• We invite you to join UKWorkshop.
    Members can turn off viewing Ads!

Quick Review: Bridge City Toolworks CS-3 Centre Scribe

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

Andy Kev.

Established Member
UKW Supporter
Joined
20 Aug 2013
Messages
1,364
Reaction score
118
Location
Germany
I recently got the new version (the third) of the Bridge City Toolworks CS-3 Centre Scribe. Here's a pic of it with two tools which it can replace some of the time.


Centre Finder.jpg

I did a quick test today as I had to mark the centre line of a piece of wood. I put the CS-3 on the bench with the wood to be marked, noted the position of the second hand on my watch and marked. It took 7 secs and the mark was bang on. Then I followed the same procedure with my Veritas marking gauge. This of course involves the traditional method of guessing half way, marking from one side, then the other, adjust and repeat. 28 secs and the result was a very good but not quite bang on mark. I have to stress that it was good enough for normal woodworking purposes.

Then I used the mortice/tenon marking function of the CS-3 and compared that with marking with my traditional mortice gauge. In each case I set for a 1/2" mortice. 27 secs for the CS-3 (set 1/2" on the tool and then mark) and the result was again absolutely bang on. For the morticing gauge I set the pins against the chisel which took a short while and then marked. Not quite as bang on but you do of course have the option of off-setting from the centre a bit if you want. It took me 40 secs +. I don't think that this is something you can hurry with a traditional mortice gauge and I wouldn't want to. The fact is that you can do it very quickly with the CS-3.

Here's the Bridge City advertising clip which shows how it works. (I didn't have anything suitable for centre marking round wood or tapers.)


I imagine that for most of us speed is not a determining factor but accuracy is of interest. The point about using the CS-3 to mark the centre line is that you need zero skill or experience (I reckon that the average granny or dizzy teenage daughter could crack it in less than 10 secs) and the results are totally accurate. In fact the only quality controlling step is how accurately you have planed the sides of the wood. The CS-3 can't completely replace the other two tools but for the above jobs it is IMO simply better.

I've seen in the past how Bridge City gear sometimes gets a bit of a knocking on here for being a bit blingy and of course expensive but this to me has a spot on functionality which trumps all such considerations. Definitely recommended. (I ordered mine direct from Bridge City as although some stockists hold some of their kit, the CS-3 doesn't seem to be one of the items at the moment.)

The same goes for the mortice/tenon marking. The plate on the back has both metric and imperial scales and it makes it easy to set a measurement "just a hair" above or below a specific measurement.
 

Darrenp

Established Member
Joined
26 Oct 2020
Messages
42
Reaction score
20
Location
Essex
If it works as good as it looks then it’s a no brainer !
 

Sideways

Established Member
Joined
26 Dec 2017
Messages
1,248
Reaction score
195
Location
United Kingdom
That glorious bright anodising that will wear though after a few uses ...
Make sure to take it back when it does so that they get the message not to insult their customers.
 

Ollie78

Established Member
Joined
4 Aug 2011
Messages
655
Reaction score
208
Location
Wiltshire
Well, I must say its good to know its function is as good as it should be, but unfortunately for me that price is not in my range.
I do like the multi setup gauge thingy they do, it looks useful, maybe on a special offer !!!

Ollie
 

Andy Kev.

Established Member
UKW Supporter
Joined
20 Aug 2013
Messages
1,364
Reaction score
118
Location
Germany
Great, lovely......but $250!!!!! No thanks.
You're right in that they're certainly not cheap. What Bridge City does is to hold "flash sales" on more or less everything they make. That means that the price comes down a bit for 24 or 48 hrs and that clearly is the time to buy. It's a matter of getting on their email list.

Although the price is high, you certainly get build quality and precision of operation for your money. I reckon that it's probably just a matter of time before another firm produces something suspiciously similar at a lower price.

It's certainly not a vital tool and I got it mainly because semi-lockdown meant that I had a bit of money left over after a couple of months and why not buy myself a Christmas present?
 

Andy Kev.

Established Member
UKW Supporter
Joined
20 Aug 2013
Messages
1,364
Reaction score
118
Location
Germany
Well, I must say its good to know its function is as good as it should be, but unfortunately for me that price is not in my range.
I do like the multi setup gauge thingy they do, it looks useful, maybe on a special offer !!!

Ollie
Didn't Matt Eastlea do a review of the multi-gauge thingy on YouTube? The thing about that is that it could end up being a bit of a money saver if you had the discipline to not buy any of the tools which it is meant to replace.
 

Bale

Established Member
Joined
21 Jan 2013
Messages
131
Reaction score
28
Location
Southampton UK
Excellent! If you charge your time at £30 per hour, I calculate you'll only have to mark out 1,775 mortices before the thing has paid for itself. Result! ;)

Pete
 

Andy Kev.

Established Member
UKW Supporter
Joined
20 Aug 2013
Messages
1,364
Reaction score
118
Location
Germany
Excellent! If you charge your time at £30 per hour, I calculate you'll only have to mark out 1,775 mortices before the thing has paid for itself. Result! ;)

Pete
Fortunately as a hobbyist, that sort of thing isn't a consideration for me.
 

Bale

Established Member
Joined
21 Jan 2013
Messages
131
Reaction score
28
Location
Southampton UK
Fortunately as a hobbyist, that sort of thing isn't a consideration for me.
I am sorry. I was unkind. My post was meant in jest, but may have come across as snide. One thing we can't deny about Bridge City Tool Works is that they strive to break new ground... and their tools look utterly desirable.

Pete
 

Andy Kev.

Established Member
UKW Supporter
Joined
20 Aug 2013
Messages
1,364
Reaction score
118
Location
Germany
Don’t worry: I wasn’t offended. I just took it as a leg pull.
And yes, Bridge City has got a record of (more or less unaffordable) clever innovation.
 

Anthraquinone

Established Member
Joined
4 Dec 2013
Messages
72
Reaction score
40
Location
Mirfield
I reckon that the average granny or dizzy teenage daughter could crack it in less than 10 secs
Really in this day and age !!!. By daughter would not be impressed
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
6,451
Reaction score
746
Location
PA, US
I am sorry. I was unkind. My post was meant in jest, but may have come across as snide. One thing we can't deny about Bridge City Tool Works is that they strive to break new ground... and their tools look utterly desirable.

Pete
Former, yes. The latter, I think they may have had that early on when they used wood and brass, but the tools now don't have an aesthetic that I could tolerate.
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
6,451
Reaction score
746
Location
PA, US
When it was revealed that BC tools had been produced in china for a long time and then the ones in the US they made a comment of checking them over or something, I saw a few reviews of some of their tools by someone living in malaysia or some other such place. They were a fraction of the cost of the US tools and I Thought they may be fake, only to find out that it's just a matter of pricing tiers based on market.

Do they still do this?

Some of it may have also been based on rights, as in John E and his group were still involved and the slice kept in the US tools paid their wages.

Nonetheless, I have nothing that they make but have liked some of the older brass tools (they just look a little bit off, though, even the wood and brass tools have a CNC made look - very square edges and not much for curves similar to vintage types).

But the biggest reason I don't have anything that they've made is I can't find anything that they make that makes hobbyist sense to me, let alone business sense. BUT, I don't think that should mean anything for anyone else (not into the group think that goes around some forums where uniformity of worth of things is mandatory).

I guess with the tier question, more specifically, is the UK in the same pricing tier as the US, or do you guys get a break on price that we don't?
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
6,451
Reaction score
746
Location
PA, US
One last pleasant comment since I'm not a huge fan of the stuff - the older brass and wood stuff does quite well here in antique tool auctions. It's a little weird to see it as antique, esp. some that's 15 or 20 years old, but it's all going to the same group (collectors), so why not. I'd imagine some of the early stuff is worth more than it was new, and the whole constant release of a new tool thing that went on for a while is ideal for collectors (when the aesthetic was "close enough").

There was an estate here where a fellow had two copies of every tool either since the beginning or since his beginning. In some cases, one of the two was used, but in all cases, he kept at least one unused copy of each tool that he bought. His widow could've made a mint on it (but too old) if she understood ebay, but she sold the whole lot to a tool dealer who paid a tiny fraction on the dollar for the tools.

I've been quite surprised at the price that some of the not-that-old bctw stuff brings and wonder if it's people filling in holes in collection (Which is where you want to be if you're selling something).
 

Andy Kev.

Established Member
UKW Supporter
Joined
20 Aug 2013
Messages
1,364
Reaction score
118
Location
Germany
I think that if you go down the collector road with something contemporary and expensive, there's a chance of losing the point of the things. IMO because the BC gear is so expensive, the reason to buy something is the innovative approach to functionality or put more simply: at those prices the tools want to be doing something pretty well. That's the case with the CS-3. Is it worth it in purely monetary terms? Almost certainly not but I can live with it as a one off treat which also happens to be brilliantly functional.
 
Top