What Makes a Great Tool?

What Makes a Great Tool?

The only real answer to what makes a great tool lies in the mind of the person actually using that tool.

For a few years we sold a very special knife alloy to custom knife makers. It was a great alloy and very expensive but it made wonderful knives.  We are active on the forums and knife makers would post about how great the knife alloy was. Knife users would post about how great the alloy was. There were a couple of people who would then post and say that we were wrong. They would say that the knife alloy was not that good. If the person who makes the knife and the person who uses the knife both love the knife then I don’t see where anyone else has a right to tell them that they are wrong.

We had to quit selling this alloy because Mitsubishi got so busy that they didn’t want to make it for us anymore.

If you’re in the tool business for any amount of time at all you realize that there is no such thing as two identical users.  We hosted a dinner in Las Vegas for some guys from sawmills when we were developing our advanced cermet grades of saw tips. There were two filers there from the same company in Canada. Their mills were only a couple miles apart, they were cutting the same thing and the mills were about as identical as sawmills get.  One filer explained why he changed saws once every eight hours and why that was the way to do it. The other filer explained why he changed saws every four hours and why that was the way to do it.  Both ran excellent mills and got excellent results. Both definitely have their own way of doing things, though.

A huge problem in the industry is magazine ranking of various saw blades or router bits. No matter how carefully they do it, and I have consulted with them enough to really appreciate how thorough they are, they cannot duplicate the experience for each and every user.

Even with something such as a router bit or a tablesaw blade the individual user has a great deal to do with how good the results are.

In addition, people learn to use certain tools. If you use and like a certain tool it can take a bit of an an adjustment to switch to a similar but different tool. I used to have a Chrysler convertible, which was an automatic, and a Toyota pickup, which was a stick.  More than once, I got into the Chrysler and reached down for the stick because I had been driving the Toyota a lot and got used to it.

This makes it extremely difficult for those of us that design and build new tools. Our World’s Best saw blades have a total runout of 0.002 inches which is as good as can be done with today’s technology. The best you find in a big box blade is typically 0.004 inches and runout up to 0.008 inches is common.

Unfortunately, just because our saw blade runs straighter and truer does not necessarily mean that you’re going to like it better than the blade you have been using. That is the way to bet and that is the way it works out the great majority of the time.  But there is still, occasionally, somebody who likes their old blade better. That’s why we tell people this up front and that’s why everything we sell comes with 100% satisfaction guarantee.


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