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Honest opinions of the Woodcarver Supply tools, please!

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  • Honest opinions of the Woodcarver Supply tools, please!

    I have an upcoming opportunity to purchase a set of tools from Woodcarvers Supply in Florida. To establish my baselines here, my full-sized gouges up to this point are Pfeil, with Drake palm tools and a few Morakniv knives filling in the holes. I really only have to ever strop to keep them dangerously sharp, and it's evident to me the difference in the metal between Pfeil and... everything else. I'm a believer in "buy the right tool once" but this price difference makes me very curious as I cannot try them out in person.

    I believe the Woodcarver supply brand is "Lamp" and the pricing is significantly different from Pfeil by about 50%.

    I really want some informed opinions from experienced woodcarvers. Is it worth it to buy several gouges of this brand, or should I stick with Pfeil to keep things consistent?

    All help and opinions are welcome and encouraged. Please help me make this decision a good one.

    Thanks!

  • #2
    I have found that getting off brands can be a risk..... Pfeil is top of line and most of us use them for the long haul. Pfeil does go on sale especially at Woodcraft stores... that is when you buy. I do not have Lamp, but from what I hear too often on here ....you get what you pay for. I do have Henry Taylor,... they are also a great tool to own. The only time I buy lower end chisels is to use on wood that may be damaged or that has things like sand in it...and then it does not matter. I will not ruin my good tools. Thing is about tools...most people will come on here and tell you which tools they use over the years and you hear the same thing. The only time we complain is when they change the tool and it is bad. My opinion always stick to what works. I think for you .....the best deals is when you get used tools for an awesome low price and you can sharpen them. Just my two cents... but when tools that are cheap and awesome you will hear old timers rave about them....then perhaps it is worth your investment.

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    • #3
      Carving tools cannot be judged by their brand name alone. You have to assess their function for the carving YOU do. I have many Pfeil gouges. Not all of them are suitable for the relief carving I do most of the time. My favorite gouge is an old Herring Brothers fishtail - perhaps because I put a lot of time into reshaping and sharpening it. I have spent similar time reworking Pfeil gouges to fit my usage.

      Note - Woodcraft has an exclusive agreement to sell Pfeil tools in the U.S. The so-called sales of 15% off makes the price exactly the same as online (from Woodcraft) so you only save the shipping cost.

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      • #4
        If the Lamp gouges are open stock, which one of the edge profiles would tell you the quickest about the steel?
        Gamble and buy it and try it.
        Accustomed to Pfeil, this is exactly how I learned of the good steel quality in Narex (CZ) tools.
        Brian T

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Robson Valley View Post
          If the Lamp gouges are open stock, which one of the edge profiles would tell you the quickest about the steel?
          Gamble and buy it and try it.
          Accustomed to Pfeil, this is exactly how I learned of the good steel quality in Narex (CZ) tools.
          My answer to the question would be the profile I use the most - #3 Over time I have acquired an intimate knowledge of how these profiles feel when they are properly sharpened. That understanding is easily transferred to other profiles from #2 to #9. V-tools and veiners are another story.

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          • #6
            I'd buy a #5 sweep, like a 5F/12 I understand #5 for everything from carving to texturing.

            I gambled on a pair of 1/2" Narex skews from Lee Valley. I was simply a sucker for the price.
            By the time I realized I had to scrub them back to 20 from 25 degrees, I was delighted!
            Form line carving, one in each hand, just plain fun.
            Brian T

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            • #7
              Where are the Pfeil's produced and where are the Lamps produced?..... Perhaps that might bring you closer to a resolution?

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              • #8
                Translated into english, 'pfeil' means 'arrow' That's the arrow logo that the company presses into the shank of each carving tool.
                For some reason, they need to emboss SWISS MADE into each handle. I have no idea where they get their steel.
                Stubai, Narex, Mora/Frost, Karrlson and Arioux are easy to find, like Ashley Iles and Henry Taylor.
                There are some magical bladesmiths scattered across Europe that we will never see.

                Lamp is totally new to me. Some Asian foray into the marketplace? They have fabulous steel when they care to use it.
                Brian T

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                • #9
                  Pfeil history (from their brochure) " The production of PFEIL carving tools is based upon a long tradition of craftsmanship. The company was founded in 1902 in Langenthal (Switzerland), as a fabricator of cutting tools. Still a family-owned business, PFEIL is today managed by the third generation. Professional cutting tools and surgical instruments were primarily the first items which PFEIL manufactured. Production of the first carving tools began in 1942. Within a short time, the high quality of the tools created a great following not only among professional carvers, but also among amateurs and schools in many countries. With assistance from the Brienz Woodcarving School and professional woodcarvers throughout the world, we continue to develop and expand our assortment of Swiss quality tools."

                  I purchased my first Pfeil gouge - a #3-12mm - in 2001 at Huggler's Woodcarving Shop in Brienz.

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                  • #10
                    Google "Lamp Brand wood carving tools" and see what you find. In the images, they look Asian by the calligraphy.
                    One review ranks them just below Aurioux ( if you can find those) and similar to Pfeil (but different.)
                    Brian T

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                    • #11
                      If you have something that works to your satisfaction, why change to save a few dollars? I have Pfeil tools, many and wouldn't trade them for any other brand. I don't have Lamp Brand, why change from perfection?

                      Just my opinion.

                      Bob
                      Before they slip me over the standing part of the fore sheet, let them pipe: "Up Spirits" one more time.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by pallin View Post
                        Note - Woodcraft has an exclusive agreement to sell Pfeil tools in the U.S. The so-called sales of 15% off makes the price exactly the same as online (from Woodcraft) so you only save the shipping cost.
                        Hi Pallin,

                        While I truly respect your experience and input on all topics, I have to say that this particular statement is not completely factual, at least it does not match fact-checking for myself or anyone I've talked to. There are rumors that 'some' stores mark up their Pfeil items over the online price, but no one I've talked to or checked on myself has done so. When they have their '15% off' sale, it is 15% off in-store or online, so if that price is lower regularly, then you still get a discount. Nothing underhanded going on there.

                        Also, Woodcraft Stores all across the country make a point to support woodworkers and carving clubs and usually offer a 10% discount any time of the year, so that is a discount that can't often be argued.

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                        • #13
                          Thank you everyone for your input. I really appreciate it. The sentiments in this forum have matched other forums and reviews for these products.

                          The answer is... stick with Pfeil. I really struggled with the price, but realized that is one struggle that will go away once I spend the money, then recovered. Buying a lower quality tool would mean that I would constantly wonder if I was experiencing my carving correctly. If there were any inconsistencies in my work, I'd replay this struggle over and over again. I plan to be carving for another several decades, so that conversation-in-my-head-time would add up.

                          With my Guild discount (Woodcraft offers discounts to most clubs or groups) it softened the blow quite a bit.

                          Thank you all for being candid and helpful.

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                          • #14
                            I'm pretty sure Lamp are made by Kirchen who makes Two Cherries and Hirsch as a private label operation for WoodCarvers Supply. I think they are probably a good tool. That said I'd stick with Pfeil simply because then you don't have any issue of getting sweep numbers and sizes that are different, but in actuallity are a match.

                            I personally have bought twice from WoodCarver Supply. I own two fo the Chinese made master carver tools. The steel is great. The fit, finish and shapeing leaves something to be desired. Later, I tried buying a lamp brand tool - well sadly I succeeded. It was very soft, it would roll in bass wood. Got my carving teacher's assessment of it. He said junk, send it back. Then the fun began. Emails and calls unreturned. By the time I actually got someone on the phone, it was out of their return period. I explained that I raised the issue early enough but failed to get a response. Then I got some line about someone being out and on and on. Long story short, they agreed not do do a **** thing for me and I agreed never to buy from them again.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by fiddlesticks View Post

                              It was very soft, it would roll in bass wood. Got my carving teacher's assessment of it. He said junk, send it back. Then the fun began. Emails and calls unreturned. By the time I actually got someone on the phone, it was out of their return period. I explained that I raised the issue early enough but failed to get a response. Then I got some line about someone being out and on and on. Long story short, they agreed not do do a **** thing for me and I agreed never to buy from them again.
                              I also had issues with customer service on other products ....comparable .....and my response was the same as yours. That was a very long time ago....looks like nothing has changed. For me customer service and resolving my issues are number one .....so I stick with the companys who are willing to work with the customer.

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