By Daniel Allan — Resident Wordworker of Katz-Moses Tools
I don’t need to tell you — but 2022 was an absolute whirlwind of a year. And a LOT went down here at KM Tools.
I sat down with Jonathan Katz-Moses, the founder of Katz-Moses Tools, to get his take on the bygone year — and find out what's coming in the year ahead.
Can you summarize 2022 in a few words?
Like taking a rocket ship to the moon, but being on the outside and trying to hold on.
A lot has happened at KM Tools in the last year. What’s been the biggest achievement in your eyes? What are you most proud of?
I think Tamar’s router jig was really representative of what we’re trying to do here, which is empower creators to create by giving them access to our resources. And by doing that, we’ll be able to deliver high value products to customers.
Not only were we able to take a really great idea to market, but we were able to do it at the craziest price of all time — less than it would cost for someone to get the materials off Amazon and make it themselves.
We did all the manufacturing in house. We did all the designing in house. We really took that product from start to finish in our shop. And that is (friggin) incredible.
Are there any other products that’ll be coming out in collaboration with other creators?
Yeah, in 2023 you will see Katz-Moses Tools partner with some of the biggest creators in our space. I can’t name names yet, but we are working with several very well known creators to bring really cool things to market.
In addition to that, under the Katz-Moses Tools moniker, we have several new products dropping in the first quarter of 2023.
What was the biggest challenge of the past year?
Logistical growth. I know that’s kind of a boring answer, but I think it's one of the hardest things.
We went from a content creator with 10 products to a company with 300 products. And the moving parts that needs to work correctly are so much bigger than we expected and so much more time consuming and difficult to accomplish. But we did it.
My cofounder, Marc, just implemented a really cool software package in our warehouse that has barcode scanners, inventory management etc. in a way that Amazon does it. So we’ve really taken our sort of rinky-dink small operation into the logistical equivalent of a much, much bigger company.
If you could go back in time to when KM Tools first started, what advice would you give yourself?
The advice I would give myself is something I really stress to other entrepreneurs. It’s about delegation.
One of the most important things a good manager can do is use the strengths of their team to accomplish a goal. And I think it’s very common for people who are starting businesses to really hold onto a lot of duties without reprieve.
You really need to remember that to grow, you need a team. And you are only as good as your team. And it’s important to empower people to make good decisions, and do good work.
If you can’t let go of the things that don’t grow your business, then you really just own a full time job.
What was your favorite video you released in the last year?
We did a lot more short-form vertical videos this year than we did Youtube videos. My favorite was a video I made about my daughter.
We grew quite a bit on Instagram this year and had a lot of new people discovering our work, and so I got to do a video introducing myself and my daughter and it was real cute. I got to sort of follow her around for a day and record what we did. It was really fun.
But for a woodworking video, I think it was the shop layout video. Not because it was any better than other stuff we’ve done, but because of the tool we created.
We created a very easy-to-use, analog tool which is a piece of paper you can print out that represents your shop size along with common shop tool vectors. It’s all to scale, so it’s really easy to visualize the layout in the shop, which I think is something people really struggle with. So I’m really proud of that.
What are currently your favorite tools in the KM Tools store?
The router plane is so cool.
It’s also really cool that we carry the 3M sandpaper. That took me 10 months of negotiating and going back and forth. They didn’t think we were big enough of a company to work with them and I really fought hard for that.
I went out to their corporate headquarters, I met with the presidents of the five divisions, I met with the CEO of the company. I fought, and fought, and fought, and fought for that. 3M doesn’t deal directly with very many people.
So to get that is really a feather in our cap.
What’s new with the Katz-Moses Woodworkers with Disabilities Fund? Anything coming up in 2023?
We’ve grown our charity massively. It now has a full time director, a board of directors, it’s raised well over $100k dollars this year. We’ve put tools and resources in the hands of a ton of people with disabilities, both mental and physical. And that’s something I’m really, really proud of.
March is disability awareness month and we’re working with a bunch of big name creators to release videos and raise awareness for the charity.
What’s gonna be your next woodworking project?
I’m going to be building a router table for Tamar’s jig. The jig will act as a baseplate for a mobile benchtop router table. And I think that’s gonna be real cool.
How’s life been outside the world of woodworking? What does JKM do when he’s not cutting dovetails?
It’s been amazing, man. Just raising my daughter. Watching her grow up is the most amazing thing I’ve ever done. And getting to spend so much time with her has been so incredible.
You know, I work 80 hours a week but I never miss a moment with her. I've figured out how to find times to work when she’s not awake.
I get up at 2 or 3 in the morning and get a few hours of work in before she wakes up. And then get to spend maximum amount of time with her, and that’s just been absolutely incredible.
Has she shown any interest in woodworking, or have any other interests that are starting to bloom?
She does. She loves to make things. We do those KiwiCo Crate boxes. She freaking loves those things. She loves assembling things.
And the funniest thing is she loves to say, “Daddy don’t come in my room. I’m going to go to work.” And she goes in there, she loves masking tape, so she’ll tape off everything and build stuff, tape stuff together.. And she says she’s working like daddy.
What are you most excited about for the year ahead?
You know, I think this year’s going to be amazing for us.
We’ve consistently doubled the size of our company for 6 years now, and I think we’re on pace to do that again. We’re going to be working with some really greate creators and really expanding our offerings within the community. And I think we have a ton of really great tools coming.
We’re working with several women in the design/diy space which I’m really excited about, sort of branching a little bit outside straight furniture building.
In general, you don’t know what you don’t know. So as you grow anything, whether it’s your Youtube channel, family, or business, every year you’re smarter than you were the year before. And you know pitfalls to avoid and mistakes not to make because you’ve already made them.
With each year I see such tremendous growth in myself and with our team in what we’re capable of.
Any New Year’s resolutions?
*Yawns*. Yeah, uh. Maybe get some more sleep.
Where do you see KM Tools in 5 years?
5 years, man? I’d like to be the biggest tool development and distribution company in the world.
I think we really have a shot to disrupt this industry in a lot of ways. And I think that in 5 years, we could be a really cool kind of company that's really different, that really works with the people in our industry.
The people that grow our industry, that educate our industry, the people who really are the pillars or our community — we can work with them and empower them.
In years past, so often those people who had so much reach and so much ability to affect change and knowledge base, those kinds of people were being taken advantage of by large companies.
And these large companies were getting a lot for a little from a lot of content creators. And I think that we’ve really created a way for content creators to take that power back and empower their own businesses with our help.
That’s so exciting to me. I want to really continue to grow that part of our business so that we can keep growing our community.
Anything else to say?
Thank you. It is never lost on me and I am humbled daily that so many people trust us to bring them great content, great tools, and great woodworking information. And they trust us to work hard for them.
The fact that there’s a very big group of people that loves to support us and see what we have to provide is just astounding to me. And I just want to say thank you.
From the Katz-Moses Tools team to you — Happy New Year!
We wish you all the best in the year ahead, and hope you get to keep pursuing your passion for woodworking!