Help Preserve Auriou – a Woodworking Treasure

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I get asked to promote crowdfunding efforts all the time. I almost never say yes because most of the campaigns are ridiculous, ill-planned or just bad ideas. But this one is different.

Auriou (Forge De Saint Juery) is fighting for its future after 162 years of operation. Business it good – as it should be because Auriou rasps are the best – but the company’s equipment is outdated. They need new equipment and training to survive.

You can read all about it here. The page is in both English and French.

I know it’s not a sexy cause – like a gun that shoots salt at housefies – but it is an investment in the future of our craft. A set of good rasps is essential to curved work – I discuss them in “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest.”

If you love Auriou rasps, please consider making a contribution to help this fantastic company. I am making my contribution today.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. For those of you who are experts on running light industrial factories in France, you might want to hold off on your critiques unless you know the whole history of the company, the labor challenges it has faced during the last decade and its financial book. For those of you who are *not* experts on French manufacturing, you *definitely* should keep your trap shut.

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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42 Responses to Help Preserve Auriou – a Woodworking Treasure

  1. ikustwood says:

    I participate at the promotion of another sublime Artisan:

    http://www.liogier-france.fr

    • Gerard says:

      I agree…. free money to one company might ruin the future for another.
      Liogier is just as good.

      • ikustwood says:

        I am not saying that Auriou is not good . But I like the insight of your comment . Indeed we are talking of small Companies . Easy to bring one down for the other. My first contact by email with Liogier was superbe. Beautiful craftsmanship. Very helpfull. IMO as long as you support one of them or another Artisan… but I will keep Liogier.

        • Gerard says:

          I’m not saying that either :-). I own rasp from both Auriou and Liogier and like both just fine…. just saying there are others out there producing the same quality that somehow don’t get the PR (it’s probably the LN connection at work here),

          But what annoys me a bit is the way this crowdfunding is presented, a reaction I had when I first received the e-mail from classichandtools. They are not the last surviving French rasp maker, e.g. Liogier has been doing it for 100 years as well and without going bankrupt.

          And then there is the crowdfunding itself, asking for free money (for a private company) without any “product” for those donating. Make a special edition or something that you sell for an hefty upcharge. Or do something original…

          Somehow Michel Auriou did have the funds to get full ownership back last summer but now lacks funds to invest in his company or staff.

          As much as I like small manufacturing, giving free money to one company and not another will make it possible for that one company to undercut others on price and that’s not the way to keep the profession alive.

          • ikustwood says:

            Totally agree.

          • mike says:

            i am fairly certain the market is large enough for two rasp makers (or 3, TFWW has its own line hand stitched in pakistan. They are nice, but not as nice Auriou). I doubt Auriou is planning on using its newfound “riches” to put Logier out of business.

            Look, I really don’ like crowdfunding either. Last year a high school classmate died and her brother set up a gofundme to help with her two young children. I donated $100. A few weeks later the brother posted a picture of his new Harley Davidson on his FB page. No, I am not saying he took the gofundme cash and bought a Harley. But he clearly thought that strangers or friends from 20 years ago had more responsibility for his sister than did he.

            But back to Auriou. I like their product. I will take it at their word they are using the money for capital improvement that they presumably can’t get a loan for. France is a funny place. They literally invented the term bureaucracy. Things take forever there that would take a day here (I worked for a Swiss company for 15 years. They are move at a mind numbing pace as well). And if I see a picture of Michael Auriou rolling in a brand new Pugeot in a year, well…. that is a risk I will take.

  2. Eric R says:

    If business is good, then take a little off the top and use it to replace outdated equipment as the budget allows.
    That’s how companies over here do it.
    And I would think the training would come in a mentoring program sponsored by the company.

    • snwoodwork says:

      That may work depending on your margins but it is not unusual for American companies to look for a large cash infusion when starting a new division or require a large investment in new machinery (such as the case here). Often, the use of IPOs, loans, angel investors, and the like supply the large sum of money. Just look to Ohio in the mid 1990s when Callahan Auto Parts was trying to open a new brake pad division. They needed a loan from the bank to open the new brake pad factory. After their CEO, “Big” Tom Callahan died, his son, the new CEO, used on-the-road sales, a loan from a competitor, and eventually a bank loan to get the new division started. It’s an inspiring story that has many similarities to what Auriou needs, mainly capital.

  3. Richard Mahler says:

    My site use skills are usually fairly good but I am not seeing a way to reach the English version of the site. My studies of French in high school and college are 50 years in the past, so the nuances in the language will escape me.

    • SSteve says:

      Both languages are on the same page. French is in black and English is in blue. That’s what I see, anyway.

      • Richard Mahler says:

        On my iPad I see only French in black when I click the link; see nothing on the page or menu to change to English. Oh well. 😕

        • raney says:

          Richard – if you scroll down you can see the translated material.

          • Richard Mahler says:

            Thanks. That is odd; the first time I scrolled down that did not appear!

            • Simon Kelly says:

              It’s the site refresh rate. Same thing happened to me. The french is loaded first, then when you hit the bottom it starts loading the English. Takes a few seconds – minute link dependant.

  4. mike says:

    I can’t say I am an expert in French industry. I know american francophiles like to think everything is better there (They walk everywhere! They don’t helicopter parent! They enjoy 4 hour meals! They chain smoke but never get cancer!) but those folks never mention that it is a difficult place to run a business (particular as it relates to get credit or hiring people). So I will be donating. Truthfully Ariou should raise their prices. Their rasps are a bargain.

    • Richard Mahler says:

      That is indeed the nature of business in France! I have American friends who began and operated a luxury canal boat business in France for about ten years. Setting up the business and finding a bank that would even entertain establishing the necessary accounts was beyond comprehension; and it all had nothing to do with business-worthiness, their finances or not being French citizens. Government is very unfriendly to business in most ways. It defies logic and understanding.

  5. Patrick says:

    Tell me more about this salt-fly gun.

    • raney says:

      It should never be used to remove flies from your forehead.

      • Don says:

        Don’t use it to shoot at the ornaments on the Christmas tree, either. Your teen aged daughter gets very angry when salt lands in her hair. DAMHIKT… Best Christmas present ever!!!

      • S says:

        How are they for ridding crabs???

    • Ronald Pottol says:

      As an owner, I’d say they work. https://www.bugasalt.com/ Amazon caries them too. I find it good for getting flies in places like corners where it’s hard to get a swatter. For airborne, I like The Executioner electric fly swatter, this lets you get them in mid air. You want one with the wires in a single plane (alternating + & -) rather than multiple planes (hot in the middle with ground on either side, you can’t shock yourself with it, but many bugs make it through safely) https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000MU2MJA/

  6. Tony Zaffuto says:

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to purchase several rasps? I have several, but could see fit to buy at least one more. This would increase cash flow, possibly help lower inventory.

    I know nothing about the business, or anything about doing business in France, but I do know Auriou had similar issues about ten years ago or so. I believe a 10 to 15% price increase would hardly be noticed by users of Auriou rasps.

    • Fred Guendel says:

      Why not do both? I will.

    • Richard Mahler says:

      Sure, buy the product to increase cash flow, but the problem appears to be partly the inability to meet or increase inventory to meet demand. A purchase represents a profit on production and material costs only whereas a donation is pure profit and a surer way to solve the problems more quickly. I agree that an increase in prices is likely due and that it would be unlikely to prevent serious customers from making purchases.

  7. Lewis Ward says:

    Auriou-Love the gouges and chisels.

  8. Dave says:

    As I understand it – comments on how to run a business do not help- You want to be able to purchase some of the best tools of their kind. Pony up.

  9. Jim Littiken says:

    Je vais voler ta petite amie … Oui, j’ai donné.

  10. My French is pretty rusty but apparently “keep your trap shut” is French for “I don’t work for Popular Woodworking anymore so now can tell you to STFU.”

    • snwoodwork says:

      It’s probably French for “we don’t need internet jockeys without the prerequisite knowledge commenting on how to run a foreign industrial company.” Because, you know, that’s not really going to help Auriou.

  11. Edward Hopkins says:

    I really hope they don’t fold. I’m still saving to buy one.

  12. MikeC says:

    I’ve made my donation to the Auriou cause – certainly worth it. Now I should hesitate no further and buy the two Auriou rasps I’ve been eyeing for so long to add to the two I already own.
    When we lived in Toulouse I never visited their shop – it was only about 60-minute drive from the house – the one time I drove to Albi and swung by their shop they were closed. Found out they had been closed for a few months while they reorganized and worked on new financing. I never got back up their before we moved on to Sydney. One of my few regrets while living in TLS.
    I managed a team for a large US multi-national in TLS, the labor laws and all the administrative minutia one had to go comply with was mind-boggling and frustrating. Thank God for their great wines in the area (Fronton, Cahors, etc.) and Armagnac.
    Liogier tools are very nice too, as they were kind of local to Toulouse I developed more of a fondness for Auriou. I hope both companies are very successful for at least another 162 years.

  13. Tom Bittner says:

    They should move to the U.S. where we have a free market.

    • Mario says:

      I was having a similar thought…. So move the entire operation to a country were government and banks are more business friendly. If they have the knowledge and a log of back orders to demonstrate the viability of the company, they should be able to acquire the necessary loans to accomplish the move. If not, they will fold and someone else will meet the demand from a more viable location. That is life! Nothing lives forever!!

  14. James Rich says:

    I went to the Auriou page and could not change it from French to English. Thanks.

  15. jayedcoins says:

    I finally bought one about 6 months ago. Yes, they are somewhat pricey, especially if you’re used to getting good old user tools at cheaper prices. But (at least where I’m from) there aren’t really good used rasps available, so this was the way to go. The rasp has changed my work for the better, I love it.

  16. Joe says:

    I’ve donated. I hope they make it.

    I recall hearing back in the 1980s that Japan used to declare individuals as national living treasures (it was in regards to samurai sword making) and pay them so they could continue to do their activity. I think there are some select companies out there deserving of similar help/protection.

  17. themiddleagedapprentice says:

    This is crazy. They want the capital from equity investors without providing the equity? No matter what the man says, a business that has solid revenue, as he claims, has many options for both debt and equity investment.

    I’ll keep sending my charity to poor people overseas who don’t have options…

  18. Pyleg says:

    Throughout my life, I’ve been coerced one way or another to bail out companies by my local, state, and federal gumments–usually by companies I didn’t do business with.

    It’s refreshing to asked.

  19. Steve C says:

    Well….I don’t think donating is the thing to do. If they need new machinery to be able to expand, they need to save up some profits. Eat more beans instead of meat…..etc…

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