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Silly_Billy

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For anyone looking for a bargain during the pandemic, your wait is over; here is the news that Bridge City has slashed its prices. A bench plane can be had for under $600, which is a 40% price reduction. What a bargain! :mrgreen:

While I'm glad that someone makes high-end tools, I wonder who buys them. Even if I won the lottery, I reckon I'd be too nervous to use anything that expensive. Imagine if you accidentally knocked the plane off the bench!

Also, will fewer people buy Bridge City tools now that they have moved manufacturing from the US to China?
 

D_W

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Almost immediately after the deal was announced, there were blog posts of people buying BCTW tools from china or second tier markets while the others had prices being propped up, I suppose to keep them near where they were when BCTW was going here in the US.

There's a fine line between getting foreign made stuff and looking it over and doing a significant amount of manufacturing/assembly in the US - I don't know what was actually going on at BCTW in the US (which of those, or what blend), but blog posts of buying tools for half or so of the US price - seemingly the same thing (the various gadgetry and marking tools included) would put a limited life on how long tools would sell at the higher price in the US markets. It looks like they've headed it off.

The purists at the bottom of the article remind me of those who said fender guitar could never survive (they were in debt trouble) if they cheapened the brand by using their main label on guitars made overseas. They've thrived. Maybe someone else will come along and serve the purists. I'd bet this isn't the last harvey industries price drop.
 

thetyreman

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they are possibly the most grotesque looking tools I have ever seen regardless of price, it shows that they were not truly high end if they can afford to slash prices and still make profit, even if I was a multi billionaire I don't think I'd want one.
 

DBT85

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thetyreman":1tc2dl9y said:
they are possibly the most grotesque looking tools I have ever seen regardless of price, it shows that they were not truly high end if they can afford to slash prices and still make profit, even if I was a multi billionaire I don't think I'd want one.
The definition of high end is huge profit margins. A £900 phone puts at least £300 straight in the manufacturers pocket.

With margins like that it's easy to slash prices, especially if you've just moved manufacturing from somewhere like the US to China as well.
 

Sideways

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I have nothing against Harvey Industries who make these under license in China - they make all sorts of machinery, including some of the better Chinese kit, but I would not pay Bridge City prices for the Chinese made (maybe even the American made) stuff.
Having handled it in Axminster, I consider it way overpriced. Shiny anodised aluminium does not make a long lasting workshop tool as you can tell from the number of pieces showing minor damage new in the box. I've bought equally well made stuff from China at a fraction of the price of equivalent Bridge City items.
 

woodbloke66

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DBT85":1ak9ybsu said:
The definition of high end is huge profit margins.
Matthew Platt at Workshop Heaven is currently selling a selection of Holtey (pronounced Holtie) planes which for me are far more desirable than those Bridge City offerings, regardless of where they're run up.
I just wonder though, how much of that price for a Holtey is profit? - Rob
 

D_W

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DBT85":8nz14yid said:
thetyreman":8nz14yid said:
they are possibly the most grotesque looking tools I have ever seen regardless of price, it shows that they were not truly high end if they can afford to slash prices and still make profit, even if I was a multi billionaire I don't think I'd want one.
The definition of high end is huge profit margins. A £900 phone puts at least £300 straight in the manufacturers pocket.

With margins like that it's easy to slash prices, especially if you've just moved manufacturing from somewhere like the US to China as well.
we have the modern version of this, which is the coach wallet example that Joel Moskowitz once gave. Coach wallets were about $300 here in the states and made in one of the New York burgs, which is a tough place to do business and avoid the government making you go broke!!

The wallets at $300 allowed the business to survive and the tradition and methods made the wallets great (the rest of this below is my spin on it -but what I've seen in other types of businesses).

At some point, someone wants to sell the business (common in small privately owned names where someone retires, becomes divorced, whatever it may be, and looks for a buyer). Nobody can afford to purchase the business in the US and run it the same as the prior owner who didn't have a huge after-tax loan to pay off. So the brand gets marketed by a specialist if needed and 20 turnip suckers offer 5 or 10 times what the owner thought they'd ever get, they make some empty promises and tie the owner to a 3 year contract (to make it look like the brand is still the same - "look, mr. coach is still there!! it's the same thing!!!"). The new owner promises to change little to the public, makes vague statements and already has a business plan to cease making wallets in the US before the original owner's contract ever runs out. Then, the original owner who may have been naive is stuck sitting and watching his brand go to rubbish, but he has to be there so that the company says "look, same thing -we make them in china now, but still look at them at HQ, quality is the same. And we're cutting the price by 10%"

Some loyal buyers who really are into the details (10% maybe), stop buying - complain - and 2 new buyers for each that have left buy a coach wallet because "they've never seen them on sale before".

Several wallets start being made that don't look like a coach product, but they have the brand on them. they're not that great, but they're 10% less than the old wallet that was 10% off already. social media influencers get free versions (who cares if they cost $10, give as many away as you can - cheaper than real ad space), and some of the new profit buys videos from bigger influencers. They talk about how stuff in the new wallet is much cooler. The prior owner barfs because he knows they're rubbish - he throws a wallet down on on the new owners' desk or sends a scathing email and the new owner sends him text from his agreement reminding him that he can be held legally liable if he doesn't go along with it. Eventually he leaves, the market gradually realizes the brand is just an upscale third world brand and goes to google to check the website for the wallets still made in the US (they must still make them there, right?). The website gives very little specific information about anything, but it's really colorful - no wallets are made in the US.

HOWEVER.....

I don't think this story is quite the same - I don't buy BCTW but suspect that this kind of work has been done in China for John E for a LONG time because he gets offers through the email or at trade shows to help him improve his product line. He's not had by it, he's part of it. The $900 plane was probably $150 of china plane, that much in US overhead and everything from there on is horribly ugly bug-eyed tools made almost entirely of metal, and looking like they were designed by sketch-up hints.

I doubt they were very "made in the USA" for a long time.

I often see people selling small businesses here. They started from nothing, paid other people as little as possible and then they want the moon when they decide to sell because they're "giving someone else a turn key business - I wish someone had done the same for me". Of course, when they started, they scoffed at anyone selling a business like the one they're selling. They give the same fib to their employees, half the time, their customer list is all the buyer wants and the employees get laid off after the original owner's contract term ends.

Think it's unlikely that half or more of the buyers won't care about made in china?

Three years ago, I gave this coach routine above in the office where I work. Two ladies who I wasn't talking to were eavesdropping. I heard one of them say " are you f __ g kidding me?". She had inside-outed her coach bag to find the label to see that it was made in China. It was $400 (probably would've been $800 if it was US made). She had been getting coach stuff for a long time and couldn't fathom the idea that a $400 bag could be foreign made - so she never checked. I don't think she's bought any more, but now since they have bags that cost 10-25% (guess) of what they sell for, they can spend on marketing and influencers and buy more.
 

Max Power

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woodbloke66":2yo49t5l said:
DBT85":2yo49t5l said:
I just wonder though, how much of that price for a Holtey is profit? - Rob
Probably a similar percentage to an art piece, the raw materials in either will be a small part of the overall price, but likely higher in the plane.
The value of a Holtey is in the low numbers produced and the skills of the maker, who is considered by many to be the finest plane maker ever
 

DBT85

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woodbloke66":1xk0yop7 said:
DBT85":1xk0yop7 said:
The definition of high end is huge profit margins.
Matthew Platt at Workshop Heaven is currently selling a selection of Holtey (pronounced Holtie) planes which for me are far more desirable than those Bridge City offerings, regardless of where they're run up.
I just wonder though, how much of that price for a Holtey is profit? - Rob
"Although I no longer publish a price list, prices for the low angle planes start at around £2500 pounds and rise to around £7000 for the large panel planes"

As always you are paying for the craftsmans time and skill. If he works at £500 a day and it takes him 5 days to make your plane, you can imagine the bill.

It's exclusivity, uniqueness and "#*@& you" money. Anyone dropping £7000 on a hand plane doesn't care how much it costs.

The Tiffany model in full effect. If you have to ask, you can't afford it.
 

D_W

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Karl had enormous money in machine tools. Anything most of us would do by hand and get each item close to being the same from one to the next, he would instead make a duplicator setup to rough so that every plane was identical.

At first, this sounds like "yeah, everyone does that, it's manufacturing", but I don't think he ever made numbers to recover his time on that.

I recall him saying something along the lines of the larger planes taking about 200 hours.

I make relatively rough looking infill planes - 80 hours or so. If I have an errant strike, no big deal. Small scratches in places, no big deal.

Karl's planes can have no flaws. You couldn't make one a week and I wouldn't be surprised if his workshop was far more than quarter of a million to have.

Instead of buying parts to put together an adjuster assembly, he manufactured the threaded and machined parts and then manufactured. I don't use adjusters, but if I did, I would just buy one. He didn't do that.

I'd personally hate to make even a single plane to the aesthetic perfection standard he does because you can always second guess yourself - now it's perfect, is the design good enough? Everything you do in the shop, you have to do carefully with something like that.

He said in his blog "I don't thrive, I merely survive" financially, or something of that sort. I doubt he was hungry, but I seriously doubt his margins were that high. He was a classic perfectionist and most people underestimate what perfectionists do. He managed to find a customer list that could support perfectionism - most cannot.

(think about even procuring wood for planes like that. You can't get ebony that's two years old - it expands, contracts in cycles. In the long run, it contracts more than it expands, so you need older wood to make a plane like that or gaps will form. That alone drove him nuts and caused him to try making all metal planes.

That said, here in the states, the bigger planes sell for about half of new or much less than new if a little more than half. That's the nature of a custom or boutique business - the buyers who will pay the price don't want used, they want contact with the master.
 

Silly_Billy

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Sideways":179pvr44 said:
Shiny anodised aluminium does not make a long lasting workshop tool
I wondered about this issue, and Bridge City isn't alone in having pricey tools made from aluminium. I reckon Woodpeckers Tools are supposed to be used not collected, but some of them are anodised aluminium. And they aren't cheap!
 

Distinterior

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Silly_Billy":140cfu90 said:
Sideways":140cfu90 said:
Shiny anodised aluminium does not make a long lasting workshop tool
I wondered about this issue, and Bridge City isn't alone in having pricey tools made from aluminium. I reckon Woodpeckers Tools are supposed to be used not collected, but some of them are anodised aluminium. And they aren't cheap!
I have quite a few of Woodpeckers tools and they are surprisingly resilient during use both out on site and in the workshop. The Squares and T Squares come in their own MDF box/frame that can be hung on the wall when not being used and this does help protect the tools from inadvertent damage.....

The red anodising is quite tough and the tools certainly have a quality feel to them.....as you say though, they ain't cheap!
 

AJB Temple

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I would love a Holteye plane, just because I like superbly engineered things. If I was super flush with cash at the moment (I am not) I might even pay the huge prices.

However: I am barely skilled enough to use the carefully prepped (by me) Record, Stanley and Clifton planes I already have. I can clearly see and feel that the couple of Clifton planes I already have (including a fabulous rebate plane) are in a different quality league to the Record stuff.

But can I really make use of the marginal gains from a super boutique plane? No.

It's a bit like musical instruments. I have a very nice hand made Cremonese violin for instance, bought from the maker when I was doing a course there. Would I like a Stradivarius? Yes, of course I would. Could I play it any better? Sadly not. I would sound like a strangled cat either way.

For similar reasons in a way (aesthetics) I will have to buy a machine from Wallace one day.
 

That would work

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When I think of all the tradesmen/craftsmen that I have worked alongside, producing superb work, I cannot imagine one single one of them even considering paying more than the cost of a regular Stanley/Record/Marples/Sorby/Spear and Jackson............ (you get the idea)
Its just a load of nonsense paying prices like that.
 

AJB Temple

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This is clearly true That Would Work but I suspect is not relevant. People buy these things as being for them perfection. It's like art: you can buy a picture of a milkmaid by Vermeer for say £200 million (if it were to be for sale) or a photograph of a plump girl in Dutch peasant garb for £20. Equally functional and equally depictive. But to the buyer, very different.
 

D_W

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That would work":28362gmc said:
When I think of all the tradesmen/craftsmen that I have worked alongside, producing superb work, I cannot imagine one single one of them even considering paying more than the cost of a regular Stanley/Record/Marples/Sorby/Spear and Jackson............ (you get the idea)
Its just a load of nonsense paying prices like that.
I can tell you of one tool hound who probably none of us have ever met a matching craftsman - in productivity or fineness.

George Wilson. The man is still bonkers about tools.

I doubt he has anything from bridge city, but he's definitely got some expensive tools (they need to appeal to a more classical design aesthetic).

There are a lot of heroes in the woodworking world who have either run shops, had great success as studio furniture makers, and subsequently sold a lot of classes and videos, but I doubt any of them are close in raw skill and ability.

Perhaps he's an exception, but the finest workers (i'm talking about people who do work for heirs, not work that the average person can afford) always seem to be open to tools and will chase (often older, now defunct) stuff that's useful with money in hand.

But it's fair to say that probably very few of them would have any desire to own a single piece of bridge city goods.

https://blog.bridgecitytools.com/2011/0 ... -view-153/

When I see something like the tool above - who knows how much it would cost. But I could take someone who is going to make something and make an open sided beech plane that would better the thing above in performance and working speed for no reason other than the amount of friction that a metal profiling plane would generate.

I've often made planes of that type to avoid buying a router bit (in the past, not much router use now) - I can't imagine how much shelf sitting a metal plane like the one above could do, dying just to find something to be used on.

>>WE ARE ONLY MAKING 50 OF THESE…<<

I'll bet - any more than that, and the lack of desirability of the tool would be exposed quickly. When someone intentionally makes a limited run of anything and says it'll never be back, you have to wonder why they have so little confidence in the desirability of the design.
 

D_W

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Separate side comment - I think these skeletal tools are a more "honest" tool if they're made by Harvey industries (what difference does it make if the CNC runs in china vs. the US given the guy now owns the rights to the stuff) and end up being a fraction of the price of the originals.

The only pitfall is that someone may buy a now-$300 plane that was $900 before to find out that $300 stings to them and the plane wasn't very good at $900 and isn't at $300, either.

https://bridgecitytools.com/collections ... hing-plane

(note the claims about accuracy for thickness of components - this is an easy spec to meet if you just mark your work and plane to a line - it's not often necessary, but if you have a set of calipers and an accurate mark, you'll find that you can hit a thousandth if you really need to do it.)

https://bridgecitytools.com/products/si ... 1487164529

Jeez....not learning to use a cap iron on a flea market plane can be a costly thing.
 

Jarno

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Those Bridge City tools are the epitome of over engineering, and prove that "different" is not necessarily equate in "better".
I came across that benchplane at Baptist in NL, 700 euros, sheesh.
A quick calculation says that's about 200 euros of bom cost, and thats if you order parts in 5-10 pieces. So that plane should cost about 350 in a shop 40% markup for manufacturer, and 40 for the shop.

But I think you'll regret buying that thing more each time you cut yourself on that ridiculous tiny double edged plane iron.
 

Sideways

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Distinterior":3iws8zb3 said:
Silly_Billy":3iws8zb3 said:
Sideways":3iws8zb3 said:
Shiny anodised aluminium does not make a long lasting workshop tool
I wondered about this issue, and Bridge City isn't alone in having pricey tools made from aluminium. I reckon Woodpeckers Tools are supposed to be used not collected, but some of them are anodised aluminium. And they aren't cheap!
I have quite a few of Woodpeckers tools and they are surprisingly resilient during use both out on site and in the workshop. The Squares and T Squares come in their own MDF box/frame that can be hung on the wall when not being used and this does help protect the tools from inadvertent damage.....

The red anodising is quite tough and the tools certainly have a quality feel to them.....as you say though, they ain't cheap!
It's a marketing thing.
Type 3 hard anodising could make a lightweight aluminium tool MUCH more durable as the oxide layer itself is hard and type 3 anodising used on a lot of military kit is many times thicker and more durable than ordinary anodising.
BUT.
You can't dye type 3 anodised items into those bright eye candy colours and after all who wants a far better tool if only comes in olive drab and mid-dark grey (colours dictated by the composition of the alloy, not the marketing ...)
 

dannyr

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The anodised layer of aluminium oxide is certainly very hard. However its strength regarding impact damage etc depends on the aluminium beneath, which is obviously much softer - this is a well-known compromise to all hard coating - eg the bright golden titanium nitride on some drills and other tooling. The thicker coatings may be better but can also be brittle. So if such tools are carefully used and stored, all should be well - but maybe not so good if knocked about or stored for a long period damp or in contact with the wrong metal or with traces of acid or alkali. Yes, these can be problems for wood, cast iron and steel too, but maybe we're more used to that.
 
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