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Eastern Tools

Was: Shop Safety - Proper Dress

Hi, Joe Lovato

(I said)— I have a box of junk pliers, motors, drawplates and files
that were just a waste of money and time. Rio Grande—are you

Thank you for your response.

Firstly, let me apologize for the above statement.

Re- reading it, I realize it suggests that my ‘box’ comes from only
Rio Grande.

That is incorrect. Rio supplies me with excellent products for my
business and along with Stuller, Gesswein and Hoover and Strong, all
supply me with most of my needs very professionally…and I have
said that on several occasions on this forum.

That said, I do not live in the USA and so, by default, any order
will cost me about $100 in transport costs and about 3 weeks lead-in
time. So any order is always complicated, time consuming and labour
intensive. Back orders are not an option for me, because of transport
costs and most orders are spread over several companies at once.

And there in lies the rub. My dislike of cheap eastern products.

If I receive an order from a supplier, and the order contains a few
eastern products that are quality defective, I have to absorb those
costs, and do without them until my next order is placed. (the
company notwithstanding)

Even if the product costs, for instance, $500, my cost is $100 to
me, then $100 back and then $100 returned to me. This is most
inefficient in terms of time and money because I bear the return
transport costs, not the supplying company. Even though they are at
fault for supplying me a defective product.

In my experience, more than 95% of defective products I receive are
of eastern manufacture.

I do not believe that inferior tools produce superior work and I
stand by what I say—

You buy cheap, you buy twice.
Hans Meevis.

interesting Hans. has always refunded my money and transport when they sent
out defective product…and when I ( -long ago- ) bought metals from
them and they arrived not only oily,fingerprinted, and scratched, I
was told to keep what they had sent and they replaced it (.999 and
22kt) on the three ocassions I got really poorly handled metals from
them-and that’s giving them a polite description of what they sent
out. Personally I find myself saying I hate to mention brands on
this forum, but find more and more it becomes necessary to go against
my own principal…I think Rio is the most overrated and overpriced
supplier out there 2ed only to Stuller.and it seems as though rio is
replacing many of the quality made US and European products formerly
carried with "proprietary " items without listing where made…and
their overall inventory quality is receding quickly.while targeting
big businesses more and more.

.While I agree that cheap tools are cheap, it doesn’t matter where
they originate from…

All files eventually wear out,and so do most drawplates that get used
often or with a draw bench as opposed to only hand use in my
experience,whether sapphire lined or hardened steel…Few things will
last a lifetime- stakes may, hammers may, punches and dies may, some
torches may…but a great deal of their ability to last is in the
care they receive by the user/owner…

I paid about 45 bucks for a euro made raising hammer from Rio in the
last 15-17 years and the head flew off the first time i struck it. I
paid 19.00 for a raising hammer from Rosenthal made in- i want to
say mexico but it could have been the us or italy and it lasted over
twenty years…both floated away equally well in the flood following
hurricane katrina…but often its the lesser touted suppliers that
have a greater range of products from a wider variety of sources and
undercut rio’s prices considerably…

.However, i must say i do disagree that cheap tools cannot produce
superior work…that’s up to the skill of the person doing the work
to a large degree in my opinion. I have seen some excellent jewelry
made in India by Indian craftspeople using what you or I may consider
cheap indian or pakistani tools…to those craftsmen they are what is
available so they adapt…and consider all of their tools as a great
investment given the return they get for the long hours of work they
may put in and the sheer number of competitors…Though I disagree
with you right now on this point, i enjoy your posts tremendously
and your generally refreshing attitude, and preume that this
disagreement is simply part of discussing things forum style with a
great degree of objectivity…

best regards,.R.E.Rourke


I would like to see the sellers informing the country of origin
before you make the purchase.

Generally If the cost is cheap it will be a cheap tool.

But if you paid a regular price and got a cheap tool then it is the
sellers fault.

My I Pod is made in China so is my Cell Phone. Do not blame the
origin or the manufacturer.

The blame is on the company that sold you the defective or the
inferior products

Kenneth Singh
46 Jewelry Supply

My whole point was inferior tools eventually lead to unneccessary

In my experience it has been these cheap tools from suppliers that
have the highest percentage chance of failure. In college I was hurt
by cheap pliers that snapped in mid use and cut me badly on the palm.
I must have forgotten that lessen when saving money on welding
gloves. Never again,I will aquire tools one at a time. I have been
buying from Stuller, but I always compair all suppliers for prices on
each purchase.

Rio has my attention because they have kits and I can get everything
I need for a task by investing in a kit. I like that…I like that a
lot. (HINT HINT to other suppliers) I also like that Rio offers other
mediums than most PMC clay and the Thermal Light Design mediums for
stamps and mold making. Wax carving equipment that makes me drool lol

Kate Wolf you are wicked evil lol I must OWN IT ALL.

On SSI it will just might take me 10 years lol but I will succeed in
this and I will keep fighting one step at a time. I will not give in
to life as it is currently. I have skills I will get the tools and I
will succeed!

Silver & Cameo Heritage Jewelry

In Europe, professional quality hammers are sold without handles. One
has to buy handles separately and fit it the way he likes it.

So called “euro made” in USA are the hammers which may or may not
have been made in Europe, than they were shipped to China or other
country with cheap labor, where handles were fitted as cheaply as

Leonid Surpin

To a person with no tools a cheap tool can be extremely valuable :slight_smile:

Michael David Sturlin

My “Euro” made hammers were made, one in a town near Berlin, and in
Bonn Germany…not China…I know the difference and I know who cast
the one that had not flown apart in Bonn.

Not ALL hammers in Europe are sold without handles. Perhaps, that is
simply your experience of the place you bought them in europe… I
thought you said you were from/lived in Russia… hmmm don’t recall
ever buying or seeing a "made in Russia " hammer in thirty five years
of jewelry making that was not military surplus arriving after the
govt’s fall…

I myself, was speaking about a German imported hammer, not all of
the European made hammers I have ever owned -which you could not
personally have a clue about, without extra ordinary super-natural
powers, which most humans do not posess.

Blanket statements, like yours, Mr. Surpin, are absolutely refutable,
and do nothing to serve anyone with any useful other than
to begin tedious threads that call for defensive posturing against
those blanket statements as if you were the sole importer of European
hammers into the USA, and have inside knowledge that no one else on
this forum has…That is simply untrue. How is it you know that
handles are always sent to outsourcers to be assembled,
unilaterally, by the cheapest sources available…

Equally, not all hammers made have to be fitted to use them with ease
and anything other than excellent results like Fretz’ hammers with a
uniquely made tang that is part of the head stock and holds it firmly
where it is most balanced in the average users hand and gives a bit
when lightly struck…

And I must agree with Michael Sturlin…[after losing every tool
collected over a lifetime] Any tool is a great gift…when one has

I have been there, and without the extreme generosity of a few
Orchid members truly interested in helping other orchid members, (if
not just showing humanity and kindness -forum or not) with tools,
supplies and equipment, and I would be using whatever i
could afford…(or worse, whatever i could make myself, as scary as
that is…)

R. E. Rourke

Hi, now that we know of overpriced etc. suppliers to avoid, which
ones do you generally prefer? So far I’ve used Rio and have been very
happy with their customer service but would like the option of other
suppliers to choose from.


The reason professional quality hammers sold without handles is that
anybody who have to swing the hammer for reasonable amount of time
knows that shape and size of the handle is of paramount importance
and highly individualized.

Currently I reside in USA, but I find that for some tool I have to
search in Europe.

I am from Russia, and the reason that I do not use tools from Russia
because they do not meet my quality standard.

If I omitted any other implied questions, please let me know and I
will do my best to furnish you with the

Leonid Surpin

Cindy, Rio is excellent but I also use Stuller, both for many years
as a satisfied customer.

Joel Schwalb


Thank you for asking a positive question, since this thread has
gotten a bit, um, heated.

For some things, I do like Rio (tools only) and Stuller (more for
metals and findings than tools). I also love 46 Jewelry Supply (which
Kenneth Singh represents here on Orchid) in NYC. Tevel at Allcraft in
NYC is also very accommodating and they have some quite unusual and
wonderful tools. It’s quite unfortunate, in my opinion, that neither
46 nor Allcraft have good websites or catalogs as neither specialize
in mail order.

As far as mail order suppliers go, Progress ( )
and Contenti ( are both excellent suppliers with
good prices and a wide selection.

All in all, there’s not a single supplier in this business who has
"everything." They each have their strengths and weaknesses, so when
you’re looking for something specific it pays to look in multiple

Hope this helps!
Karen Goeller
No Limitations Designs
Hand-made, one-of-a-kind jewelry

I fail to see where this topic invited a "bash the supplier"
segment. I personally feel that Rio Grande puts a large portion of
profits back into this industry. Look at what support they offer, not
just to top accounts, but to a little one such as me.

I have never felt Rio is anything but interested in making our lives
easier. You cannot put a price on customer support and service.
Every business wants profits, some are just more willing to share
them than others.

It appears, when there is a chink, some put a sledge hammer through,
totally out of left field. I do not care for the “Nature” of some
human beings.

While eating lunch, I was rereading the Spring 2007 edition of Rio
Grande News and Product Review. Within it, Andrea Hill, recaps a
portion of a session at 2006’s Clasp Conference. The header is “10
Resolutions For Being a Better Business Person This Year.” I find
Item #4 apropos, “Recognize that establishing a good working
relationship with suppliers is many times cheaper than constantly
shopping around for a better deal. In a world where competition is
fierce and customers are demanding, you need to be able to lean on
your partnerships with your vendors to help you be competitive.
Building long-term relationships of trust and reciprocity can
provide you with bottom-line results.”

To ask for a list of “Good” vs “Bad” suppliers, puts your
responsibility onto others. Why give that away? Orchid is a
wonderful place to find vendors who care enough to spend time on this
forum to respond to questions. I “knew” many long before I physically
met them. They were exactly as I expected them to be. This also
applies to places to learn. I know where I want to go to add to my
abilities, positive comments from others are helpful. Negatives,
usually are specific to one event, online trashing is over the line,


Euro Tool Inc., Grobet USA, Ikohe Inc., Foredom, & GRS Corp. Check
their websites for tools and a distributor near you.

Gary L. Mills
Pineforest Jewelry, Inc / PFJ, Inc

Dear R.E. Rourke,

I do appreciate your insight, and take this matter quite to heart.
While we may not always be the lowest price supplier, Rio Grande’s
team of buyers and product managers are committed to provide the best
value possible, while maintaining quality standards across thousands
of product choices suitable to our varied customer base. We aim to
balance competitive pricing with our commitment to provide a good
living to the talented and experienced associates who provide our
customers with extensive technical support, and services.
For some customers this level of service is not valuable – they
would rather shop around for the cheapest prices, and there are
vendors who provide cheap prices. For other customers the confidence,
services, and support are important to them, and for those customers
it is worth it to do business with Rio. It’s typical of a healthy
marketplace that there are vendors for each type of customer
preference. Frankly, if we had to be the Wal-Mart of the jewelry
industry, we’d find something else to do, because running that type
of business isn’t where our hearts are.

I would like to clarify a few points. The first is in relation to
where Rio buys our products from. It is true that we buy products
from all over the world. However, I think it is interesting to note
that of the 30,000+ items we currently have for sale, 70% of them
come from vendors in the United States. We do not follow a conscious
"buy US" policy, nor do we actively try to seek products from
specific countries (say, China - which accounts for a very small
percentage of products). We simply try to find the products our
customers need wherever they are to be found. In fact, we partnered
with suppliers worldwide to keep a German pliers manufacturer in
business because we felt allowing them to close would be a loss to
the industry. Also, to the point Kenneth Singh made, we are required
by law to mark country of origin on every product we sell. I am quite
proud of the fact that every time we have a US Customs surprise
inspection (one of which was quite recent), we pass with flying

Secondly, in relation to “targeting big businesses more and more,” I
can tell you this is not our marketing strategy. It is our pride, our
joy, and our goal to serve the independent jewelers of the world -
yes with products, but also with support, education, and
No one customer accounts for as much as 1% of our business, and if we
were targeting the big businesses this would not be true. The beauty
of this percentage is that independent jewelers are far more
representative of each others’ interests than large companies would
be – which means that the feedback we receive from our customers
drives us closer and closer to the needs of the independent jewelers,
ensuring we keep your needs foremost in our consideration all the

Thank you for letting me address what I believe to be inaccurate
perceptions. I respect your opinion, and I understand that Rio is
not the vendor of choice for everyone. We are blessed in this
industry with many fine suppliers, which is good for all of us.

Andrea Hill
Chief Executive Officer
The Bell Group (Rio Grande)
7500 Bluewater Road NW
Albuquerque, NM 87121


I agree with your post, and for the most part I have stopped reading
the eastern tools string as soon as it turned into a bash fest.

I don’t see anyone complaining when Rio or any of the others dump a
large sum of cash into supporting all the functions they do. Seems to
me it’s a little like wanting to kill the chicken because you found
that if you eat a dozen eggs a day you’ll get sick.

How about the support Rio and others give for this forum?

As far as the topic of eastern tools, I use ‘learner’ tools a lot,
there are no good or bad values in this, just learning and how to
manipulate what you have to get what you want. Yes they will be
replaced, but when that time comes, I know what I am looking for, the
qualities I want and why.


The reason professional quality hammers sold without handles is
that anybody who have to swing the hammer for reasonable amount of
time knows that shape and size of the handle is of paramount
importance and highly individualized. 

This is of course correct but many buyers prefer to purchase
assembled hammers, not so many decisions to make and ready to use
"out of the box". Maybe this becomes more of an issue for those who
rely heavily on hammers in their work or has aquired certain
preferrences over the years.

Currently I reside in USA, but I find that for some tool I have to
search in Europe. 

My sources are mainly in Sweden, Denmark and Germany. The majority
offers a ready-to-use hammes and replacement handles. Karl Fischer
GmbH in Germany, fairly known in the US for their quality tools,
does offer a wide heads and handles separately.


I have been following this thread with great interest. Simple
because we manufacture custom tools/tooling and there for some people
would say that Rio, Stuller’s, and all the others are my competitions
in this field nothing is further the true I use tools from all the
major supply houses. Some times the web site or catalog does not give
enough to make an inform decision so a simple phone and
ask the questions form there customer service. Which I have always
found to be friendly and fast in returning with the need
to make the decision. Example a few years ago was needed to draw some
wire from 18ga to 19ga. For a customer about 4 feet (this is not a
normal service we provide) after talking to Rio’s customer service we
made the decision to use the cheapest draw plate which did the job
quite well and save the customer and us money. I guess what I am
trying to say is talk with the people that know there tools to see if
they will do what you want them to do ahead of time. There are many
grades of tools out there and they all have there place. That it is
up to us the end users to find out if the tool is right for our job.

Rodney Abel

It would be nice to be able to afford the nicest, best quality of
everything, but unfortunately, I live in the real world where other
factors (such as budgets) come into play. I’m only just starting out,
and it’s true that I’ve bought a couple of super cheap things that
haven’t been worth the money, but I’ve also bought some things that
really have been good, even though they’re not the best quality. I
think some common sense has to come into play about these things.
Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to pay a lot of money for something
that you will use only occasionally, and doesn’t need to stand up to
heavy wear and tear. Some things you can’t skimp on, the trick, to
me, seems to be to determine what those things are, and persevere
until you can afford the higher quality item. I didn’t pay much for
my dapping punches, I don’t use them alot, and they’re very nice for
what they are, and they cost me a fraction of what a high end
collection would have. Most of the time you get what you pay for, but
you don’t always absolutely HAVE to have the highest quality tool.

Just my two cents worth.

Robin Cassady-Cain.

As an adjunct to the recent Eastern Tool thread, I would like to add
the following musings.

I, like many others online would love to find an outlet for my
output. This can be difficult, as can be seen by the various Orchid
threads regarding Shows, Displays, Security, Tents, etc. Rio Grande
led by Andrea Hill, last year began the “light at the end of the
tunnel,” with Clasp, A Convergence of Jewelers.

Having been a member of this wonderful, thank you Hanuman and Ton,
Orchid Forum, for many years, I recognize many names. While at Clasp,
and mingling with many there, I became very aware that there were
names I did not recognize. My “AHA” was that Clasp was
sent to not only Orchidian’s, but to Rio Grande’s entire mailing

I found quite a few in attendance, who were not at all aware of
Orchid. After the conference, we began to see new names on-list.
Many of these persons were Jewelry Store, or Gallery Owners. Hence
for attendees, the opportunity to directly meet a possible venue for
your work.

This is an incredible opportunity, and should not be taken lightly.
This year, the Clasp Conference in Denver, will run concurrently
with the annual Denver Jewelry Shows, even more potential to expand
your personal horizons.

The amount we personally invest in tools and equipment, education,
is of course major, no matter what sums. The opportunity to invest
wisely, is one of Rio Grande’s best offerings. Think Catalog in
Motion, the opportunity to try before you buy, in addition to
Clasp’s expand your horizons.


Hello Orchidland and Andrea Hill, Rio Grande Head Honcho,

IMHO Rio Grande has been very supportive of their clients, mostly
small folks like me. (I meant that my business is small - not me
personally. :slight_smile: )

I have been a modest customer of theirs for a long time, and am
always treated with respect and courtesy. On the rare occasion that
something is not as ordered, it is corrected. That includes a
follow-up call to assure my satisfaction. Ladies and gentlemen, THAT
is Service and Reliability. Yup, I like Rio Grande’s attitude.

Posters on Orchid frequently encourage one another to value one’s
work high enough that it includes an adequate compensation for the
artist’s time. We also urge others to stand behind their work (even
when the customer really isn’t right) because that indicates the
jeweler is trust-worthy. We have griped about big box stores’ cheap
jewelry, but have to recognize that they serve a population looking
at low prices first and quality second.

Now check Andrea’s statement:

We aim to balance competitive pricing with our commitment to
provide a good living to the talented and experienced associates
who provide our customers with extensive technical support,
and services. For some customers this level of service
is not valuable -- they would rather shop around for the cheapest
prices, and there are vendors who provide cheap prices. For other
customers the confidence, services, and support are important to
them, and for those customers it is worth it to do business with
Rio. It's typical of a healthy marketplace that there are vendors
for each type of customer preference. 

Sound familiar?? Kudos to Andrea and RG for their ongoing support of
this forum and thanks to Hanuman and Ton for their amazing, reliable

Judy in Kansas