Monday, November 24, 2008

User, Collector, or just an A$$hole?

I have had a love hate relationship with my brothers over at Woodnet Forums. Every so often the forum turns from a community of woodworkers sharing information into a mob of hateful critics. During the Norm Abrams storm about 5 years ago I quit the forum cold turkey. I just couldn't take some hack putting down Norm again. After about two years I started taking a look into the forums again. This time I limited myself to the Hand Tool Forum.

Over the last few weeks Lee Valley Tools released a few new tools. They released their new dovetail saw and two new high end block planes. While at the Woodworking in America Conference I had a chance to try the new dovetail saw. It felt very comfortable in my hand and it seemed to cut very well. This dovetail saw was intended to fill the gap between the $20 dovetail saw and the $135 dovetail saw. While at the show I tried many premium saws, I even purchased a Lie Nielsen Progressive pitch saw. I certainly wouldn't be ashamed to hang the Veritas saw up next to my Lie Nielsen in my tool cabinet. Apparently the progressive design of this saw is just to much for many to handle.

These new block planes were just unveiled today and already the critics are roaring. I haven't had the privilege to hold, much less use, these block planes. I understand that Robin Lee gave some woodnetter's a sneak peek that the Woodnet dinner at the WIA Conference. Unfortunately I didn't attend. From what I have heard from some who have used the tool they say fit and finish is impeccable and and performs just as well as the Lie Nielsen block planes.

I unfortunately didn't take advantage of the opportunity at the WIA Conference to formally meet Mr. Lee. I will say that I find his company's willingness to attempt to advance tool design awe inspiring. I hope that in the years to come it will yield them their deserved respect. So many tools makers today simply regurgitate the designs of yesteryear with no thought on how to improve on those designs. I, and I'm sure Mr. Lee, don't feel that the evolution of hand tool design is at its end.
I hope that some of my brother woodnetters will be able to open their minds to what Lee Valley is attempting to do. If you don't like the tools because it doesn't perform to your expectations, I can understand that. To dismiss or blatantly ridicule the company for their modern design is, well, juvenile. I expect more from the hand tool community. Who is generally an older and wiser crowd.


No comments: