regional events in 2009 and are gearing up to do 100 a year, Jackson said.)
You might wonder how Lie-Nielsen will be able to provide that type of service to you if you don’t live in Maine or happen to be in a town visited by one of their events. The company’s answer has been to establish several authorized dealers around the country, in several European countries, and in South Korea. All of the authorized dealers have brick and mortar stores, in which an area will be set aside for Lie-Nielsen tools. The tools will be there for you to hold and use (at a workbench), and the staff will be trained in the use and care of the tools, according to Jackson. The goal is to improve the customer’s experience before and after buying one of their tools, he says.
You will also still be able to buy tools directly from Lie-Nielsen via their website. Authorized dealers will be able to sell Lie-Nielsen tools online as well.
Here is a list of authorized dealers in the United States, which includes three independently owned Woodcraft stores:
Craftsman Studio in San Diego, Calif.
Highland Hardware in Atlanta, Ga.
Japan Woodworker in Alameda, Calif.
Woodcraft #553 in Stanton, Calif.
Woodcraft #503 in Alpharetta, Ga.
Woodcraft #584 in Chattanooga, Tenn.