What’s in a Name?

Article - May 17, 2011

As owner of The Wood Whisperer, Inc. and with a last name like Spagnuolo, I am no stranger to silly/unusual names. But after years of using, talking, and writing about woodworking products, I have noticed more than a few product names that I constantly stumble over. Sometimes I can’t remember how to spell the name or I just don’t know how to pronounce it properly. And unfortunately, all too often, the name tells you nothing about what the product does making it even more difficult to remember.

So what follows are three product names (or families of names) that I love to hate. And although I have this little pet peeve about their names, I happen to adore the products themselves. Part of my discontent with the names comes from the fact that I talk about and promote them so much. So this is by no means meant to reflect negatively on these companies or their products. I’m just having a bit of fun today. I kid because I care!

The GRR-Ripper

After the recent Safety Week Video, many of you are well aware of how handy this tablesaw safety device is. Its pronounced “gripper” but I think someone at MicroJig forgot to take their finger off the R button when naming this bad boy.

Thankfully, the name accurately reflects what the product does, but I still get hung up on the number of R’s, how many of them are capitalized, and where the dash goes. I also can’t help but think of Tony the Tiger: “They’re GRR-REAT!”

Arm-R-Seal and Seal-A-Cell

General Finishes makes some of the highest quality dyes, stains, and clear finishes on the market. But they would sure make my life easier if they simplified the names of some of their most popular products. Specifically, I’m talking about Arm-R-Seal and Seal-A-Cell. In fact, I just had to use copy/paste to write that because I hate having to type it out! As you can see already, I am not a fan of names with dashes in them. And in this case, the two names are so similar that many woodworkers can’t remember the differences between them. Fortunately, one can is green and the other is red, so that helps us tell them apart. Some alternative suggestions: how about AwesomeVarnishSauce and RealDealSeal? OK I won’t quit my day job.

Festool Abrasives

I have been infatuated with Festool’s products since I first saw them in action years ago. The German engineering boggles my mind and I applaud their innovation on all fronts. But what’s the deal with the abrasive names?! Here’s the lineup: Rubin, Cristal, Platin, Brilliant, Saphir, Viles, Titan, and Granat. Each type is engineered for a specific task whether its wood sanding, finish sanding, finish removal, or sanding of solid surface and composites. A quick email with Festool’s Rick Bush provided me with some logic involving gem stones, minerals and some such. But its pretty clear that someone on the German Mother Ship likes shiny things and funny names.

There’s an abrasive for every occasion. But I’ll be darned if I can figure out which one does what! Well, that’s not entirely true. I use Festool abrasives exclusively so I do have several of them memorized. But you can see how the names don’t really help you very much when figuring out what they do. For that, you’ll need this handy and easy to read chart.

What is this, Starbucks?!?! Sometimes I just want a large coffee people!! That must be why I’m a Dunkin’ Donuts man myself.

Truthfully, these companies could change their product names to unpronounceable symbols and I’d still buy them. A good product is a good product and even a bad name doesn’t seem to get in the way of their success. For that I’m thankful. But in the mean time, we can still poke a little fun at them.

So what woodworking product names make you laugh, cringe, or just scratch your head? I know they are out there!