BY DANIEL ALLAN, RESIDENT WORD-WORKER OF KATZ-MOSES TOOLS
From launching the all new Katz-Moses Tools, to in-depth woodworking experiments, a lot has happened in the last year.
I sat down with Jonathan to get his take on a very big 2021 — and the exciting things we can expect in the year ahead.
What was the coolest thing you built in 2021?
I think my favorite thing I’ve built this year was the jewelry box.
One, because it was a very sentimental present for a close friend of mine who really did some superhero-esque things for me.
But also, it was my roots. That’s what I first started building when I got into woodworking. Boxes are probably my favorite thing to build, because the intricacy required can be as little or as much as you want.
On this box, I got to incorporate some design features from my hero, Matt Kenney. But I also got to focus on some high-level skills, like grain wrapping, I’ve picked up after years of woodworking.
It really felt like revisiting my roots with years of added experience.
What about a favorite video you released?
My favorite video, which I also think was one of the most influential videos we ever released, was the sandpaper test. It was a comprehensive look at 19 different sandpaper brands and which removed the most grams in a certain period of time.
And we proved this using robots, so there was no way anybody could point to anything wrong in our testing methods. The scientific method was adhered to, and we were able to produce infallible results.
Consumables are the only factor in a woodworking business you can control on a daily basis, and choosing the right products makes a massive difference in your cost. A recurring theme on my channel is although something may be a little cheaper, it doesn’t mean it’s less expensive.
So that was definitely the video I was most proud of. We put so much work into that, and I think we did the most comprehensive sandpaper test ever done.
Did you get any flack from companies for doing that?
I did. Several companies reached out to me, who refused to speak with me before the test even though I reached out and gave them every opportunity to recommend which products of theirs I should use. But after the test, they were extremely irritated.
That’s how I know I’m doing something right. When I release a video and a company reaches out and is angry, it means somebody finally did an unbiased review of their product without any sponsorship dollars involved.
That’s scary for companies when somebody doesn’t take sponsorship money, because it means they’re going to tell the truth.
Something I’m most proud of about this channel and this business we’ve built over the last 6 years is that we really produce unbiased content.
What has launching Katz-Moses Tools meant for you?
We launched Katz-Moses Tools 3 months ago, and this allowed me to do things that really fall in that mantra of unbiased information. Now, I can do these tests and bring the winners into my store. And I’m so proud of that.
I’m so proud of the team we’ve built here. You know, we’re up to about 12 employees and I think we’re building something really special that is free from corporate influence.
In my launch video, I said something I intend to live by is “people before profit.” Part of what exemplifies that is several things we’re doing with our website.
We’re about to launch Creator Corner, where other YouTubers can use our megaphone to showcase their products. We’ve started Creator Shoutouts in our newsletter, where every week we feature a smaller creator to our large subscriber base.
So I’m really proud of the charity, I’m really proud of the company we’ve built. And I think it all falls under a general theme, which is supporting the woodworking community.
What’s the big push you have planned for the charity, the Katz-Moses Woodworkers with Disabilities Fund?
We’re creating a work-holding program to help people who have physical limitations in the shop. We’ve purchased scores of electric lifting devices for people’s garage, and we intend to start an initiative to get people to donate their time to install those.
The biggest problem people with physical limitations have in the shop is they can’t flip things over, or they can’t lift things onto their workbench. So these devices are like having an extra hand around. They don’t have to wait for their family member or partner or friend to come home to help them in their workshop.
What’s coming up for Katz-Moses Tools in 2022, and what new products are you excited to carry?
We're releasing a product with Tamar Hannah in Q1 I’m super excited about (can’t tell you yet what it is, but you’ll know in a matter of days).
We’re working on around 25 new products. Some of them are extremely novel ideas that have never been seen before. We have a full-time product development team now, so I’m able to really take ideas to fruition much faster and much more efficiently.
We have one product that I’m really excited about that nothing even close to this has ever happened before. I think it’s going to be pretty special, and allow people to create accurate jigs very quickly without any measuring.
We’ve got a product developer writing web-based apps for our store, so we’ll be able to have an interactive wood movement calculator, a 5 cut method calculator, and a ton of other woodworking-based calculators available on our website.
In addition, we have our version of standard marking and measuring tools coming out, some of them with KM additions or improvements.
And the best part is, going back to “people before profits,” we’re working really hard to make sure they’re cost effective and fairly priced for our customers and channel viewers.
Where do the ideas for new products come from?
I think as has always been the case with me, and the world, necessity is the mother of all invention.
One of the things I’ve been frustrated with about this industry since day one is the amount of garbage products out there. I know every single person has bought something cheap off Amazon and it just doesn’t do what you want it to do.
So my ideas come from frustrations from products or things where I’m like, “Hey, wouldn’t it be so much easier if we did this?”
And now that I have a team around me, we all sit down once a week and brainstorm. We talk about “What did you work on this week? What were your frustrations? What was the thing where you were like ‘I wish I had this.’”
We bounce around ideas and shoot holes in them. I have creator friends who I’ll send a drawing and say, what’s wrong with this, why won’t this work, you know. Tell me why it’s terrible.
At the end of the day, maybe we have something worth drawing in Fusion. And from there, maybe we have something worth creating a prototype for. Then we see whether manufacturers can make it, or if we can make it here in shop.
We’ve increased our production capabilities exponentially this year, so we’re able to produce a lot of things in house. In fact, the product with Tamar we’re going to do 100% in house.
What new videos can we expect for your YouTube channel?
We just wrapped up a week of slow motion shooting using the brand new Phantom 7510 TMX camera. It’s capable of doing 70,000 frames per second in HD, which is 5 times slower than the camera I rented last time. So we really have some exceptional shots.
We did two days of testing with the slow mo camera on router bits. We’ll be able to deliver some findings that I think might shake up the industry, as far as feeds and speeds go.
We’ve developed relationships with some research and development companies that are going to allow us to use their facilities for hi-tech testing of products like we did with the robots.
And we’ve developed a relationship with the Forest Products Laboratory, which means we should get to visit their facility in 2022. Which I think is really spectacular, since they’re one of the greatest resources for woodworkers ever.
The 3 coolest things that happened to you last year?
Number one is just watching my daughter grow up. It’s just so spectacular watching her become a little human.
Has she done anything where you thought WOW, she’s growing fast?
Yeah, it was when I realized she could tell whether it was a weekend or a weekday by what shoes I was wearing. She would just know if I was going to work or we were hanging out by whether I had my work boots on or my regular shoes.
And the other two cool things?
Launching KM Tools has been one of the prouder moments of my life, and growing the charity into a real powerhouse that’s doing a really good job of fundraising and distributing materials.
On the KM Tools side, the team we have here is all woodworkers who just seem to like working here, and are really doing exceptional things. And I think that’s just so fun.
You know, I’ve never had a team like this around me. I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 14 years old and I haven’t worked for anybody since I was like 23. In my 20+ years of entrepreneurial experience, it’s just been the most fun I’ve ever had running a business.
And exhausting. The most fun and exhausting thing I’ve ever done.
Any New Year’s resolutions for 2022 — or are resolutions just a losing game?
I think typically, people have it backwards. People are so concerned with having things, and when they have things, they think they will get to do more things, and then become something that they want to be.
But it’s really important to remember that you need to become the person you want to be, to do the things you want to do, to have the results you want to have.
And so for me, it’s just to strive to remember that everybody is going through their own life experience. Every person you encounter can be struggling with something.
My new year’s resolution is to just be a compassionate person with lots of humility who knows that to reach the goals I want, I need to operate with no zero days and be the person that I want to be.
I definitely do that sometimes, where I’m like “If I just get this one tool, I’ll be a better woodworker.”
Yeah, you know, my response to that is always “Get good with the s***** tools, then when you get the good tools it’s going to be so much easier.”
The thing is, you learn how to fix the mistakes s***** tools do to your work. So when you get nicer tools, when those rare mistakes happen, you know how to fix them.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I just want to say thank you to everybody who supports us.
It’s so humbling to know so many people want to be a part of our mission and our goal to change the tool distribution industry. And for me, it’s an almost rabid desire to produce the highest quality for the fairest value set of tools, information, and data for people.
There’s never a day that goes by where I don’t realize how fortunate we are to have the support of so many people. It’s incredible.
I just want to make sure I thank everybody so much, this year and over the years.