I am not big enough to deal directly with Sorby but my very good friend Don Piers is. I am now selling so many from him that he splits his margin with me so I can sell on at the same price as him. eg around 20% below list.

These tools really are the best and the quality shows up in the steel and the precision of the shapes. The good shapes make them easy to grind and the quality of the steel gives them a long lasting edge. Don’t confuse long lasting with just hardness, anybody can turn out a glass-hard tool only to have it snap catching an unseen nail or shatter when dropped. I’m not advocating dropping tools but accidents do happen. The mark of real quality is to match the precise grade of high speed steel to the requirement of the particular tool. This adds to cost because it means holding stocks of around 24 grades in a variety of sizes, the cheaper outfits use one for everything. Too soft can be just as bad, I’ve seen a cheap bowl gouge bent like a banana by a dig-in.

To be perfectly honest the beginner will not be able to tell the difference so long as its high speed steel. If however the beginner has been properly taught how to set up the grinder and use it then the tools will last long enough for him or her to reach a level of proficiency where the difference will become noticeable. Such is the impatience of the beginner however that often the tools are ground away before this level of skill is reached so starting off with more modest tools is reasonable but in the fullness of time the quality is fully justified.

At around lesson 4 on my private courses the client makes a handle so from that moment on can buy tools as just the blade, which we are happy to supply. This can save up to 7 per tool which with the discount brings you close to the budget tools and this is the route most of our clients take.