A reader emailed in, asking about Woodpeckers’ bar gauge (a Feb 2016 One Time Tool), and how it compares to Veritas’ everyday model.
In case you’re not familiar with bar gauges, they are adjustable length layout tools that are used to compare relative measurements and transfer reference lengths, and for other tasks where you need precision but not necessarily numerical values.
Let’s say you need to fit a shelf inside of a cabinet, with the length between sides (including grooves) being 22-15/64″. Sure, you could try to cut a shelf to this dimension, but use a bar gauge to set the fence of your table saw, or cutting guide of your circular saw or jig saw, and you’re good to go. No math or exact measurements needed.
A few weeks ago, I bought a pair of bar gauge heads from Lee Valley/Veritas, and immediately they changed how I approach measurement and layout work. Sometimes it’s a bit annoying having to cut off a new line of wood if my current bits don’t fit a project, but it’s not a big deal.
I have been debating upgrading to their steel version though, as I suspect with longer bits of wood, the gauge will get less accurate. For $15, it’s a very useful tool!
I’ve been debating stepping up to the $65 Veritas steel gauge set, which still seems a good buy.
But then, in my inbox this morning, I revived an email touting WoodPeckers latest One time tool, their own version of the Bar gauge. The Woodpecker version looks quite handsome, but at a jaw dropping $250, I’m at a loss for what justifies their version over the competitions.
I bought the Veritas bar gauge set from Lee Valley a few years ago, and although I haven’t used it a lot yet (no time for a lot of projects as of late), it’s definitely a fine tool that’s worth the expense.
The Veritas bar gauge set can span from 7-1/2″ to 44″, and they also sell optional 12″ extension rods to take things further. The standard kit comes with a couple of extension rods, ball tips for inside measurements, pointed tips for corner measurements, and mushroom-shaped tips for outside measurements.
As for the Woodpeckers set, you get 4 sets of different tips, and it comes with additional extensions so you also get greater range – 8-1/4″ up to 96-5/8″.
If you only need half that range, you’re paying extra for the 4 12″ extensions you don’t need. Woodpeckers is only offering this One Time Tool bag gauge set in a blow molded case, or Systainer case, so you’re paying extra for that too. You’s also paying for that fourth set of pins.
So, minus the extra extensions, the case, and 4th set of pins, and the price would in theory be $126, if you consider that the subtractions are valued at full price, but they’re not, they’re discounted. Ignoring that for a moment, a direct comparison suggests that apples-to-apples, you’re still paying nearly double the cost of the Veritas system.
There IS the option to build your own bar gauge,as Woodpeckers is selling all of the components separately.
So a set that matches the Veritas set would cost $45 for the bar gauge heads, $30 for the bare set starter set, $16 x 2 for 6″ extensions, $16 x 2 for 12″ extensions, and $15 x 3 for the 3 sets of pins.
Total: $184. The extra stuff that’s included in the set would add $124 to this price if purchased individually.
So why the price difference?
Honestly, I couldn’t tell you, I can only guess that it’s tied into the production scale and capabilities of both brands.
I am convinced that Woodpeckers makes a great product. Are their bar gauges superior to Veritas’? Maybe. I definitely like how the Woodpeckers bar gauge can rest flat on a work or tool surface. But other than that, it’s unclear.
If you want Veritas gauge to lay flat, you could always make some DIY stands for it.
I don’t remember if my Veritas bar gauge is made from steel tubing or solid rods, or how wide they are (my set is misplaced at the moment but I’ll try to find it soon), but the Woodpeckers’ set definitely looks to be made with solid steel rods. Maybe this contributes to the higher production cost.
There’s also the opportunity cost. If Woodpeckers is going to make a batch of One Time Tools, it has to be worth it for them to commit the machine and man hours to.
If I could spend $250 (or $290 for the Systainer case edition) on bar gauges, I would buy the Woodpeckers set, hands down.
When I bought my Veritas bar gauges, it was because I wanted that Woodpeckers set but could not quite justify the cost. I’m still not sure I could justify the Woodpeckers set. It does look to provide a little greater functionality, not to mention the extended range and extra tips (that you might not need).
I share in the “do I get more for my money?” mindset. While that translates well to some tools, it falls apart with others.
I’m assuming that it costs Woodpeckers more to make these tools, and that this is why these tools are priced higher. But maybe part of the reason they’re priced this way is because people will pay the price.
With the Woopeckers bar gauge set, do you get more tool for the money? Probably not, at least it doesn’t look like you do. And that’s okay.
That all said, I very highly recommend the Veritas set, but am also positive that I would be 100% pleased with that Woodpeckers set, once I got past the initial purchase price sting.
Hopefully this answered Matt’s question, but if you ordered the Woodpeckers bar gauge set during previous One Time Tool sprint runs, what do you think of it?
Veritas Promo Video:
Woodpeckers Promo Video:
The Woodpeckers bar gauge set One Time Tool is estimated to ship in July 2016, and has a 3/14/2016 ordering cut-off date.