Nowadays, most woodworkers say they’d prefer to buy American-made tools. But with so much manufacturing moved offshore, it often seems hard or even impossible to put that principle into practice. Infinity Cutting Tools, just six months old, bucks that tide. And this week, Corey Spann, Infinity president, will begin shipping out his line of American-made router bits to dealers around the country.
It all started a little over a year ago when Corey and his wife Chantelle began planning their new company. Up to that point Corey had worked in marketing — most recently for a large constructions company, but prior to that, he’d spent five years with a router bit company. Corey was itching to start his own company and the couple decided to capitalize on his router bit experience. Among their guiding principles was a commitment to making 100% American-made products.
“Then the 9/11 attack came,” recalled Corey, “and we began to wonder if this was the right thing to do.”
But with the rise in patriotism after the attack, it well may have turned out to be the best time to come out with an American-made product. And beyond altruism, Corey soon discovered there was a practical side to American made.
“We looked at what other companies were doing,” explained Corey. “and you can certainly go over to Asia and find all the router bits you’d ever want. But they weren’t the quality I wanted and didn’t flow with my concepts. So we found a manufacturer in the United States — experienced in making router bits — who could provide the quality and meet our specifications.”
Corey’s next big decision was to market his product through dealers rather than directly to woodworkers. With that system, the brand loyalty of dealers is as important as that of the end user, and Infinity does everything it can to build that loyalty ? starting with a competitively priced, high-quality product and encompassing flexible product packaging and a co-op advertising program. On the consumer level, he’s realistic about how most people buy router bits.
“The average woodworker’s selection criterion is that it will cut the profile, not whether it’s made in Taiwan.” Corey explained, “By keeping our pricing in line with equal quality products — no matter where they are made — woodworkers get high quality and made in USA without paying extra! Of course, there’s a niche of people who will always buy the cheapest, and there are plenty of brands that fill that need. But our customers usually seek out better quality, such as the Freud or CMT brand. And we are extremely competitive with them ? plus have a superior product.”
And what makes a superior product?
“Router bits are an unusual breed,” Corey explained. “From brand to brand they don’t look that different, but from an engineering standpoint, they can be vastly different and are a lot more complicated than they look.”
he main differences? Infinity router bits are ground from fatigue-proof steel, which is much stronger than what’s used on many other bits. They have a silver PTFE (similar to Teflon) non-stick coating and incorporate an anti-kickback design when the profile allows. The cutting edge is C2 micrograin carbide. There are harder carbides, but anything harder than C2 becomes brittle and prone to shattering like glass when dropped. And every bit is backed by a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects.
Interestingly, the company does not advise re-sharpening. The grind tolerances on the bits are so precise that re-sharpening can throw it out of balance – not to mention voiding the warranty.
The Infinity line currently includes 53 of the most popular profiles ? but that will soon expand to around 153 profiles. The company is also in the process of hammering out details with suppliers to add a line of saw blades, shaper cutters, and knives within a year.
Corey knows he’s playing David to much larger companies’ Goliath, but he’s optimistic.
“Our price point, quality, and country of origin provide us with a unique product ? something that isn’t out there. Our dealer base has been very receptive. And I believe if we give them the right tools to make them successful, then we’ll be successful. And when customers take a look at our product, they will be impressed.”
Products are being shipped this week to dealers. You can go to the Infinity Web site to find the one nearest you. New dealers are being added all the time, so e-mail or call to hear about new locations. Corey also suggests that woodworkers simply ask their dealers to start carrying the brand.