WMT was started in 2012 to help solve a problem, my problem really. I’d be working in my shop building furniture (primarily with hand tools) and I’d hit a roadblock, some specific operation requiring a specific tool that I did not own. Then, like so many others before me, I’d start searching for who currently makes the best version of this needed tool? Sometimes the answer was “no one makes this today” and the more specific my needs became, the more difficulty I had finding new tools to meet those needs. My next move was to the vintage market. This often provided quality tools at a reasonable price, but still there were times when nothing could be found.
It was at times like these when I’d think, “I could make this” and quickly followed that thought with, “but the time and effort it would take to make it right is pointless for just a single tool.” I went on like this for a few years and eventually realized there were enough missing hand tools to justify starting a small business and making some of them available to other woodworkers. But having a full-time job and a family to support made running my own business nearly impossible, so I approached my friend and eventual business partner, Alan Walke, with the idea. As a professionally trained woodworker with a nicely outfitted shop, I knew his contributions would be vital to our success and (fortunately) he agreed.
Making hand tools also offers the opportunity to refine the design of any specific item we make. With furniture, I’m usually making one-off custom pieces for my home or occasionally on commission. This type of work is a perfect fit for hand tools where I don’t want to spend a lot of time making jigs or templates for something I’m only going to make once. I lay it out a part, cut or shape it as needed, and move on. And because each piece I make is different, I’m constantly growing as a woodworker. The downside is I rarely get to go back and improve on the design of something I’ve made. There’s often some component on a finished piece where I think I should have added a curve or made something more delicate in appearance, but at that point it’s too late and I have to move on, hoping to incorporate what I’ve learned into my next project. With our tools, we’re making dozens or even hundreds at a time so the mentality is different but equally satisfying. We don’t simply make a tool and move on, we make prototypes, critique what we like or don’t like, change it, make another, and so on until we’ve got something we’d feel good about putting in the hands of another woodworker.
There are dozens of tools that should be made available again and we won’t get to them all, but we hope to do our part be it through the tools we sell or through the information we provide on our blog and Instagram feed. Working wood by hand is a completely different experience from working with power tools. You learn about each board as you’re planing, sawing, and chiseling every square inch, it’s quiet, safe, and your designs are never limited by the capabilities of your machines. It’s a whole different mindset really; fine tools tend to yield fine work, but power tools that plow through work tend to produce furniture that’s been rushed, maybe not in the quality of the finish of the piece, but often in the design. Don’t get me wrong, power tools are great and we use them when appropriate, but they should be slave to the design and not the other way around. Hand tools provide that kind of freedom and versatility, anything we can do to further educate or inspire other woodworkers about the craft is time well spent in our opinion.
Aaron Moore is Co-Owner of Walke Moore Tools, an avid woodworker, and family man. His, and Alan Walke’s work can be found at www.walkemooretools.com