Do We Manufacture Higher Quality Products than Our International Competitors?

I’ve gone back to finishing my full set of moulding planes. It’s a lot of planes to do and I don’t have a lot of time off. So, I broke the built into stages. I’ll do one build for each plane, then another and another. As an example, two nights ago I assembled the grip covers on all the planes. Now I’m ready to cut the irons and make the wedges and I’ll do this for each plane. Then shaping and heat treating will come after that and so on. This is called the Charles Babbage theory of manufacturing. “Why build the entire shoe when you can build it in parts.” he said.

So I’ve come to the prep work of all the irons. I have to saw each iron’s width according to each plane and as I was finishing the No.2, I thought I’d check the edge squareness of the raw stock and lo-and-behold none of them were square. They are off by 3°.


Will it matter if it is off? Yes, it matters because that edge needs to sit flat against the blindside.

Ok, so why not use the opposite side?  Because the opposite side is off the same degree.

I now have to file each one square when I could have avoided that if they had bothered to check their milling machines settings prior grounding it flat and not so square.

We like to think ourselves better than the rest of the world.  We pride ourselves that it’s made in USA, Australia, England, France, Germany, the North Pole etc and are happy to pay the 1000% extra for it, because we want quality.  But, the sad truth is we are no better than our counterparts in China, Vietnam, India, Portugal and any other manufacturing nations we lost our jobs to. We’re no better because we don’t give a rats wazoo; we don’t take pride in our work anymore. We can’t stand the sod we work for, we can’t stand the company who feeds us, we moan and groan because we have to go to work, so as a result zero effort is made. Zero effort was made in Sheffield, England that day this steel was ground.





5 thoughts on “Do We Manufacture Higher Quality Products than Our International Competitors?

  1. Portugal? What do you mean with that?
    I didn’t know we are a manufacturing nation that is taking your jobs. I didn’t know we are a manufacturating nation at all! Almost everything we have is imported.
    In your mind is Portugal at the same level of cheap labour like India, China and Vietname are?
    We have low wages when compared with the rest of EU, but you don’t find child labour nor almost slavery conditions like you find sometimes in some of the Asian countries you refered to.
    About the quality of woodworking tools (this is a woodworking blog), Portugal makes the best files in the world: Bahco and Tomé Feteira.
    There are more examples of (good) manufacturing in Portugal, but not many enough to consider Portugal a manufacturing nation.


    1. Yes Portugal also makes quality files. However, many companies have left to go overseas and one of them being Portugal because it is cheaper to produce there. But please read the whole post and not just one word. You will see that I am not attacking Portugal but ourselves for being so slack.


      1. I know you’re not attacking Portugal, but it’s not a fair sentence.
        You refer the 4 countries as if their realities are the same. They’re not, they’re quite different.We have severe labour laws.
        Living here for 42 years and don’t know many production companies that leave one country to select Portugal due to pay reasons. In fact we’re loosing production to Asian countries, like most countries are. We’re becoming a nation of services without industry. We’re all in the same boat.

        I like your blog and your magazine. Keep the good work.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You have to be careful with weasel words like “precision”. Precise… where? What are their tolerances? I image the mill would just tell you 3 degrees is within tolerance. It’s a shame you have to ask if square bar stock is precisely square.

    Liked by 1 person

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