It has been 6 years since I took the leap from blacksmith to full time toolmaker, as many will know all my work is done in house and this allows me complete control of the product that leaves my shop. Currently I have taken the decision that I want to be a craftsman not an employer and will not be taking on staff to expand production. I am very proud of Nic Westermann Hand Forged Excellence and want to keep this as true to my original ideals as possible. It has been really gratifying to see customers returning again and again to buy my tools, more aggressive advertising and marketing would have secured the initial stream of new customers but having a range of great, innovative tools meant they kept coming back. It has been a frustration that my tools are increasingly cloned but as other makers have said when they are aware of a better way it is hard to ignore it.
I used to sell a limited range of sharpening products on this site as it made sense to allow customers to maintain their purchases, many of you have emailed asking were it has gone as it was removed a few months ago. I had long wanted to design bespoke sharpening solutions for hand tools and expand this range however this would mean getting products made up for the site, conflicting with my view of Nic Westermann, and they certainly aren’t going to be forged, so I have started a separate company to bridge these concerns – Hewn and Hone, this will consist of me, Don Nalezyty and Alex Yerks. Don, who provides the IT support for this site, will be again be utilizing his skills in Web Design, IT and CADCAM, not to mention his background and experience in carving and teaching. Alex’s background as a professional photographer and film-maker will be put to use in the numerous instructional videos we will be putting out. Alex’s Kuksa carving, teaching and travels are well known and I am very pleased he is on the team. It has been a lot of work setting up the site, testing and refining new products, there are a lot of projects still underway that will be added to the site as they are completed. Letting go of doing everything in house for Hewn and Hone will also not put any limits on its growth, allowing me to continue with my first love, which is forging tools.
I have always admired old tool catalogues and wanted the new site to reflect that aesthetic, also the ethos that this site would, like my tools stand by its product rather than its gloss. A few images may help to illustrate my point.
Firstly a small booklet I have, it funded its publication with a few adverts in the back, which is the best part of the book for me.
Whilst I like the style of this one for its clarity, simplicity and beautiful line drawing,
I can’t help but marvel at the boldness of the ad on the reverse of the page.
No gloss, just complete confidence in their product. I was also reassured because some of the products I have been commissioning include CBN and Diamond, I was concerned this would be a juxtaposition in an old style catalogue, but obviously not.
Followers of my blog will know that I like to investigate technical aspects of my toolmaking, with detailed experiments and I have carried this over to Hewn& Hone as you can see from my first blog post Sandpaper shootout . I will be carrying on in this theme with more tests, on both sites, whilst putting putting some handles on adzes recently I discovered a bizarre way to manipulate the handle that is worthy of more investigation and will be posting the results here. In the meantime have a look at the new site , there are some great new products to keeps your tools as sharp as the day you bought them, or sharper if you bought elsewhere.