Hand Tools Archive
Bill Houghton, Sebastopol, CA
In the apparent absence of a new tool introduction from Lee Valley today, I thought I'd bring to your attention one of Lee Valley's experimental projects. My 2,534th cousin works in R&D there, and I thought this was interesting. LV's been looking at production processes with an eye to energy conservation, and started examining the energy cost of producing their torrified maple handles, used on chisels, planes, etc. The kiln drying process that results in torrified maple is very energy intensive, and a lower-intensity process would save quite a few loonies, and even perhaps some loons. One experiment worked like this:
Maple stock is shown catalog pictures of colonial maple bedroom suites from 1950s catalogs, and told that this is what the future holds. The wood, faced with the prospect, becomes catatonic and more stable than granite. There is no color (colour) change to the wood. This terrification method has been found to be far more energy-efficient than torrification.
Complaints from the People for the Kindly Treatment of Maple (no, it doesn’t spell anything) were withdrawn when it was pointed out that the maple would be serving a useful life as tool handles rather than outdated furniture.
However, it was found necessary to post pictures from the catalog pages throughout the production line, to solidify the maple's terrified state, and the action had an unexpected side effect. Workers started showing up in gingham shirts, and all the male employees started smoking pipes; a group of workers approached Rob Lee and asked that the break room be redecorated in Colonial Maple, with leather chairs, and smoking stands next to them, and also asked permission to wear slippers at break; the decision to stop the experiment was made when Rob realized that every single employee had brought mac and cheese for lunch.