Nov 212016
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My partner and I live in a large, sloppy rental whose chief merits are an excess of space and the low-stakes-no-stakes upkeep. One room has been entirely devoted to a collection of decommissioned fake Christmas trees (the Forest Room). A taxidermied bobcat lurks on the periphery. I am slowly assembling a hand tool workshop there amongst the branches and twinkling lights. Part of the joy of working here at Highland is the opportunity to try out a wide variety of high-end tools to which I might otherwise not have access (the rest of the joy lies in the constant barrage of terrible jokes). Here are a few I would love to see beneath the tree(s) this holiday season:

The deed to a robust stand of (real) mixed hardwoods to call my own, ideally 10-15 acres in Northern Georgia with a stream. While I’m dreaming, I prefer something at or around $6000/acre. Let me know if you come across anything.

Gränsfors Bruk 420 Small Forest Axe 

The most versatile small axe for casual limbing, barking, light splitting and felling. With a traditional Scandinavian-style head.

Gränsfors Bruk Right Bevel Swedish Carving Axe

Well-balanced and suited for roughing utensils and bowls to final shape. The single-bevel style prevents the axe from turning into the material.

Hirsch Bevel Edge Chisel (Set of 4)

A step up in quality from the Narex, but at a more modest price point than the Lie-Nielsen, I wouldn’t feel bad banging on these with a mallet. They share a common root with my last name (the stag). They’re also available in a wide array of shapes and sizes for carving.

Lie-Nielson No. 102 Low-Angle Bronze Block Plane

Is there anything more lovely? More of a pleasure to use? Probably not. For fine cuts and endgrain work there’s nothing more stable, or that fits better in the [read: my] hand. A perennial favorite of the awards committees.

Japanese Dovetail Saw

Designed by Toshio Odate for cutting hardwood dovetails with a 19” replaceable blade and wrapped bamboo handle. It is smaller and lighter than the Gyokucho Rip Dozuki Saw (made popular by David Barron) and thus less unwieldy for me. The narrow kerf makes it ideal for precise cuts.

Festool ETS EC 125/3 EQ Random Orbit Sander

My favorite lightweight, low vibration, all-purpose sander. With Festool’s exceptional dust-collection system and superb craftsmanship, it’s the ideal sanding solution for a hand tool aficionado who abhors the sound and sensation of hand sanding.

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