Manufacturing

Tour of Lee Valley & Veritas Manufacturing Facilities – Part 2

I left off in my last post in the R&D department at Veritas. One thing I forgot to mention was that I also got to see a part of Rob Lee’s antique tool collection, including a number of gorgeous plow planes. We didn’t visit Rob’s office, as he was away, but I hear he has quite the collection in there too. From R&D we headed out to the Veritas manufacturing facilities, passing through a large room with an incredible wall full of various tool designs – some of them were pretty out there, so I’m not sure if they were part of the R&D brainstorming process, or how they come up with the April Fool’s products.

Veritas, Plane, Woodworking

All of the Veritas handles are finished by hand in Ottawa

The manufacturing shop was pretty large in itself, and was extremely busy. We followed the stages of manufacture, from rough castings, to cleaning up the castings, to milling the mouths and the adjustable mouths of the planes, to the final flattening of each casting. Unfortunately I don’t really have many photos to share of the shop itself, as I didn’t want to inconvenience the many busy shop workers bustling about. In a separate area, the handles for all the tools are cnc cut out of torrefied maple, before being finally shaped and finished by hand. With the relatively large volume of production, I found it pretty amazing that Veritas still finished each handle by hand. The final castings, handles and screws/knobs all make their way to assembly

Veritas, Plane, Flattening

Final flattening of a plane sole at the Veritas Manufacturing Facilities

From there each tool and blade heads to QA, where every single tool is subjected to testing for flatness and perpendicularity. The final castings, handles and screws/knobs all then make their way to assembly, where they are assembled by dedicated workers and boxed, ready for shipping.

Veritas, Plane, Handplane, Handtools

Display of a full set of Veritas tools available to try at the Ottawa store

We finished our tour at the Ottawa Lee Valley store. The whole tour took over 2 hours, and I’m very grateful to Gerald for taking the time to walk me through all of their facilities and giving me such a detailed and attentive tour. To cap it all off, Gerald handed me a little gift in a velvet pouch – a key ring shaped like a Veritas custom jack plane (although Gerald pointed out these key rings were made before the custom line existed). It just so happened that I’d been looking for a key ring for a while, and this one was about as perfect as it could get. Definitely an experience I won’ t be forgetting soon!

jack plane, veritas, hand plane

The jack plane key ring gift I received

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Tour of Lee Valley & Veritas Manufacturing Facilities – part 1

Tour of Lee Valley & Veritas Manufacturing Facilities – part 1

So last month I was in Ottawa visiting family, when I was invited out by Rob Lee, president of Lee Valley and Veritas to a guided tour of the Veritas manufacturing facilities. Being the veritas-phile that I am, of course I jumped at the opportunity immediately. Unfortunately I was only in town for two more days, and Rob was away, so he couldn’t give me the tour personally, but arranged for Gerald, head of the Customer Service department to take me on the tour instead.

Whenever I’m visiting another city in Canada I always use it as an excuse to pay a visit to the local Lee Valley store; I don’t expect to find anything different – I just love wasting time walking around the store looking at all the finely made tools. I’d already been to the Ottawa store and seen the Veritas building right beside it, which I assumed was the only other building they had in the area. I was wrong – there are six Lee Valley/Veritas buildings on Morrison Drive. Our tour began in the green building, and started at one of the cavernous warehouses. Gerald explained the system used to arrange products in the warehouse, and fulfill orders. The warehouse was particularly busy that day as one of the last few days of a free shipping event, and what struck me was that each order was checked for accuracy before being packed up and sent to the customer.

Lee Valley Veritas Manufacturing

Morrison Drive, where the Lee Valley and Veritas facilities reside.

From there we moved on to the customer service area. Now normally this would be a boring aspect of a manufacturing facility tour, but anyone who has dealt with Veritas customer service will know that they pull no punches when it comes to customer satisfaction. The customer service area had a full set of tools available to the staff, to help ensure they understand the customers complaint fully. The staff receive training on any new products being carried by LV. Oh, and the LV library houses a huge collection of books and guides that can be requested by any staff member across the country. The amount of care put into customer service really struck me.

The next stop was the media room, where products are photographed for the catalogs and the websites. It was pretty cool to see a laser distance measure being photographed at the time (it so happens that measure is featured on the LV website right now). From there we moved on to the design and research area, where I got to handle the new Large Plow Plane that should be coming out later this year. I was asked not to share any photos of the plane, so I won’t, but it definitely looks like an exciting plane. I was also shown the stages that the planes go through in development, from a 3d printed rough shape, to a rapid prototyping deposition model, to the final prototype in ductile iron.

Veritas, Lee Valley, Marking Gauge, April Fools

The Veritas Caliper Marking Gauge: It’s Real!

And here’s something I didn’t expect to see: The Veritas Caliper Marking Gauge. Every year Veritas releases an April Fool’s product (you can see the rest here). They are always pretty hilarious, but done well enough to make you question for a second if it is real…what I didn’t know is that they actually manufacture actual working models! For what it’s worth, it felt hefty and well made, like all Veritas tools, even if it was a bit…contrived an unwieldy. This post has run quite long already, so I’ll cover the manufacturing portion in the next post.

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in This and That, Tools, 0 comments