Woodcraft Celebrates 90 Years as a National Woodworking Retailer

Comments (1)

Photo: The Woodcraft 50th anniversary catalog cover featured “The First American Woodworker” in the company logo and a sculpture carved by famed artist Armand LaMontagne.

For nine decades, as technology took woodworking tools from the earliest circular saws to computer-aided machines, Woodcraft has supplied woodworkers and do-it-yourselfers with quality tools, supplies, and educational opportunities.

“Woodcraft is pleased to be celebrating its 90th retail birthday,” president Jody Garrett said, “and exceeding customers’ expectations – a Woodcraft corporate value – will continue to be the focus of our day-to-day operations.”

In 1928 when Calvin Coolidge was president and the manufacture of woodworking tools was just beginning, George Eaton and Richard Merrill opened Woodcraft in a one-room shop in Boston, Massachusetts. They began their business life by selling new and rebuilt industrial woodworking machinery to professional cabinetmakers and to schools.

Fifteen presidents later, Woodcraft Supply, LLC, is one of the nation’s oldest and largest suppliers of quality woodworking tools, supplies, and plans. Now based in Parkersburg, West Virginia, the company’s more than 20,000 products are sold at retail stores in over 70 major metropolitan areas across the U.S., through two million catalogs distributed annually in all 50 states and 117 countries, and online at woodcraft.com.

“Woodcraft wants to sell products, but it also desires to help customers improve their woodworking skills and experiences,” Jack Bigger, vice president for sales and marketing, said. “To that end, woodworking classes are offered at retail stores, woodcraft.com offers how-to videos, blogs and articles, and Woodcraft Magazine provides new project and technique articles six times a year. Woodcraft also supports The American Woodshop with co-hosts Scott and Suzy Phillips on PBS and other woodworking personalities who provide educational content on traditional, online and social media channels.”

Woodcraft Milestones

•1930s-1940s: Woodcraft’s business remained primarily in the secondhand woodworking equipment field for many years.

The 1934 catalog cover featured Boice-Crane Bench Machines.

The 1963 Woodcraft catalog references (upper right corner) a Special Wooden Plane Catalog, available upon request, described as “we believe the widest collection anywhere.”

•1950s: George Eaton launched a limited mail order business offering tools made by Wm. Marples & Son, plus a few from German manufacturers. Woodcraft was a dealer for Boice-Crane Bench Machines and also took on the Rockwell Delta product line.

•1958: When an English tool manufacturer visited Woodcraft in Boston, Eaton was impressed with the quality of that toolmaker’s products. Woodcraft’s first hand tool catalog was the result of that meeting, and Woodcraft became the first retailer of the Marples hand tool line, produced by Wm. Marples & Son.

This 1961 Catalog describes Woodcraft as United States Agents for Marples Sheffield Steel Tools. Woodcraft was still in Boston when this catalog was distributed.

Woodcraft was located in Woburn, Massachusetts, when this catalog was published in 1968.

•1962: Roger Wells bought Woodcraft and moved the company’s first store to Woburn, Massachusetts.

Photo: This 1969 photo shows the small building at 313 Montvale Avenue in Woburn that housed Woodcraft’s entire mail order and retail business. Continued growth eventually forced Woodcraft to build a full warehouse/office facility. In November 2014, Woodcraft of Woburn moved to 185 New Boston Street.

•1976-78: Woodcraft commissioned the famous artist Armand LaMontagne to do a life-sized sculpture of the Native American Indian used in its corporate logo and registered tagline, “The First American Woodworker.” It was first exhibited in 1978 for Woodcraft’s 50th anniversary and was featured on the cover of the 1978 Spring-Summer Woodcraft Catalog Supplement (see beginning image).

Photo: Sculptor Armand LaMontagne carved the entire body of the Woodcraft Indian, including the stump on which he crouches, from one piece of pine, originally 48" in diameter and 5' tall, weighing 700 pounds.

•1987-88: Sam Ross of Parkersburg, West Virginia, founder of SBR, Inc., who was an avid woodworker and loyal Woodcraft customer, bought Woodcraft and began expanding operations by opening new stores.

•1989: The warehouse merchandise distribution and customer service operations were relocated to Parkersburg.

•1992: Corporate offices were moved to Parkersburg.

•1996: Woodcraft.com was launched, making Woodcraft one of the first woodworking companies to operate on the Internet. Today, Woodcraft also promotes its products on social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube and has a corporate blog, Woodworking Adventures.

Photo: Woodcraft.com has had several upgrades since Woodcraft launched the website in 1996. The most recent makeover was unveiled in February 2017.

•1997: The first franchise store opened in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

•1997: About the time the franchise operation began, Woodcraft bought The Woodworkers Club® that currently operates at several sites.

•1997: Woodcraft opened a corporate retail store and training center in the former Gersman’s Ethan Allan Gallery furniture store on Emerson Avenue in Parkersburg, West Virginia.

Photo: In 2006, the Woodcraft of Parkersburg building was renovated to provide space for the Call Center and Woodcraft Magazine. A woodshop and photography studio were added later.

2003: As part of the 75th Anniversary celebration, Woodcraft offered a different Limited Edition Anniversary Tool each month and included a company history section in a special anniversary catalog that featured six different covers, each representing a time in Woodcraft’s history. Four are pictured in this blog: the 50th anniversary, Boice-Crane, Sheffield Steel and the 75th anniversary mosaic. A 1960 Marples cover and a second 75th anniversary cover complete the six.

This unique 75th anniversary July 2003 Woodcraft Catalog cover image is a mosaic of hundreds of different woodworking tool photos from previous catalogs.

A 90th anniversary logo will appear on the cover of catalogs, fliers, advertisements and other company communications during 2018.

•2004: Woodcraft launched Woodcraft Magazine.

Renowned woodworker Sam Maloof was featured on the cover of the April/May 2005 issue of Woodcraft Magazine that included a profile of his life and work.

Download

Chris Hedges puts finishing touches on his Shaker Counter project featured in the current issue, #81 February/March 2018.

Buy Copy

•2008/2009: Woodcraft introduced three new strategic private label brands: Pinnacle®, HIGHPOINT® and WoodRiver®.

WoodRiver® Bevel Edge Socket Chisels are the most recent addition – summer of 2017 – to a Woodcraft private label brand.

WoodRiver

Woodcraft unveiled its “Made in the USA” Pinnacle® 40-1/2 Scrub Plane at the 2013 Vendor Trade Show.

PInnacle

Described as the Ultimate V3 Bench Plane Set, the #3, #4, #5 and #6 WoodRiver® Bench Planes are based on the classic Bedrock design.

WoodRiver

These HIGHPOINT® Double-Action Hinges are part of the extensive line of HIGHPOINT hardware.

Highpoint

•2012: Woodcraft acquired Japan Woodworker, a primarily Internet-based high quality Japanese hand tool company.

Japan Woodworker catalog from 2012, the year Woodcraft purchased the company.

See More

February 2018 Catalog

Explore

•2016: In May, Woodcraft announced the addition of a new product, Black Dog Salvage Furniture Paint that was developed as a joint effort with Black Dog Salvage to meet the Roanoke, Virginia-based architectural salvage firm’s need for a furniture paint that performed better than available products.

This photo of Black Dog Salvage resident artist Susan Hudson and co-owners Robert Kulp and Mike Whiteside was on the June 2016 Woodcraft catalog cover.

See Paint

Woodcraft employees learned about Black Dog Salvage Furniture Paint during training sessions such as this one hosted by the Parkersburg, West Virginia, retail store.

Browse

•2017: Woodcraft employees earned two prestigious national awards: the Avercast Crystal Ball Award for effective use of technology to forecast product demand and the WebLinc Workarea King of Content Award for content offered on Woodcraft.com.

•2017: Woodcraft continued to support The American Woodshop with Scott and Suzy Phillips. In January 2018, the show began its 25th season on PBS.

Suzy and Scott Phillips with projects from Season 25 of  The American Woodshop.

See More

Scott Phillips was profiled in the Aug/Sept 2007 Woodcraft Magazine with the first of a series of six projects by Scott.

Download

•2017: Woodcraft’s 20-year-old Franchise Program was featured in Franchising Today.

Photo: In “Building On Success,” Gary Lombard, Vice President - Retail/Franchise Development, shares what makes the Woodcraft retail operation successful and what differentiates it from other franchise operations. “Woodcraft offers franchisees a complete system that helps them with every detail, from site selection and development to hiring quality staff and marketing support,” Lombard said. “And once a new franchise store is operational, we provide ongoing support through regional field consultants and the retail support staff.”

2018: Woodcraft began its 90th year with 76 retail stores – 10 corporate and 66 franchise – located in 35 states, including Hawaii.

I encourage you to visit your local Woodcraft store to check out the products and talk to the staff about your woodworking and DIY project needs. And remember you can find lots of free instruction in blogs, how-to articles and videos posted on Woodcraft.com and WoodcraftMagazine.com.

“Helping You Make Wood Work” is our mission!


Related Products

1 Comment

Write Comment
  • MG
    Thanks for this amazing post. this really takes woodworking to the next level and help become a professional. I personally got started 2 months ago and already creating my own projects and did it all thanks to the help of a set if 16,000 woodworking plans that are so easy to follow, literally any one can do this. I’m sure this will provide tremendous value to any one that see this.

Write Comment

You must be logged in to write a comment. Log In

Top of Page