Hand-tool woodworkers love mutton tallow as a lubricant for saws, auger bits and the soles of our handplanes. A smidge of the stuff will make your tool slide easier – and your shop will smell like lambchops.
But because of animal-rights concerns, mutton tallow is shunned by some woodworkers. (They already shun paraffin because it is made by Big Oil.) In 2016, a start-up corporation tried to make mutton tallow using fat that had been removed from sheep via liposuction, but the cost was prohibitive ($20 for 4 oz.!).
I offer this simple solution: Old Man Schwarz’s No Kill ‘Mutton’ Tallow. It’s made entirely from vegetables, which don’t usually scream when you kill them. It comes in a tin, just like mutton tallow. And it works exactly the same, except you aren’t haunted by the souls of sheep who lubricated the soles of your planes.
You can’t buy it. But you can make your own.
Buy some Altoids. Eat them (or give them to Megan; it’s her superpower). Buy a can of Crisco vegetable shortening (made right here in Cincinnati!). Print out this pdf of the labels.
Cut out the labels. Spray on some adhesive to the backside of the labels. Stick the labels to the tins. Fill the tins with Crisco.
And voila. All the lubrication with none of the guilt.
— Christopher Schwarz
- To read past entries from this guide (and from former years), click here.
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