An Open Letter to the Tattoed Woodworker

Today Michael sent me a link that is not only disturbing, but needs to be shared.

Here it is;

Dear Tattoed Woodworker;

I confess that this is the first time I have seen your site. Your “final” post is heartfelt, sincere and it has not fallen on deaf ears. I am going to do my best to change your mind.

I first joked about the “Woodworking Taliban” about a year ago. Now I learn they have found a way to discourage you from sharing your woodworking experiences through their quotidian diatribes, mean spirited intent and stupidity.

As we approach our 26th year, we have been dealing with similar sentiment since year one…

Our first catalog that contained a prepaid business reply envelop arrived on doorsteps in 1984. When the first responses arrived, we received the following notes;

“Who the (insert f-bomb here) do you people think you are? We don’t need yuppie tools.”

And this little gem; “Thanks for the catalog, my friend has a pet shop and the pages from you (sic) catalog fit his bird cages perfectly.”

And then there were BRE’s that contained our entire catalog–this in hopes that we would be buried by insurmountable postage bills.

You are not alone.

Chris Schwarz reviewed a BCTW tool awhile back and had to filter the blog responses; “they were hateful and slanderous”. So what do we do? We don’t send advance review copies of our products to Chris any longer–neither one of us needs the aggravation. The next paragraph is more telling…

First, the Woodworking Taliban is more real than you think. Have you ever noticed threads where somebody has a tool that is so bad he must share it with the masses, instigating a chorus of boos, and as the thread wears on, a better solution (always for less money), a better product, a glowing review from a non-offending tool purveyor is posted by a woodorker? We in the industry call this the “payola posse”. These rabble grousers are PAID to sit around and plug away on forums. They exist here, Australia, England… Nice, tidy, informative and slimy.

Are woodworkers so stupid to believe this crap? Apparently so. But you don’t need to let them deter you.

I am asking that you reconsider your blog, and if I can help, I would be pleased to do so. I am going to begin with this post on my blog and few suggestions to help stem the tide of garbage on woodworking forums.

Don’t let the bastards win.


John Economaki
Bridge City Tool Works

Here’s my wish list;

1. Regarding forum and blog posts, make your posts worthy of others time. If it doesn’t contribute, don’t hit “send”.

2. If all you have to say is that you can’t afford something, you don’t need to share. Everybody votes with their pocket book.

3. Don’t sit back and be a passive observer. Address moronic posts until they go away. Ignoring them really is not an option. If you are a moderator, don’t approve them at all–every decision has an unintended consequence, and that goes for non-decisions too. Silence them at the source and the copycats will learn to copy something positive.

4. Take the time to write those sites who you feel the most kindred and ask them to add rules to the posting areas. “Contribute, Learn, Share” seems to me to be much more useful than “Bitch, Moan, Too Much Money”.

This is a start.

And then;

Consider lending a voice of encouragement to the Tattooed Woodworker and ask him to change his mind–the world is a better place if you do.

Now I can get back to work designing tools that nobody wants and entertain the thought of going out of business for 26 straight years.


8 comments on this post:

  1. I almost hesitate to post this, as it’s a bit frivolous, but you coined a great new word there, John: woodorker. It’s perfect!

    In the meantime, please keep producing tools we can’t afford. We need something to strive toward!

  2. John,

    Please help me on this. I will grant you one million percent that there are some inherently stupid and even worse malicious people out there posting some absolute drivel. The Tattooed Woodworker had a really great Lie-Nielsen post a bit back but I have not followed it since and I can only assume from your post that he has decided against posting or reviewing anymore??? But again, yes there are some people that are so stupid they listen to those that are malicious but does it really change your sales? I am asking as I do not know the answer. I do know that the things that are being said can be quite hurtful but ultimately so what? My guess is that those who are stupid enough to rag on your tools, posts, etc. or anything the Tattooed Woodworker posted more than likely accomplished quite the opposite of what they intended. As a personal anecdote I can tell you that I saw two scathing reviews of both Blue Spruce and Czeck Edge tools mostly due to price and what kind of idiot would pay that amount. Well, as it turned out, I was that kind of idiot and without having seen those horrible reviews I would not have known they existed. I don’t know if I would go as far as to say any publicity is good publicity but I am willing to say that it is more true than not.


    You have said repeatedly that don’t these people realize what they are writing on these forum lasts forever. Again, so what? Your tools will outlast anything written both good or bad and the incredible and inherent quality within each of them is something that I and I expect many others would be proud to have as our legacy.


  3. Fred;

    I think when you see people fatigued with the drivel posted on the internet (me included) they are tired. The simple fact is that there is much less inertia to complain than to praise.

    I completely related to the plight of the Tattooed Woodworker and the praise he received to his cry for help was all he needed to right his mast. It gets old and I am thrilled to see his batteries charged.

    I get several requests per month to go defend ourselves on forums–mainly price. Our customers who see these posts can’t relate and rarely does anybody step up and say, hey, wait a minute–you are way off base here–

    One more thing, some of this crap is seeded by competitors and I wish I was making this up.

    Lastly, designer types are overly sensitive and easily disturbed–that is until the enormous profits from their efforts allows them to buy an island.

    That’s my two cents. Thanks for the comments.


  4. John:

    Ah, the power of the internet to produce both the best and the worst in people! Back in the days of Compuserve, Bulletin Boards and all that, flaming was the style of the day. Things haven’t changed all that much… people are just better at it at times.

    The supposed anonymity of the internet has certainly lulled us into believing that we can say what we will, when we will. Or at least for some people. My take on is simple: if someone is fool enough to believe a negative ‘review’ without doing any further investigation into who wrote it, why it was written and is/was it accurate… is most likely not the kind of person who would buy a quality tool to begin with. And if they did, my guess is the tool would find it’s way to the concrete floor in due time.

    You know, I had considered adding a reviews function over at my new hand tools site… heavily moderated of course. I just may do so, excercising my role as Dictator Extraordinary and zapping any reviews I think are specious and inflammatory. Something along the lines of: you can review the make and functionality of the tool, but not the price, availability or anything not directly related to it’s being a Tool!

    In the end, when blogging or managing a website, I try to remind myself of what I learned in years working in counseling psychology… be alert, be gentle and let the rough stuff roll off your back. In the morning, you still know who you are.


  5. Gary-Nice post. It is about time that the Dictator Extraordinary and the Hand Tool Potentate have a meaningful exchange…

    So let’s talk about wine.

    Back in the 60′s and early 70′s the only wine bought by mainstream America was jug wines. Then, in the mid-70′s “artisan” wines started to appear–at that early date here in Oregon, there were 4 wineries. The concept of artisan wines began to flourish and now, look at all the choices we have. And as one might suspect, the price range is broad. There are hundreds of wineries in Oregon today and several rank as some of the best in the world. It is fun and exciting to have choices. I can’t imagine a world otherwise. The same is true in other states too.

    Coincidentally, around this same time, artisan tools started to appear, of which we were one of the pioneers–our efforts and those of Tom Lie Nielson, in addition to the rise in woodworking popularity has led to more “artisan” tools and today, thankfully we have lots of choices.

    So with choices come opinions and I don’t think I am alone in sharing that opinions can easily become fatiguing when based upon price alone–these people should just clam up and continue with their self-righteous support of China.

    I agree with you 100%, in order for a forum to be effective, it really needs to be moderated. Nobody wants to read the sarcastic, mean-spirited dandruff accept those who posted it.

    There. I feel better.

    Kudos for your site, and I look forward to chiming in when appropriate.


  6. Lessee… I remember Boone’s Farm Apple Wine but that is about it. Or perhaps it’s because all I remember is Boon’s Farm is the reason I can’t remember anything else from the 70′s?

    I’m in the process of adding a moderated comments feature to the Hand Tool Makers site, courtesy of Disqus, one of the many new commenting services. Moderated of course. I’m also trying to figure out how best to add an option for tool makers, both commercial and non-commercial, to add images of their choice (within reason, maybe a dozen per entry). I’m a lazy sort who prefers to have other people do the work if I can get away with it. Just ask Jim Esten…

    I’m wondering now if there is a connection between Boon’s Farm Wines and the introduction of artisan tool makers?

  7. Holy cow-Boon’s Farm Apple Wine, I too remember the name but don’t know why…thanks for the blast from the past.

    I think any effort you make to keep your site informative and a meaningful resource will be appreciated. Reading about others complain price (particularly those who are part of the Payola Posse) is neither informative or meaningful. I think the average woodworker is interested in the choices out there and is smart enough to do their own value proposition calculations.

    Please let us know when it is up and running!


  8. John… I’ve added a JS-Kit comment feature to the Bridge City page at the website. I had to play around with the background CSS a bit, which I have not doubt will result in problems elsewhere. Hopefully, everything will work as it should. I figure it’s only appropriate to volunteer the BCTW page as a guinea pig.

    Which reminds me, I still have a BCTW trysquare that I bought from Woodcraft in Waltham, back when that was their only store. It remains my master for setting other tools. Carefully stored in it’s original box in a drawer in a nice old Gerstner tool box.


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