Founded by Norton Rockler 50 years ago, and now run by daughter Ann Rockler Jackson, Rockler Woodworking and Hardware has made a tradition of providing innovative products for woodworkers for the past half century.
With the new century’s technology, they’re now offering an online showcase of these exclusive innovations.
How do these products get there? They start out with a product development team, headed by vice president Steve Krohmer. “We are all woodworkers on the team,” explained Steve, “and we’ve come up with many new, proprietary products exclusive to Rockler. But we also take a close look at products already on the market. We ask what has been the downfall of an existing clamp, this table, or that piece of hardware, and what do we need to do to improve it?”
Recent improvements made to the Sure-Foot Clamping Solutions include adding 36″ and 48″ lightweight aluminum bar clamps to the series – joining the already existing pipe clamp. The new clamps have a wider base for greater stability and a higher base for greater clearance. Rockler has also designed the clamp so it can be extended to any length with an exclusive connector and 48″ extension bar. “It is ideal for gluing large face frames for kitchen cabinet construction and other woodworking projects that require long clamps,” Steve said. Plus, the clamps also have built-in hooks for convenient wall-hanging – no longer any need to “clamp the clamp.”
The Sure-Foot clamps, like the other products in the Innovative Solutions Showcase, are a distinctive blue color. In fact you might call it Rockler blue. The color signals that the product in question was developed for or adapted by the company.
Another such blue product is the Complete Dovetail Jig Combo. It’s “simple to use and includes everything you need – except the router-to make beautiful, full through and half-blind dovetails,” Steve said. The combo also comes with three carbide-tipped bits (1/2″ x 14° dovetail, 1/2″ x 8° dovetail and 5/16″ straight) and a template guide bushing. Easy-to-read reference marks indicate tail or pin cuts and adjustments for tightening and loosening the fit of the dovetail.
Where do these innovations come from? The team often brainstorms new products, but some of the best ideas have come from Rockler customers who contact the company through e-mail and through the retail stores “We encourage our retail employees to really listen to what our customers have to say about product,” noted Steve, “be it outright praise or suggestions for improvement.”
For 50 years, that is the approach Rockler has taken to innovation.