One of the best things about our job is that every day, we get to chat with so many customers who are doing cool things with the tools we carry. There’s a lot of talent out there, and we’re sure that we learn as much from our customers’ experiences as they learn from our expert staff.
And then it hit us. Hey, if these conversations are so exciting to us, why don’t we just share them with everyone? So US Tool & Fastener sat down for a talk with one of our favorite customers, Tommie Mullaney of Mullaney Woodworks, to assemble our very first customer profile piece. Check it out and see what he’s been making lately, which tools he loves the most, and how the right tools have made a huge difference for his business.
What sorts of tasks do you use your woodworking tools for most often?
Tommie is a full-time custom carpentry guru and a real one man show in the woodshop. His business, Mullaney Woodworks, focuses on premium finish carpentry, custom woodworking, and fine furniture.
With the help of a personally curated collection of professional-grade tools, he’ll make anything from handcrafted cabinetry to decorative molding, suspended shelves, intricately carved end tables, artisanal barn doors, and even wood-epoxy-combo lighting fixtures.
He says that he wants to “spend 2021 focused on finish carpentry,” which—especially when it comes to one-of-a-kind furniture—has always been his biggest passion.
What’s one project that really excites you?
When we asked Tommie this question, he had to laugh. “I love the epoxy resin tables,” he said after a moment, “but it’s a love hate relationship because a lot can go wrong.”
He elaborated a bit on the high stakes, saying, “It does make you sweat a little bit when you’ve got a set of wood slabs that might cost two thousand dollars, then you've got another thousand or two in epoxy, so...there's a lot on the table.” We can only assume the pun was intended. Nonetheless, if you check out some of the numerous examples from Mullaney Woodworks, it’s hard to fathom a craftsman of his talent ever having cause for concern. These pieces are gorgeous.
But what does he love about them? “Once you get going and the epoxy cures, and you really start getting into the little details of sanding everything and connecting with the table, then...it becomes really exciting. It's like painting a picture. It’s all in the details, so I definitely enjoy my live edge slab tables.”
Do you have a favorite tool that you use in the shop or on the jobsite?
Tommie had no hesitation here. The two tools he thinks should come to anyone’s mind first are the Festool Domino DF 500 and one of the Festool Track Saws (either the TS 55 REQ or TS 75 EQ). He uses his Domino as an in-shop joinery tool for high-precision work before he brings the joined workpieces on site.
While Mullaney Woodworks has yet to invest in the 700 size, Tommie says he’s been waiting for just the right job to make that purchase—perhaps a large door slab project or an outdoor exterior gate.
His favorite thing about the Festool Track saw is how it has “enabled me to get out of little pickles as well.” Tommie uses the example of a table leg that’s already glued in and attached, but perhaps “I’ve just got to take off like an eighth of an inch. How do you do it cleanly, and accurately, and quickly? We all make mistakes in the shop. The Festool track saw allows me to place the track in really funky, weird places to get me out of those little mistakes.”
Do you feel any loyalty to specific tool brands? If so, what have those brands done to earn your trust?
“Festool” made the top of Tommie Mullaney’s list with flying colors. The brand’s top-notch durability is a highlight, since he knows no Festool will leave him stranded on the job site. But the cleanliness factor, especially with Festool’s advanced dust extraction system, also earns high praise. We asked him why.
"I go into someone's house with a router or jig and they're absolutely terrified,” Tommie explains. “You know, it's someone's home, and a home is a very personal, sacred place. But then I manage to finish the entire job and I don't make any mess, and it’s a very pleasant surprise for them. I’ve scored so many jobs and so many references because the people look at the tool and they see that you’re clean and organized.”
For CTs, Tommie likes the CT 15 and MIDI right now, because he’s “a mobile guy.” The small footprint and ability to stack systainers or tools on top of it like a storage bench, beneath the table, stand out the most. The next CT Mullaney Woodworks will add is likely to be the CT 26 because he can add a dolly on the back and easily wheel in extra equipment, even over small thresholds.
Why did you choose to use US Tool & Fastener as your resource for stocking up on quality tools?
Tommie remembers starting off buying from local guys, but he wasn’t really happy with them for a few reasons. First, they didn’t see him like a person—he was “just an order number.” Second, they didn’t seem to have any specialized experience with the tools, and were more interested in selling (or upselling) them rather than helping him solve his problem.
When he eventually found the US Tool & Fastener store and made his first purchase, he relayed a fond memory. “I received this really nice handwritten postcard from Ryan and the guys at US Tool. They mentioned that they’d seen me on Facebook, they’d been watching me grow on Instagram, and it had been fun to watch. That one little note meant a lot. It’s really personal. Funny enough, I actually have that postcard taped up on my shop wall to this day as a friendly reminder.”
While the postcard was a great memory, what Tommie values the most is the honest feedback he can get when he needs to bounce ideas off of someone for his latest project. “There have been things I’ve been looking at buying and Ryan or Casey will take a look at it and go ‘Eh...I don’t really think that’s the right tool for you.’ and, you know, they're going to be missing out on a $500 sale,” he laughs. “It’s just so unheard of to have a dealer put you back in your place and say you don’t actually need that. It’s just very refreshing. I like that they speak to me on a name to name basis because in my mind that’s what customer service is all about. I take care of them and they take care of me 100%.” Every time Tommie calls up US Tool, he knows that he’s going to speak with either Ryan or Casey. We know him, the kind of work he does, how he likes to work, what he has already...and that personal connection, for him, is truly irreplaceable.
Tommie credits both his close relationship with US Tool & Fastener and the premium Festool brand with helping him to excel and provide a top quality product he could not have achieved otherwise—and he’s happy to share that story. “I’m not making commission,” he says of his ringing endorsement of Festool. “I just want everyone to have the same great experience that I’ve had.”