Dictum: The New Woodworking Mecca

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After almost three decades of woodworking and writing about woodworking (and its occasional excesses), I am not easy to impress. I’ve been to all the big woodworking shows (including IWF and AWFS multiple times). And I’ve been to factories and stores all over the world.

But Dictum’s new headquarters in Plattling left me fairly speechless.

I have worked as an instructor for Dictum for many years and continue to work for the company because it it is on the same ethical wavelength as I am. Dictum takes a long view with its business practices, in everything from the way it treats it employees, to the fixtures it chooses for its bathrooms.

So yes, I am biased. I am a huge fan of the company and its employees.

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This summer I got to visit the company’s new headquarters building after wrapping up a long day of teaching a workbench class. I can honestly say I’ve never seen a woodworking facility like this. Though I’ve never visited Google, Apple or Facebook headquarters, I imagine they might be something like this.

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Everything is modern, open, airy and friendly. All the tools are hanging on the walls and can be taken down for inspection or use. The showroom is (easily) as twice as large as Highland Woodworking, the largest woodworking store I’ve ever visited.

There are separate areas for the knives, the leatherworking tools, the woodworking hand tools and the machinery. And there is a large section of Filson workwear – a bit of a surprise but not really.

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After an hour in the showroom one of the employees took us of a tour of the warehouse and offices. I have never seen a cleaner or more efficient shipping operation (and I’ve seen a lot). And the offices and public employee areas made me re-think being self-employed (only a bit).

So if you are in southern Germany, a visit to Dictum is definitely worth the effort, whether it’s the company’s headquarters in Plattling or the store and school in Munich (which is where I’m teaching this fall).

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One more thing: If you’ve been reading this blog for longer than 5 minutes then you know this isn’t a sponsored post. Dictum didn’t give me any tools for free. They worked me like a dog and paid me a fair wage.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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12 Responses to Dictum: The New Woodworking Mecca

  1. Salko Safic says:

    Nothing surprises me about Germany a great country indeed

  2. Tim says:

    How can Lie Nielsen and their twin brother be sold at the same place? Seem awfully similar to me.

  3. Quercus Robur says:

    I recall well my too short visit in their former small place at Metten (just before the last flood). The array of tools you could just pick up and play with was amazing.
    The mentioned efficiency and cleanliness is typically German, what stands out is the friendly, open attitude with that spark in the eye towards crafts.

  4. Roland Stewart Chapman says:

    A nice blog Schwarz , as always

  5. Bengt Nilsson says:

    The dude with the grey beard and a LAP hoodie looks familiar…

  6. @TheRainford says:

    Wow, I’d love to visit that store or HQ someday.
    I also want to visit a Lee Valley store in person the next time I am up north in Canada.
    I worked at Microsoft, Dell and RedHat and been to Google and Apple HQ. They all have a similar austere modern design in public spaces with large artwork etc. Usually anything out to play with is more morale stuff for employees (Xbox, foosball, interactive art, trendy looking meeting spaces, a few products or demo videos on loops etc) and most have an on campus through separate company store (And corresponding museum) The Apple and Microsoft Stores look much like the ones in a mall.

  7. Barry MacDonald says:

    I miss the old logo.

  8. jayedcoins says:

    I have a ton of respect for the German approach to company ownership. I may have ruffled a few feathers yesterday with my reply about “capital,” but make no mistake — I don’t want the state to own everything, I just want labor to be treated fairly and for the immense wealth we create in our modern economies to provide folks with basic needs, and yes, some wants, too. The way labor gets a stake in major German companies is really great, in this regard. It certainly sounds like Dictum cares about this, too, so good on ’em!

    Chris, hope your fall classes are fun and rewarding.

  9. Solid information, seems like a really nice organization. Nice clean environment
    Should probably visit one of these days.

  10. Lignarium says:

    Dictum is my church for hand tools!!! I am looking forward to visit them again in 2020!!!

  11. MikeC says:

    We lived in München (actually, Starnberg-Percha) from fall of 2001 to fall of 2003 and while I vaguely recall hearing about Dictum while we lived there I never searched for them. I kind of gave up on the woodworking craft while we lived overseas and it is my biggest regret of our 8-year expat odyssey; as there was so much to learn from the Germans, French, and Australians. While in München I was always impressed with a local tool store in Starnberg for its mechanics and construction industry hand-tools, or in downtown München the tool department in the household goods store F.S. Kustermann would put to shame most tool stores in the USA for its broad selection of high quality tools.
    But this place, Dictum, looks outstanding and I can’t wait to make a visit to both their München storefront and their new HQ in Plattling. I just got added Dictum to my ‘things to do’ file for this eventual trip back to München, even put it ahead of the mandatory trips to Andechs (what the woodworking God’s drink) and Ayinger. I think I’ll try to coordinate our future trip there with one of your classes.

    • Daniel Lamb says:

      MikeC, Did you mean to say “Austrians” and not “Australians”??? I know that I didn’t do that well in Geography during my school days, but I’m fairly certain that Australia isn’t in Europe… 🙂 Having said that, both the Austrians and Australians can teach us a fair bit about woodworking – both countries have a lively interest in the manual arts!

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