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Thread: New Tools For Profit?

  1. #1

    New Tools For Profit?

    If you read my other post on the Old Tools Sub-Forum, you will see that I am considering taking in old sentimental tools and rebuilding them to their former glory. This would be for some profit of course...

    Now what do you guys and gals think about making new tools? Its interesting because at work if we need a tool to make something, we make it. This might be for a carpenter, mechanic or machinist...we are just a company that gets by with the motto that if you need it,take the time to make it. Very seldom to we get tools to do a job...we just make them ourselves. That is a long way of saying, I call myself a machinist, but really am a toolmaker.

    Now at work I don't just make boat parts. I make floating jewlery,so I know the ins and outs of making things look absolutely stunning. I have all these ideas on how to improve tools and make old planes not only beautiful, but alot more functional. The problem is, building these tools takes time. And time is always money.

    Do you think there is a market for this kind of thing? Do you think other woodworkers would be willing to pay high, high prices for one-off, custom made tools?

    What I would really like to do is work with woodworkers one on one and build custom tools taylored to exactly what they do. They did this a little at Lie Nielsen but I would like to go all out, working with a woodworker on a one on one basis and build something super functional,and even more stunning. I just don't know if there is a market for such high-end, custom tooling?
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Hello Travis,
    It seems to me that when someone needs a custom tool they need it now. How long it will take to make a new tool may be an issue. I guess if someone would be able to see ahead of time or be making alot of the same thing then time may not be an issue.
    I think your ideals are good, expecally the old tool ideal. I always go to these old farm estate where unfortunatly someone has died, it is really cool to see the old tools that seem to sell really cheap. Most people look at you like you have two heads when you bid on a tool that is rusty and looks like it could never work again. Its amazing how a little elbow grease can bring a tool back to life. Once they are back to working order 9 times out of 10 they are the best tools to use. They made quality tools back then, before plastic gears and such were used.
    Give your ideals a shot and see what happens. maybe go to these auctions and buy some older tools, bring them back to life and see if there is a market for them. Good Luck

  3. #3
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    There are a few folks out there doing somewhat what you are talking about. Wayne Anderson, for instance, makes some beautiful infill planes that he generally has no trouble selling for a few thousand dollars each. Mike Wenzloff started making hand made handsaws a couple years ago, initially marketing and selling them himself. He had several standard models but would also custom make a saw for you. He now has a waiting list of several months for custom saws and has a couple retailers of fine tools selling everything he can make.

    Steve Knight makes (or made, I'm not sure what his status is now) custom wooden body hand planes. He ran into timing difficulties doing everything pretty much custom. He couldn't go into a real production mode and have inventory on hand, because of the custom aspect, and his offering them in so very many different woods and bedding angles and the like. He had a lot of disgruntled customers because it took so long after ordering for him to ship the planes. IMO he was charging way too little for the time he had to put into each item, but he couldn't get his prices up because he often ended up offering "specials" at reduced prices to take advantage of larger quantity production runs. He recently got a CNC router set-up and is doing a lot of the work with that and is selling kits which lets him spend significantly less time tuning the finished product while increasing his sales allowing him to take better advantage of larger production runs for each machine set-up.
    Jerry

    http://www.sawdustersplace.com

    "If politics wasn't built on careful deception it wouldn't need its own word and techniques. It would just be called honesty, education, and leadership."
    Bob "Phydeaux" Stewart one day on Woodnet

  4. #4
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    I can't speak knowledgeably to the subject. But can offer that in the town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas there are two brothers who make wood planes in the 'olde' style and can't keep up with orders. Reportedly, their planes are excellent and beautiful. I plan to go visit their shop someday.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  5. #5
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    YES! There is a market for it. Question is how is your Marketing/Buisiness Skills?

    Steve Knight is a regular over at Woodnet. Admired his work for years. My personal opinion of Steve after reading his posts and frustration is that he is a craftsman, quite good at what he does. But his is not a business man and that is why he suffers and hasn't made the name other have made. He is of the same caliber craftsman as some of the others mentioned. Just not a good business man. He needs help in that area, he needs to building and someone else running the business side and doing his marketing and planning.

    Craftsmanship is one thing, running a business is another. It takes both skills. I personally believe that is why most small startup businesses never make it. I have had two that failed, so I know a little about that.

    I have a great idea for a business. Everyone I tell the idea is like, why hasn't then been done before? Well I finally gave up. I tried it and found I didn't have the marketing skills and my budget was too limited to "teach" people of that advantages. It's still a great idea but it's new and takes some educating people of the advantages and time. I discovered I don't have the skill set needed to get this off the ground. Expensive lesson learned.
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
    and the eyesight to tell the difference.


    Kudzu Craft Lightweight Skin on frame Kayaks.
    Custom built boats and Kits

  6. #6
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    I've got one of Steve's planes, a 50 degree coffin smoother. Great plane and one of my most used. I hope his newest venture pays off. As hard as he works, he deserves success, and I think the kit thing he's doing may be just the ticket.

    As to the original question, there are obviously a number of woodworkers out there with oodles of expendable cash to buy the sorts of tools that the Wayne Andersons and a few others make. The problem is getting your foot in the door.
    Jerry

    http://www.sawdustersplace.com

    "If politics wasn't built on careful deception it wouldn't need its own word and techniques. It would just be called honesty, education, and leadership."
    Bob "Phydeaux" Stewart one day on Woodnet

  7. #7
    Alan DuBoff is offline Former Member (by the member's request)
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    Last edited by Alan DuBoff; 02-27-2008 at 09:22 AM.

  8. #8
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    Travis,

    Can you make one of these:



    That's from Wayne Anderson's site. Jerry's not joking about the prices for those infill planes... we're talking about shop jewelry that costs thousands. In some cases, many thousands. Here's another direct quote from the same site:

    " I'm sure you will find that my prices are very competitive. Please call, email, or write to discuss details and actual quote."

    Translated into english, that means "Just hand me your wallet. And maybe the keys to your safe deposit box"

    As you know from the yacht market, people who pay that kind of money will be incredibly picky. And I don't think any of these guys are getting rich... It just takes too much time to make each one...

    Good luck,

    Thanks,

    Bill

    (ps. Here are a few cool links:

    http://www.thebestthings.com/infill.htm

    http://www.toolsforworkingwood.com/M...egory_Code=CRI

    http://www.xmission.com/~jry/ww/tools/a13/a13.html

    And my personal favorite: http://www.hocktools.com/kf175.htm

    Sadly, even that one is too rich for my blood...
    Last edited by Bill Lantry; 02-13-2008 at 09:40 PM.

  9. #9
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    I think it was Chris Schwartz from Pop WW who said in an article about the high end designer handplanes, " . . . and the wood can't tell the difference."
    Jerry

    http://www.sawdustersplace.com

    "If politics wasn't built on careful deception it wouldn't need its own word and techniques. It would just be called honesty, education, and leadership."
    Bob "Phydeaux" Stewart one day on Woodnet

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Palmer View Post
    " . . . and the wood can't tell the difference."
    Thats why my "collection" of hand planes are old Stanley and Miller Falls users that are still tarnished and a bit ugly. But the wood never had complained.... well unless they were dull.
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
    and the eyesight to tell the difference.


    Kudzu Craft Lightweight Skin on frame Kayaks.
    Custom built boats and Kits

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