Why Are They so Expensive?
Posted on 08 June 2017
Well, I hate to disappoint, but the truth is simple: Because that’s how much it costs us to make them, and not shoot ourselves or starve our kids.
Because this is supposed to be a full and informative blog entry, however, here are some additional sentences:
When we started working out the business plan for Crucible, I referred to it as “The Last Tool Company.” I know that’s a terrible name, but it helps to imagine it in Samuel L. Jackson’s voice. And as a mission statement, I still think it’s solid.
Oh – important context I forgot: You need to NOT be thinking “last man on earth” when you hear that name, or it’ll ruin the whole thing. Think about something like “the last word in car repair,” or better yet, “the last ninja you’ll ever need.” And again, think of Sam Jackson saying it. And if that doesn’t do it, maybe imagine some explosions in the background….
No? OK, fine – crappy name. I already conceded that. But the point is what it means, because for me it’s fundamental. It’s meant to say that our goal is to make the last tools you need to buy.
When I think of a Last Tool, here’s what I mean: Chris Vesper’s bevel gauges. Several years ago, Jameel Abraham gave me one of Vesper’s gauges as a gift. I think he wanted to date me, but it doesn’t matter because after I used it, I knew immediately that I was holding my last bevel gauge. I’m never buying another one.
Well, not unless someone steals that one, I mean. Or I buy another, larger version to keep it company. Or the mothership comes and takes me away, but then thinks better of it and sends me back to earth but without my tools.
Other than that, though, that Vesper gauge is my last bevel gauge. And do you know when Crucible Tool is going to make a bevel gauge? Never. Because Vesper stole the idea before we got around to having it. It’s perfect.
So that’s the sort of tool I mean when I say that name. To myself. In my head.
Now please understand that we don’t have anything against “first” tools at all. We just don’t want to make those. We aren’t interested in making anyone’s first pair of dividers. Your first dividers should be stolen from somebody, like your friend’s cousin who failed out of architecture school. Or bought from a sweaty guy in a heavy trenchcoat on Canal Street. Or from some other unsavory place, like an abandoned storm drain or the mall.
And you should lose those dividers immediately because they’re terrible. It’s doubtful they’ll even work. What were you thinking? Lose them, before someone accidentally sits on them in the passenger seat and sues your unkempt self.
Good dividers are for after you’ve bought and actually used dividers a bit, and find out they’re actually useful. After you’ve started to care about your tools a bit more – maybe even a bit too much. Maybe you care so much about dividers that you ought to consider therapy – or at least your wife thinks so, in those times when she looks at you with that slack-jawed “what is wrong with you” look but decides not to kick you out yet.
And if you get there, it’s time to think about buying your last pair of dividers.
And those dividers? They’re the ones we wanted to make.
From that standpoint there’s only one way to design. Here it is: ease-of-manufacture, price, marketing, packaging, international distribution channels and “what the market will bear” don’t exist. We just want to make them the best thing we can imagine in a divider set.
After the design is the best thing we can imagine making, and we never ever want to lay out dovetails with anything else ever as long as we walk the earth … then we shift gears.
Only then do we start trying everything we possibly can to make them easier to make, and faster, and therefore less expensive. Anything we can change or shift that doesn’t lessen the tool is fair game. But if it makes the tool less useful? Not a chance.
And in the case of the dividers, we ended up with a design that cost more than we wanted it to. But it costs what it costs.
Do we think everyone needs these dividers? Absolutely not. Stick a 1/4-20 bolt through a couple toothbrush handles, cut the heads off and sharpen the ends. Bam: dividers. Or buy a pair from Wal-Depot for $6.50 on rollback. Seriously – they’ll work fine, and we’d much rather think you’re making something with Home-Mart dividers than making NOTHING because you got the idea you can’t until you buy our dividers.
And if you like the dividers we make, but just can’t justify that much money? I hear you.
So next up, I’ll show you how to make your own by hand. You’ll need a decent hacksaw and a file or two, and some steel. But you can make your own last tools. And you can do it for the price of a couple chocolate mint applesauce lattes, or whatever people in foofy-coffee land are drinking this week.
Why would I do that? Like I told you: I’m a people person. I’m a river of understanding and goodwill. I’m a giver.
But first I better go make sure my wife hasn’t chucked my stuff in the driveway.