On Sept. 15, John Hoffman, Raney Nelson and I will launch Crucible Tool LLC, a woodworking tool manufacturing company that specializes in high-quality, domestically manufactured hand tools for building furniture.
Our first tool will be a holdfast. The second tool (and the next dozen or so tools) will be announced in the coming months.
The three of us decided to start Crucible almost a year ago and have been working during the last 11 months to design tools, purchase machinery and forge relationships with machinists, foundries and blacksmiths to produce components for Crucible.
Why start a tool company? As woodworkers, all three of us have been bursting with ideas for tools and improvements to traditional tools for many years. These ideas and designs have come from our years of working at the bench and studying historical models.
Our first tool, a holdfast, is a perfect example of this. I’ve been collecting, studying and using all manner of antique and new holdfasts in my work for the last 20 years. I’ve cataloged what works well and what doesn’t. And after many years I’ve settled on a set of characteristics that make (what we think is) the best-functioning holdfast possible.
Manufacturing this tool has been a remarkable challenge in foundry work. But after five months of tests and trials with a patternmaker and a foundry (which has been in business since before the Civil War), we have our first production holdfasts in hand.
I know we’re being sketchy on details right now. I can assure you this is only a temporary condition.
One of the foundations of Crucible is to provide an extended and continuous education on how to use these tools at the bench. We could write a book about all the ways to use a holdfast at the bench. And in the coming months we’ll be sharing these methods for free with everyone, whether you’re a customer or not.
How can you find out more? We’ll be having a launch party on Sept. 15 at the Lost Art Press storefront, 837 Willard St., Covington, KY 41017 – the night before Woodworking in America begins. We’ll have two of our new tools there for you to try out and purchase. We’ll also have a booth in the Marketplace at Woodworking in America and will launch the Crucible website that same day.
Oh, one more detail: One of the primary reasons we can start this new tool company (without any debt or investors) is because of you – loyal Lost Art Press customers. Your support has allowed us to grow our publishing business and extend our same manufacturing philosophy into the world of woodworking hand tools.
So thanks. And stay tuned.
— Christopher Schwarz