Blue Spruce Toolworks is a rather unique woodworking toolmaker, creating customized hand tools with rather striking visual appearances.
I believe that it was Blue Spruce’s woodworking squares that first caught my attention and prompted me to sign up for their email newsletter about a year ago. Each time I open a Blue Spruce newsletter, or visit their website, I am tempted further and further to finally buy what will probably be the last square I ever need.
With these squares – a woodworking staple – you can choose the color of the stainless steel blade, the color of the aluminum handle, the color of the steel hardware even, and of course the species of wood used for the handle inlay.
You’re also not limited to the options on the website. Blue Spruce says that you can email them for a current list of options for custom orders.
My first Blue Spruce tool order will probably be for their larger square in blue, silver, and curly maple.
You can order a matching bevel square, or change things up with a different color scheme.
Curly maple, African blackwood, and cocobolo are the standard infill options, and for body color you can choose from several anodized or cerakote colors.
Or maybe my first purchase will be for one of Blue Spruce’s round wooden mallets, made with resin-infused wood and with a machined steel rod core. Here, you choose the types of wood for the handle and head, as well as the weight (13 oz or 16 oz), and the color of the ferrule that sits at the middle.
They also offer customized chisels.
And a marking knife too.
One of their pricier tools is a customizable “Ultimate” coping saw.
Blue Spruce tools are said to be made exclusively in the USA. As I understand it, they contract with machine shops to manufacture the steel components of their tools and designs, with finishing, assembly, and wood customizations made on-site at Blue Spruce’s workshop.
Steel tool components are also cleaned, polished, and sometimes honed on-site. Popular Woodworking details this, as they toured Blue Spruce’s factory a couple of years ago.
A Blue Spruce Toolworks blog post from 2017 mentions their in-house machinist and CNC operator, and so I’d guess their aluminum handle and inlay work might also be done on-site.
The mallet starts at $75, the square at $100 for the smaller size and $135 for the larger, and the marking knife currently starts at $70.
Blue Spruce’s tools are perhaps more than what many woodworkers need, both in terms of quality and price, but it certainly looks like they’re worth it.
I’m at a place, tool-acquisition-wise, where I might treat myself to a square or other such frequently-used layout tool of “heirloom-quality” design, aesthetics, and construction. I’ve been telling this to myself for about a year now, and might act on it by the end of 2020. If there are many review requests, that’ll likely speed up the process.
I have heard nothing but positive things about Blue Spruce Toolworks and their beautiful tools.
USA-made tools can be pricey, but that seems to be especially true for woodworking tools that involve a lot of machining. If I’m going to spend a premium, I love the idea of having some control in how the tool looks.
No, blue anodizing and a curly maple wood inlay won’t make a square perform any better than a blander design, but it would certainly add to the user experience for me.
As mentioned, there are some standard options on their website, and you can contact the company if you’re looking for something different.
If you’ve used any Blue Spruce tools before, please tell us about your experiences!
Must resist to sign up for there newsletter…
they’re nice! LOL… damn pendantics…
I’m currently looking at their dovetail chisel, waiting for the exchange rate to strengthen.
I think a youtube channel I watch (blacktail studio or stumpynubs) recommended these. Pricey? Yep. And a wait time too.
Best off with a set of Stanley if just starting out. These are for the serious dovetail and mortise woodworker.
Keep em sharp and keep them safe!
Pretty. I get the appeal but I don”t know I would buy or use those. I mean the first phrase in my head was “too pretty to use”
but. My garage is just too dirty for that sort of thing.
Do they happen to also make cheaper plain tools?
Pretty! Expensive! Think I’ll stick with my Starrett made in USA Machinist Square and four piece Combination Square.
I bought the Ultimate Coping Saw when it was first widely announced and have been very impressed with it — wish I hadn’t gone with my initial all-black, totally blacked out impulse, but other than that, totally thrilled with it.
I’ve been rather desperately avoiding the impulse to buy a full set of chisels and matching mallet — but may not be able to hold out much longer.
Is it better than the Knew fret saws?
No experience with the Knew Concepts saws — but part of why I bought it was I missed the original 1/8″ titanium plate Knew Concept saw (the one made from plate surplus to F-22 production) — the current birdcage design doesn’t appeal to me.
Follow Hillview Wood and Metal on Instagram. He does a great job on squares, bevels and planes. I was fortunate enough to pick up a couple blued steel squares. Mine has walnut inlays. Another set he was able to use wood from the barn on the old family farmstead as a gift for my dad
He does amazing work for doing the work out of his home.
Sort of reminds me of custom made knives, only these are squares. More of a designer series than say a pure functional Woodpecker square.
Someone once said that its hard to find a better gift for someone than buying something that they want but is too pricey – or they are too stingy for them to buy for themselves. Well that I I came to have 2 Blue Spruce paring chisels (1/8 and 5/8 inch) for Christmas 2008. I was appreciative about having received them. But to be honest – while they are very nice tools – I still would not contemplate buying replacements if they were somehow lost. I expect that the gift giver paid a pretty penny for them – I’m guessing quite a bit more than the Narex paring chisels that I more often use. BTW – the Blue Spruce are nicer looking – and perhaps made with better steel than the Narex – but the Narex ones I bought for myself at a reasonable price are still very good and serviceable tools.
Koko the Talking Ape
Beautiful, but I can’t imagine why you’d prefer a square like that to a combination square. You can use a combo square in lots of ways, like transfering measurements, a mortising gauge, a depth gauge (if the blade fits in the hole or groove, etc.
I did see a Nobex folding square that looks interesting. I could have used a square I could fold and put in a pocket many times. They claim it stays square and tight for long enough (basically forever.)
And I’ve seen a square with a little wing you can flip out of the body to support it when reaching across a board (as in when you are marking a crosscut.) I wish all squares had that.
As a side note: Anyone that ordered the Woodpecker Posi-Loc t-square. The expected ship date is 4-30-20.
Geez that Ultimate Coping Saw is like twice the price of the Knew Concepts Coping Saw which is already expensive to begin with considering it’s just a coping saw. I’m sure it’s nice stuff but it seems like it’s along the lines of buying a $2000 gold plated hair trimmer.
your title says ‘Bruce Spruce’ instead of ‘Blue Spruce’.
I mean… it was a test to see how long before someone noticed! =)
How about “Spruce Goose”? Our nearby Howard Hughes plywood albatross.
That set all kinds of altitude records. For lowest flying altitude.
He was listening to Springsteen at the time perhaps.
I’m a big fan of Hillview Wood and Metal’s combination squares and infill planes: https://www.hillviewtool.com/. While Tony only makes these in batches, at some point I’ll manage to get in on them, as they’re incredibly well made and gorgeous.
I’m in the same boat, where I’m slowly acquiring heirloom grade tools that I can also use and enjoy.
I have two of their bench chisels. I like them very much. Hold their edge a bit longer than my lie Nielsen socket chisels. They were definitely birthday and Christmas present type items. I cant speak for their other tools personally but the other guys on the wood whisperer fb seem to like them. I’ve had my eye on their striking knife for a while but haven’t gotten committee approval yet. Lol.
Life is unfair.
When you can justify these things (young) you can’t afford them.
When you can afford them (old) you can’t justify them.
If I bought one in ten years it would most likely get thrown in a box with my Stanley stuff and marked “your choice $5”
Blue spruce tools are outstanding products! So much so that it really bothers me having to wait extended periods of time to get the tools I ordered. I know the tools are worth the wait so I can’t fault the company for taking so long because of covid19. The tools are pricey but I take pride in having the best tools I can find.
I think most on here would be shocked how easy it is to get flat stock and stuff it in a handle, which is essentially what these types of chisels are. Compare them to the tapered thickness English chisels – which are unfortunately only available in good quality used (the older types before the mid 1900s or so, and maybe closer to 1900 or a little before).
What things like B.S. do , though, is provide a big working margin so the tools can be marketed (Which means finding spots in pop. wood, etc) The older tools can’t do that, but you’ll have a much harder time making a tool that’s the equal of older English versions. You can easily make a tool that will match the B.S. tools even if you can’t necessarily match the polish on them without an industrial process.
The very badly built website has $200 chisels and other pretty stuff that costs more than my brushless drill… I bet one has to wear a suit when working with these tools. I had a good laugh.
Their chisels are way too pricey for me, but I can see the appeal of chisels with fully flattened, lapped, and polished backs.
Some people sink discretionary money into sports cars, firearms, sneakers, action figures, music speakers, and so forth. There’s a market for high-end chisels with customizable handles and hardware.
1/2″ chisel prices:
Blue Spruce Toolworks: $115
It’s not outrageously more expensive than the USA and Canadian-made Lie-Nielsen and Veritas options.