European Approach to Woodworking

In the recent JET article, Lou Signorelli explained, “We took our core products and re-engineered them to conform with the European approach to woodworking.” Other than different voltage, just what is the European approach to woodworking?

Michael Dresdner: I can’t speak for what the Jet rep had in mind, but I can offer my own take on it.

Some years back, a major European automaker was trying to make inroads into the US. They were astonished when American marketing experts told them “No matter how well engineered your car is, you can’t sell it here without cup holders.” This was anathema to them. Cars were for driving, not eating in. In their view, a car should be engineered to handle the road, not fitted out to mimic your living room. Driving, after all, was serious business, not just some moving inconvenience.

My view of European woodworking, at least as far as tooling is concerned, is similar. They lean toward different values and configurations. For example, tablesaws with a sliding table that splits at the saw blade line are rare here except for the largest commercial saws, but are much more common over there, even for fairly small tools.

European woodworkers tend to be more interested in machinery that is well designed to do its core job, and built ruggedly enough to last, and less interested in what American marketing calls “price point.” As a result, they pay more to get better basic tools that are designed around the professional and will hold up longer, as opposed to less expensive tools that sport a lot of flashy gizmos. Here, marketers say: “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” Over there, they sell more steak.

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