How to buy
These are the principles which guide my
business and the design of my products.
Let me know if you have any questions.
Nobody can work wood to unreasonable
tolerances and I certainly don't advocate trying to do so.
The goal here is to set up or adjust your machines so that they do
exactly what you want. The idea is to eliminate the need for
test cuts or other "trial and error" techniques. If you are
frustrated by tedious "trial and error", then you're in the right
place. If you like doing test cuts and gain a sense of satisfaction or purpose from
spending hours on a machine setup or alignment, then you will not
be happy with my products.
There is great benefit to being able to set
up your machines more accurately than the material (wood) can be
machined. Accurate machine adjustment and alignment
leads to greater confidence and speed. There's no longer a
question or doubt about what will happen. The machine does
exactly what you tell it to do. Inaccuracy always leads to
low speed and frustration. You can never tell exactly what
is wrong. Parts don't fit right but you don't know where the
problem lies. You make changes and adjustments hoping that you get
closer to what you want but you can't be sure if it's your
technique, machinery, or measurement device.
Always surpass the needs of the application
but don't go crazy. I don't believe in embellishing my
products with useless features or expensive decoration. What
you get from me is the best possible solution in a practical "no
nonsense" form. When I offer optional components (like
dial indicators), you can be sure that none of them are going to
be a bad choice.
For those items that I make in my own shop
which have no equal anywhere else, I strive for the lowest
possible production cost without any compromise in quality or
accuracy. For the items that I resell, I know that my price
is not always competitive with larger suppliers. I just
can't afford to place such large orders or maintain such huge
inventories. I am happy to be the "one stop" source for all
your precision woodworking needs but will be glad to point you to
lower cost suppliers if cost is an issue. Just ask!
Design arises from need. Need comes
from active participation. I'm not just standing on the
sidelines looking for the next whiz-bang thingamajig product to
make money with. My products all arose from problems that I
needed to solve in my own woodshop. And, since I'm willing
to admit that I don't know everything, I also consult with users and potential customers
to make sure their needs are met too.
Design must be tempered by principles.
Designs which violate well established principles don't perform as
advertised. My products all conform to solid metrological
principles which have been used in industry and machine shops for
more than a century. You can be sure that they work.
Finally, design must include capabilities
which the average woodworker cannot accomplish on their own.
If you can already do everything that my product offers, then it
doesn't make any sense for you to buy it. So many of the
alignment products on the market today are nothing more than a
dial indicator on a fancy (and expensive) stick. Maybe they
toss in a crude linear scale or protractor but everything they do
is easily accomplished by the average woodworker in a modest
woodshop. I strive to offer products which bring accuracy
and capabilities to the woodshop that cannot be accomplished with
ordinary woodworking tools and skills.
My reputation for quality, value, honesty,
integrity, expertise, and service is the most important asset my
business has. It has taken a colossal amount of work to
build but is extremely fragile. It doesn't take much more
than a couple of careless comments or a few frivolous jokes to
cause it damage. So, I am very quick to defend my reputation
vigorously when I think it is being besmirched. There are
plenty of examples of this in the
rec.woodworking discussion group. Because a damaged
reputation often has little or no credibility, this defense often
takes the form of questioning the honesty, integrity, expertise,
and motive of the offender. It is never pleasant or pretty.
But, I feel that it's necessary. Unlike multi-million dollar
companies and dealers that represent famous brands with
longstanding established reputations, I can easily lose my entire
business from a few careless, thoughtless, comments by
someone looking for attention. If you are tempted to make
fun of me, my customers, or my products - or feel you are up to
challenging my knowledge and expertise in a public forum, then
don't be surprised when I take swift and decisive action.
I still answer the phone and reply to all
email messages. I spend lots of hours in front of machines
making parts. I assemble and calibrate my products. I
personally train, assist, and coach everyone who works for me.
The products which I sell bear my name. Their quality and
reputation mean everything to me. They are my entire
livelihood. If I get out of touch with my customers,
vendors, employees, and products, then I put my livelihood at
It's always good business to have happy
customers. Happy customers generate more business than all
the advertising in the world. I only want happy customers. If you don't find one of my products useful
or valuable, then the worst possible thing I could do is make you
keep it. I don't want unhappy customers. If one of my
products makes you unhappy, then I don't want you to end up
getting stuck with it. That places a great responsibility on
me to ensure that my customers choose my products because they are
the best possible choice. So, I must do my best to provide
all the information needed to make the right purchase decision.
That's why my web site is packed full of detailed documentation.
Since the TS-Aligner introduction in 1991, only five customers
have asked for (and received) a full refund.
think this makes me an easy mark. I say that they should
think again. I've noticed that some people like to
"manufacture" issues of dissatisfaction so that they can obtain
"freebies", or "consolations" for their "inconvenience".
If I do something wrong that causes you trouble, I'll do whatever
I can to make it right. If there is something I can do to
optimize my product in your application then I'll do whatever I
can to make it happen. But, I won't be the victim of what I
call "retail terrorism". I won't pay a ransom (freebie)
to save the hostage (the sale of my product). I'll sacrifice
the hostage (buy back the product) and eliminate the unhappy
Solutions not Sales
I do not compromise metrological principles to
make products which appeal to the mass market. I don't have
time to bother with some of the nonsense which appears in many of
today's woodworking catalogs. And, you really don't have the
money to waste on such useless products. So, you won't see
me selling high priced plastic widgets as "precision" alignment
tools. And, don't be surprised if I reply to an inquiry
about a competitive thingamajig with a dissertation on the
metrological principles which render it completely useless.
A friend of mine has a saying: "Buy the best and cry only once."
I strive to offer the best possible solutions.
In 1991, when I introduced the first
commercially made alignment tool for woodworkers (TS-Aligner),
there was very little said to woodworkers about dial indicators.
Today it seems that anybody with $15 can buy a dial indicator and
suddenly become an "expert" in machinery alignment and adjustment.
Their half baked ideas have been showing up lately in books,
magazine articles, and various products. I didn't just jump
on this bandwagon yesterday hoping to make a fast buck. You'll find
everything I advocate to be solidly grounded in the best practices
which have been employed in machine shops and metrology labs for
more than a hundred years. I didn't just make this stuff up
after having goofed around with a dial indicator for a couple of
The best products don't always win in the
marketplace. The winners are those who can make people think
that they are the best choice. So, instead of spending huge
amounts on junk mail and magazine advertising, I strive to provide
the information that people need to make a wise choice. Most
of my "advertising" happens by "word of mouth", in demonstrations,
or by authors in a machinery review articles (watch those
pictures!). You may see other products in paid advertising
more often, and their advertising dollars might earn them
favorable treatment by magazine editors, but when someone
really needs accurate machinery alignment and adjustment, they
turn to the TS-Aligner products.
I do not use SPAM. I do not work with
companies who use SPAM. I do not use telemarketing. I
do not work with companies who use telemarketing. I consider
both of these practices to be disgusting. I do not disclose
information about my customers to anybody. I do not share or
sell email addresses, phone numbers, names, addresses, or any
other information. I do not collect information about people
who send me email or visit my web site. I do not leave
cookies on their computers. I take very serious precautions
to avoid the theft of my customer's sensitive information.
October 24, 2007.