jump to example.com

So did we, until we noticed the feature on their front page that allows one to view all the products in the catalog which customers rated five stars. (OK, we’re assuming that if they rate the product five stars they bought one.) The items — and their prices — were, well, quite surprising.

First up; a set of seven gimlets for $12.

So that’s not so surprising as the price is low enough to fall within many woodworkers’ free-spending range. But that must indicate that many Garrett Wade customers are pretty experienced woodworkers, ’cause most of the people I know don’t have a clue what a gimlet is. (And no, it’s not a cocktail — at least not in the world of wood. A gimlet is a small hand-powered drill used to drill small holes without splitting the wood workpiece.)

Next: A pretty chrome-plated, solid brass push drill for $45, on sale from $58.

I’ll admit I can probably see this one, as I have a fondness for push drills since my father put two of ’em in my kiddie tool set back when I was too young to handle power tools. I’d say the number of times I need a push drill in a given week is probably zero to zero point one, but then I’m not an avid woodworker. So if I were to buy one, it’d probably be more for nostalgia than anything else, and that chrome looks mighty fine.

Read on to page two for more.

Third: a “special German chisel set” for $112, on sale from $128.

Chisel aficionado Toolmongers may disagree, but $112 seems like a lot to pay for a chisel set, especially one where the brand name is cleverly not mentioned much on the catalog page. Though they sound nice — chrome vanadium steel, sharpened and polished blade, hardened to Rc61, oil-finished ash handles — I wonder if you couldn’t score an equally functional set for a lot less.

Skipping down the page, I noticed a couple of overall trends: customers seem to rate clearance items with five stars quite often. (Either that’s true, or the folks at Garrett Wade are pumping us up by either placing five-star items on clearance often or listing clearance items more often. We did, however, sort by “best selling.”) And it seems like sharp-looking items at lower prices — though still often high for the item in question — run to the top.

Could Garrett Wade be the Brookstone (or Sharper Image, RIP) of the woodworking world — the source for “gift items” meant to stand out among the tool chest via bling?

Customer-Rated Five-Star Tools/Best Sellers [Garrett Wade]


17 Responses to Ever Wonder What Others Buy From Garrett Wade?

  1. SharkBreath says:

    I enjoy looking at the items Garrett Wade sells, but the prices are very high and most seem to be imported (Asia). Personally I’m not paying high dollar for import tools.

  2. fred says:

    Garrett Wade certainly has an eclectic mix of items in their catalog – a bit akin to Lee Valley. Their offerings seem to come from domestic, European (some French and German)and Asian sources – and like many others they are a bit secretive about the manufacturers. That may be so you have a more difficult time comparison shopping. As an example, I’ve seen Knipex products (not so specified) in their catalog – at prices that seem quite a bit steeper than can be found elsewhere. I don’t know how they compare across the board. Like most everything we purchase – the adage “caveat emptor” should be our guide – and a healthy bit of critical skepticism about prices and ratings (consider the source if you can) would do us all well. What an occasional user gives 5 stars – may not be up to professional use. Similarly what I might give 5 stars for use on the shop floor in a production setting may have been rated using different criteria from what our field crews would consider in rating a construction site tool. In addition, our 5 star tool might be totally unsuited to the novice user.

  3. Shalin says:

    I long for a good push drill…my Dad’s Craftsman model is a handy and well performing tool even after ~30yrs…

  4. fred says:


    I still have my “Bell System” Yankee that I inherited. Not sure if is of North Brothers vintage or was made after the Stanley takeover – but it works flawlessly. I have both two-flute bits and twist-drill bits for it. When I started working – this was “the” cordless drill – while the larger Yankee Screwdrivers were the equivalent (not quite) of today’s driver drills – and bit braces used to drive lags. I’ve heard that they still have afficianados – particularly among the Amish and others who eschew electrically powered devices.

  5. Chaz says:

    I cannot recall the last time I bought anything from them. The quality name brand tools are just ridiculously, incredibly overpriced, and a lot of the other stuff is cheap no-name crap from China that I would not take for free. It bugs me that they will not name the name brand tools either.

  6. Chaz says:

    BTW, a lot of the 5-star tools have just one evaluation. That’s not exactly a statistically valid sample.

  7. David Bryan says:

    Their website is a serious pain in the ass.

  8. David Bryan says:

    Today I got one of those emails from Garrett Wade, advertising new products. Check ’em out, look at their “British Army/Navy Knives” and see what they call a canopener. And a sheepsfoot blade.

  9. Craig says:

    To be upfront, I’m one of the owners of Garrett Wade. As you can imagine it was a little painful to read a few of the comments above. With that said, negative comments can always been useful (we certainly made a copy mistake with the knives -that kind of copy mistake is rare for us and is being corrected as I type). I think you’ll find us open to your ideas and most importantly we stand by what we sell. I’d welcome any/all of you to email me directly your thoughts, concerns or comments at craig@garrettwade.com.

    A couple of questions for a few of you above. Chuck I looked over the 5 star and only saw 3-4 clearance item, the rest are new or best sellers. Maybe it was that a lot of the 5 Star tools are part of our winter sale (which expires at the end of Feb) ? David, please email me directly about the site being a pain as it would be great to get your specific feedback so we can get it addressed.

    I look forward to hearing from your directly.

  10. tooldork says:

    @Craig – Nice to see you actively engaged in looking for better ways to improve on your customers’ experience. Too often, manufacturers will not even see this type of post and even less often, engage in a two-way conversation.

  11. David Bryan says:

    Craig, Garrett Wade’s looking a lot better to me now. I was really surprised by how fast you guys got that straightened out, and how fast and courteous Petra was in answering my e-mail. If you’re that good at paying attention to what your customers say I’m going to have to give you some serious attention back. It’s left a very favorable impression.
    What had really bothered me about the website was copy that just seemed inauthentic and confusing pictures that seemed to be more about being artistic than informative, and I’m not seeing a lot of pictures like that when I look at the site now. Most of my criticisms might have already become obsolete. It would have been a lot more fair to take a second look before complaining. It’d been a while, but I’m a lot more liable to look favorably at the site now.

  12. Craig says:

    Thank you both.

  13. Hadley Baxendale not my real name says:

    My brother and I have been very satisfied and happy occasional Garrett Wade customers for many years. Sure, some of the items are priced higher than you may obtain from elsewhere. Some of the items are not so well made as to be worth the catalog price. That said, I have purchased a number of truly fine tools at equal or less cost than other sellers, including Lee Valley, particularly because I buy clearance and during a sale or a free shipping offer. Some tools are nearly impossible to find elsewhere, including eBay (see what it costs for Yankee/Bell/Craftsman push drills bits on eBay compared to the Garrett Wade bits). Moreover, Garrett Wade service is superb. Nowhere else do you find free return shipping/no questions asked returns. Garrett Wade is a keeper.

  14. max white says:

    I’ve used Garrett Wade for years with no problem. This all ended last week. I placed an order for Christmas and received two shipments. This caused several nsf fees as a loan payment was coming out the same day. I’ve returned the doubled shippment, and they refuse a return of my money. They say I hit the submit button twice. This isn’t true. Plus I received a confirmation email for one order, not two. They have been awful to deal with, and even rude. Be wary. Things work when they work, but when they don’t its going to cost you. Never again for me.

  15. Orin Fraser says:

    Dear Max,

    I’m the Customer Service Manager at Garrett Wade.

    We are truly sorry about double shipment and the bad experience you had with our customer service department. Please feel free to contact me directly at 212 807-1155 ext.235 or email me at orinfraser@garrettwad.com. We would be more than happy to correct matters.

    Respectfully yours,
    Orin D. Fraser

  16. max white says:

    I never thought I’d be saying this, but I’m back on the bandwagon. I was contacted today by a gentleman from Garrett Wade(Mr. Fraser ). He let me vent, and explain my side of this situation. Handled in a completely professional an concise manner after the original problem. I can now only give GW the highest marks for customer service.

  17. knife guy says:

    Be careful when you buy from Garrett Wade. Wood colors are not as pictured and then they blame you for not understanding wood tones. Very weird dealing with a company that thinks customer service is done by letting you buy from them. Also the customer reviews are not all posted. They weed out negative comments about their product. They do have some 1-2 stars posted but they are minor issues. Great products but you can buy the same stuff from other vendors with comparable prices and non insulting customer service.

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