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I ordered a Lie-Nielson 4.5 smoothing plane back in May from my local Woodcraft store. It came in to the store in July, but due to my accident I didn't get to pick it up until tonight. It's a sweeeet piece of art!

Well, the guy behind the counter tells me as I'm checking out that as of the 1st of the year that Woodcraft will no longer carry, stock or sell and Lie-Nielson products.

Has anyone else heard about this? Kind of reminds me of about a year ago when they stopped carrying BenchDog stuff.
 

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I don't know if LN has anything to do with it, but…Woodcraft is working pretty hard at getting their house brands woodriver and pinnacle going. It's on just about everything it seems. Your own brand means more money. Don't know about the quality of all these things yet. Most seem to come from China so it's usually the lowest bidder situation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It just seems like "choice' is becoming old fashioned. There is no Rockler near me, and Woodcraft pretty much has a monopoly on wood working supplies in New England.

Yes, there's always the "net," but sometimes, especially when spending big bucks, you like to touch, hold, feel, see. Sure there are pictures, but sometimes the tactile senses need to be fed. Pictures can't tell you the quality of a product like LN, but holding one and 'eyeballing' it can.

On the other hand, maybe I am the type of person that is to blame for this phenomenon. I did all of my Christmas shopping on the net. Never went to the local mall or stores at all.

Oh well, like Chuck said, just order from LN directly.
 

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I have the same feeling; Woodcraft seems to be displacing brands with their own brands. I went in to pick up a couple of Bessey clamps and they had none in stock, only Wood River. Besseys are not discontinued; they just had no inventory. Last year they had a whole rack of them.
 

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Isn't that what Rockler has been doing for years, putting their name on just about everything as well. If you want a router lift, it's a Rockler, a router table, it's a Rockler, etc. etc. I have not heard anyone give them heck about that. Private branding is the largest selling name in any product out there, so it only makes sense that private branding has arrived in woodworking. The stuff I have bought from Woodcraft with the Pinnacle and Wood River name has been of very good quality and the price is right….
 

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Luckily most of these house brands don't usually manage to maintain the quality or consistency needed to make the strategy stick.

Just speculating, but I wouldn't be too surprised either if what's going on is not also that Lie Nielsen has decided not to compete on price with the lower cost 'premium' items that have appeared like the Stanley Sweetheart and the Eastern made equivalents you mention - that they can't afford to hand over the sort of mark ups and price reductions the big retailers would seek.

Judging by their readiness to sell direct (even transatlantic over the heads of e.g. their importers to the UK) prior even to this it seems like they were never falling over themselves to favour their retailers with special pricing anyway. Ditto for Veritas.

I couldn't for example extract more than 5% discount on a big order of power and handtools to a major UK retailer recently - and ended up buying directly from the makers in the US, paying the shipping and still doing quite a lot better than i would have in the UK.

I guess they long ago decided that they would favour direct sales by themselves and stand firm on distributor discounts, and by doing this also protect their pricing and margins even at the expense of volume - in the knowledge that while going through the big retailers might well get you a few years of good volume (that costs a fortune to gear up production for), that in the end it'll only last until having screwed your prices down to nothing they rip off your offering to source it elsewhere….

Also that premium hand tools are bought a hard core of minority buyers who will pay the price for decent quality if there's nowhere else to get it from. i.e. the threat to sales into this relatively finite market is not in the first instance price but rather a failure to maintain quality as can very easily happen in a discount/high volume scenario…

They will of course be in trouble if low cost makers manage to match or exceed their quality at lower price, and right now they must have some exposure in that they are supporting quite an extensive product line. The discount 'premium' maker will no doubt cherry pick just the more lucrative and mainstream opportunities.

It's actually rather dangerous territory. Woodworking has been there before with discount driven rush to trash tools since WW2 until the advent of the likes of Lie Nielsen. Here's hoping history won't repeat itself, that it will remain possible for the top producers to stay in the market….

ian
 

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My local Woodcraft told me some months ago about Woodcraft planning to discontinue handling LN tools. I was told LN could not guarantee providing inventory in the quantities demanded by Woodcraft corporate and that LN refused to compromise their quality standards in an effort to produce the quantities asked for. I did order a good bit of LN stuff back then when the corporate Woodcraft was offering LN products with a 20% discount and free shipping. I am still waiting for a #8 which was long back ordered. I felt it was an unfair practice discounting LN 20% but not enabling the local stores to offer the same deal. In essence, corporate Woodcraft was competing against their own franchisees.

Jeff, West Central Florida
 

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That's too bad. I always bought my LN stuff there when I had a WoodCraft coupon. But I'm glad they didn't compromise their quality for WoodCraft, that would have been bad and undermined the very reason to buy LN.
 
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