Fisch Precision Tools, Inc. is an American company with deep Austrian roots. It was originally set up to market Johann Eberhard’s line of boring bits. When American distributor and partner, Tony Hinch wanted to start including machinery in the product mix, he ended up buying out his European partners. Fisch was launched in 1988 and has solidly positioned itself in the woodworking marketplace. It still markets Eberhard products in the U.S, but now manufactures machinery and offers exclusive lines of its own bits.
Sales manager Dwight Hunter explained the philosophy behind the American company’s expansion, “Ask anyone in the industry who makes the best Forstner bits and mortising chisels and they’ll say the Austrians. We wanted to carry on that same tradition in our machine line.”
Dwight cited the Fisch benchtop mortiser and mini-lathe as good examples. “We added features to the mortiser that other companies didn’t have, and added more bulk and cast material, so it’s more durable than other machines. Our mini lathe is heavier than the JET or Delta & our two biggest competitors & even without the optional extension. Their maximum bit length is 14″ & ours is 15″, and offers a heavier 6.6 amp motor.”
Initially Fisch advertised in woodworking publications, and then started attending the traveling woodworking shows. More recently they’ve visited woodworking guilds to show off their products, but as Dwight put it: “With a good machine, word of mouth is your best marketing.”
Nowadays, woodworkers can find the products in both professional and hobby shops and online at Amazon.com. On the West Coast, their big dealer is All-Pro, while ToolCenter.com and Right-tool.com are the major players on the East Coast.
Eberhard is still the company’s major source for boring bits. But as Dwight described it, many American woodworkers want top European or American brands, but they don’t want to pay for it. And in talking to distributors at shows, they learned that beginning woodworkers do not want to spend the extra bucks to buy lifetime guaranteed Forstner bits. That’s why the company developed three different lines to meet different markets.
Using brad points as an example, Dwight explained that the company’s 7-piece Vortex-D line is made in the USA, has a life-time guarantee on bits, never needs re-sharpening, and sell for around $75. They also have another 7-piece set made in Germany that’s a medium grade and easy to re-sharpen that sells for $20. Then they have a 29-piece set made in China – part of their GuildCraft” line — that sells for $30. The price difference is in the quality of metal used and overall manufacturing of it.
In addition to the GuildCraft liine, all of the company’s machines are made in China or Taiwan. Quality has never been an issue.
“If you’re particular, they can manufacture to your specifications,” Dwight noted. “You keep on them and if something’s not right you reject it, and they have the ability to do it right.”
The company continues to expand its markets, but taking the lead in a new market is risky, as Dwight explained: “We look around and see what’s selling and what people are looking for and hope we can get it manufactured and on the market while the market is still available. It takes a lot of legwork and foresight.”
A log splitter seemed a bit of stretch even to some in the company. Dwight recalls commenting that you can’t get an extension cord long enough to get to the wood. But the company has sold thousands of them & many to wood turners.
“We learned from visiting woodworking clubs, that when they turn spindles they like to see the whole grain. If you saw up a piece before you turn in, you’re cutting through the grain. But if you split a piece it follows the grain naturally.”