Ruminations, Philosophy, and Workshop Antics.......... #18: Quality Tools - LJ's Can Make a Difference!

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Blog entry by Jim Bertelson posted 05-02-2010 08:29 PM 1473 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I was replying to lilredweldrinrod's Rigid service review and realized I was rambling on, so I converted it into a blog…......currently I am in Chicago at the start of a vacation consisting of family vistis and a random road trip.

LJ’s are undoubtedly partially responsible for some the changes we see in the service policies of tool companies…...........

In the old days, quality seemed a matter of pride, and most woodworking machines were commercial. Commercial products have different duty cycles, and businesses are more likely to spend more for durability. As a business man, I can tell you that is a fact. In my business, equipment gets heavy use, and quality is actually much cheaper in the long run.

Then came the consumer move into the woodworking hobby and DIYing that really affected availablity and demand. And of course, then came the marketing folks, and CEO’s that only looked at the next few quarter’s bottom line…...there are some prominent universities and business school’s to blame for that. And those CEO’s just milked every buck out of the customer base, scamming them with shoddy quality with low overhead costs, and high prices. Those CEO’s knew that by the time the word got out, they would be long gone. Because they knew they would move up to another CEO job in another corporation, based on a short track record that looked good in short haul, but would inevitably destroy the customer base. In other words, they didn’t care about the corporation, the stockholders, or the customers. Greed and the get rich quick artists took over American industry, and we know what happened.

Japan and Europe took over the quality market. And eventually much of manufacturing.

News traveled slowly, there was no internet, and national news was covered in a few minutes on TV every evening by the big news networks. It not well understood that the quality movement, and understanding how to make quality products, was developed by an American, Demming. But most of our industry ignored him. Quality takes time and investment, and you couldn’t get rich quick that way. But Japan thought he was a real guru, had him come to Japan and teach, and implemented what he had discovered.

Now the new place to make quick and dirty stuff is China. Foist it off on the public, although there are some excellent Chinese products….......check out Lenovo computers. It is not all China’s fault. Merchandisers can get an excellent product out of China, but they will have to pay more.

But, the equation is changing. I rarely buy any significant tool or make any large personal purchase without looking at the reviews on the internet.

And the information travels fast, partly due to forums like this one. You can’t make a bad product, or give bad service, without it becoming public knowledge very quickly. The greedy CEO’s are having a tougher time of it. Quality is now selling products in the consumer industries, as well as the commercial product industries.

So if you post a bad product, or bad service on LJ’s, it is more than just venting steam or complaining. And you need to post about the good products as well. Because you are actually affecting the quality of products and services.

Is it perfect? No. But you can see the trend. You not only influence everyone that reads your post, but also those people go to other forums and make remarks. And if they purchase a product on line, they may express their opinion in a review on sites like Amazon. Hopefully the good products get good remarks, and the bad products get bad remarks. Although it is pretty obvious, some of the opinions are obviously plants by the manufacturer.

When I get back home, I am going to look very carefully to see if there is any products I can review, or comments about service I can make. I have made some small purchases, but I haven’t had time to test them well in the shop. But even commenting about the little things and well as the big things is important.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

5 comments so far

View Troy's profile


186 posts in 3942 days

#1 posted 05-02-2010 09:25 PM

It’s all about the feedback. Amazing what can happen with good communication.

Great post Jim.

-- Troy Bouffard || Master Sergeant, US Army (Retired) ||

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4213 days

#2 posted 05-02-2010 11:11 PM

For certain an important topic Jim. Here is my opinion. I’m sure there are many ways to approach this, but this is mine.

One of the main obstacles towards getting better quality tools or anything else is simply a fair share of ignorance/naivety on the part of the consumers. I have been an active member of that group on more than one occasion, so I know what I’m talking about!

Bamboozlers have been around since man first walked the planet and I think they will always be with us. Reviews are great if they come from a trusted source. I do think something more basic is needed though, like a seal of approval by a trusted independent organization which covers not only the nice features, but also the quality of components and testing to determine the expected life. This shouldn’t be so difficult, but I have to ask myself why we don’t have such an organization (as far as I know anyway). The lack of such a seal would at least warn us to be aware. I still say though that in most cases the price does indicate the level of quality if being purchased from a reputable firm.

There are probably many other ways to help the consumer, but often the consumer doesn’t want to be helped. It is easy for us to convince ourselves that something we can get at a surprisingly low price will meet our needs. At least that is my experience, and I have been sorely disappointed more than once. I have learned from prior experience though and it is paying off, even at my age.

In another life I was a commercial lending officer in a bank. A very important part of evaluating our customers was not only collecting information about them and their businesses, but also validating that information. If a manufacturer makes claims about his product that cannot be validated, then how good are those claims?

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3994 days

#3 posted 05-02-2010 11:16 PM

no wonder why you have been quiet lately already on vacation
hope you and Sherie enjoy your little big trip around on the roads :-)
and you are so right about what you write but I also think the L Js
make a fair amaunt of good reweiws but some of them cuold be better
but ít´s difficult to remember all of the small things from the time you
deside to buy and you got it in the hand the first time a ½ – 1 year after
when you realy can make a full rewiew of the tool and the companys service
so you have to deside 1) make a rewiew based on the first empresion when
you remember how was it to buy/install/ align etc. or 2) a full rewiew after
½-1 year of working with the tool in evere aspect of what it was designed for
+ those little exstra every woodworker try to do with the tool becourse it´s the
only tool you have that has a chance to do the job but you wont remember
the small things from nr 1 and there is a big chance that the company already
had pump a new modell in the market and the old modell can´t be bought anymore

and who will remember to make a follow up on a first empression rewiew after
½ or 1 year
most people wuold only make one of them


View lew's profile


13192 posts in 4634 days

#4 posted 05-03-2010 01:35 AM


I think you’re right about the Internet and its’ ability to distribute information quickly and reputable sites will help with the dissemination of that information. I also think Mike raises an important point about the accuracy of the information that is out there.

We used to be able to trust the reviews in the woodworking magazines. Now they are more like teachers handing out A’s and B’s to everyone- afraid to hurt anyone’s precious ego or effect the almighty advertising dollar.

When I taught Scuba Diving, there was a publication that had no advertising. It was supported only by subscribing members. They purchased, tested and reported on equipment, schools and diving operations. They told it like it was and probably saved a lot of lives in the process. We need something like this to validate the reviews we read on the Internet. I don’t know how “honest” the reviews are in Consumers Report but maybe they should start a wood working section.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4043 days

#5 posted 05-03-2010 04:41 PM

I think this may be the only ‘weapon’ we have, communication. I don’t depend on one review, I read a number, and watch LJ’s pretty close. Some companies seem to be fairly consistent. Others, like B&D, Delta, PC, DeWalt, and whoever else is in that group is a moving target. But maybe they will sort themselves out. I buy with both the brand name in mind, and the specific product. Good review or not, some companies I will not buy from.

Kinda like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Of course, that became pretty useless after awhile. You would really need a tough minded organization to maintain the integrity required. I don’t know if it is possible anymore. Too many products, changing too fast, too many scams.

........and that is the rub. I noted that I was getting into the rut of thinking I didn’t have enough experience with a tool to critique it. I think I will be a little quicker on the trigger, and take the chance of making a mistake. Also, a review quickly pulls in other posts on the tool to help out.

I am cautious about the magazines as well. Mostly I use them as one of multiple sources in making a purchase. I think Consumer’s Report has to avoid being a nitch magazine, and will only review items with large consumer purchase bases. They have to buy all the products, and I think they have only so much money.

Well off on the road, try to catch you all tomorrow.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

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