2018… What a Year!

"I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past."— Thomas Jefferson

Drivel Starved Nation;

I have experienced several crazy and memorable years here at the helm of Bridge City Tool Works, but this year tops them all. After 35 years, I have found a part of life that is way more fun than tool making, and that is being a Grandpa. It is just the coolest thing.

Before I embark on my holiday break, here is the update of all of the open pre-orders since August I have filled;

1) KM-2 Kerfmakers have all shipped.

2) Scratch Awls pre-orders have all shipped.

3) The HP-10 Cove/Core Kits have all shipped.

4) The HP-6 mixed bag of pre-orders have all shipped.

5) HP-14 Scraper Planes have all shipped.

6) The countersinks have all shipped except for the following 4 customers;
J. Sc
A. Wa
K. Wu
R. Ne
Two weeks ago, I begged a new supplier to make the small 82 degree countersinks because we ultimately were short 4 pieces to fill all of our orders. I have since learned that the shortage was caused by the grinder, they ground about 50 82-degree blanks at 90-degrees. UGH! I had to order 100, but these four customers will have their order filled in Jan.

7) The Universal Tools are now all at the laser house. They are closed until Jan 2, but we are scheduled for the first week or so in January. Right now I am forecasting January delivery. It is actually a small miracle that I managed to get these all together, as I have really been impeded with my arthritic right hand. And speaking of arthritis, THANK YOU to all DSN members who shared their coping skills with the same annoying condition, it was much appreciated!

8) Pencil Precision was scheduled for 4th quarter 2018. I am now moving this to Q1 2019.

Considering I was in Texas for six weeks, this is a remarkable amount of work. After I post this blog entry, I’m will not be back in the shop until Jan 2nd.

Lastly, I want to thank you, and all of the BCTW faithful for helping make my transition into private life an accepted reality. I am still going to be designing cools stuff for the next two years so I am not dead yet.

Happy Holidays everybody and I am proposing a virtual toast to a healthy and productive 2019!

-Still Your Favorite Tool Potentate

Universal Gages Production Update…

"We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us."— Marshall McLuhan

Drivel Starved Nation,

After spending almost six weeks in Dallas helping my son, and surviving the turkey holiday, I am relieved to be back in the shop.

It just occurred to me today that the last Bridge City tools made in the United States are the Universal Gages. It is also fitting that I am assembling and calibrating each and every one of them as I am enjoying the process for the most part. (I am really struggling with the arthritis in my right hand so things are not moving as fast as I would have hoped.) Here are some in-progress pics; Continue reading

Countersinks, the Paradise, CA fire, and Other Stuff on My Mind….

"Your opinion is your opinion, your perception is your perception. Do not confuse them with facts or truths."— Unknown

Drivel Starved Nation,

As mentioned in a post several weeks ago, I’ve been in Dallas, TX for the past month on a non-health related family matter. Next Thursday, the 15th, I will be back in the shop.

While away, the countersinks arrived in Portland and I asked my daughter Ashley, and Consuelo to ship them. As of this writing, the majority of orders have been shipped with the exception of 24 or so where it looks like we are short a single countersink. I’ll deal with this when I get back on the 15th. I suspect it is a shipping error, but I don’t know. If we are short (which makes no sense to me at the moment) we will send a partial and remake what we need to remake. We will fill every order.

Lastly regarding these countersinks, apparently the type of grinder to make these is rare. The CNC grinder we hired to do the job originally could not do them. These are ground on a cam grinder by hand. AND, they work great! One change from my original rendering, is that the laser mark on the rims had to be scrapped because the vendor could not guarantee how far the conical grind would encroach on the rim. It was a rubber meets the road decision.

When I get back to Portland, my second order of business is to get the Universal Gauges assembled and off to laser. We will have these all delivered by the holidays.

I awoke this morning to the terrible news that Paradise, CA is likely completely gone due to the out of control Camp Fire. Fellow DSN member Fred Hayden and his wife Linda reside in Paradise and I have had a knot in my gut all morning worrying about them. I just heard from Fred and I am pleased to announce that they were evacuated and are fine. They have no news regarding their home and Fred’s shop. I sure hope this fire is not as bad as what I am reading for the residents of Paradise.

In closing, when I started this blog, I shared that I take my work very seriously and me… not so much–if at all. This space is for sharing BCTW news, behind the scenes mfg. stuff, and a way for me to share my irreverent self. I keep it a happy place by not allowing it to be a negative space. Basically, I want us all to be able to laugh at, and with, each other.

Yesterday, this blog received a comment (that I approved) questioning my truthfulness regarding the ongoing countersink saga.

Briefly, I was raised in a family of four siblings, and recall numerous occasions where I was punished for something I didn’t do because one of my siblings struggled with the truth. To this day, nothing pisses me off more than being accused of something I didn’t do. So when I was accused of being untruthful by this customer I responded in a manner that violates the premise of this blog, for which I apologize. However, I am leaving the accusation, and my response as posted. They are both reminders, and examples, of how not to behave on this Totally Awesome and Worthless Blog.

-John

Bridge City Tool Works Grand Opening This Week…

"Losers make promises they often break. Winners make commitments they always keep."— Denis Waitley

Drivel Starved Nation;

This week, the new owner’s of Bridge City Tool Works are opening their doors to customers old and new in Montclair, CA.

My good friend, Jack Xu, is flying in from Nanjing, China, Consuelo is flying down with her new baby, and there are quite a few DSN members showing up for the free food. No surprise there. The new BCTW team will all be on hand for the meet and greet. You can read more about it here.

Oh, I will be there as well along with my wife, who’s company is building the new BCTW website scheduled to go live in Q1 2019. Rutager West is flying in from Minnesota to talk about his new BCTW legacy repair business.

It is completely surreal to me to be attending this event for the company I founded. I’m not sure what to think, but I am looking forward to seeing everybody. If you can attend, please do!

COUNTERSINKS PRE-ORDER UPDATE: Two weeks ago, I got a call from the company who is grinding the single flute countersinks. Keep in mind, I’ve been calling the owner every week since the first week of August wondering why this job was taking so long. First they were busy. Next, the ONLY GUY who could run the machine was dealing with a dying parent. Then the collet could not hold the shanks because of the 120 degree flats. Then it was “impossible” due to all the machines were slammed.

Interestingly, when I started Bridge City in 1983, my unwritten rule of business, actually my personal creed, was to conduct myself in such a manner that I would never be on either end of a lawsuit.

This company really pissed me off and I informed the owner that a signed purchase order is a contract and I called our corporate lawyer, basically because of all the lies. My lawyer talked me off the cliff and the job has been yanked and moved to a new supplier. That is the bad news.

The good news: this job will be done in the next 2-3 weeks. Consuelo and my daughter Ashley will box them up and get them out to you ASAP. I will still be in Dallas, but I will monitor this closely–I do not anticipate any further delays, nor a lawsuit.

That leaves the Universal Gages, and I don’t have anybody I can trust to assemble them prior to laser etching. So they are my first priority when I get back in late Nov.

That’s all for now, and I hope to see you in Montclair this Saturday.

-John

9/26 Pre-Order Updates and UG-1 First Look…

"Once you have commitment, you need the discipline and hard work to get you there." — Haile Gebrselassie

Drivel Starved Nation,

Since I am going to be out of the office for the next six weeks on a personal family matter, I just made arrangements for my daughter Ashley to help with partial assembly of the Universal Gauges while I am away. The first assembled UG-1 is pictured below (this is what they look like BEFORE they go our laser house for etching); Continue reading

Pre-Order Updates as of Sept. 23…

"Being a father has been, without a doubt, my greatest source of achievement, pride and inspiration. Fatherhood has taught me about unconditional love, reinforced the importance of giving back and taught me how to be a better person." — Naveen Jain

Drivel Starved Nation;

It’s another Sunday in the shop for me–I like days like this because of the lack of phone calls and emails. Ten minutes ago, I just boxed up the last of the HP-14 Scraper Planes and there are two different sole treatments in this run. Here’s a pic;

HP-14 Soles Continue reading

Pre-Order Progress Week of 9/17

“Progress is not inevitable. It’s up to us to create it.” — Anonymous

Drivel Starved Nation;

On a personal note, Mia Jo Economaki arrived in this world yesterday. She was born in Mexico City where my ex-pat son is working. This is grandchild #3 and the first girl. I am a lucky grandpa! Both Mom and baby are doing terrific. Continue reading

Pre-Order Progress Week of Sept 10…

"The fruit of your own hard work is the sweetest."— Deepika Padukone

Drivel Starved Nation!

After moving all the crap from the office into the shop, I’ve been swimming in garbage important stuff. It’s tough to navigate. Here is an update regarding our pre-order commitments; Continue reading

A Member of the Woodworking Community Worthy of Your Help…

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” — John Bunyan

Drivel Starved Nation;

As many of you know, I spent 10-12 years teaching summer classes at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking. If you have never been there, it is literally in the middle of an Indiana corn field, and it is a true American business success story.

Success stories are invariably the result of motivated leadership and caring employees. I can attest, no instructor can possibly have a successful week at MASW without support from the incredible staff at MASW.

Zane Powell was an indispensable aid, and an incredibly knowledgeable woodworker who has been with Marc Adams from the very beginning. In fact, they graduated from high school together some 30 odd years ago. For those DSN members who have taken classes at this school, you know the critical role Zane filled to make your week as fun as possible. Here’s a recent pic;
zane

What I don’t understand about life–and likely never will–is why bad luck disportionately finds good people. Two weeks ago, while at work, Zane complained of a stomach ache. He reluctantly went to the doctor to learn he had inoperable liver cancer. I just don’t get it.

I write to you today to find those who might be able to help lesson the medical expenses now facing the Powell family. There are two ways you can help. Marc’s wife Suzie, has set up a GoFundMe site which you can visit here.

Another way is a bit more work but maybe much better. You can send Zane a get well card here;

Marc Adams
Attn Zane Powell
5504 East, 500 North
Franklin, IN 46131

And if you are able to help financially, please include a check made out to Becky Powell, who is Zane’s wife. The Powell family will be forever grateful. This is the path I chose.

The only way to make a difference is to make a difference.

Thank you.

-John

Pre-Order Progess the Week of August 27th…

"Burnout is nature's way of telling you, you've been going through the motions your soul has departed; you're a zombie, a member of the walking dead, a sleepwalker. False optimism is like administrating stimulants to an exhausted nervous system.”— Sam Keen

Drivel Starved Nation!

Well, this week is the last week of the Portland office. For the past couple of weeks I have had teenage help around here but I miscalculated when school started, so this week I am flying solo. And since I was here by myself I haven’t been very productive. But the reason is not what your are thinking. Continue reading