A Tool By Any Other Name…

Tool InspectorOur recent Woodworker’s Journal eZine Industry Interview with Rockwell Tools engendered quite a few comments, some of them unprintable, with the general take that if the tools are Asian-made, the name means little. While I will not agree with the contextual argument that an Asian-made tool is, without exception, of lower quality than a U.S.-made tool, I do agree that brand names move around a good bit.

Right now, the Powermatic brand is in the capable hands of Walter Meier, the parent company of JET Tools. Delta and Porter-Cable were purchased by Black & Decker not that long ago, who then in turn were only recently acquired by The Stanley Works. (Are you paying attention? Do you need a scorecard?)

Several years ago, I decided to examine the question of Asian tool manufacturing for myself. I took a two-week tour of Chinese tool manufacturing companies to see what the situation was like on the ground. While I traveled, I kept a blog of the trip, which you can find here.  And I also wrote a feature article for the print magazine that we have placed on the web for you to read.

Drill PressThe bottom line I came to was this: that the quality of Asian tools varied from factory to factory, just as in any region of the world. That the axiom “you get what you pay for” is true worldwide. That the shift of tool manufacture to Asia was not going to change, and that few tools are made here in the U.S. any longer. And that the driving factor in moving tools to Asia was that U.S. tool buyers are thrifty, and will go for a bargain price almost every time.

Those were my findings. As always, we invite your comments here on the blog, but please, keep them civil. We’d like to print them all.

Rob Johnstone
Editor in Chief
Woodworker’s Journal

Tool Manufacturing

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