Chris Schwarz's Blog

Sharpening Pencils… and Geese

Memo
Date: October 28, 2011
To: Steve Shanesy, publisher
From: Christopher Schwarz, editor
Re: New Revenue Sources for 2011

With
the recent rejection of my new ideas for revenue for FY2011 (see
previous memos on “Five Editors Need Only Five Kidneys,” “PWM Plasma
Clinic” and “Bake Sales”), I have finally settled on an untapped source
of revenue that is proven in another market.

With our emphasis on
hand work and the introduction of the Arts & Mysteries column, many
woodworkers have become interested in period techniques and tools.

While
there are many manufacturers making fine chisels and planes for these
readers, there is no “period” marking equipment sold today. Heck I’ve
seen Adam Cherubini use a mechanical pencil to lay out a joint.

Because
carbon from Cumbria could be expensive for us to mine and import, I
propose we offer a product that is readily available (it’s right under
our noses), has no competitors and no – repeat no – raw materials cost.

I propose we have the Popular Woodworking Magazine staff offer a service that sells and sharpens quills for the shop.

Think
about it for a minute. Our building’s runoff pool is littered with
slow-moving, well-preened geese. And the editors dislike the geese
(actually we just dislike their poo). Put those two facts together and
we have an almost limitless supply of quills we could sell to our
readers.

Think of the easy marketing options we have. We could
have Cherubini use the quills to make his cutting lists and show them in
step photos. I could offer articles and classes on using and sharpening
quills. And Megan could start wearing shop apparel festooned with them.

To show you how easy this is, I prepared the following short video of Megan harvesting some quills yesterday.

I know you are skeptical. Before you answer, take a look at this site: artisanalpencilsharpening.com. David Rees has the right idea. Let me know.

— Christopher Schwarz

15 thoughts on “Sharpening Pencils… and Geese

  1. Paul

    I, too, saw the video some days ago and was wondering what was going on at the Popular Woodworking writers office. Now I know. You could also market these quills for the fishing crowd. They would use them to tie flys for fly fishing. Heck my brother would buy a whole mess of them. I also think that’s a better market for them instead of selling to woodworkers. But hey, just keep pushing, somebody will bite. Paul

  2. PAUL

    Seriously,
    the best way is to look around nesting or roosting areas, do not forget the laws about disturbing water fowl.
    I fortunetly have a source for Turkey Buzzard feathers.
    I find them on my dads rural property (there is a roost out back), AND YOU THINK GOOSEGREASE IS BAD!!
    I find the comparison to goose & turkey feathers very similar, T/B quills are thicker and heavier, at least for flecthing.

  3. Tom Holloway

    Ya, that’s why they’re called pen knives–and I’m not talking about those knives concealed inside pens that must be the bane of airport security. Maybe a maker of fine tools could add this to their retro line. Oh, wait, Boker is still in business.

  4. Charles Davis

    My previous place of employment was home to many a pooping gaggle. They eventually paid for a service which involved daily visits from a person with a chase dog. The geese were mildly amused at best and continued to carpet bomb the walking areas. Walking those areas required true "goose-stepping". You pretty much had to see the matrix to avoid the green goo.

    Good luck with the new quill venture. Seems like a sound business idea once Megan improves her tackling techniques. Although, I would have went with "Five Editors Only Need Five Kidneys". It’s a bull market on Kidneys.

  5. Jonathan

    "Yeah, Morgan Stanley? I’d like to by as much stock in all company’s that make goose feather quills… I have no idea. I think for marking or writing or something… Look, The Schwarz just blogged about it, and don’t I want to miss this gravy train. I need to get some money so I can go to WIA next year. Now DO IT! (click)" :-)

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