I first heard about Colen Clenton’s tools from Joel Moskowitz of Tools for Working Wood in Brooklyn, N.Y.
On Joel’s recommendation, I purchased one of Colen’s squares and was deeply impressed by its craftsmanship and accuracy. I asked Joel how I could e-mail Colen and ask him a few questions about his tools for an article.
You can’t e-mail him, Joel told me. Colen doesn’t use a computer. He lives out in the country and just builds his tools.
Well that was the end of that. So I took the Colen Clenton square at face value. I used it for years without knowing a darn thing about the man, how he works or whether his tools were made by dexterous dingos.
This week I met Colen Clenton. Live and in the flesh. He’s a down-to-earth, fun-loving and and extremely intense person. During a hand tool event at the Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking we chatted about everything from “real brass” (not the 360 stuff), to machine tolerances to Kentucky bourbon to crazy big band saws.
And, best of all, I got to see a sizable assemblage of his tools, some of them with special woods, a try square that was about 24” long and the interior guts of his adjustable try squares and miter squares.
I shot a short video that shows how his squares work and can be adjusted should they every go out of square or are knocked out of square. As an owner of one of his squares, I had no idea how things worked inside the stock of the square. It is far more complex and ingenious than I ever imagined.
To see more of Colen’s work, visit the Tools for Working Wood web site here. The photos there are good but simply cannot do these tools justice. They are perfect – no matter how closely you inspect them.
— Christopher Schwarz
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