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Shop Fun with Scott Grandstaff


Designer's Dilemma


I know I've done this before. But bear with me...

Thinking out loud, on paper. Asking to get more minds than just one involved. Inside the Mind of a Fool. Trying to make art.

Some time in the past, oh it must have been 4 or 5 years ago now, I found this cool little piece of tubing with a cute rolled pigsnout on the end. Some kind of hardened aluminum that could take a high polish.

When you make tools from scratch finding workable parts never leaves your mind. You look at weird things as if they were something else already, or could be something else with some work. I have big drawers of brass and bronze and hard aluminum, stainless parts. Old machine parts and old tool parts and rough material pieces that have never been anything before.

Anyway I had this great possible ferrule. One day I decided it would make a great turn screw. You know like the big long flat blade ones that were so ever present a century or two ago? Except if anyone ever made any small ones they must be long gone now. I never saw a small one. On that day, and in that moment I "saw" the whole thing. Fuzzy, but I saw it. A long thin driver for small screws with a flat blade and a flattened round handle.

Often the first idea you get is the true idea. Often what you thought up was impossible, or improbable at best. And then your job is to get as close as you can. How close you can stick to that idea, in the end, is the difference between a great piece and a so-so effort, more times than not.

One day I was "in the mood" so I took my little naturally cool ferrule and turned a rosewood handle. The proportion was correct to my eye (always subject to taste and interpretation, but your own eye is really all you have when you are designing fresh).

It was semi fancy but not too fancy. I cut and poured a very small pewter ring for it. In cleaning up the pewter ring I actually turned a bead in the center of it. You can lathe turn pewter just fine, btw. It just takes a sharp tool and a light touch. It was a cool little handle. Just what I wanted.

But then I stalled. I couldn't envision the details of the blade to go with it. I had a loose idea of blade proportion to handle, but the details just wouldn't come. So I put it away for when the ideas would come.

I would get it out from time to time and leave it laying around, but eventually I would put it back in the drawer. Out for a week and then back in for 6 months, out and in, out and in. I was digging in that drawer for something else the other day and I
saw it. I got it out again and left it laying in plain sight just to "gnaw" on me.

For some reason, after all this time, day before yesterday it had been enough. I decided I was not putting it away again. I decided maybe the inspiration would come as I worked. I took a piece of over sized blade steel and began to work it down slowly. I would cut some steel, and then hold it up against the handle and squint. Cut a bit more, squint. Bit by bit, a healthy tang, a nice flat on top for a wrench to go (not that you really needed one at this scale), a sexy waist, tapered working end. Line detail by line detail.

Taking a picture to show you is problematic. All camera lenses are glass. Round glass. Round on the circumference and round across the front. This effects proportion in a photograph.

Have you ever known a Playboy centerfold model? I have. A couple actually. Guess what? The prettiest girls on the beach, the ones that you know, are not the prettiest girls you see in Playboy. The prettiest girls in Playboy have bodies that the camera loves. Not your naked eye, the camera lens. Its different.

Also, I can't show how this feels in the hand. And how it feels is at least as important as how it looks, in this case. But here we go. I don't have quite enough light today to take a great picture.

So here is my dilemma. The little driver fits my hand just right. The proportion pleases my eye. But I wonder if I should try to make the blade fancier? I can do any
kind of filework. I have seen some pretty nice stuff. I just can't think of anything that would be an improvement over than the proportion now.

Can you? Want to do a rough sketch? And discuss it? I can work from rough sketches.

yours, Scott
, 2014
Happy Camp, CA
email:  Scott Grandstaff


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