Pledging No Allegiance (to tool manufacturers) or Why we can’t tell you exactly which brands to buy…

It’s great to get some honest critique of our newsletters, Rob offers his thoughts:

Hi David – not quite sure if I get anything out of your recent product ‘reviews’ as part of your email campaign.

Sorby, Lie-Nielsen et al. you like them, but you don’t like them, but you do (!). All very ambiguous, if to receive such emails would much prefer to see a more direct message: “This is the brand I recommend, this is its flaws but this is why I recommend it”…etc

I don’t mean to be cheeky but think it is somewhat negative to put up a product and then shoot it down without offering alternatives, or just recommending the alternative in the first place.  I am, by the way, very engaged in your emails; the workshop I have just started in on a part-time apprenticeship basis uses Sorby’s…will be interested to see what they think…

~ Rob


(David’s response)

Hi Rob,
Thank you for your e-mail, I am sorry if I do not make clear conclusive recommendations but it is complex, more complex that at first it appears. Mainly I do not want to support one manufacturer and place myself in their pocket. I get lots of free incentives to do just that. A recommendation from me would used and could sell the odd chisel or two.
These are hand tools they must fit YOUR hand and your pocket. None of them are perfect, I would buy Sorby chisels if I had too but I would make sure they were straight and I do already know how to sharpen. This would be a poor choice for a weekend woodie who really doesn’t want to be faffing with sharpening and only has a few hours a week to make something.

We have six tool boxes in our workshop each has a kit of plane, chisels marking out tools etc . Each has a different brand of tool from the other boxes. We encourage our students to try different brands and types before making a considered and informed choice. We tell what we can about positive and negative features of each but we are not perfect and it is a personal choice.

Good luck with your making




If you’re in a muddle about which tools to choose, or how to choose woodworking hand tools we have an article on choosing woodworking hand tools as well as a DVD explaining how to choose woodworking hand tools. We also have great email lists which offer free, independent, advice and reviews of tools new and old.

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