It isn’t every day that you see a new tool company appear out of nowhere with a complete line of high-quality woodworking machines, but that is almost exactly what happened in late August as Steel City Tool Works unveiled an impressive battalion of heavy-duty machinery at the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta.
With more than 30 machines in its stable (so far), Steel City’s line of tools is a clear warning shot across the bow of the big machinery manufacturers: Delta, Powermatic, Jet and Grizzly. That should come as little surprise after you learn that the people who thought up Steel City are people who worked for many of those major manufacturers and importers. After years of working in the trenches, they struck out on their own.
“We are building these machines the way we always wanted to build them,” says Scott Box, one of the principals of Steel City. “For years (when we were employed elsewhere) we had to find ways to cut costs and quality. Castings got thinner. Things got cheaper.”
Box shrugs his shoulders and looks around at the new gray and back machines around him that are branded Steel City. Then he smiles. Of course, the real question is if the customers will be smiling when they turn these machines on. I spent more than an hour examining the machines in the line, and as someone who has seen a lot of machinery in the last 10 years, I was impressed.
Steel City has paid attention to the details both big and small as they built these machines in Taiwan and China. Big details: The cast iron trunnions on the company’s flagship cabinet saw are thick and massive like something off an old table saw (or battleship). And small details: The knobs on many of the machines are metal where you expect to find plastic. The table saw fences move with a feather touch. The upper wheels of the steel-frame band saws are held in tension with two massive springs.
My first impression (which I hope will be backed up by our testing in the future) is that Steel City has a line of tools that omits all the gizmos you don’t need and piles on all the stuff that makes machinery work well: such as cast iron, steel and well-machined parts.
I know you’re wondering about the price of the stuff. That’s good too. I found the prices to be an impressive value once I got my hands on the tools. For example: a 17″ drill press with a huge 6″ stroke, three bearings on the quill and a split-cast head (which allows you to eliminate runout during the long term) for $469. It’s nice stuff at a fair price.
Steel City will be sold only through the company’s line of distributors. For more information on the line (or to find a dealer), visit steelcitytoolworks.com or call 615-225-9001.