Sunday, March 6, 2011

It's all about the little things

I grew up without a lot of extras. We got by with very little and I guess I learned some very good lessons from that experience. I have lived my life trying to be as practical and frugal as I could be, but I never cut corners on quality, because quality always matters.

This little broadfork company prides itself in being mindful of the details in manufacturing that really matter and the people I work with have gotten into the spirit with me.

I buy my steel from a family owned steel company in Madison, Wisconsin. Wiedenbeck Steel has been run by the Wiedenbeck family since 1894 and there's a good reason why they've been around for so long. Their commitment to quality is as high as my own and I rarely use that metric. I have been a customer there since I got to Wisconsin in 2000 and I will continue working with them as long as I am able.

Josh is my usual load out guy at Wiedenbeck and since I always buy the same material for broadforks, I just tell him how many to pick on my way in and when I get back with my paperwork, he's usually at the saw, cutting the 20-24 foot lengths into sizes I can haul in my truck. Steel comes in what is known as 'random lengths.' A 20 foot piece might be 20 feet and a half inch or 20 feet and 2 1/2 inches.

Josh knows the dimensions of all the parts of my broadforks and he cares enough to measure out each bar of steel and makes a decision as to where they will be cut to make the least waste once I get them home and start sawing them to precise lengths. Remember, he just cuts the long bars in half for me.

I just finished cutting enough steel to make tines for almost 40 broadforks and the photo shows all the steel that I consider 'waste.' There are 16 nubs of steel there ranging in size from about 2 inches to less than a quarter of an inch. The rest of the waste consists of a handful of saw 'dust' from my bandsaw kerf. This time it was as good as it gets; I used every bar I cut to it's maximum.

Josh understands what I want and he's glad to take the couple of extra minutes to give me that level of service. I appreciate him more than he would ever believe.

My wife and I work very hard to provide you with a level of care and craftsmanship that is rare in the world today. When you receive your broadfork you will know the minute that the box is opened that it was made by people that are trying to make a difference in their little corner of the world. Karen hand fits and finishes every handle and my hands are the only two that ever touch your broadfork head before it gets into your hands.

Well, Josh cut the bars in half... gotta give credit where it's due.