Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Medallion Toolworks

I had the opportunity to meet Ed Paik (pictured far right in the photo), owner of Medallion Toolworks, at the WIA conference earlier this month. Ed makes premium western style handsaws that are custom fit to the individual's needs. I picked up one of his saws, and for the first time found a saw that fit perfectly in my hand. Most saw handles feel too thin to me, but Ed's saw had a thicker handle that felt more comfortable than any saw I have ever held.

I asked Ed what makes his saws stand out from the competition--what things make his saws special. Here is his response.

"My personal thought is I really don't consider other sawmakers as competitors. I see all of us as complimentary to each other and representative of the skill and experience level of the woodworker that makes a saw purchase. Personally, I would try to steer a novice or someone just entering the woodworking community away from a premium custom saw. I would recommend that they try as many of the production saws out there because it is very possible they do not yet know what features they require and like in a saw. After investing in a custom saw is not the time to find out what your needs and preferences are.

A Lee Valley dovetail saw is a great example of a production made saw that performs very well and offers great value. If you find out after extended use it is not what you require then one would be in a better position to go to a custom maker with those thoughts and specifications without having invested a lot of money.

I like to think my saws are made for those that are familiar with other saws, have a certain level of skill and experience with woodworking and know what they would like a saw to do in their shop. Through discussion and working together, I try my best to realize those ideas in a custom saw that performs well in their shop. Every saw I ship is made specifically for that woodworker with as much hand work as possible. Technical specifics like the totes, the pitch, rake and fleam, canted sawplate are all features that are variable for that individual's needs. Aesthetic features like the style of tote and the wood choices to make it with also vary according to their preferences. I also unconditionally guarantee the work and will do everything I can to make sure they are happy with the order."

—Ed Paik, Medallion Toolworks


Metalworker Mike said...

Ed's saws are fabulous. I've got six (count 'em... SIX) of his saws. Four back saws including two cross-cut and two rip, and a big rip saw with a fully custom tote, and a cross-cut saw of panel size.
Ed's closed totes have a proper lamb's tongue carved into them. This is no product of a router and a half hour... he sweats over these saws, and I love all six. Oh, and his panel saws have nibs. :)

The only thing I'm waiting for is for him to actually have a medallion for his saws! How can he be Medallion Toolworks with no medallion on the saws? That's just crazy. Hop to it, Ed! :)


David said...

I have one saw from Ed, a halfback xc saw with ebony tote and realy like it... Even if I find it a little graby, but it's a mather of time for her to smooth out! The custom tote are realy nice!

Metalworker Mike said...

Ed is definitely not afraid of making a saw 'your way'. You pick what kind of wood the tote is made from, and what style/size/shape. All four of my back-saws are non-standard sizes. I just tell him the size of the sawplate I want, and we discuss teeth per inch, rake, fleam, etc. Just don't ask him for a cocobolo tote. :)

(he's allergic to it)


Kari Hultman said...

Mike, SIX!! I would say that makes you a satisfied customer.

David, I've noticed that some news tools (my L-N dovetail saw, for example) need to be broken in a bit. It worked like a charm after a short while.

Mike, I was very impressed with his willingness to make a handsaw to fit your needs. You can only get that kind of service and product with a small business.

Woodbloke said...

Kari - they look really fabulous saws, but I'm curious why Ed displayed them in that rack? Not the best way I would have thought to show them off at an event - Rob

Metalworker Mike said...

At the time that I bought my first Medallion saw Ed was still doing it part time. By the time I had bought my fourth he had left his employer and gone into premium hand saw making as his full-time occupation, and that's a good thing for hand-tool lovers, because Ed makes some sweet, sweet saws.
David: I envy you your half-back saw... that's the only major 'form' that is missing from my saw tote. Eventually I will add more full-size saws, particularly another rip saw with finer teeth.
I've got a funny story for you. I was talking to Ed at the Tools of the Trade sale up here last year, and asked him where he bought his half-nut screw-driver, because I wanted to pick one up. He started explaining how he couldn't find one that he liked and so he made one, himself. He was getting into the meticulous details of how he made it, as I listened intently, when suddenly he stops and says "Hey! Why am I telling *you* this? You're a metalworker!" Actually, I trained as a tool-maker for four years, but I still enjoy hearing how other people do things. Anyway, I made my own half-nut screw-driver, but Ed gave me some really useful info in his description of how he made his - he saved me a lot of time.


Ed Paik said...

Thank you very much for featuring me in your on your blog Kari! It is truly a priviledge to be included amongst the toolmakers you have already featured.

The invaluable benefits of attending these types of venues are meeting people in our woodworking community, other toolmakers and of course feedback. The two WIA conferences this year and the Tools of the Trade Show in Canada earlier in the Spring allowed me to evolve and develop my perspective and skills.

Mike, medallions are on the way. I have the medallions made and I am working on getting them either stamped or laser etched. Should be out in a few weeks. Split nut screw drivers are also in the works. Ah! Just too many things on the plate and only a single pair of hands!

Rob, I had to display them in a saw rack because I was sharing a booth with the Barretts. They are a hostile, crotchety bunch and I dared not take up another inch of the table for fear of losing an limb! :-) And imagine, I drove 16 hours both ways to Conference with them. It was not pretty! :-O

Thank you for the kind comments on the saws and including me on your blog Kari. It was a real pleasure meeting and speaking to you. I hope we have another opportunity in the near future.

Best regards,


Kari Hultman said...

Rob, oh, but they were right there at hand level, just begging to be touched! ; )

Mike, I'm thrilled that people like Ed are able to make a living at making premium handtools. We all benefit when we have such fine tools available. Two decades ago, it wasn't so easy to find them.

Ed, it's my pleasure to feature you and it was great to meet you in person! Handtool events like the WIA marketplace are the best way to get up close and personal with the tools and makers. Perhaps the next one will be closer to home for you so you won't have to endure such a long drive with those cranky Barretts. ha ha

Unknown said...

You've gotta love this banter back and forth...from one tool maker to another...one web site to the next. We're all pretty lucky to live in these days of fine hand tools and the internet. To drop by a friends blog to say hello while never getting the opportunity to ever meet. It's really quite amazing when you think about it. If I have to sell my right arm I'll be damned if I miss the WIA next year!
And yeah, a Medallion panel saw is another for my short list. If that list keeps growing I may need to sell my left one too!

Woodbloke said...

Ed - understandable under the cirmcumstances...wow, a 16 hour drive would get you up and down the UK twice!
Thanks for posting though and keep making those excellent saws - Rob

Dan Barrett said...

Hey you three and you know who you are E, K, T. As noted on another site I am pron to shedding the od tear now and then, well congratulations I am pretty sure two fell this time. AND WHO ARE YOU CALLING CRANKY!!!!!!!!!!!?????