From Marine Surveying to inventing a woodworking tool: why of course, what else would one do?
This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Jim Lindsay, President of OMS Tool Company and inventor of the DowelMax.
I asked Jim how the transition to inventing took place and he shared a bit of history with me. In 1995, he was ten years away from retirement and not really looking forward to it. Then, one day as he was working in his shop, he had the idea for the soon-to-be “DowelMax”. He spent the next five years creating prototypes, machining the components, and applying for patents, all the while still running his Marine Surveying company.
With both endeavours in full gear, Jim and his wife, Marie, brought their son, Michael, into the business. Michael just happened to have a degree in Business Administration and a diploma in Mechanical Engineering Technology. The family committed themselves to the company and did everything themselves, from cleaning, to assembly and packaging, to mailing, administration, and marketing.
In 2005, the Marine service was sold and the DowelMax became the full-time focus.
Sales of the DowelMax are slowly growing, as woodworkers not only become aware of the product but also see the benefits of the jig. The DowelMax provides an accurate and easy to use method of doing dowel joinery which provides an extremely strong joint. (For more information on how the DowelMax works, visit their website as well as the video demonstration created by our very own LumberJock, Mot.)
Jim shows us the DowelMax
Thanks to Jim for posing for the picture, to the photographer at OMS Tools, to our Canadian Film Crew, Jenn Dietrich, for taking the picture of MsDebbieP, and to Douglas Bordner our pixelator here at LumberJocks.com, for uniting the two images.
Jim sums up the value of DowelMax by saying, “Speaking as a woodworker and not an inventor or owner, I consider it the most efficient and versatile product on the market. I honestly believe that eventually Dowelmax will be very successful world wide, but perhaps not in my lifetime.”
According to Jim, the extreme care taken in the design and manufacturing of the DowelMax is an important component of the success of the tool. He says that “the Dowelmax is not a gadget so they don’t cut corners to make it more profitable”. It is aimed at the most discerning woodworkers who want a quality tool that will last a lifetime. The DowelMax’s quality and usefulness has not gone unnoticed. It won an “International Innovator’s Gold Medal Award” at London’s Tomorrow’s World Exhibition in 2000.
The OMS Tool Company is located in British Columbia, Canada and their online ordering makes the DowelMax available worldwide. There are DowelMax owners in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Mexico, Caribbean, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Belgium, Norway, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia. (There is an additional shipping charge for international orders.)
Knowing that woodworkers around the world use different measuring systems, it’s important to note that the jig is now available with metric guides and accessories.
Standing behind their product is a number one priority for the family-run business. An iron-clad guarantee plus convenient phone support creates a confident relationship between the company and the client. (How can you go wrong, when the technical support is provided by the inventor himself?!)
Two misconceptions about the DowelMax that Jim hears is: 1) the strength of dowel joinery is not as good as other joints and 2) the cost of the unit is too pricey.
To address the first concern, the OMS Tool Company conducted a variety of strength tests in March of this year, comparing the use of dowels to biscuits and tenons. Test videos can be seen here, showing the superior strength of dowels. Be sure to watch the first video to see how the testing was set up.
In response to the second perception, that the item is expensive, Jim states that, in reality, it is not. When you take into account the quality of the tooling involved, the related costs for producing the tool, the effectiveness and efficiency of the product, and compare it to the cost of other quality joinery tools, then one can see that the price is indeed reasonable.
Tips to the LumberJocks
When asked for tips to pass on to woodworkers, Jim’s response made me smile: “With all due respect I would think it presumptuous of me to offer advice or words of wisdom to such accomplished woodworkers, however on the lighter side, I am probably older than most of your LumberJocks members and I would offer this advice from all my years of experience. (1) Never argue with a woman because undoubtedly you will lose and (2) if you want to live a long and healthy life, never tell your wife or your daughter that their hair’s a mess!”
Definitely words of wisdom!
I’d like to thank Jim for taking the time to tell us a little about his journey as an inventor/woodworker. I’d also like to take this time to thank him for his generous donation of a DowelMax to one of our Summer Awards Recipients!
-- ~ Debbie, Canada (http://www.execulink.com/~yohan)