Buying Advice for Quality Products

I’m new here; I’m retired and used to be an engineer (toolmaker) so am used to working in metal but am new to wood.

So far I’m finding that my engineering skills are, almost, directly transferable, to woodworking.

I’ve got a small 12’ x 8’ workshop in my garden which I’m fitting out; my favourite ‘bit of kit’ being my Triton Work-centre with contractors saw and router table, I’m finding them very efficient and great for my purposes.

Anyway, onto my point (as last).

I would love to buy tools, attachments and associated fittings that aren’t made in China, not because I have anything against China (as they make great products at reasonable prices) but because I want to support quality products from other countries but not be ‘ripped off’ by pricing.

How do you (if you do) find out if a product you want to purchase doesn’t come from China? For instance, I know Axminster sell great products but where are they made?

Any information regarding web sites that sell quality products (not made in China) would be very welcome.

Thank you…

You’ll find that most machinery is Chiwanese; some are much better quality than others. As far as I’m aware, only Sedgwick produce planer/thicknessers that are made in the UK. Hand tools come from all over the place and Clifton planes (not sold any more by Ax, more’s the pity) are the only ones made in the UK. That said Veritas and Lie Neilson kit from across the pond (Canada and the US) can be thoroughly recommended. Power tools again mostly come from the Orient though Festool are made in Germany - Rob

Thank you Rob, much appreciated.

If your looking at wood turrning tools then Sorby, made in sheffield, rate highly but then the price cn reflect that. If you live near an Axminster store then pop in and chat with the staff. I would say over 90% of my purchases have been via Axminster. SIttingbourne branch the staff will give fair and impartial advice without any sales pressure so you can come away do some research and get the price/quality ballance right.

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For chisels, Ashley Iles (UK) are very good, though not exactly a budget option. I like Narex (Czech Republic); reasonable prices and good chisels. The Thor 710R is a good hammer for these, and I think it’s made in the UK.

For hand planes, I’d personally look for older (pre-1960s) Stanley (UK or US) or Record (UK).

Hand saws - there are plenty of old Disston, Tyzack and Groves on eBay (all US and UK production). I’m not up to speed with current domestic saw makers; other than Skelton Saws - but he’s a high quality/low volume builder.

As for power tools and machinery - other than the already mentioned Sedgwick, I’d struggle to immediately think of others; and I suspect even they may well use a lot of far east sourced components. There will be European manufacturers, but I suspect they’ll all be in the very high end of cost and quality (e.g. Felder).

Why mention China specifically as somewhere you don’t want to buy from? What “other countries” do you prefer (or not prefer)? What do you consider as being a price that rips you off? Before anything else, I feel you might (for yourself) clarify your buying motives so you can be clearer about what buying policies you exactly want to follow.

As others have said, it’s no easy task to find tools made in Britain of good quality. Those that are tend to be very high quality … and very high price, Skelton saws have been mentioned, as well as Sedgwick machine tools. Consider Holtey planes, the most expensive - £ per ounce - of the lot!

Germany is a good source of decent machine tools and some good hand tools. Consider Festo, Mafell and Scheppach, for example. But even they have some of their stuff made in the Far East. And prices are, once more, not low.

However, if you’re worried about getting “ripped off” consider this: many expensive tools are not only highly functional and a pleasure to use but also retentive of their value. I’ve bought, used and later sold many, many high quality tools, for as much as or often more than I paid. Have them about a decade and their second hand price begins to exceed the what-you-paid price. I think of it as hiring them at a very low rent. :slight_smile:

This works better with high quality hand tools than with machine tools - although I have sold a Mafell biscuit joiner, a Delta lathe, a drum sander and one or two other things for as much as I paid, after about 15 years of use. (Sold mostly due to a house move including a smaller workshop). Hand tools such as those from Lie-Nielsen, Veritas, Blue Spruce and similar go on ebay for more than you paid for them about a decade before, assuming they’re in good nick and looked after.

Have you got a tool list? If so, it becomes easier for others to point at good quality and perhaps even inexpensive options made in Britain or Europe or perhaps even Australia. Someone mentioned Narex chisels, for example - very good indeed for not much money.


Thank you Gordon, very helpful and much appreciated.

First and foremost a big warm welcome to the community richard49

As Welling_Turner said, Robert Sorby tools and equipment are designed and manufactured here in the UK.

Thank you for the welcome; I’ll have a look at their website.

Much appreciated.

One or two goodly folk have mentioned Narex chisels and they are good. But did you know that Axminster ‘Rider’ chisels are also made by Narex and in my view are much superior. The Narex handles are unwieldy whereas the ‘Rider’ chisel handles are a much better shape, made from hornbeam that’s been lightly oiled, come with a stainless steel ferule and a leather shock absorbing washer.
If you’re after a really good chisel at a budget price, the ‘Rider’ ones are the best of the bunch. The gouges are also excellent but need a lot of work to re-grind the bevel which is far too steep as supplied

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Thank you, I’ll definitely look into thos chisels.

If you’re after Woodturning chisels I believe Crown chisels are British,allegedly made in Sheffield and a reasonable price and also sold by Axminster tools. I would mention Record power but I suspect that like their lathes they are probably made…yep you guessed it in China :unamused:

Having done a swift G enquiry on this new fangled t’interweb thingie, I can confirm that Crown tools are indeed made in Sheffield

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Axminster tools such as the Crown range are made in Sheffield England. Look out for other makes also made in England. Maybe then shop around for best prices. Also remember to buy the best you can afford. Watch out for humidity / rust. Remember safety issues and PPE

If you want to go for the best Narex chisels, look to the new ‘Richter’ range. Sadly, nowhere, but nowhere in the UK has any stock.