Skatewood tools... Tinker and Fix style!
We've always 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. 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.
Our local maker is called Ben Footitt (@afterlifebf) who specialises in making and using Skatewood. He's done a great job for us providing skatewood for a number of our projects and also makes several of our skatewood tools. His ability to visualise the layout of the coloured laminates is outstanding.
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 tools do we make from Skatewood?
Garden Trowel: We began using Skatewood 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.
- 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 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'.
- Axes: 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.
What's next? We have one more Skatewood tool that we are currently developing - another garden tool - which we hope we'll launch before Christmas. So watch this space!