Today I learned that Woodpeckers Tools owns Blue Spruce Toolworks.
Woodpeckers is a USA manufacturer of premium woodworking tools and accessories. Blue Spruce Toolworks is known for their customizable woodworking hand tools.
I wrote about Blue Spruce Toolworks before, and little did I know at the time that Woodpeckers had already acquired the company.
I discovered this today, when I opened a box of Woodpeckers tools I had purchased, and there was a Blue Spruce flyer inside.
And yes, the Woodpeckers order did great damage to my wallet. I wanted one item and maybe another, but then I looked at my list of reader review requests and tacked on a couple more items.
It’s not very obvious from Blue Spruce Toolworks’ website that they’re owned by Woodpeckers. The only clue I finally found was that the address matches.
Digging into my email history, I found a consumer newsletter from July 2019 that I must have missed.
The subject line reads “Woodpeckers Trusted Partner, Blue Spruce Toolworks.”
We take a lot of pride in designing and building top quality layout, measuring and marking tools… and doing it right here in America. Another company just as dedicated to fine joinery is Blue Spruce Toolworks. Blue Spruce builds chisels, marking knives, coping saws and other beautiful, practical tools in a small shop nestled among the evergreens of Sandy, Oregon. In the coming months you will see an e-mail or two from Blue Spruce highlighting some of their finely crafted tools. We know you’ll find these American-made products a perfect complement to your Woodpeckers collection.
That doesn’t exactly say much about the relationship between the two brands. “Trust partner?”
There’s mention of the Blue Spruce marking knife in a couple of other Woodpeckers newsletters:
there’s no finer marking knife on the market than the Blue Spruce Toolworks Classic Marking Knife used here
But Woodpeckers doesn’t actually say it anywhere that they own Blue Spruce Toolworks, which I find strange.
Here’s what it says on Blue Spruce Toolworks’ website:
Blue Spruce Toolworks began as a part-time project when Dave Jeske designed and produced a simple marking knife specifically designed to address the needs of smaller scale, precision joinery. Over the years the company added products such as bench, dovetail, paring and butt chisels, frame saws, and our award-winning mallets. Dave continues to develop new products for Blue Spruce Toolworks while manufacturing and distribution have moved to Strongsville, Ohio and undergone significant capacity expansion to meet ever-growing demand for our tools.
So, it’s not mentioned on the Blue Spruce website either.
Looking online, there are mentions of Woodpeckers acquiring Blue Spruce Toolworks, but nothing from either company that I could find.
I finally found an announcement on social media, by Dave Jeske from Blue Spruce Toolworks. Here’s what it says in an Instagram post that dates back to August 2019, with the emphasis my own:
It has been almost fifteen years since I started Blue Spruce Toolworks in my garage shop. My passion has always been design and bringing new and fresh ideas to the woodworking hand tool community. From day one, I have been encouraged and overwhelmingly supported by everyone including family, friends, customers, fellow tool makers and the internet community. I have been blessed to have Blue Spruce Toolworks grow into a company that serves woodworkers all over the world. I want to share with you the next phase of the company. Blue Spruce Toolworks is now a subsidiary of Woodpeckers, LLC – an Ohio based company that has much greater manufacturing capability than I could ever dream of and a commitment to quality that is world class. They have been making high quality woodworking tools for over thirty years! It is always an honor to serve my customers and interact with my IG followers and I am looking forward to this new phase. There will be a transition time as manufacturing moves to Strongsville, Ohio. I will stay in Sandy, Oregon to do research and development of new woodworking tools. Thank you for your continued support and I hope to see you at some shows in the future! (Swipe for some pictures from the Blue Spruce Toolworks archives) – Dave Jeske
That’s the only official-looking confirmation or mention of this that I’ve seen.
Blue Spruce recently sent a newsletter about their marking gauges, which have marking knife-style blades. They are available in black, blue, or silver, for $130. The sale ends on 4/3/23, and the shipping ETA is June 2023.
I suppose this seems very Woodpeckers-like of them. But where’s the Woodpeckers-red version? Is it my imagination, or does that make this seem even more strange?
Blue Spruce Toolworks makes “hand crafted tools that are not only aesthetically beautiful, but are also a joy to use in the creative process.” $130 seems like a lot for a marking gauge but maybe someday I’ll buy something different from the company.
Woodpeckers’ ownership of the brand doesn’t really change things for me either way, as I’ve had mostly good experiences with their tools and customer service.
This isn’t good news or bad, it’s just surprising to me. The acquisition took place 3-1/2 years ago, and I almost feel like I’m the last to know. I would question how I missed this, but the relationship between the two brands seems well-hidden. I wonder why.
Whatever the reasons for that, now you know, all thanks to Woodpeckers slipping a Blue Spruce Toolworks flyer into the box with my order.
Like you, I did not know this – but it makes sense Blue Spruce probably filled a niche for specialty (also pricey) USA-made items that supplement what Woodpeckers sold.
The current Blue Spruce marking gauge offering looks a lot like it might be machined by Woodpeckers.
Toolguyd is once again informative and entertaining – keeping us and our minds active about what has gone on in the world of tools. Thanks.
Wow this is surprising to me as well. One of Blue Spruce’s sliding bevels has been on my “one day” list for a while.
I never would have thought they were owned by wp.
I also had a flyer for Blue Spruce in a Woodpeckers’ shipment a little over a year ago. I briefly wondered why at the time. Then, I figured it may be that one owned the other, more likely Woodpeckers owning Blue Spruce. Or that maybe it was just a case of friendly cross promotion by two small companies trying to survive. Since I haven’t bought any Blue Spruce I didn’t know if it was reciprocated. Or maybe Blue Spruce paid Woodpeckers for the “advertising space.”
What happened to the thread about comments? Did that degenerate into the very thing you warned against?
One of the hate-spewing trolls decided to do more trolling, and so I realized maybe that post about comment policy gave them satisfaction or false sense of success. So I figured it’s not worth giving them any attention.
I decided that my practice for controversial topics will be to lock down comments and then open a separate discussion thread for regulars to be able to share their comments and opinions in peace. It’s not ideal, but would mean far less moderation efforts or stress.
What were they actually saying? Those topics always bring out obviously hateful comments, but I’ve also seen you call people trolls for mentioning how expensive something is?
There were rants about Biden, Trump, death wishes against various groups, racism, personal attacks and ill wishes against other commentors, rants about Reagan, Clinton, Bush, NAFTA, “young people don’t want to work,” immigration, tons of rants about China, etc. Things that have no place in a tool discussion. Then there were more of the same but with the dial turned to 11.
As for pricing, there are valid and unfair ways to complain.
“I think that’s way too expensive, I couldn’t justify it when alternatives with 99% the functionality suits my needs at 1/2 the price.” That’s one way.
In a post about the new Dewalt sander, you wrote “expensive and small.” I have zero qualms about that. Some of your other comments are a bit harsh, blunt rather than ill-intended.
“Anyone who buys this is a hack idiot that’s never worked a day in their life.” This is either narrow-minded at best, or trolling, depending on the intent.
I like hearing readers’ thoughts on pricing, good or bad. Attacks on others’ thoughts or opinions about pricing leads to problems and bigger headaches much of the time.
I chime in when there’s high potential for a 20-comment “OK Boomer” topic derailment.
It’s like when a person complains about someone else’s plate at the table next to them in a restaurant. “Eew, how can you eat that?” might be acceptable among close friends, but is rude between strangers, and is likely to start a fight.
After 14 years and nearly 200,000 reader comments, I like to think I have a good sense of what causes problems.
Still, that’s quite a bit different from political rantings that have nothing to do with a post topic, hateful statements, and attacks on other comments.
Fair. Some people are just looking for any excuse to say something racist or anti-blue/red team. Sad to see.
I’m truly amazed given your thoughtful moderation skills that such addlebrained internet bottom feeders even bother to try to post such juvenile sputum on here.
That’s Twitter’s role as the lowest common denominator’s playground.
BTW. Sandy, OR is a lovely suburb kinda on the way east to the Columbia Gorge and/or Mt. Hood from Post Portlandia.
Makes me sad for us all.
The problem is, when certain posts trend and receive 50X to 100X the normal attention, a lot of new visitors are going leave comments that might be acceptable on other channels.
Of those, some are acceptable, many are unacceptable, and some are extremely unacceptable.
Some folks may just be angry and look for any broad forum to vent. It is certainly a compliment for Stuart that he has thus far been able to deal with this. I guess that it is also a compliment to the ToolGuyd enterprise that it has become so well known as to attract such a varied readership. Sad that some of those readers seem to want to use it for venting vitriol. Maybe it comes with Stuart being exceedingly good at what he does – but disturbing that he has to constantly deal with commentor bad behavior
We appreciate your efforts at moderation.
Just wanna chime in and say I appreciate the work you put into the comment section here.
Well that explains why I started getting Blue Spruce promo emails after ordering from Woodpeckers. Never made the connection until now! They make beautiful stuff that’s out of my price range…
I had the same thing happen. But I had bought a pair of Blue Spruce paring chisels back in 2008 so I thought that maybe they just woke up and were refreshing their email lists.
I recently have seen Seneca Woodworking (Creative Persistence LLC) maker of aftermarket items for Festool Domino machines and MFTs – starting to offer a domino trimming plate from DFM Toolworks (id312 LLC). That got me speculating about whether there was a partnership or merger in the works for these two small USA (PA and IL) niche tool makers. But I could not find any info to support such a speculation.
I’m not sure where we might readily access such small business pairings as it were. They don’t ever seem to be on the Business Journal-like network’s purview.
And I’m not sure it warrants much concern beyond curiosity. I want them to succeed without involving too much professional marketing overhead.
Just my 2 cents.
I would have happily paid extra to have my woodpeckers t-square in a color other than red.
Back in the day, certain Woodpeckers tools were black, when they were rebranded for Pinnacle under Woodcraft. I have a set of triangles around here somewhere, and tracks.
I came across in an archive of sorts, it may have been for their limited run tools, some Woodpeckers triangles or rulers or some measuring devices in gray. I forget exactly what.
They were touted as having an extra hard anodization layer that was very resistant to scratching. That made an impression on
me because Woodpeckers doesn’t make the same claim about their standard red anodization. And sure enough, I’ve scratched some of the red tools. Which hurts given they are as much for show casing as work.
There are two main ways to do anodize for common parts. The first method is to anodize (electrically etch) the parts, after which it is dyed, just like dying clothing, and then a final step is done to seal the dye. This is standard anodizing and it gives all those bright colors depending on the dyes used…red, green, orange, blue, purple…nearly any color can be done, just change the dye. Clear aka “silver” skips the dying step. Optionally, the part can be “bright dipped” before dying, this can be thought of as a chemical polish that makes the surface more shiny.
Hardcoat anodize is a different beast altogether. It does not use dyes and the chemical bath used for the anodization process contains other chemicals including certain acids. This produces a chemical reaction in the surface of the part which results in a color change and no dye is used. However, you also don’t get any choice in the color, it comes out as a product of the reaction. For 6061, a very common alloy for “billet aluminum” parts, this comes out as a gunmetal gray sort of color. For 7000 series alloys it has more of a bronze tinge to it. This is a much more durable coating than the ordinary bright color anodizing. I’m not familiar with Woodpeckers tools but it sounds like those gray ones were “hardcoat” anodized, and that would indeed make them more durable than bright red anodized aluminum.
I bought one of the Ultimate Coping Saws a while back — it’s flat-out _amazing_ (and best of all, makes up for my missing out on the Knew Concepts titanium saws made from flat stock).
I agree the Woodpeckers association isn’t well announced/known/managed, and wish that they would manage a useful synergy — that said, I’m glad of it, since I hope it will help to ensure that both companies will stay in business.
It looks like Woodpeckers / BST are both expanding their offerings lately.
I have been inundated with emails about the Woodpeckers Ultra-Shear carbide router bits lately. Ultra-Shear was their brand offering of turning tools historically – the rumors at my local Woodcraft are that more Woodpeckers cutting tools are on the roadmap under the Ultra-Shear name.
I can’t substantiate that and I see no mention of it anywhere, but the same guy did tell me they were getting Woodpeckers router bits last fall. They weren’t released until Jan 9 as far as I can tell.
When I saw the router bit being advertised – it got me wondering if they had acquired a new company – or were partnering with someone like Whiteside
I think quality dropped, which I’m sure would sadden Dave Jeske. I ordered a number of tools over the years before the woodpeckers purchase (a few chisels, round carving mallet when they first came out, etc). I ordered a rectangular mallet after the change in ownership, and the face was visibly out of square with the sides (and the handle). The support response was basically “Bummer, but it should still work just fine. Let us know if it causes issues!” After I realized I was ordering from woodpeckers, I decided to take my business elsewhere. If I’m ordering high-end hand tools, there are plenty of toolmakers at that price point whose primary focus isn’t machine-tool jigs.
Jeske seems to be employed under Woodpeckers as a tool designer.
Lee Valley has some nice marking gauges, if a person were looking for good quality but didn’t want to spend $130 to get it.
I wonder if the decision not to make red Blue Spruce tools is, rather than to deny the connection, to ensure there’s an obvious distinction when the Blue Spruce company is making some tools that could otherwise pass as Woodpecker products.
When I bought my paring chisels Blue Spruce was independent and had their own production facilities. Now it seems that they sare the same address with Woodpeckers.
Someone further up in the comments said they’d pay extra to have woodpeckers tools in different colors (lol) and I would assume that’s not an uncommon thought with their customers. Not publicizing the connection prevents brand dilution and protects sales that would otherwise be lost due to customer bias.
I’m one of those who’d buy Woodpeckers if it was not red. Nothing against Woodpeckers or Milwaukee – fine tools but I just despise the color red, I always have. I do own a Milwaukee “Hole Hawg” because there’s no substitute in another color.
I keep wishing Blue Spruce would come out with some of the Woodpeckers stuff because blue coincidentally is my favorite color.
Meanwhile I’m saving a lot of money by avoiding “red”. Those tools are tempting though.
I love Lee Valley. Hands down best bang for your buck in my opinion. I do. Have some. Measuring, squaring, marking and clamping tools from Woodpeckers though. They do have their reputation for a reason.
When I looked at the Blue Spruce website, I thought the sharpening square looked familiar – https://bluesprucetoolworks.com/collections/sharpening-square/products/sharpening-square
It took a little digging. I can’t find this as a current offering, but in 2018 Woodpecker had this. Maybe they decided to sell it under Blue Spruce instead of making it a permanent item for Woodpecker?
I am not a fan of woodpeckers. I can’t really put into words why. Maybe it’s just because I decided it’s not worth my money. However, Blue Spruce has always been in a similar premium category and I’ve still always wanted to splurge and get myself one of their chisels. Now knowing they are the same, I think my desire for a Blue Spruce chisel is gone. I am sure I could find another premium chisel maker that isn’t secretly owned by someone else. I’ve enjoyed the few Lie Nielsen tools I’ve purchased, but I would think twice about buying from them again if I found out they were owned by some other much bigger company, even if I didn’t have anything against that much bigger company. I guess maybe I just like small companies producing nice things and I’m bitter about bigger companies acquiring smaller companies because my direct experience with company acquisition has never been good.
I’ve seen blue spruce and browsed their site, but always found the prices too high. I’ve got some precision measuring and marking tools from Woodpeckers. I thought the reputation for precision was worth it. I also have some panel clamps from them. I got old wood ones from a garage sale, and loved them so much I had to get the new metal ones. I think for a lot of things, the value isn’t there though.
Never heard of them before.
This is tool company ownership done right. Woodpecker and Blue Spruce both make really good tools that are a joy to use. If they leave the company culture alone and just let them keep making tools without annoying cross branding and intrusive corporate leadership, the company will continue to make amazing products with extra resources to help them expand in ways that would have been a pipe dream when they didn’t have the time or money.
I absolutely hate the way Milwaukee’s parent company has decided to make every single tool type a Milwaukee branded tool with annoy overmold. Is it good mass marketing? Sure. But I don’t need bulky crappy tin snips with plastic handles made by Milwaukee just to take up space on the sale wall that could contain good tin snips.
I guess the point is Blue Spruce and Woodpecker both have excellent reputations for quality tools. Why crossbrand?
Not exactly sure why the lack of announcement on this comes as a surprise. Blue Spruce’s bread and butter is billing itself as a mom and pop craft shop that makes exquisite hand tools. That image loses a lot of luster if they advertise that they’re now owned by a larger, far more corporate entity.