We’ve all heard the expression “Measure twice, cut once.” There is great wisdom in those words, and the advice should be followed.
Beyond the carefulness of measuring twice, though, is the tool you use to make that measure. Having confidence in yourself to measure twice is one thing; having confidence in the measuring tool you use is another. Confidence is needed twice.
What leads to confidence in the measuring tool, though? Quality craftsmanship in design and manufacture are at the top of that list. Precision in measurement lines is another. So is the clarity of the measurement lines and your ability to see and read them clearly. The degree of measurement breakdown, the scale of the measuring tool – not just 1/8ths, but 1/16ths and 1/32ths, can make a difference in joinery and assembly of your project.
We all need a quality square in our woodworking shop. Every one of our woodworking projects relies upon the quality of the square we use for the quality of the finished project.
Among the tool brands that many serious woodworkers rely upon in all of these respects is Woodpecker. It offers layout tools, squares, woodworking rulers, T-squares, and more woodworking tools. It is known for manufacturing high-quality tools that are precise, accurate, and meticulously machined.
For example, its Precision Aluminum Square is well-rated as an accurate, well-crafted measuring tool with a blade and base machined from a single aluminum block. Woodpecker suggests this aspect of its machinery results in a higher degree of square than what is usually turned out from the more typical two-piece design.
Woodpecker uses a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) method for automating control of machine tools through the use of computer software embedded in a microcomputer that is part of the machine tool itself. The result is a standardized and uniform process that turns out a consistent unit that is consistent throughout the manufacturing process.
Referring back to the Precision Aluminum Square, Woodpecker claims the accuracy of the square is better than .001” over its 8”x12” size. It does so after carefully milling it in multiple high RPM passes on those state-of-the-art CNC machine tools. That is truly impressive, to be sure.
Of course, there is a premium to be paid for such precision and high-quality tooling of their products, and Woodpecker tools are higher priced than many of their competitors. But are their tools worth that premium?
Pricing Competition for Woodpecker Tools
Woodpecker tools are among the most highly respected tools for their high manufacturing standards for precision and accuracy, as well as quality control and consistency, but they are not the only such tools on the market today.
Giving them a run for the money, pun intended, is Starrett.
Starrett has been manufacturing precision measuring tools since 1880. They are known for their high manufacturing standards for accuracy, as well as quality control and consistency, just as much as Woodpecker.
The Starrett Master Precision Square is considered the finest precision-checking square available on the market today. Where the Woodpecker’s Precision Aluminum Square boasts an accuracy better than .001”, this Starrett square claims an accuracy to .0001” to every 6”. It is also made of hardened steel, manufactured to last forever, vs. the aluminum (anodized) of the Woodpecker model.
Starrett measuring tools are also unquestionably at the top of the pricing ladder. While their quality and engineering are without argument the highest of standards in the industry, they are more expensive at 3-5 times the price of all others.
Woodpecker’s quality, materials, and workmanship are equally respected, though. However, the prices for Woodpecker measuring tools is well below that of Starrett, while at the same time well above other competition with such others as Irwin and iGaging. The premium price paid for Woodpecker measuring tools is primarily for their accuracy.
To give you an idea of the price differentials as among these highly regarded manufacturers, let’s consider the combination square.
- Starret 12” Precision Square – $750 (hardened steel, precision calculated)
- Woodpecker 12” Precision Square – $120 (aluminum, precision calculated)
Well below these, in the $20 – $50 range, are models from Irwin and iGaging, both also well-respected for precision and accuracy.
Woodpecker and Starrett are both respected for the quality of their tools. In the case of Starrett, its high manufacturing standards are enhanced by the materials used.
Hardened steel, and built to last, Starrett has the reputation of being life-long tools in a woodworking shop. Woodpecker’s precision measuring tools are anodized aluminum, and some woodworkers do report a shorter lifespan. However, woodworkers also hold the accuracy and precision of Woodpecker tools in very high regard and believe that offsets the shorter life expectancy.
We found a video that is an overview of Woodpecker measuring tools. It’s a bit long, but it’s filled with information about the tools, some of which we have in our own woodworking shop.
Woodpecker Marketing Strategies
Woodpecker offers what it calls OneTime Tool opportunities where a specific tool, not a part of its regular tool product line, is offered for a limited time at a fixed price. These tools are promoted as special one time offerings not to be repeated, generating a sense of urgency and specialty, and we found many skeptics in our research for this article.
Creating a need perception, offering the tool as a once-off opportunity, buy it now while availability remains, is viewed in some circles as merely a marketing strategy by a small company that operates on a tighter inventory control to sell their products. While this may be true, a manufactured need so to speak, it does not detract from the accuracy and precision of their measuring tools.
In the overall scheme of things in the woodworking shop, the accuracy of those two measurements before the single cut can make the difference between a good project outcome and a great one. Square is important in woodworking, as is alignment of workpieces. Woodworkers need to have confidence in their measuring tools and in the measurements they take.
There are less expensive measuring tools that can still do the job, of course, and if your budget is tight, you can still outfit your shop with tools that will serve their purpose well. It is the combination of well-made, long-lasting, and precision that sets Woodpecker tools apart.
In full disclosure, we have Woodpecker measuring tools in our shop. We don’t like to skimp on measuring devices, as accuracy and precision are too important to our projects. We have always found Woodpecker measuring tools to be worth the extra money, and it’s more than simply because they are less expensive than Starrett tools.
We believe Woodpecker claims of accuracy, and the build of each of our Woodpecker measuring tools is solid and durable. Obsessed Woodworking considers the higher cost to be well worth the purchases, and we’re happy to include them in our shop’s tool inventory.
You do get what you pay for, and in this case, we are getting what we wanted, and are glad to have them.