John Economaki began designing and hand-making custom furniture in the 1970’s, after a brief stint as a woodshop school teacher in Portland, Oregon. After contracting pneumonia as a result of becoming hyper-allergic to wood dust, John switched from making furniture to designing and creating heirloom tools merging functionality with aesthetics. The first tool designed and produced was the Try Square in 1983 and hence Bridge City Tool Works was established. The success of Bridge City Tool Works was a result of John’s commitment and tenacity in sharing his passion with his customers. He became renowned for his unique designs and superb workmanship, creating fine pieces that are treasured and passed down through generations.
It is through the work of award-winning photographer, Joe Felzman that the designs of John Economaki’s tools come to life in the “coffee table” style book, Quality is Contagious, published in 2015. The publication shares Felzman’s photographs with Economaki’s behind-the-scenes stories and documents the evolution of the signature designs utilizing the finest materials available. As the book demonstrates, there was no limit to the design parameters other than insuring that the tools met the needs of the craftsman who purchased them.
As the years went on, and economic trials prevailed, John began making products on a “pre-order” basis to minimize inventory costs. The vast majority of the tools were made to order in small production runs to keep inventories low. When the minimum order to forecast a run was reached, the tool went into production which often times required a wait period of 3-6 months.
In 2013, John met Jack Xu, owner of Harvey Industries, a China based manufacturer established in 1999, that successfully sells woodworking machinery in over 100 countries worldwide. John created the Chopstick Master and looked to Jack to manufacture this product for him at the highest quality for retail sale. As a result of that collaboration, Harvey Industries began producing the Chopstick Master and later became the officially licensed manufacturer of Bridge City Tools.
In 2018, after 35 years of day-to-day operations, John Economaki felt it was time to take a step back and focus his attention on what he enjoys doing most, designing tools. John and Jack are close friends and share many common values, especially John’s quote “Good Enough is Not Enough”, so they naturally reached the agreement for Harvey to acquire Bridge City Tool Works. Jack’s commitment is to continue the legacy of Bridge City Tool Works built by John and to provide the most beautiful and inspiring tools to woodworkers worldwide. John will still be the master designer for Bridge City and will oversee quality control. In August 2018, the new Bridge City Tools Team was re-located to Montclair, California where they carry items “in-stock” in the showroom enabling customers to order Bridge City Tools at anytime and get immediate delivery. The entire Bridge City Tool Works Team welcomes visits to the showroom and is available to receive your calls and provide you with excellent customer service.