Get Your Fill at Suckfüll

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This morning I freaked out a bit. Tomorrow I head to Dictum GmbH’s classroom at Niederaltaich Abbey, and I realized that I’ve forgotten my universal translator.

The universal translator has nothing to do with transforming my English to German (the class is taught in English with German curse words and American showtunes). Instead, the universal translator is a tape measure that has both U.S. Customary Units (inches) and metric.

This way I can translate my drawings and instruction into metric without asking (for the thousandth time): An inch is about 25mm, right?

So I stopped in a hardware store in Munich named Suckfüll. It was a small store, smaller than your neighborhood ACE or DoItBest, but it had a shockingly good selection of woodworking tools. As I was looking for tape measures, I stumbled on traditional beech try squares (where both the blade and handle are wood) in several sizes. And miter squares that were also 100 percent wood.

The last time I saw that in the U.S. was never.

A little farther down the aisle and there was a complete selection of Two Cherries bench chisels, more than I’ve ever seen in a Woodcraft. Next to that – a full selection of carving tools. I turned around – wooden jointer planes and smoothing planes. And a full line of wooden-handled screwdrivers.

Lest you think this was a woodworking specialty store, the rest of the place was filled with typical hardware store stuff. Light fixtures, extension cords and small appliances.

Sadly, the only thing they didn’t have that I really wanted was Suckfüll T-shirts.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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13 Responses to Get Your Fill at Suckfüll

  1. Choirboy says:

    Wooden try squares, planes, and chisels with wooden handles? I can see their slogan now: “Get your fill of Wood at Suckfull!”

  2. sryoder says:

    That really would have been a cool t-shirt.

  3. Wolfgang Schmitt says:

    I’ve known Suckfüll since the 70s when my dad used to get all kinds of stuff from them, and ended up living half a block away for 15 years. I walked past the store every day, and more often than not I would enter, because you didn’t have to try too hard to find something you “needed”….
    I remember having Suckfüll stickers back in the 70s, but I’m afraid they’re long gone. I’d send you some otherwise.
    If you like that kind of store/philosophy, next time you’re in Munich you should go to Schrauben Preisinger. They’ve been around since 1921, and they sell every conceivable type of fastener (metric and imperial) in single quantities. You could spend the day just watching the customers, ranging from the old man looking for that one tiny M2 screw to fix his glasses to construction workers picking up hundreds of kilos of hardware for their jobsite.

  4. Wes Smith says:

    There are some really cool walking 360 views of this store.
    https://maps.google.com/maps/contrib/102168845931804737130/photos

  5. Dean Moriarty says:

    That’s my local hardware store: yes it’s a small store but it does seem to have nearly everything an Ace Hardware would have in the US, with slightly better quality. But unfortunately about twice as expensive! Although I would still rather shop here than Bauhaus or Obi (our versions of Home Depot).
    I appreciate the recommendation above for Schrauben Preisinger – I will have to see if they carry any hinges.
    Besides Dictum, there is also Berthold Holztechnik just north of where they hold Oktoberfest: if you want to hear a very thick Bavarian accent and be treated to the worst in German customer service, by all means stop by. I don’t know of many other places in town where you can order 400mm table saw blades and router bits unfortunately….

  6. Paul Reichert says:

    You can get something similar at IKEA it’s called Fixa Maßband and costs 0,99€
    https://www.ikea.com/de/de/catalog/products/40237557
    it has a metric and an imperial scale.

  7. Nice! You don’t see that too often around here either anymore. 40-50 years ago, this would be any ol hardware store in DK as well. Maybe not as well equipped, but they’d stock the basics.

    2.54cms to an inch is what you are looking for. Just be glad the rest of us got rid of inches a long time ago (1902) – an old Danish inch (”) was 2.615cms. Divided into, not 64ths, but 12 lines (”’), and again into 12 scruples (””). Later, before the metric system was adopted, there were also decimal (1/10) inches. Much like Boeings (old?) tooling, but with the exception that the base unit was 2.615, and not 2.54.

  8. Johnathan says:

    I’ve always enjoyed work trips to Wiesbaden where there are two stores downtown each with a fantastic selection of hand tools. One seems just like this place you’re mentioning, where it’s just a truly great all around hardware store, but full allotment of chisels and fantastic axes. There is another store that is strictly tools, and they have a variety of NOS “hobel”, where some of the boxes have manufacturing dates 30-40 years old, still stocked on the shelf. Every woodworker should get a chance to roam around Germany-

  9. WOODSKILLS says:

    But there is a wooden try square available in N. America. Ha, now I found out it is an unusual offering. https://woodskills.com/collections/woodworking-tools/products/try-square

  10. craig regan says:

    Interesting type face. Is that the sückfill font.

  11. As a hand tool woodworker trying to make a go at this furniture making business, and as one inspired by the monastic life, I’ve been intrigued by your mentions of this monastery. If I can ever part with my anarchist’s toolchest (unlikely), I may even join such a place. Until then, I plane away in a Midwest basement, happily a student of the Catholic anarchist, St. Benedict, and the woodworking anarchist, Br. Schwarz. Thanks for preserving this lost art—much as the Monasteries once preserved Western civilization—and for passing on, to me and many, the gift of meaningful, dignified labora.

  12. Jared says:

    Man, I don’t know how I missed that this class was coming up. I’m stationed about five hours from there, but I would have loved to make the trip to take a class with you. Maybe next year. Hope you have another great time in Germany!

  13. Brian G Miller says:

    All wood try squares made right here in the USA from wotheffort.com. True, accurate and traditional for only 25 bucks. And shipping is only 5 dollars. I couldn’t believe it.

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