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For some of us, working wood is a form of time travel. We like the smells, the physical exertion and the pleasure of a job well done.

What makes it even more fun is when a tool manufacturer plays along. This week I received a miniature catalog from Tools for Working Wood, the Brooklyn-based ironmonger and cataloger that specializes in hand tools.

Joel Moskowitz and his merry band of troublemakers (primarily designer Timothy Corbett) have made up a 16-page catalog that reads like something from the late 19th century. The catalog is complete with illustrations of new tools that look like copperplate engravings and text that evokes the heyday of hand tool marketing.

“If your wood-finishes are troubled with OFFENDING ODORS, MURKY COMPLEXION, SICKLY PALLOR… or other such ailments which arise from a disordered wood-finish imperfectly doing its work… always use BT&C Shellac Flakes.”

Unlike some modern catalogs that are ugly and (even worse) a bore to read, this little gem is fun to sit down and enjoy. It even inspired me to order a pair of the company’s forthcoming hammers. Yes, I admit it. After years of being free of the hammer monkey on my back, he is back on my back and hammering away at my skull.

I’ll sell a couple of my existing hammers to make room for these, but watch out for the hammer monkey. OK, that’s the end of this public service message.

If you didn’t get the catalog in the mail, then count yourself lucky – it’s a grabber. Or maybe you aren’t so lucky. You can download the catalog free from the Tools for Working Wood site here.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 8 comments
  • pmcgee

    “After years of being free of the hammer monkey on my back, he is back on my back and hammering away at my skull.”

    Hmmm … mighty fine wordsmithing there Mr S.

    Back on the drink I see.

  • Mark Maleski

    They did a fantastic job with this. I admit to saving their last catalog out of a sense of nostalgia when I heard it would be their last catalog. But I think this miniature catalog is even better.

  • woodgeek

    The cool blank paper in the middle is for doing perspective drawings–great for those of us that are artistically challenged–of future projects, I assume. = )

  • dmac4870

    I especially got a kick out of the “blank” center page insert, which I assume is a very nice sheet of graph-ish paper to write out one’s wish list, sketch a project, or just doodle on as visions of good tools put to work on flawless wood float by. A classy addition to a fabulous catalog.

  • griz

    I received the catalog and was intrigued by the hammers. Stay away hammer monkey. I really need a good hammer but I can’t spring right now :(…

  • Bill Lattanzio

    I received the catalog the other day and loved it! The only other on the market that comes remotely close to it is the Lie Nielsen catalog, though it still has a way to go.
    I have a book called “The American Boy Handy Book” which is a reprint of a book published originally in 1890. It’s basically a manual of activities for the average boy to do indoors and out. This catalog from Tools for Working Wood is written in much of the same dialect and immediately brought it to my mind. It would be nothing more than a blessing to see more tool catalogs, and any catalog for that matter, written and published with so much thought put into them. It kind of brought to mind the golden age of American manufacture and innovation. I’m glad that you thought enough to write about it..

  • tsstahl

    Marketing 101–so easy to learn, but takes a long time to master.

  • Mitch Wilson

    Oh, God, so that’s what it is causing my skull to shatter and shutter. It’s the Hammer Monkey!! And I thought it was just another hockey puck.

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