Upcoming Delrin and Bamboo Toolmaking Workshops, Fall 2021

Making tools is not only engaging and fun, but entirely practical since the result is set of tools you can use daily. Book conservators, other conservators, bookbinders, technicians, artists and others will find this workshop valuable. Filing, scraping and polishing are meditative activities, no previous experience required. Working Delrin and bamboo is a great way to start toolmaking and we will make folders, lifting tools, microspatulas, hera, and creasing tools. Most of the skills and techniques taught are transferable to wood and bone toolmaking too. Fair warning: making your own tools is highly addictive!

Thankfully, the pandemic is subsiding in New York, but I originally created this workshop specifically to teach online with a kit, and it has worked well for the past four sessions, so I will keep it up for a while.  So far 49 students from 7 countries have completed this workshop.

All aspects of making tools with delrin and bamboo will be discussed in detail: design considerations, cutting, filing, rough shaping, final shaping, and polishing. The workshop consists of two 3- hour synchronous zoom sessions with PPT’s, videos, discussion of handouts, demonstrations, Q&A chat sessions, and working together. Also included is one month access to web resources, PPTs and videos demonstrating key techniques.

The workshop includes a kit with enough materials to make nine tools with a retail value over $300. A set of hand tools is also included: a cherry bench hook, scraper, burnisher, a file for plastics, and a variety of sanding and polishing supplies.  All you need is a stable work surface, a few common hand tools, and some time to work outside of class.

DATES: There will be three sessions:  September 11 + 18, October 16 + 23, November 13 + 20

Saturdays, .  12-3pm Pacific,  1-4pm Mountain, 2-5pm Central, 3-6pm Eastern, 8-11pm GMT, 9-12 CET, 10 – 1am EET, 5am – 8am (+ 1 day) JST, 6am – 9am ( +1 day) UTC

COST: $390 US  Register here

International participants need to contact me confirming they wish to attend, I will save a seat and send you an invoice enabling you to pay by credit card. I will hold the seat for 24 hours after I send the invoice. The cost is $440 Canada, $465 EU and other countries, and $490 Australia and New Zealand.  This includes kit shipping. Up to 3 kits can ship in one box internationally, so if you place one order for 2 or 3 people there will be substantial shipping savings, with the second and third places costing $390.

SCHOLARSHIP

A generous patron has offered a scholarship (worth $390 — $490) for the “Delrin and Bamboo Toolmaking Workshop”, to be held November 13 + 20, 2021. The award is intended for a book conservator, bookbinder, or technician new to the profession, with less than five years working experience, who is in need of financial assistance. Domestic and international applications are welcome.

To apply, contact me with the subject heading “Tool Making Scholarship Fall 2021”. 

The application should consist of two paragraphs, the first explaining why this scholarship is necessary to the applicant, the second detailing how it would benefit the applicant’s work. Applications are due September 1, and the successful candidate notified September 7. Submission not adhering to this application process will not be considered, and unsuccessful candidates will not be notified.

Some versions of the tools you will make in this workshop.

Vernacular Rug Hooks. Exemplars of Practical, Comfortable, and Efficient Tools

A collection of handmade rug hooks bought in Prince Edward Island, CA.

I purchased this small collection of rug hooks while on vacation in Prince Edward Island, Canada, this past summer. Most of them have handmade hooks, and the handles are repurposed, altered, or custom carved. There is a compelling beauty to these humble and utilitarian objects.

Not only are they simply constructed, but they are extremely well used, which implies a degree of excellence. A poorly designed or made tool usually does not see much use! They are purely functional, with no decoration or even extra polishing on the hook end. Things that are well used and worn are an increasing rarity in our current culture. I sometimes refer to this as  “use value”, but there must be a better term.

A precisely shaped hook at the tip.

They all have a square shaft end where the handle is mounted, and look hand forged. The overall length is almost exactly the same, so that they fit into the palm of a hand and the tip reaches near the end of a slightly bent index finger. Gravers have a similar length, and one of them has what looks to be a graver handle that is missing the ferrule (the second one on in from the left on the bottom).

Several of them have file marks near the hook, indicating they were sharpened, fixed, or altered. The thickness of the shaft in relation to the size of the hook makes perfect sense: I imagine the thick area pushing apart the backing, and the hook small and sharp enough to pull the material efficiently through.

The first one (top row, far left)  reminds me of a Jim Croft awl handle, with its comfortable looking hand carved handle, worked just enough to knock any sharp edges, but not going overboard with sandpaper to make it smooth as if it were lathe turned.

Simple and ergonomic handle.

I imagine them gradually being shaped to the hands that used them over a long period of time. None of them seem to have any extra finish applied, so they feel like natural wood and oil from the hands. The shapes of the handles are all different, and likely the most individual choice.

They all demonstrate the two key aspects of successful tool design; the tool fits comfortably in the hand and fits efficiently with the material worked. They all look like they could comfortably jump into your hand and go to work.

 

Detail of what a hooked rug looks like. They were often made of strips from worn out clothes.