Another tool gets the Tinker and Fix skatewood treatment
Having become mildly obsessed with Skatewood, we've decided to make yet another tool with a skatewood handle. Which makes it five (if you include the hammers which have a skatewood wedge).
We thought we'd add the Sneeboer Old Dutch Trowel to the Skatewood collection because they are such an incredibly popular gardening tool that are beloved by Gardener's World viewers (so much so we call it the 'Monty Don Trowel' becuase at shows everyone asks 'is that the trowel Monty uses on TV?'!) It looks completely different to our other Skatewood handles, because it is not solid skatewood that has been turned the handle, instead it section of the handle. So you can really see the multitude of colours stacked up - making each one distinctive and different. We've also created our own handle shape, which is in-between the two Sneeboer handles. The Cherry handle on the Old Dutch Trowel is thinner and more shaped, whilst the Ash handle Old Dutch Trowel is a larger diameter and feels more substantial and robust in the hand. Our Skatewood handle is smaller in diameter, and has a slight curve near the trowel head, as a place marker for your hand when you're using it.
This new garden tool adds to our four other Skatewood tools:
Garden Trowel: It all began back in 2021 when we upgraded the handles of Sneeboer's (already great) Transplanting trowel. We made a limited run as it was a bit of a test to see how they would look (which turned out to be beautiful) and they sold out instantly. We've made several new batches since and more are on their way! As soon as we saw how great they looked we began thinking about how else to make Skatewood DIY and garden tools.
Hammers: Next up Edd wanted to look at how to integrate Skatewood into the wedges of tools (rather than then handles) - so our Skatewood Hammers were born. The offcuts of Skatewood are used as wedges to secure the hammer heads. It's a small detail that just adds a bit of colour, flair and uniqueness to what is (and always should be) a functional tool.
- Axes: Our biggest and most personal Skatewood project (and as a result the one we are most proud of) is our Skatewood Axe. We reckon our Skatewood Hatchets are probably the first axes to be made using skatewood. Each axe is completely unique, and brings together the talents and skills of four British makers: the head (designed by Alex Pole and made at The Forge, Somerset), the haft or handle (made by Sam Morris, The Axe and Edge Tool Co, Powys, Wales), the skatewood (made by Ben Footlit, Afterlifebf, Lincolnshire) and the sheath: designed and made by Edd. Sam takes making axe hafts to an art form and he has integrated the skatewood beautifully into the axe handle's palm swell so they look stunning and also (importantly) feel great in the hand.
- Japanese Hori-Hori garden Knife: We created Skatewood Hori Hori's because they are so incredibly popular (as they are a brilliant all-round gardening tool). We used a heavy duty Hori-Hori gardening knife because of its full tang construction, which made the process more straightforward and robust - as the handle could be made, shaped and then pinned onto the Hori-Hori 'blade'. Edd's already started to make sheaths for these - leather ones - after being asked for one by a customer. So if you'd like one adding to your Hori-Hori purchase (as it would make a great gift idea with the sheath) then just get in touch and we can discuss this.
But, why integrate Skatewood into garden and DIY tools? We've always just really liked the artwork on skate decks. So much so that we've got a couple hanging up in the house (and no, they've never been ridden - which we know is sacrilege). It's not just the decks in their original form that we like, it's also what they look like after they've been discarded and reborn into skatewood. Which is why we've become slightly obsessed with integrating skatewood into tools - it makes them look beautiful and unique, and no two are ever the same.
So, what is Skatewood? Skateboards have to be easily shaped, be strong and yet flexible. Most are made from 7 to 8 plys of Maple, laminated together under a lot of pressure. The resulting decks are far stronger than the equivalent thickness of solid wood. They are strong, but not indestructible. If and when they do snap, there's a dedicated group of woodworkers out there giving them a second life. the result is Skatewood - which is made by laminating recycled skateboard decks into more usable blocks. Recycling this material isn't an easy process and our hats go off to Ben Footlit, Afterlifebf who does this for us. Damaged skateboards have to be sourced, grip tape removed and then larger blocks glued up. Only then can you actually start the process of using the material to actually make something.
Why use Skatewood? Simply put, it's because the coloured layers look amazing. Also, because integrating skatewood into tools enables us to produce one-off designs, as no two handles are ever the same. Which makes the tools special and unique. There's also the added bonus of the fact that when applied to garden tool handles you are (hopefully) far more likely to be able to see them once you've put down in a border or on the veg patch. Or - the history of painting axe handles - it was so you knew which one was yours. So yes - they look great (especially when given as a gift) but the way they look does actually help if you like to keep your tools 'yours' or have a tendency to lose your tools when gardening!
What's next? Watch this space. But surely there's nothing left that we can put Skatewood on?!