Better woodworking, one demand at a time

OK, enough gripping about the quality of woodworking products. Time to move on to my, I think, reasonable demands.

When I’m King of the World, everyone will be a lot happier. Especially me. When I control everything I’ll eliminate the stupid and the illogical, making way for sense and order. To facilitate this glorious day, I thought I’d get a jumpstart with a few demands now.

Shop accessories with wheels are wonderful, but even the best, most expensive wheeled tool is stopped dead by the simplest of things: the cord. From now on, any tool on wheels must be able to roll over its own cord.

Every time a woodworking magazine runs a cover story on the ultimate this or the ultimate that, I cringe. When I see a magazine touting “Your Ultimate Router Table,” my first reaction is gee, I hope not. You see, the word ultimate doesn’t mean “greatest,” “best” or “most wonderful.” It means “last” or “final.” If a product is advertised as giving you “the ultimate woodshop experience,” what it’s really saying is that you should have your will in order. Cease this now.

Almost every tool with changeable items has those items located on the bottom – router bits, jigsaw blades, sanders, etc. So, who’s the idiot designing most of these tools with round tops so you can’t set them securely upside down to change said items? From now on, all tools that have to be turned over to change attachments must have flat tops. Thanks.

Who uses a whole sheet of sandpaper as a whole sheet? Nobody. The first thing you do is make smaller sheets since quarter-size sheets automatically fit most sanding blocks and orbital sanders. But most sandpaper has the grit listed, at best, in only one place on the back. The moment you tear a full sheet you create a bunch of mystery-grit smaller sheets. Look, we don’t need a couple hundred words on the back of sandpaper created by the marketing department touting its wonderfulness. We need one thing: the grit number, stamped all over the back so no matter what size sheet we tear, we can tell what the heck it is.

Ever drop a strip of nails or brads as you’re putting it into a nailer? What happens when it hits the floor? It shatters into a hundred smaller pieces of nail strip. Effective immediately, nail strips shall be bonded with something stronger than the library paste they’re currently using.

And finally – for now – as long as China is going to make plywood entirely out of solidified splinters, from this day hence all plywood will be sprayed with a coat of Bactine as the last step in manufacturing.

There, see? You’re happier already.

Till next time,



  • I agree with all of your observations, especially the sand paper one. Why do they need to print all the useless information on the back of the sandpaper? It belongs on the packaging. Once you’ve bought the sandpaper why are they trying to sell it to you again?

    I would add a couple things besides the grit on the back. Since all sandpaper isn’t created equal: The name brand and type (aluminum oxide, garnet, etc). Print that info in at least every quadrant. In fact I think I’m going to try to remember to do that with a sharpie from now on.

  • kevin says:

    Well fear not all you diehard woodworkers change is ‘acoming’. Peek Oil is upon us, water shortages are just around the corner,buy American is no longer a cute catch phrase but an economic reality. Sourcing products locally in the very near future will not only be good for our manufacturing defecits, but will be a ‘win win’ for all. In the very near future I beleive getting it close to home WILL be the profitable avenue for suppliers. I just spoke to a salesman at a large plywood supplier, and he told me more and more of his future purchases will be domestic. The shipping costs are becoming too great to make it worth the effort.Also the constant drum of Chinese recalls and putting old ladies to death for allowing melamine in the baby formula are making companies think twice. China is becoming a victom of its own success and a comedic punchline.

    The downturn in the economy has also generated a ground swell in quality craftsmanship. Education of the buying public is the key. I can sell heirloom quality furniture for not much more than the ‘so called’ Fine Furniture Manufacturers. Five years from now when their neihbors are dragging that thousand dollar chest of drawers to the curb on rubbish day they will see the rewards of their purchase.Their children will fight over who gets the great furniture Mom and Dad helped design.Somehow I dont believe that $5000 T.V. will garner as much attention when your gone.

    Again I source my materials close to home, hardwoods grown, harvested and sold in my town or the next one over.Craigslist is full of local hardwoods for sale for as little as $1 bd. ft. I pass this on to my clients.

    I also have decided rather than allow these pretenders to beat me on price alone, give the customer a great deal. I am working for less… yes But I am working. Give a client more than they expect and they are a customer for life. Dont get me wrong I am still making a profit, just not a killing.

    I try to educate everyone and anyone on the value of handmade. It will always be worth what you pay for it. A friend who belongs to a well known guild here in New England had a piece of his furniture resell at there annual auction for more than its original price 5yrs earlier.

    As the saying goes ‘ An educated consumer is our best customer.’FIGHT THE POWER.

    And that is MY rant.

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