This is something which has been on my mind for quite a long time and I haven't found any other blogs or similar discussion forums about this so I figured I would start it myself.
As a new woodworker, one of the things I have been working hard at for the past year or so is properly setting up my shop with decent tools and machines. I am definitely not one of those "I always need to have the most expensive item" kind of guys, but at the same time I am not one who likes to skimp on tools - particularly power tools.
In any case, I'm just wondering if anyone else has found that Canada, specifically Western Canada, is extremely lacking in Woodworking focused businesses. It could be that I am not looking in the right places, but in my admitedly short time, here are the only shops I have found that deal with Woodworking:
KMS Tools (formerly house of tools I think)
Dick's Lumber/Curtis Lumber
Ok I am being very general in including all the big box shops, like CT, Sears, etc, but honestly, I haven't found any other shops that carry Woodworking stuff. The most annoying part is of the above shops, only two in my opinion are actually focused on wood, which are Lee-Valley and Windsor Plywood. The others are a mish-mash of automotive/metal working/construction, etc. And Lee-Valley doesn't sell any power tools!
As well, with the exception of KMS, the above shops don't habitually stock what are often referred to as "quality" machines. Mastercraft, Craftex, Ridgid, etc, are not usually in the discussion of high quality power tools (with respect to those brands…I realize that they are good for their purposes…IE not for professionals.)
So…my question for you fellow Canucks out there (particularly those in BC) where the heck do you shop for tools?
I find myself shopping at the Rockler, Woodcraft and Grizzly shops nearby in Bellingham and Seatle more than at my local shops simply because the quality and diversity of products is just so limited up here. This severe limitation / cornering of the market has made it so that distributors can basically charge whatever they want for power tools. $900 for a 14" bandsaw
You can get one at Lowes or Grizzly in the US for like, $500. Even with duty and exchange you can save $200 to $300 just by driving down south and importing the machines yourself. With the exception of Lee-Valley, I can't find any shops that sell wood finishes (lacquer, shellac, etc) since most of the big boxes only carry floor polishes/finishes or outdoor finishes and stains.
I dunno, like I said I am not an expert and it's possible that I am not looking at the right spots. But seriously, if someone could point me in the right direction I would much appreciate it! Let me know how you set up your dream shop!