Woodcraft or Rockler?

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Forum topic by MedicKen posted 07-10-2011 05:54 AM 25745 views 0 times favorited 74 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1615 posts in 4233 days

07-10-2011 05:54 AM

I was wondering where the majority of the LJ’s purchase their supplies, tools, finishes etc? I am not going to ask for internet purchases, just in-store.

Do you prefer Woodcraft or Rockler?

What is the major deciding factor on where you make that purchase? Location and or proximity to home/work?

Why do you prefer one over the other?

What are your impressions of Woodcraft?

What are your impressions of Rockler?

Have you attended any of the classes offered by either?

If you had an opportunity to invest in a store which one would it be?

Have you had any bad experinces with either? How do you feel it was handled?

I am very seriously considering a franchise with Woodcraft. In our area we do not have ANY local suppliers of quality woodworking tools, equipment or lumber. The closest hardwood supplier is 2 hours north or south. Its not too far to drive but when you need a small amount to finish a project or build a small project its too far to go.

As far as tools go all we have is the normal, Home Depot, Lowes, OSH etc, and that leaves a lot to be desired.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their [email protected]

74 replies so far

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3929 days

#1 posted 07-10-2011 06:12 AM

I frequent Rockler more often, but only because it’s on my way home from work…and I have a never ending supply of 15 to 20% off coupons (excluding power tools, of course).

I’m in DFW, so we have a Woodcraft, but it’s 20 miles in the other direction. I have made a few triple digit purchases at that store however.

I will say that the Rockler people are usually more willing to help than the Woodcraft people, at least that’s my feeling here in DFW.

-- jay,

View WayneC's profile


14358 posts in 4868 days

#2 posted 07-10-2011 06:18 AM

I have had good experiences with Both. I have only taken classes with woodcraft. The woodcraft store is across town and Rockler is about an hour and fifteen minutes from here. The stock varies from one store to another. IMO there is more hardware, jig supplies and such at Rockler. More tools at Woodcraft. Woodcraft has a larger lumber supply between the two I have been to.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Drew's profile


46 posts in 3459 days

#3 posted 07-10-2011 06:35 AM

Majority of both are franchised. There will be Bad and Good. like there are Good and Bad McDonald Restaurants. Of the two, I like Woodcraft for tools and such. For wood, well the Rockler store that is close to me is Johnson’s Workbench. They are listed on the Rockler site as reseller. I get most of my wood from there because of distance to travel vs Going to the Woodcraft.

-- If A equals success, then the formula is, A = X + Y + Z, Where X is work, Y is play, And Z is keep your mouth shut." -Albert Einstein.

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 3411 days

#4 posted 07-10-2011 07:03 AM

Rockler by far. Sometimes Woodcraft… Eagle America, too. Many others plus Ebay and Amazon as well.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View coloradoclimber's profile


548 posts in 4839 days

#5 posted 07-10-2011 07:05 AM

um, proximity to home is the only factor and only when I need something TODAY, which is rarely.

I would shop at either one, or rather not shop at either one, no preference. Why, because they are both tending to lower and lower quality wares, more limited in store selection, and they cant match prices on the internet. I suspect it has to do with competition from the internet and the stores just trying to stay alive. Woodworking as a hobby is pretty expensive and woodworkers are either hobbyists with enough money to afford to buy better than what rockler or woodcraft carry or they’re cheap as the day is long and are unwilling to pay for a reasonable tool. Both stores seem to be tending toward the HomeDepot model of carry the cheapest junk people will buy to try to make a buck.

I understand both rockler and woodcraft carry a larger selection and more specialty products than a home depot but the internet carries even more.

So what does that mean, it means I buy most of my woodworking tools and supplies off of the internet. Yes I understand the internet is KILLING local stores. But unfortunately a brick and mortar just cannot carry the same range and selection as what is available on the internet and I have yet to see a brick and mortar beat the internet on prices.

What about that “hands on” experience of holding and fondling a product before the purchase. Here again the internet is making “hands on” obsolete. When I go to woodcraft I get the opinion of one, maybe two, old guys that may or may not have ever used the product. If I go the internet I can read a hundred reviews and find details a store clerk is never going to be able to match. And once I’ve done my research on the internet then it’s just one or two clicks away and the product is on it’s way to my house, usually to arrive within 2 to 5 days. And for me, and probably most hobbyists, if I put my order in on monday or tuesday I have what I need in my hands by friday so I can work in the shop on the weekend, and I don’t have to drive 20 minutes to an hour, to find out the local store does not have the product I want, and if they do it’s 20% or more more expensive. The internet man, it killed book stores, video stores, and these days it’s killing just about every other type of brick and mortar store as well.

I’ve never taken a class at rockler but have taken a couple classes at woodcraft, again because of proximity. Rockler is over an hour away and woodcraft is 20 minutes. Both of the classes at woodcraft were, um, unsatisfactory. The first was an introductory class and just too chaotic. I think mostly because of the inexperience of the students. The instructor kept bouncing back and forth and trying to give individual help to the slower folks but ended up not finishing the material and leaving the quicker student sitting around twiddling their thumbs. The second class was a specialty class and ended up being more of a sales pitch than a class. It was like, “We sale this product to do that, and that product to do this, and some of those products to do something else”. Didn’t learn too much, except more about woodcrafts product line, which I could have just found on the internet. These days the classes offered by my local woodcraft are getting fewer and fewer and definitely tending toward the introduction to beginning introductory basic woodworking.

My local woodcraft does sell festool and some incra products, a smattering of powermatic and jet tools but they are definitely tending toward cheaper and more offshore tools.

I don’t know how much money you can make running a woodcraft but I gotta believe it is getting harder and harder.

View pintodeluxe's profile


6150 posts in 3584 days

#6 posted 07-10-2011 08:08 AM

Woodcraft. Their prices are better than Rockler sale prices. Some exceptional deals are available too –
Woodriver HVLP gravity-feed spray gun for $29. Are you kidding me?!

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 3411 days

#7 posted 07-10-2011 08:51 AM

Oh, sorry… I meant to say

The same gun body as the Woodcraft is 39.99 at but is $31.99 at The woodcraft sells for $29.99. There are some differences, however… other than $2 in price.

The Rockler has free shipping. the Woodcraft is $7.50. Now the Rockler is $5.50 less.

But I don’t need one today, so I bet within 14 days I get a 20% off one item Rockler email. I always wait… and not very long.

The Rockler version has a 100 cc stainless steel paint cup (the woodcraft has a 120cc plastic paint cup). The Rockler has a 1 mm needle (the woodcraft has a .8 mm needle). The Rockler version has two step trigger control, the woodcraft might, to but it doesn’t say.

At Rockler, there are accessories for this gun listed below the gun that I might want or need, but there are none listed at Woodcraft.

I’m not knocking Woodcraft at all. I use them, but I am saying that I go for the bottom line like a broke man and make sure I compare apples to apples on features as well. I’m not kidding.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View Wintersedge's profile


83 posts in 3745 days

#8 posted 07-10-2011 10:10 AM

A lot has to do with who is running the place. The Woodcraft here in Atlanta is run by Steve. He is a heck of a woodworker, his people are sharp and he has awesome contracts in place. You can order Benchcrafted, Lee Nielsen, Brese, Vesper.. just about anything top of the line is available and even some stuff that is over the top of the line. He stocks more of the better standard woodcraft wares. And there is a monster machine room available for you to try equipment out.

I see no need to ever go to Rockler.. now, what is hard is that Highland Hardware is equal distance to Woodcraft…

-- Motivation alone is not enough. If you have an idiot and you motivate him, now you have a motivated idiot.

View woodbilder's profile


9 posts in 3295 days

#9 posted 07-10-2011 10:48 AM

Andrew above is mistaken, with all due respects, see Rockler for info. Most Rockler stores are family owned by Anne Rockler & family. Their independent Reseller is not the same as a franchise. Therefore most store personnel are Rockler employees on salary and benefits. The firm is well heeled and operates other enterprises under different names such as wood interest magazines.

WWCft are primarily franchise thus requiring lots of capital on franchisee’s part and all that goes with a franchise relationship. (Local store has changed hands several times in a dozen years).

If you really have a serious interest, you should be looking at industry business reporting stats.

View TechRedneck's profile


770 posts in 3628 days

#10 posted 07-11-2011 12:00 AM

I’ve been to both stores. Wood Craft is over 3 hrs away and same with Rockler. I’ve spend a lot of money in Wood Craft both in the stores and on-line.

If it were me, I would open an independent woodworker store. Save the franchise fees and stock the things that more serious woodworkers use. Get some deals with Lie Nelson, JEt, carry some quality hand tools. Things people can touch and feel. If you are a good salesman you can always sell a solid quality product at a higher price. Make some deals with American suppliers! Put some wood storage off to the side and purchase lumber direct from the mills.

Setup a good website and ship items from inventory or right off the floor. Give that personal touch. Seems there is a lot of competition on the Internet. I do most of my shopping there now because there are no good stores around me. I am sure this is true in a lot of the country. As the Boomers retire I am willing to bet that more of them will pick up this hobby as I have.

On the other hand, I’ve been in Retail and it is a rough and tumble business, not for the faint of heart. You better have a boat load of cash in reserve until you build the customer base. If you enjoy the hobby and have never run a franchise or retail operation then get some professional assistance, and a good money manager. Do some research and travel to as many Wood Craft stores as you can and talk to the owners (before you call corporate).

-- Mike.... West Virginia. "Man is a tool using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.". T Carlyle

View rustfever's profile


793 posts in 4081 days

#11 posted 07-11-2011 04:37 AM

Location, Location, Location

-- Rustfever, Central California

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 3831 days

#12 posted 07-11-2011 05:07 AM

If your going to open one, open it in Orange county area.
I see you live Bakersfield, that is way too far.

View woodboatal's profile


4 posts in 3283 days

#13 posted 07-11-2011 05:53 AM

I was trying to hold my tongue but elected to add a comment. We have both stores in St. Louis and they’re fairly close to the same driving distance. Each store has their on line of tools, have regular demonstrations, are well stocked with product and are staffed with knowledgeable people. The major difference in which store I choose to frequent is mostly based on the one that provides service to customers, are willing to help all customers in the order that enter the store and don’t show preference. That, in my opinion could be entirely different in another location, depending entirely on management and staff.

In my neck of the woods, the Woodcraft store offers classes that are lead by experts in their discipline of the hobby. Rockler doesn’t offer this here. Rockler does have many demonstrations of tools and methods which Woodcraft doesn’t do very often. They each have similar stock on hand, usually in sufficient supply and are price competitive. The difference in the two here is mainly the customer relations. Rockler shines far above Woodcraft in this, here in St. Louis.

This may be the absolute opposite in a different city but I and other customers are treated with respect at our Rockler store, not so much at Woodcraft. I have been totally ignored after asking for help at Woodcraft. It has never happened at Rockler.

-- Al

View SnowyRiver's profile


51459 posts in 4251 days

#14 posted 07-11-2011 05:43 PM

I frequent Rockler more often only because its close. Woodcraft is 20 miles from me and I only go there if I am in the area. Although, the Woodcraft here seems better stocked than Rockler. Either that or its laid out better, but I can always find what I am looking for at Woodcraft, but sometimes Rocker is out of stock. I think the help is about the same….it sometimes makes me wonder if the people working at either do woodworking since often they dont seem to understand what I am asking. I have not done a study on prices but they seem about the same here.

I have had good customer service from both. I guess if I invested on one (start up) I might choose Woodcraft since I would like to see one in my area.

I havent taken classes at them…Woodcraft is the only one that has indepth classes and its just too far to drive for extended classes.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3637 days

#15 posted 07-11-2011 06:07 PM

I like Woodcraft very much. My favorite carving tools are Pfeil (Swiss Made) and Woodcraft sells them so they automatically get extra business from me on other things. I like Rockler’s hardware and they have other things that Woodcraft doesn’t sell. In Atlanta we also have Highland Woodworking which is a really nice store. They are direct competitors with Woodcraft on the internet and I like the atmosphere a little better at Highland Woodworking (also (Highland Hardware). Unfortunately I don’t like Hirsch carving tools as much as I like Pfeil. Hirsch are not really that bad at all but I just think Pfeil has a slight edge on quality (heavier handle, marked clearly, slightly heavier).

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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