Woodcraft Supply LLC caught a rash of criticism in recent years for introducing tools that were Chinese-made copies of current American-made tools. First Woodcraft started carrying hammers that were obvious copies of the Glen-Drake hammers. Then the company introduced its line of WoodRiver handplanes that were – in my opinion – merely imported copies of Lie-Nielsen planes.
This copying lead to some hand-tool makers severing their ties with Woodcraft – most notably Lie-Nielsen Toolworks. And there have been some hard feelings and behind-the-scenes grumbling about Woodcraft, which for years carried the hand-tool banner when few other companies would.
Now I don’t have inside information on Woodcraft. I’m just a hand-tool customer and observer – I’m no longer a woodworking journalist. But recently I’ve noticed that Woodcraft has been coming out with hand tool products that aren’t just copies of other tools that are in production by competitors. It’s refreshing to see this. So I want to encourage the behavior and tip my hat to them.
Earlier this year I saw two new spokeshaves from Woodcraft under the Pinnacle name that showed real spirit. The shaves are based on the venerable Stanley 151 platform, but the company has made them out of stainless. That’s a new thing. And they look like they are based on original patterns – not just cast copies of someone else’s tool.
I have yet to try the shaves (I have two spokeshaves already), but I definitely will test drive them next time I’m in my local Woodcraft.
Also notable: Woodcraft has recently released its new No. 92 shoulder plane under the WoodRiver name. While this shoulder plane shares DNA with the fantastic and extinct Preston shoulder plane line, Woodcraft made the tool its own by improving the design a bit by adding an adjustable toe. The company also added some stylistic details marking it as its own.
It’s a 3/4”-wide plane, which wouldn’t be my first choice for a shoulder plane, but it still looks pretty good and is definitely not a copy.
Perhaps this is a trend or the work of Jody Garrett, who was named the new president of the company in May 2012. Or perhaps I’m just grasping at straws. In either case, I hope Woodcraft continues on this course by adding diversity to the hand-tool market instead of just copying the successful designs of others.
— Christopher Schwarz