Dear Customer,

More and more frequently we are asked why we have stopped carrying certain traditional tools. Only occasionally is the reason lack of customer demand; most commonly it is either major quality degradation or that the tool simply is no longer being manufactured.

At one time, woodworking was taught in all primary schools. Only rarely do schools now have either woodworking or metalworking shops. This change destroyed two markets for manufacturers, first the school market and in later years, the DIY market that naturally flows from having such skills. As you may have noticed, skilled tradesmen today are in greater demand than computer programmers as well as being fewer in number.

Lee Valley is one of a handful of firms in the world focussing on hand tools. In this catalog we reintroduce a floor scraper, inspired by a 1911 ball-joint Starrett model, long since out of production. We are not kidding ourselves that there is a huge pent-up demand among our customers for floor scrapers, but we suspect that many people have a well-grounded fear of letting some unknown (and commonly ill-trained) day laborer cut loose with a giant belt sander on their hardwood floors. The damage can be extensive and irreversible. Actually, floor refinishing can be done competently and quite quickly with a good scraper. This choice may leave you with sore muscles for a day or two, but you will have a better floor and you can use the money saved to go to a spa for the weekend. The alternative is to develop an ulcer watching the job being done badly at high cost.

A curious phenomenon is developing in today's society. Where once we traded names of good doctors or dentists, much greater value is now placed on finding the name of a good plumber, trim carpenter or electrician. Our single-minded focus that all our children should become white-collar professionals has denuded our schools of the basic training that taught us self-sufficiency in our early lives. Today everybody wants to be educated, but nobody wants training. We pay a price for this shortsightedness.

How, you ask yourselves, did he start out with a simple comment on discontinued tools and end up in a major rant on the state of skilled trades in the country? It was easy, that is one place I can get to starting from anywhere.

Yours sincerely,

Leonard G. Lee


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