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Lie-Nielsen charts new course. The Maine plane maker has ended its relationship with Woodcraft in an attempt to improve customer service.
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.
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I own 4 Lie-Nielson planes--and, I wish I could afford to own all of them.
You can look at it however you want, but the Lie-Nielson plane could be compared as a Porsche compared to a VW Rabbit. It is just not the same! I would rather own one Lie-Nielson than two of another brand (to be fair, I have not owned any Veritas--or, other premium tools).
At one time, I would have been concerned about the withdrawal of the tools from Woodcraft. Recently, though, Woodcraft seems to have started trying to manufacture competitive tools. Well, that's fine--IF they can provide REASONABLY comparable quality at a reasonable price. I have not been satisfied with their products--they are "OK"--but, they are not superior. And, I have found other products that I believe are superior to the items Woodcraft has added to its own line -- for considerably less money.
I used to enjoy going into Woodcraft. But, my trips were not frequent enough to really get to know all of the staff. What I have encountered of late are salespeople who are more interested in talking to each other at the register. Sometimes, I want to look. I tell the people in any store if that is the case. Sometimes, I want someone who is, at the very least, more knowledgable than me. And, I do want to try expensive tools--at least, I would like to create a couple of shavings with the tool or a demo tool--UNLESS the seller is willing to take the item back if I return it within the next day or two. When the employees stand around the register and talk--or, stand around with a fellow woodworker and shoot the bull--I am not encouraged to return to the store. I am certain each store and the staff are different. But, most woodworkers want to be a part of the "clique" in the store--excluding a potential customer by action or inaction--just not very good business. The Denver store is a place I seldom visit, anymore. I have spent a substantial amount of money with them over the last 10 years, including a $3,000 saw--but, I am not treated there as a valuable customer-more like a "bother" or interuption of the employee's time. LN just needs to spread their retailers--but, tell me what company now provides real help in purchasing a tool...........I'll go there if I can find that store.
I am a professional woodworker/carpenter. I keep a Stanley low angled block plane in my tool box along with a little rabbet plane for tight spots and a Bosch power plane if I have to do the edge of a door or something. All of which I keep sharp and I don't let anybody use them except me. I use the block plane mostly for scribing or generally getting something to fit. I have a variety of other hand planes in my shop which I seldom use preferring to use my power equipment as it was intended although it is fun to cut a nice ribbon of wood shaving with a newly sharpened plane. I guess it would be nice to own a couple of those LN planes but I could not justify forking out that kind of dough for something I might seldom use. On the other hand, I have a nice set of Japanese chisels that I carry and enjoy using, and they weren't cheap thirty years ago when I bought them. Occasionally I'll build something entirely with hand tools to keep those skills in tune but it's impossible for me to make a living that way.
As AeroClassics posted, the margin on the power tools is not all that much. My father owned a small engine power equipment business for 20 years and that is the case there as well. That $2000 brand name snow blower would usually have a $200-300 profit associated with it. That does not factor in the costs of financing, storage, and insurance either. Similar margins on chainsaws, etc. about 10-20% depending on what it was. Parts and consumables were the only items that had margins of 30%.
I don't know if there are any pricing agreements between WC and the major tool manufacturers or if an individual store gets the "WC franchise" volume discount from the mfg. A good case is the Pfeil carving tools. Up until a few years ago, the prices were overly inflated. I could get the same tools from a dealer in Canada at 15-20% cheaper (including shipping, import fees, exchange rate, etc.) than I could at WC. They never had serious stock issues either, where I was on a waiting list for over a year for a gouge from WC. So why was there such a price difference? I couldn't NOT buy from the dealer in Canada. They had the price and selection for the same tools. Finally, WC dropped their prices a few years ago and the price differences are not as drastic.
My comments regarding the price and selection of some of the hand tools is more a reflection on the lack of demand or interest in quality products, and not on WC's pricing policy. They have to make enough of a profit on the merchandise to cover all of the operating costs every day they're open. They also have to make enough profit to cover other "opportunity" costs (i.e. profit needs to be as good or better as other opportunities for investment at the same level of risk ). Otherwise, they lose money and go out of business.
I also agree that a plane is just a plane, and a handsaw is just a handsaw. My favorite plane is an old Stanley #7 (non-Bedrock, but pre WW-II) plane. I got it at a yard sale or flea market for $40 or so. Same with many of the other planes I have. Numerous old Stanley clones, some good and some that needed major work. Mostly #5s. Properly tuned up and with a good blade and chip breaker, most of these will perform as well as a the high end planes on the typical wood. Extremely figured stuff might be a different story. The same is true with handsaws. Properly tuned and sharpened, and they cut as good, or better, than the boutique (LN, Adria, etc.) saws.
My local WC has turned into a "Lets make Pens" store.. when it opened a few years ago it was well stocked and had the cadre of 'cheap retired help'. One was the past president of the local woodworkers guild and he was a nice fellow that made beautiful flip tables (one was on display). I bought a SC Granite TS there and they bent over backwards to ship it to the store and get it into my Garage. Fast forward to now. The store is understocked, the good guy is not around the ones you meet are "turners (no offense)" and they have 5 mini lathes out front now for "turning" classes. I think part of this is the economy. The stores are tightening their belts and I remember my retail days as you had to buy a minimum order of XZY at a cost of $$$ to carry the product. You could then order pieces as you sold them. 10 months ago I wanted a Joiner plane and bought a 7.5 LN from them. There was no "testing" none there has a clue what a plane is used for... Maybe we whip up an article on using a plane to clean up a pen? I got my Birthday card and went in and there was nothing I wanted in the store that I wanted to buy. So I went online and ordered a set of chisels from LN for my Birthday/Xmas present...
You have good stores and bad ones but the good ones we enjoy and not yell to LN about. The bad ones I am sure they hear of. I think they received allot of feed back on the bad along with the stores pushing their junk WR planes.
And they had enough with them.. I am going to go out of my way and see if the WC store in St. Pete is better then the one in Sarasota... I do like the wood they stock... expensive as it is...
BlueEnamel et al some interesting thoughts put forth here and some that are.....well.....thoughts. I agree with 1oldsarge, this is a hand plane, it is not a kingdom issue. Goodness sakes folks go back to your workshops and make something!
I still believe that LN comments were inflammatory and I am very annoyed that WC has chosen to remain silent about this. But that is their right regardless of how I feel
There seems to be a great deal of huff and puffing about LN tools being locked up. There is a good reason. Woodworkers STEAL! Not all obviously but some. When I started in the spring PT at WC I really believed we had a class of customer that shrinkage wouldn't be a problem (perhaps a hang over of the 60's with my rose colored glasses) anyway was I in for a shock. Trust me, if it isn't nailed down it will disappear. I have been pushing to put MORE things behind glass! A case in point. On a very busy Saturday, I unlocked the case to show a LN plane to one of our regular customers. We chatted for a minute and I was called away to help another customer. I told him to go try the plane out (oops, I forgot people here say WC doesn't allow that........BS)He was in sight of the manager and the register the whole time. The manager was busy checking folks out. The manager is sure he saw the customer put the plane back in the case. Later in the day I asked if he had bought it because it was missing from the case. Nope, it wasn't bought. It had mysteriously disappeared.While this is one incident, it should point out to most of you, that there is a reason the LN products are locked up. We keep all the router bits locked up. If we didn't I suspect the shrinkage would be high. Pretty easy to drop a router bit in a pocket or handbag. This is not a general indictment of woodworkers or WC customers. It is just some empirical evidence to offer some logic against the wave of emotional nonsense being bandied about. Oh, yes the Stanley SW planes are out and so are the WoodRiver and Grosz. Personally I believe they do not get targeted because the perceived value is less than a LN. Although I wish like hell they would steal the Grosz planes. I will not sell one as it violates my personal code of ethics. When customers ask I generally tell them, IMO, WoodRiver is good Stanley SW is better and the LN is the best, of what is carried in the store. I also ensure that any customer I am working with tries out ANY plane before buying.
I also wonder how many of the posters here are business owners? More specifically RETAIL business owners? If you were you would be pretty sad at some of the ridiculous comments directed at WC here and in other forums. Trust me I am not getting wealthy working there, I am there because my fellow employees are all excellent woodworkers, from whom I have learned a lot, and our customers who have to be, for the most part, some of the best people I have come into contact with. I have learned quite a lot from them. So that's why I am there. But I am not sure I would own a store. The margins on many items, especially high priced items, is so small that at times it is almost not worth having them in stock. How many of you would like to have say $20K in saws and other power tools sitting on the floor for possibly 6 months at a time? Lot of cash tied up in inventory. Money that isn't making you money. Margins on power tools are pretty slim. Maybe 10% if you are lucky. As for Fein, Festool and SawStop, forget it. The stores have no control over pricing. Pricing and profit margins are dictated by the manufacturer. Weird, isn't it? But if the things YOU want to see are not in the store, you get mad, fuss on web forums and swear you will never go to WC again. That is your right and I will defend that right to the end. But, perhaps, a little contemplation should be done before you blast a retailer who is there for YOU! If you are not happy let your local store manager know. Maybe they can make a change. Overall, walk a mile in the owner or managers shoes before you put pen to paper so to speak.
Great news that LN is going to put on 100 tool events a year. I went to two of them last year, both in nearby Maryland, and learned more about planes and sharpening during each event than years of reading and trial and error. If you get a chance to attend one, go. I took the tour of the factory in Maine last year and got on a mailing list... they inform me by postcard where the next tool event is going to be in my area. That said, I do like my local WC store ten miles up the road in Leesburg, VA Great bunch of guys. Sorry to see the breakup of the LN / WC relationship.
I can see how something like this could happen from both sides. LN's issues as explained in the article are valid. Same with WC's issues about supply and demand issues. The interesting part is how the WoodRiver planes fit into the picture. This is how I figured things unfolded:
Woodcraft used to have a line of reasonably affordable planes that were the bulk of their plane sales. These were the Stanley and/or Record planes. When both of those companies stopped producing planes, Woodcraft was stuck with the high end LN with nothing to fill the gap. The price of the LN planes is high enough for most people to think twice about buying one, so the volume is relatively low and the profit margin even lower. WC may have even tried squeezing LN on the price. Just like the big box stores do to name brand manufacturers.
So there was a dearth of mid-level planes until the Groz and Anant planes came out. Unfortunately, the quality of those tools was not even close to the recent Stanley tools. So, WC addressed the issue w/ a line of their own (WoodRiver). So, now they have the middle level planes again. Good for WC. That just makes good business sense. My guess is that they are Chinese copies of LN planes. I bet the differences between the two can be measured in thousandths of an inch.
If my suspicions about the design copying are correct (same happens w/ CDs, DVDs, software etc. China doesn't recognize, or enforce copyright protection much ), then LN has all the right in the world to complain and take whatever action they feel is necessary. Granted, their designs are heavily based on the old Stanley/Bailey designs. But at least Stanley was not producing those exact planes anymore. Also, it might seem like they are cutting off their nose to spite their face, but at least it is on their terms now.
Overall, I am disappointed in WC over the past few years. Granted, they are responding to market trends, but the lack of quality, mid level hand tools is annoying. They used to carry several Sorby mortising chisel types, paring chisels, etc. Now the selections are reduced to one or two pages, with prices that are a bit crazy. Maybe that is what the tools list for, but I have trouble spending over $50 for a 1" bench chisel. Aftermarket blades for planes are getting squeezed by the WoodRiver line as well.
I see the same thing starting to happen w/ turning tools. The Pinnacle and WoodRiver tools are shadows of what a good tool should be. Luckily, the Crown and Sorby tools are still there, but for how long?
From a business perspective, I can see why this is done. You need to show profit and growth to the investors. One way is to charge more, the other is to develop an in-house product that competes with the market leaders at a better profit margin.
The only choices left are to find other vendors, pay exorbitant prices for high end tools, hunt ebay, yard sales and flea markets, or make your own. Luckily, other vendors still exist, and the science and art of tool making is not quite lost yet.
Now where did I put that spare blower for the forge ....
First of all I have been to just about every WoodCraft store in the midwest and have always been treated well. I did notice a lack of knowledge in the store employees, but all of them seem to progress as they continue work in the stores. I am not sure about WC instructors since I have never attended a WoodCraft class.
Not long ago I had decided to purchase all my Lie-Nielsen tools directly from their website. I found Deneb and others online to be better informed than even the top folks at the stores. I feel comfortable buying direct because I trust the folks there. They exceed expectations in quality and you really do get exactly what you pay for.
I have test driven other brands of handplanes in the store (including LV) and have found them too dull to provide a useful experience. However, I am willing to bet that the tools at the LN events will be sharp and I plan to find out in 2010. (I hear their working on a No.45/55)
I have no ill will toward either company and besides, LN doesn't sell glue. . .yet!
I have visited or purchased items from five different WC stores over the past twenty years or so and I can tell you from experience that there is a big difference in the level of expertise of the sales staff, not only from one store to another but within the same store as well. I've found that the sales person most knowledgable about hand tools is usually a retired person who has been an avid woodworkier for quite some time and knows hand tools very well. At a recent vist to a WC store in one of the western states, I found the LN items behind lock and key but the new Stanley Sweetheart planes were out on a bench unattended with some wood so that they could be sampled in use.
The first LN plane that I purchased was a long tine ago and was before they kept them locked up, so times change. I have also purchased Clifton, Veritas, and Bridge City planes and I would put the quality of the LN planes second only to the BCTW items. My understanding of the WC store model is that the franchise owner is free to add items for sale that is not available on their website, so if we complain loudly enough, maybe the local franchise owners will take it upon themselves to carry the LN again. I particularly liked purchasing from my local WC store because they gave a 10% discount to members of the local woodworkers guild on nearly everything except power tools.
Since I can't afford Lie Nielson tools anyway, I don't see that this is much in the way of news. Yes, they're lovely. At my level of skill, I can do just as well with any one of a number of first-rate but less costly manufacturers. It's a tool, for Chrissake, not a Matisse.
Wow! Where to start. First, without a statement from WC, people should be a bit more thoughtful with their comments. Until there is an *official* statement from WC we are only hearing from one party.
And for a moment let's look at the second reason given for the decision by LN to part company with WC. To me, if this what they base decisions on, then I wonder a bit about their business acumen and their ethics. That was a foolish statement as far as I am concerned and actually reflects rather poorly on LN. If they are concerned about the knowledge of the salespeople, then maybe LN should do something about it. If they can afford to buzz around the country holding "events" they they certainly should be able to make time to help ensure their products are being properly represented. The companies I have worked for (telecomm equipment manufacturers) certainly did not expect a distributor to sell a switch without training. Why should this be any different?
What I have been reading sounds more like WC bashing then anything else. Apparently, in this discussion we have our very own Deep Throat. Maybe DT really *does* have the inside dope on what happened, but I have trouble believing that really contributed to such a large business decision. I would have to check, but I know many items that WC carries are OV (other vendor), meaning the items comes directly from the manufacturer. Perhaps LN ships directly to the stores, perhaps not.
I also believe the introduction of the Woodriver line of planes had much to with anything. They are nice, but they are not LN quality. IMHO, I rank Woodriver as good, Stanley SW as better and LN as best of what is available in my local store. I do believe that LN was working with WC to create a new line of planes for WC. Maybe this became an issue, who knows. I don't. All I can do is speculate along with everyone else.
What I can speak to, from first hand knowledge is how I feel about this and what the general feeling around my local store is. I am saddened by this turn of events. I question the wisdom, of both parties, of this course of action. It does seem, sometimes, that WC is moving away from carrying tools that would be of interest to those who work with hand tools rather than power tools. For example, WC, does not carry any mortising chisels. Good bench chisels yes, but no mortising chisels or parring chisels for that matter. I don't know why, perhaps they did not sell well. Most hobbyist woodworkers find LN too expensive for something they would only occasionally use. I wish I had solid numbers but I would feel pretty confident that the number of woodworkers in the US, both hobbyist and professional, who use hand tools on a regular basis is fairly small. Even given the resurgence of interest in working with hand tools.
I know in my local store they sell a fair number of LN products. I also know that the buyers generally already know what they want. Yes, there are opportunities to up sell from a Woodriver to LN, but not many. Show a buyer a decent plane for $100 - $175 and they may be interested. Try to up sell them to a $300 plus hand plane and the chances are you will lose the sale altogether. For many folks budgets just won't allow for that kind of investment.
Also remember that all 88 WC stores are franchised. I do not think there are any corporate stores any more. Yet, like most franchises they are tied, very tightly, to the mother ship. Some have suggested that the owners have latitude in what products they carry outside of what comes from WC itself. While I have never read the franchise agreement, I am guessing they may have less latitude than some think. McDonald's franchise owners have VERY little latitude in what they are allowed to do. As far as I know WC is the largest and oldest woodworking company around. So why would LN lose that kind of presence in the marketplace? I believe that demand for product from WC is closer to the truth than any of the other crap I have seen bandied about. LN may be very happy doing what they are doing. He is an independent business man and I respect that. Not many left. Did he make a smart decision, I don't know, only time will tell.
I have seen lots of comments about good service and bad service at WC stores. (Thank you for those who said nice things about the Addison, Texas store). I can tell you that WC takes customer service *very* seriously and I am sure that people have lost jobs over complaints.
For the record I am a long time WC customer and since March of 2009, a part time WC employee. I can tell you that I take customer service very seriously and so do the rest of the guys at our store. Everyone of us is a woodworker. Some are now or have been professional cabinet makers or furniture makers. However, none of us knows everything. If I don't know, I will tell you I don't and then I will do my dead level best to get you the answer. Some may wonder why I would do this for what they pay me. Before being laid off in October '08, I made in a day what they pay me for 40 hours. So its not the money. I do it because it's fun. I have had a chance to meet great woodworkers whom I have learned a lot from, many of those are our customers, and I have had many opportunities to pass along what knowledge I have to others. So if you are not happy with your local WC store tell someone, other than a woodworking forum. Whining here won't change anything. Tell your local store manager, tell the franchise owner, tell WC corporate, just tell somebody! If you are not happy with the selection or types of products in your local store tell someone. I have a feeling that most franchise owners would like to get feedback on the products they carry or don't carry in their stores. I know I would if I was an owner.
I have purchased planes directly from Lie Nielsen and also from Woodcraft. Lie Nielsen makes high quality -- heirloom quality tools. They are beautiful to look at and hold; and they perform wonderfully.
Woodcraft is a woodworking specialty store. They carry tools and supplies that the big box stores don't. Typically, their quality is reasonably high -- and so are their prices.
I found the introduction of Wood River planes surprising; and the quality of their Chinese manufacturing disappointing -- though unfortunately not surprising. On the sincere recommendation and endorsement of the salesman, I purchased a Wood River block plane. After spending considerable time polishing the the plane's sole and iron, I was reassembling the plane and noticed a serious crack in the cap. Upon returning it to Woodcraft, I was accused of mishandling and breaking the tool; and the cracked part was replaced begrudgingly.
I can see why Lie Nielsen no longer wants to be associated with Woodcraft.
There is either more going on here than meets the eye or Lie-Nielsen is an incompetent business.
(1) I never have heard of a company that dropped a retailer because the partnership with the retailer created "too much demand" for the product. Who does Lie-Nielsen think it is kidding? Any competent businessman would either expand production by hiring skilled craftsmen to make more planes or, if he thought that doing that would reduce quality, would raise his prices. Lie-Nielsen's alternative of under-producing and then rationing by waiting reduces woodworker welfare. The company fails to meet demand and then allocates the restricted supply in a way that prevents the tools from going to those who value them most. Concurrently, the strategy minimizes Lie-Nielsen's profit. I find it very hard to believe that all this is really what is going on.
(2) Just how does Lie-Nielsen improve customer service by dramatically reducing the retail outlets for its products? I live in Raleigh, NC. There is a Woodcraft store a little less than 3 miles from my house. I shop there a lot and even bought a Lie-Nielsen plane there once. Great store, good service. One time I was visiting my son in Massachusetts, and he and I went to the Woburn Woodcraft store, where a salesman took a Lie-Nielsen plane out of the glass case and showed it to me. He took it apart to show me how it was made and explained what about it was superior to the most other planes. Great store, great service. Now, under Lie-Nielsen's new policy, the nearest outlet for Lie-Nielsen planes will be Highland Hardware in Atlanta, GA, a little more than 300 miles from my house. I have bought by mail from Highland for many years. Great store, great service - but there's no way in the world that I am going to drop in at Highland to look at a Lie-Nielsen plane. Just where is the improvement in service here? Is Lie-Nielsen really so dense as to think that essentially eliminating customer contact for the vast majority of customers somehow increases customer service? Again, I don't believe for a minute that that is what is really going on here.
Use to shop at Woodcraft exclusively even though it was an hour drive. Those days have long since passed. Better prices and better tools available online. Only question in my mind was what took LN so long to realize that Woodcraft was now the Walmart of woodworking tools?
Let me give you a retailers side of things. I have shopped at Woodcraft at several locations. This is a general retail establishment. Not a specialized store. It would be very difficult, and expensive for a store manager to have a bunch of experts on staff. I assume they pay a little above minimum wage, 9 - 10 dollars or so. You will not get an expert to work for that wage. Most of the people I dealt with were retired folks. If Woodcraft had to go out and hire experts in every woodworking field we could not afford the tools, and they would be out of business with overhead costs.
Someone said woodworkers do not steal. I am sorry to inform you shop lifting is a HUGE issue. Multi Billions of dollars in shoplifting both from internal and external sources. This expense cuts down on margins and drives the prices of goods sky high...THis is passed on to the retail customer. This happens in every store from Woodcraft to WalMart. Anyone who does not belive this is sadly mistaken! I would keep these expensive items under lock and key as well, because I would assure you they will walk off! I manage a retail store that does 8 million + a year in sales and you would not belive what gets stolen and who steals daily.
I feel a high quality specialized tool like LN sells should be sold eithr by the manufacture or through a specialized retailer.
Finally being a woodworker, and knowing others....We tend to be cheap skates. Always looking for the best deal, and I do not think we would be willing to pay the price that Woodcraft would have to charge to have a entire staff of experts on hand to answer every question that would come up with tools. I DO EXPECT, and DO DEMAND good customer service however. If you do not enjoy working someplace and if you do not want to give friendly service go find another job. In my store I tell my people that customers are guests in our home and that they should be treated accordingly. It is part of our job to research the tools we want, and work with the salesperson as a team member to get the product we want. This is especially true of specialized items like a LN tool. Yeah the guy behind the counter can tellyou about a chisel, or table saw, but face it, how many woodworkers really use a high price LN tool where the sales guy can get daily hands on experience selling them.
Just my side of things. I amn sure I will be disagreed with, butthat is what makes the US still a good place to live, well it still is for now anyway.
Like most subscribers, I am an amateur woodworker who also enjoys owning and using hand tools. I live near the Lie-Nielsen factory in Warren, Maine where Maine residents work. The planes are of high quality and better metals than the original Stanley or Bailey issues. I know there are cheaper tools and maufactures from other countries, obviously Woodcraft knows this as well. While I have purchased many tools from Woodcraft in the past, I will no longer because I think they undermine the LN efforts by becoming a competitor. The Walmart philosophy does not appeal to me.
Woodcraft is primarily a distributor while Lie-Nielsen actually produces something of value. His efforts have helped a resurgence of interest in hand tools, they endorse quality, and they provide a wonderful job for Mainers where an individual is paid for work but also gets immense pride from something much more tangible.
i'm quite disappointed with this turn of events. for the last several years, most of my woodworking dollars have gone through mike and carol cunningham's woodcraft store (dublin, ca) where i have always gotten excellent service. they've had no problem opening the LN plane case and letting me demo the planes in their shop/classroom area. as a result, i've bought more than a dozen LN planes. i'd like to have more, but i'm not sure i'd want to just order a plane based on an internet sighting. nor do i really want to drive 45 minutes to alameda and cultivate a new relationship with JWW. i think this move will ultimately end up hurting both woodcraft and LN, neither of which is strong enough that they can afford to throw away customers. so, let's hope they can work through their differences.
As with any issue, there are at least two sides to this story, and we've only heard one, or just part of one, side. That said, you simply can't ship stock and tell the retailer it's all up to them -- it's a partnership.
If you want to sell anything, you need to teach at least one person at each store on how to demonstrate the use, strengths, and care of the product. One can't assume that all salespeople have had the opportunity to personally use and know everything about everything sold in their store. In woodworking, as with many things, there's usually more than one way to achieve the same result. The decision between products usually is based on a user's knowledge, biases, specific application, and circumstances.
It's also incumbent on a manufacturer to ensure appropriate product display. Some manufacturers go so far as to provide display cabinets, ensuring their products will be shown the way they feel is best. Demonstration and demo units for customers to try are both part of "pre-sales product support." As a customer, I have noticed that this is usually correlated with good "post-sales support." If necessary, I will wait until I have enough saved to buy the more expensive product, but you have to convince me that's it's appropriate for my size, abilities, and application.
Nice that LN wants to give prospective customers a chance to use their planes before buying. The only problem with that: three authorized dealers are in California, two in Georgia and one in Tennessee! Three on the west coast, three (basically) on the east coast. Must be a ton of customers in flyover country that don't get this consideration. Oh, well, there are other brands. Nothing wrong with Veritas.
Lie Nieslen tools are over rated. They are not over priced, considering how they are made, but the result simply don't justify the price for me. Lie Nieslen makes copies of old Stanley tools. I bought old Stanley tools at a fraction of the LN prices invested a little time in them. Even if I counted that time at my pre-retirement pay rate I'm still left with plenty of money to occasionally buy a modern Veritas tool. After a couple of misfires, the same economics now apply to the wooden planes I make.
This development is mildly interesting, but then so was Tata Motor's purchase of Jaguar and the local yacht dealer closing.
It is unrealistic to expect much beyond common courtesy from anyone working for peppercorn retail store wage rates. Most of the folks constantly grouse about "customer service" never had to "serve" the public. Makes you wonder what else is in their soup after they bad mouth a waitress.
If I wasn't so cheap, I wouldn't hesitate to buy LN tools based on FWW's reviews, without having to fondle them first. Good stuff, but so are $5 cigars and they won't let me light one up in that shop ether.
I have to tell a Lie Nielsen story. I was planing a challenging project where I was making tables of 12/4 bird's-eye rock maple with full sides through dovetailed to the top. I needed a backsaw with rip teeth that wasn't offered at that time by Lie-Nielsen. I called the company and was pretty surprised that Tom Lie-Nielsen himself took my order and made a custom saw for me and sent it out with no extra charge. The saw is a great tool as are the several other L-N tools I have. I tell you all of this to say that whatever L-N does as a company is OK with me. Several years ago I bought one of Tom's planes from woodcraft and thought the locked cabinet was weird(don't they know that woodworkers don't steal) I thought. Oh, maybe they don't want me to drop it.( I would just keep the work area on rubber mats). Oh well I guess that's Woodcraft's problem. I'll order direct from a co. like L-N because I know I can trust this man.
LN tools are still too expensive for my budget but when I do get to the place where I can afford one, you can be sure I will not lay down that much cash without trying the tool out first. I have three Woodcraft stores within driving distance. If I can't try a LN plan there I will probably not buy one. Too bad for me but also too bad for Lie-Nielson and Woodcraft. I don't see how this decision helps anyone, except maybe to make LN tools more scarce and by supply and demand, raise the price even more.
This is a good thing for all parties involved. While staff at most Woodcraft stores try to be helpful I have found them generally inexperienced with hand tools. For a high-end specialty product like LN this is no good; especially when staff have to take the time to explain the differences between a good tool and a mediocre tool but do not understand either.
Fortunately I'm close to the best Woodcraft store on the east coast (Chattanooga, TN) and I can still go there and play with the LN toys.
New into woodworking several years back, I didn't know what to buy for handplanes but had some ideas. I called Craftsman Studio and left a voicemail. Not long later the owner of C/S called and talked with me for 30-45 minutes. He gave advice and answered questions. He never tried to sell me anything and I was impressed. At the end of the conversation I ordered 1200 dollars worth of LN planes. That was the beginning of an obsession to obtain not only the best tools but quality knowledge also. Which leads me to the point I'm at now. LN tools and Fine Woodworking Magazine are very closely related in pursuing the same goal; simply the best.
I support LN's decision to pull the planes. They have a right to market however they like. I also support Woodcraft, have ordered online, and also in my local store in Chattanooga, TN. I own LN planes, Woodriver Planes, Stanley Handyman planes, and several other nondescript cheapo planes that I acquired here and there. There is no question that LN is worth what you pay. And the WR planes do take some tuning before use, but seem to be okay after that. We live in a great country, where you get to choose with whom you do business. The staff at the Woodcraft store in Chattanooga treat me well, and are always helpful, knowledgeable, and courteous. They are always quick to show me whatever I want to see, and have no issue with taking both the WR and LN out of the case, allowing me to take them apart and compare, and if need be, go make a few shavings before I make up my mind. I'm fortunate that they will, as an independently owned store, continue to carry the LN line. Next up for me is the #7 jointer, to flatten the top on the semi Garret, semi Matt, semi new fangled workbench I am currently building. If i end up having to drive to Maine to get my next LN, I will do so - but that sure won't stop me from visiting my local Woodcraft store, where I get excellent service from Rodney, Bill, Wayne, Scott, Fred, and Phil - and not necessarily in that order.
Wow. Fancy new software ate my response.
One more try. Matt, please tell Jason Revzon I'm impressed.
First, this will cost me in the long run, as I'll pay freight on any more L/N planes.
Second, it'll pull money out of the local economy, we have a Woodcraft store here -- where I get excellent service.
All around, a poor decision.
I've always enjoyed my visits to WC. Where I live,it takes about a hour and a half to get there. Everytime im in there they always been helpful in anything that i needed info on.They have taken anything out of the box,or the glass case's i wanted to see. Even when I bought my Lathe, the salesperson took me to the back and let me tryout one,and even showed me the different lathes ane there features. He stayed with me and answered all of my questions, I was there for about 2 hours deciding out which one I wanted. Great service from the one in Overland park Kansas.
As a former Woodcraft employee I can concur with the comments made by Patrick Jackson and echoed by the other posts. Prior to working at Woodcraft I was a LN purchaser at my local Woodcraft store as well as other independent retailers. When I shopped the Woodcraft store for the LN tools, I knew more about them than did the Woodcraft employees. Even when I queried the employees about some of the features and differences of the LN planes (of which I knew the answers from both research and personal experience) I was more often than not given a made up answer about the tool that misrepresented the facts. The employees didn't have a clue about the product and were generally ill informed about hand tool use in general.
Once I started working there, I would bring in my own personal tools for customer to try and after taking the LN plane apart and comparing it to another comparable plane, the customer would understand why the LN tool was superior. Because I used these tools in my own work, I became the LN hand tool guy. When I left, things went back to the way they were before I started working at the store - LN tools kept in a locked cabinet that should be admired and not touched. And therein lies the major problem with many of these stores.
While there are exceptions to the generalization about the LN tools not being properly represented, I can understand the LN corporate decision to concentrate on providing their resources to retailers who truly understand the manufacturing, use and capabilities of the LN tools. It will be up to aficionados of the LN hand tools to educate our fellow woodworkers about these tools. Carry on LNers.
I bought a LN plane frm my local woodcraft, i only own one of these planes, but i love it, I bouht it after reading reviews on fine woodworking.
I have been in one Woodcraft store, here in upstate NY, and I have never had bad service in the store, they are always friendly and ask if you want help.
I split my woodworking dollars about 25% to the two local Woodcraft's (always good:sometimes excellent service), 25% to the internet and 50% to the Japan Woodworker (always GREAT service).
I live about 45 minutes from the JWW store in Alameda and they will let you try every tool they have on the site: including their $300 chisels (that's each). JWW typically carries about half the L-N catalog on the floor.
They will even let you bring a competing tool into the store to do a comparison.
I might add, the staff at the Providence (actually east greenwich) store in Rhode Island are extremely helpful except for that one rather tall and large salesman who basically refused my request. It was not the first time I found him rude and yes, he is no longer employeed at that store. Or so it seems.
I will continue to shop there and purchase domestic or foreign made tools as I see fit to do so.
all else aside, the discount table has some really cool buys!
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.
Yeah I never liked that you had to find an employee, have that employee locate the key, be allowed to touch but not be able to try the product. But, when the woodriver line arrived, Woodcraft had a floor model plane next to a piece of wood just waiting to be tried. So I asked if I could run a comparison with a LN plane. Nope was the answer. I left the store without a plane.
Disclaimer first: I only own the LV handplanes and am not against LN's tools; I just thought the reasons LV gave out for its decision were not holding water. Some of you referred to the poor quality of the WoodRiver planes. I'm pretty sure none of them have owned the new line of planes. I said this because they didn't give any specifics as to what was wrong with the cheaper planes. I urge you all to read this review done by none by FWW:
I'm not saying you should buy a WoodRiver plane in place of any other brands; I'm saying you shouldn't rule out WoodRiver just because someone here said so. As a matter of fact, people begin to mix politics in the discussion such as will never buy from WC because it carries planes made in China, etc. That is everyone's decision but has nothing to do with LN's reasons why it parted ways with WC.
If you killed WC, you think you'd be saving more US jobs? Feel free not to buy from WC, HomeDeopt etc., but don't think you do that as a noble cause of saving jobs in the US.
I have bought L-N tools from the Manchester,Ct Woodcraft Store over the past 5 years and always found the staff attentive,courteous and willing to assist. Never have they suggested a lower priced product instead of a L-N product.
I am sorry to see L-N depart WC, as WC-Manchester,Ct has never made a mistake on a special order, while twice my direct orders to Warren,ME were incorrectly filled. Time will tell, but business marketing mistakes are seldom acknowledged;time to have a Classic Coke!
I do noy have the opertunity to visit a Woodcraft store but wben I have I had a good receiption. I do not believe it matters if Woodcraft sells a dozen different manufaterures of Planes if I can afford a Lie-Nielsen there will be no question. You get what you pay for.
Living i rural FL I now Have no way to even admire that kind of quality.
Well, this is too bad. Woodcraft is a good retailer with a large network. But I was disappointed when they decided to start producing less expensive knock-offs of the Lie-Nielson planes. The most important aspect of this is the effect on American jobs. Lie-Nielson is still small, but a very important example of quality American craftmanship, rarely seen these days. And then I wonder, how many woodworkers will try these pretty but poor quality planes and decide that
hand tools are not for them. Unless they can qet the quality up, they will not be able to compete with LN regardless. Those of us who can find a little time to do some woodworking these days have no interest in tweaking and tuning a poorly made tool constructed of inferior quality materials.
Congratulations to LN. Woodcraft is obviously trying to pull people in with the quality name brands and switch clients to the low quality Chinese house brands. This is the same tactic Circuit City employed in the early days and see where they are now. Good luck LN, stick to your strategy.
As an ex employee of a francised Woodcraft store, I view the parting of ways between the two entities as a dis-service to the walk-in customer. Yes, we did keep the LN planes locked behind glass, as we did many other items that were prone to the "five finger" discount. We loss more than one LN plane to theft, and we even had security cameras installed to try to catch the perps.
We gladly allowed customers to try out a LN product, for they blew away the Record planes that we carried (until their demise). That paper thin shaving was money in the bank.
I am only familiar with three Woodcraft stores, the one in which I worked, and the two at which I continue to shop, now that I am retired. None of these three would allow for discourteous employees; this was a one way ticket out. I am very familiar with the surveys performed by Woodcraft headquarters, and they take customer complaints very seriously. Late to work was excusable; ill treatment of a customer was not. Just because someone owns a Woodcraft francise does not mean that the relationship has to continue; it can be discontinued by corporate for franchisees who do not "toe the line". The owners have some flexibility in merchandise carried and other areas of operation, but it is pretty much done according to what Parkersburg says (corporate headquarters).
Margins are slim on some woodworking tools, and thefts of high dollar items leave store owners with no choice but to secure them. We actually caught one perp who stuffed the inside pockets of his long coat with lots of merchandise. The francise owner, in a moment of weakness, did not call the police, but barred the guy from our store permanently. And this was from someone who was a semi-regular customer, who had actually payed for items in the past. People like this ruin the trust in the woodworking fraternity. And that made performing the mandatory checks so maddening; people were walking through our doors looking to rip us off.
Final words: LN will be missed as a product group, because it is up there with the best, past or present. The loser is the retail woodworker, who no longer has 80+ stores in which to find a quality tool.
You don't have to read between the lines much to realize what's going on here. The whole line of Wood River tools is made in China. A check of the various woodworking sites reveals many user complaints about the quality of the metals used in these tools. LN has steadfastly refused to allow its tools to be made overseas because they want to have immediate control over quality issues. They've obviously been successful and continue to produce tools of the highest quality.The old adage that the pleasure of quality remains long after price is forgotten applies particularly well to LN tools. I really don't remember what i paid for any of mine, but every time I pick one up, the quality of the tool brings me great pleasure. It's too bad that the LN spokesperson was unwilling to tell it like it obviously is. i for one will continue to buy their tools.
This won't affect me at all. Agree with MarcoLevy comment. I buy LN planes etc direct online from LN or from Highland Hardware in Atlanta. I have been in 2 WC stores, in Birmingham,AL and Chattanooga, TN. Have not been impressed with a "quick to serve" employee attitude in either. You can wander around for 10 or 15 minutes before being greeted.
I base my plane (LN and Veritas) purchase decisions on need, prior brand experience, and on reviews read in Popular Woodworking or Woodworking magazines; particularly those by editor Chris Schwarz. While the LN planes at WC are in locked glass cases, their own planes are not. The cases in WC for the LN planes as well as various router bits are not internally lighted and are dark.
People will buy fine quality products like LN's no matter where they are sold. LN's theme has always been to produce a superb product first, and those in need of such tools will find the "path to your door". pathdoc60
When a business says it is breaking ties with a distributor because it cannot keep up with demand......either someone is running an end-around with the truth, or someone is an extremely poor judge of business opportunity. You don't turn your back on good sales, especially in this economy. As for the customer service, that's a training issue, and it may not be worth the outlay to alleviate. But if LN truly feels slighted by WC's intrusion in the lower-end handplane market, say so. The company looks foolish, really, in stating WC is simply selling too many planes. What a great problem that would be for anyone else....
This is for the better of L-N. The article makes a EXCELLENT point about the tools being locked behind a glass case. My experience at my local woodcraft in Manchester, CT has been horrible. On the four occasions I have made the hour+ drive the staff has been unhelpful and just short of rude. I tried to buy a L-N block plane. The sales person pointed me toward the cheaper brands. He said I didn't need that expensive a tool and was quite smug about it. As I stood in front of the locked glass case, holding the Wood RIver pl;ane in my hand, I told the sales person I would like to compare it wuth the L-N. Sales person responded "I would have to find the key" and stood there looking at me. It was clear he was not going to show me or sell me the L-N. I needed a plane now so I bought the Wood River.
I'll never set foot in another Woodcraft again. BRAVO Lie-Nielsen! You have made the right choice.
I own a number of Lie-Nielsen planes and find them to be of the highest quality. However, the reason I own them is because I was able to see, handle and purchase them from my local Salt Lake City Woodcraft store. The personnel in the Salt Lake Woodcraft store are like me “Woodworkers” and are able to answer all my questions concerning any product in the store. I doubt I would have purchased these planes direct from Lie Nielsen since I need to first handle and see them in person.
I’m sorry, but Lie-Nielsen’s explanations for not selling their products in Woodcraft stores don’t hold water. It appears to me to be a case of elitism at its worse. I think it has more to do with the attitude of several other elitist manufacturers who feel their products are “too special” to discount for sales and specials like Woodcraft’s offering 10% off for a customers Birthday.
I had bought all of my LN planes through Axminster Tools in England, but recently bought one at Woodcraft in Austin, Texas, where in the last year I've spent a small fortune on Festool power tools. The LN plane I bought was on a stock shelf in the back storage area. I was taken back there and the boxes were opened as I chose the LN plane I wanted. The service was great. Been in a wine shop lately? The grand cru and premier cru are locked up behind glass, so what? If you want to handle unsupervised every plane LN makes, go to a tool show. I have 5 LN planes and a set of their socket chisels, why do I have to "try" the brand out anymore? Lee Valley also locks up their Veritas planes. This sounds like an excuse to cover the fact that LN production is falling behind demand - they ran out of LN products in England in 2007 and didn't catch up for 6 months.
Craftsman Studio in San Diego, Calif. has excellent service. The tools are displayed with a nearby workbench and I have been shown what I asked like I signed up for a class. Having Craftsman Studios represent a product is the only seal of approval I need. I have never been to a woodcraft store but have been in some stores with knowledgeable salesmen that are snobby when you ask questions and I left feeling isolated (but with my money in my pocket). The only warning about Craftsmen Studios is that everything in there is awesome and I want it all. It’s hard to not get carried away. My wife hates it when I go there so I don’t tell her. I think I need rehab for this.
When two business partners part their ways, either side would have its story to tell. So far we only heard the side form LN and it would be fair to WC until FWW covers its. Do you think Lee Valley doesn't keep its planes in locked cabinets? In their showrooms, many items are displayed behind locked glass cabinets. So what? We can simply ask and their staff would gladly open the case and hand you what you want to look at. WC would do the same when asked. I don't see any issue there and for the VP of LN to mention that as a reason of parting ways is low ball. The real reason is of course WC is carrying WoodRiver. Even a blind person can see that. This is the kind of business integrity I expect from LN. Some years ago, FWW and LV had had some working issue but they didn't go around badmouthing each other to their customers. LN owes WC an apology by blaming poor customer service for the separation. The timing is at least suspicious ... WC + WR planes = Parting ways announced
Lets get real. LN wants to get their planes in more people hands? Woodcraft had 85 stores where LN planes can be handled and hefted by customers. They're being replace by 5 stores. Wow!
"MikeKrueger" Makes a very valid point, Who has not started off using cheaper tools then took the step up to the "Big Boy Toys". I have, and I think I have one more "Piece-O-Craftsman" to hand down to the next aspiring novice woodworker til I rid my shop of "Starter Models".
This is disappointing news in my view. My introduction to LN planes was via a local woodcraft store. In fact I would not have purchased my 1st (of many) LN planes had it not been for the woodcraft associate that talked me into it. Looking back on it, he was very knowledgeable and was an avid woodworker himself. Yes, the LN products are in a glass case, but they are easily removed (and tangible) within a few minutes of arrival at the store. I guess I will have to wait for a show or take a ride to the factory now to get my hands on whatever it is I am looking for from LN. Now goes the chance that I will be able to work with a new LN item the same day I purchased it, unless I go to the factory (even the LN tool shows do not stock all items). I will miss the woodcraft sales on LN planes and using my 10% b-day present on purchasing yet another LN product.
All the guys at my Woodcraft (Dayton, Ohio) have always been helpful and ready to demonstrate nearly anything your interested in. I've seen hand plane Demonstrations at woodcraft in the past. Sounds more like an excuse than a reason to me.
If I were responsible for these Tools, I'd lock them up as well. It sounds more like Lie-Nielsen has "I'll just take my ball and go home" attitude.
I think it's clear that the service at Woodcraft stores vary according to store. Personally, the service at the Newington NH store is very good, though live in MA.
Two good companies with different strategies. It's just business; Idon't feel a need to choose sides.
I have dropped more $ than I care to admit with both LN and Woodcraft, so far no complaints on either, but this LN/WC change is concerning because of how LN is explaining it. I assume that we the unwashed masses will never know the real story, but reality is that LN is now mainly an online/catalog situation and it would take them a while and a ton of work to build up a national presence of the sort (hands-on retail) they are describing. Seems to me that somebody getting into hand tools buys what they can touch. Down the road comes the lust for the higher end stuff to fill in the gaps and replace the initial buys. LN needs to keep the focus on that later-stage crowd. Hopefully the story they are offering now is just so much positioning while initial reactions blow over.
This is fairly obviously a bit of Smoke & Mirrors on LN's part. The vast majority of Woodcraft's are very good as demonstrated by the responses. It is a shame that LN won't just admit that they are annoyed about the WoodRiver planes.
While LN is free to stop doing business with Woodcraft for whatever reason, I think it is kind of funny they would be upset over someone copying their design that they copied from Stanley. You can bet they had lawyers look over it and find that since there is no patent or copyright violation, there is no legal solution.
I, too, am very happy to have a Woodcraft store within driving distance of my shop in Alexandria, Virginia. This store was company owned until about three years ago. It was then bought by a franchisee and there was an immediate improvement in the quantity of items the store stocked. There was also an expanded selection of hardwoods made available. Perhaps it is the economy but recently their stock has been going way way down. I have gotten to the point where I just order from the web rather than bothering to go there for something that might or might not be in stock. I really hope the franchisee realizes that he is going to have to stock his store if he is going to survive. I would really hate to see this store disappear.
Every Trip to my Woodcraft Store in Norfolk Va.; is something I look forward to. Very nice people to deal with, helpful, knowledgeable fellow woodworkers there to offer advice and answer any and all questions. Sorry to see this parting of the ways. I do love my LN tools. Each tool lives up to and/or exceeds it's hype, in todays world this is exceptional. Very rare indeed. Thankfully I can get LN tools at other locations.
I have been buying from the WOODCRAFT store in Canton, Michigan for about ten years. The service has always been excellent and the workers very knowledgeable. I wish the prices could be lower but then I want .50 cent gasoline to come back.
I have the good fortune to have Maine in my business territory. Over the years I've tried to drive around Warren, ME, but am seldom successful. The factory store is...Candyland...for me. I shop at the MA Woodcraft store and the folks are very nice there. Woodcraft Corporates desire to copy to undersell, while their right, creates a "race to the bottom" in the plane business in which the consumer ultimately looses.
As a woodworker who continues to try to work up to the quality of his tools I am going to support the Maine-ers who build these fine products on this side of the great water. Highland should do me for the other things I need.
I have been buying from the WOODCRAFT
At 70 years of age I am still amazed at the wonderful tools that have come on line in my lifetime because of the efforts of Lei-Nelson, Veritas and Lee Valley Tools; and the many fine journals like Fine Woodworking that let us talk to and learn from each other. None of the makers and designers of the new fleet of woodworking tools is getting rich at it....though I hope they are well rewarded. Woodcraft and the other tool suppliers all try to do an excellent job of bringing wonderful tools to our hands. Why carp about a snowflake of rust or other small faux pas.If you are looking for perfection go to church...if you want to make beautiful things get busy in your shop. What I am waiting for is a line of beautiful Norris planes again!!!
This is a thing that will not affect any of us in the "inland empire" in Eastern OR, Eastern WA, N ID, or W MT. We cannot shop # these stores anyway. We are isolated from the mainstream here, if we want these quality tools we have to rely on the internet. SE-la-vi. jr
The Woodcraft store in Stanton, CA has been outstanding. The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable. While the tools are kept in a glass case, that has never been a problem. I've waited for assistance at a LN Woodworking event longer than I've ever waited for assistance at the store.
I have purchased 3 LN planes as well as chisels, power tools and other woodworking products from the Seattle Woodcraft. My experience has been one of very friendly people who know their products well. Overall excellent customer service. I have also had positive experiences when it comes to returns. It sounds like not all Woodcrafts are equal.
The Woodcraft store here in Manchester, CT, is a great store with great customer service. I got my LN through them just this month, and everything was great.
I have given up on going to the local Woodcraft unless I can order online without any assistance or questions to be asked. I just tried (this week)to get basic information on 8" jointers the Woburn, MA Woddcraft carried or could order by telephone. The clerk was clueless and of absolutely no help. I called Beaver Woodworking in Brockton, MA. All questions answered, the new Powermatic jointer is being delivered on Monday at a great price.
I love my LN tools and have ordered them online, no support needed. Great tools! More will be ordered!
Good move LN.
The answer is that Lie Nieslen was asked to reproduce Hand Planes at a cheaper price, they (LN) said ya, maybe, we will see. Well 2 plus year of hope for Woodcraft to have a these planes at a lower rate and then there was nothing. So Woodcraft went out made a line a plane and copied Lie Nielsen's every detail. Woodcraft also went out and produced a line a plane blades & again copying everything that Lie Nielsen did on the plane blades.
So as you see the frustration. Also LN & Woodcraft had issues in the past with the factory warehouse of WSC. The issue was moisture in the building is creating rust on the planes. I am sure there is more but, this is what I got from WSC and others in the inside.
Woodcraft in Dayton Ohio has always been helpful to me in any way possible. I like Lie-Nelson tools--Have a few.Shame on LN for parting ways with Woodcraft.
I also buy direct from LN.
The professionalism and help they provide well after the sale is without equal.
Their products are first rate and after having them a while and using them you appreciate them even more and soon forget the higher price.
Only Lee-Valley comes close to the total experience.
I deal with the Woodcraft store in Raleigh NC and have never had a problem with customer service. True the planes are in a glass case but so are the diamonds at Tiffany's. Keeping expensive tools locked up is more a feflection of society today, not bad customer service. How easy would it be to drop a block plane in a coat pocket and leave?
BTW, the Wood River planes are also behind glass and I've never heard anyone complain about that either.
Our local Woodcraft - Addison, Texas - is always helpful, reponsible, and knowledgable. I have no problem with them keeping their LN tools in a case; they pull the keys out at a moment's notice.
I have (on the other hand) seen careless customers drop tools, damage them, and even injure themselves playing with them. Their care and caution in keeping them in a case is only prudent.
I can't speak about other Woodcraft stores, but the customer service at the Addison store has always been excellent.
I buy 100% from direct from LN. Any time I call with a question, they are always helpful and willing to help me out. I am a beginner wood worker, purchase my first plane from them a year ago. And find that most Woodcraft stores have very little background when it comes to hand planes, regardless of mfg.
Good riddance!!! I have given up on shopping at Woodcraft. Customer service left much to be desired at the last three or four stores that I have visited.
This week's prize is a 7-piece router bit set from Whiteside valued at $118!
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Michael begins carving the saddle lid box with his ripple pattern along the top. Then turns to his 5/30 gouge to texture the sides of the box. This isn't work…
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