Sunday, January 13, 2013

Tools Of The Trade

As you might have read in one of my previous posts, Peter Johnsson once said to Petr Florianek that both the objects themselves and the process of making them should be art. That's an idea that I think every craftsman should take to heart. There's something about making an object by hand. It's a more natural process, and the resulting object is somehow more pure and more true. Everything is closer to what it's supposed to be.

Taking that to heart, I've tried to distill my craft down and to make it as natural as possible. I'm also striving to achieve a certain aesthetic. My work is influenced by ancient Northern European art and culture, and I want the making of my pieces to fit that as well. With that in mind, here's a look at some of the tools I use, all self-made except the anvil. 

This is my forge, a little worse for wear and in need of some better clay, but it reaches welding temperatures easily so it works for the time being.

This is my new anvil, a four inch square block of 4140 tool steel, purchased from Old World Anvils. It will soon be set into a sturdy oak stump, but it's already more solid than the piece of railroad track I used to use. It's my favorite piece of equipment.

Here are my favorite tongs, made in Mästermyr style with a wide grip.

And here are some of my smaller tools. From left to right: a nail header, a leatherworking awl, a tool for making the "ring-and-dot" motif, and a carving chisel set.

I still have more tools to make (Mästermyr-style hammers, hand-powered bellows, etc.), but overall, I'm happy with my setup. I enjoy working this way, and that's what it's really all about.


  1. Myles, lovely tools! I very much agree with you about the process being as important as the finished product. The line between craftsmanship and art ought to be nearly invisible. Have you read "The Nature and Art of Workmanship" by David Pye?

    I'm interested in your ring and dot motif tool. Do you think it possible to show a close up of the working end of the tool? Thanks.

  2. Hey Nate! Sorry it took me so long to reply, but I saw on the forum that you already figured out the ring and dot tool. Looks great, as does the knife you decorated with it!

  3. I like this shop, once I want made whole tools by myself too.
    I looking forward to continuation.

  4. Thank you Hloh! It is a work in progress. I have been watching your blog, I like the feel your work has. Good job on the Aristotle furnace! I want to do that myself one day