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    WD-40's Smart Straw is a big improvement over the removable one taped to the side of the can.

    It's not only permanently attached and unlose-able, but thanks to the little yellow nozzle…

    …allows the user to alternate between a shotgun spray or a sniper's squirt:

    Even better than the Smart Straw is the company's EZ-Reach Flexible Straw, which allows you to get around obstacles:

    The pose-ability of the straw also allows you to play with the can, pretending it's a small, helpful elephant when your coworkers aren't looking.

    "What a good boy! I think somebody deserves a peanut!"



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  • 06/26/18--07:14: How Lego Bricks are Made
  • In this age of planned obsolescence, it is pretty cool that you can take a new Lego brick and it still attaches to one made over fifty years ago. Obviously their production line has been upgraded over the decades, and if you've ever wondered what the process looks like, here's a little behind-the-scenes.

    We've used our industrial expertise to caption some of the images, just so you laypeople can understand what you're seeing:

    Technicians who attempt to eat the plastic paste are fired, under a stringent "three strikes" system
    "If Hans would wash his greasy hands before using the touchscreen, I wouldn't have to wear this stupid glove"
    "These all look plenty sharp. It would be a pity if a parent stepped on one, but ultimately their fault for being barefoot"
    "My Dad says someday these will be autonomous and that the drivers will be out of work"
    "What the eff, THERE'S ONLY EIGHT STUDS ON THIS BRICK! …Oh wait a sec, no, there's nine. I miscounted"
    Prototypes for the Marie Antoinette/Louis XVI action set
    "When my supervisor is at lunch, I get this bad boy up to 40, 50 kilometers per hour"
    "Yes, Peter, all trucks will be autonomous and the drivers will all be fired. That includes your friend Tommy's father"

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    Early in the morning, I frequently walk my two dogs along Walker Street and into Tribeca. But today is the first time I noticed what you see in the photo below:

    Here we see a hollow sidewalk, and even if the sign wasn't there you'd know it was hollow due to the vault lights. But I wasn't interested in those, I was interested in this thing:

    Both the Kryptonite name and the clear function make it obvious what this thing's for.

    I looked up the exact name when I got home, it's called a Stronghold Anchor Bike Lock. You install it yourself by drilling into the concrete. Your building owner might have something to say about it, which is why you do it when they're in the Hamptons, spending your rent money on upscale seafood served by a waiter that they call by his first name.

    The fact that I've spent most of my life here, but have never noticed one of these before, is a testament New York's visual density. You can literally see something new every time you leave the house.


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    For more than 20 years Lexus has been delivering their version of luxury autos and building a loyal following. Needles to say they've been very successful over this time frame, producing more than 2 million ES sedans since 1991. The 2019 edition will be the 7th generation of the platform, and they have dialed it in at a high level. During the launch event in Nashville we got a chance to test the new sedan and meet with members of the design and management team to get a better understanding of how and why they do what they do.

    After a visit to the Gibson Custom Shop in the morning, we drove to Franklin, Tennessee, about 30 miles outside Nashville, where we would spend the next several hours exploring the countryside and local roads. The roads included the particularly beautiful Natchez Trace Parkway, a two-lane road running 444 miles from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville. The road is not quite a national park, but is maintained by the National Park Service, and commercial traffic is prohibited. The result is a road seemingly built for test drives. Smooth, scenic, undulating, and miraculously free of traffic.

    I had a chance to speak with Lexus International president Yoshihiro Sawa, who provided some insights into the Lexus design language, which they call L-Finesse. On a surface level, L-Finesse can be described as 'leading-edge design and technology applied with finesse'. The understanding of the word 'finesse' is critical, and refers to the depth of thinking that goes into every detail, every design decision when producing the vehicle. It embodies concepts of Japanese aesthetics and hospitality as well.

    The L-Finesse philosophy can be broken down into three core concepts; Seamless Anticipation, Incisive Simplicity and Intriguing Elegance. All products from Lexus must satisfy and embody these concepts, and these principles help guide the design team's efforts.

    The notion of Seamless Anticipation is based on the Japanese concept of hospitality, known as "Omotenashi'. This refers to not simply meeting a the needs and desires of a guest, but to anticipate them and deliver the desired experience in a thoughtful and immediate fashion. It puts the customer at the center of attention, both through the dealer/purchase process and more importantly during the driving experience. This results in careful placement of controls and gauges, discreet lighting sequences and thoughtful feedback loops. Taken together the interior seems to know you before you've entered, letting you enjoy every moment of the drive.

    Incisive Simplicity is a difficult standard to achieve. At its heart this concept includes aesthetics and ease of use. The designers at Lexus work hard to ensure that every piece of the car, inside and out, are beautifully crafted and a pleasure to the eye and the touch. But simplicity does not mean lacking in detail, or visually boring. Rather, every piece of the product should be easily and instantly usable, with a minimum of effort. A good example is the placement of the visual output on the heads-up display, positioned in such a way as to minimize your eye movement from the road to the display and back, making it easy to use even if you've never used one before.

    The last of the three concepts is Intriguing Elegance, and this also is interpreted within the Lexus vehicles in ways that embody a Japanese perspective. The idea is that the design details on the car should capture the imagination of the viewer/driver, and lead them through elegant body work and character lines into intriguing details. Combinations of materials coming together in unexpected and exciting collections on the dashboard or at the door handle, or two body lines merging into a single line in a beautiful transition. This approach to design, embodying opposite forces like stillness and motion, is a hallmark of the L-Finesse language, and is successfully embodied in the new ES.

    In addition to the Gibson custom shop, we toured the Hatch Show Print production facility and were treated to a performance by Nashville singer and songwriter Natalie Hemby in the elegant Analog room at the Hutton Hotel. Her songs are stories about poignant moments in life, full of insights into people and places. The two production facilities embody a long history of craft and exquisite handwork. The art of story telling and attention to detail is also important to design, as a well-crafted interior or object can often speak directly to our hearts and emotions in ways not possible in other mediums. In that sense the designers at Lexus are present in the vehicles, and if you look closely you can hear them speaking to you directly.



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    If you're one of the thousands of creative professionals starting or running your own business/product/studio/brand, clear your calendar for October 25th and join us at A/D/O in Brooklyn for the 2018 Core77 Conference. This year's conference is a day-long event that will focus on launching and running a creative business or product line. Attendees will learn tangible skills and techniques to help them produce, finance and promote their products, their services, and themselves, and will start building a network of connections to help nurture their nerve.

    There are many reasons why a designer or creative professional might want to leave the corporate womb and strike out on their own. Barriers to entry are low. The ability to work in almost any location seems like a dream come true. The notions of seeing your ideas through to fruition, while having more control over the results of your work is appealing. But the idea of actually launching your own business, brand or product line can be daunting! There are many unknowns; business training is not typically part of the program in design school. Knowing how and when to take that first step can be a challenge.

    With all that in mind, we organized the 2018 Core77 Conference to provide inspiration, knowledge and connections for people building, running and growing creative businesses. The morning sessions will feature creative entrepreneurs, advisors and investors sharing their stories of personal success and best practices. In the afternoon attendees will get an opportunity for a deep dive into specific topics through hands-on workshops covering public relations, brand building, social media, crowdfunding and more. There will be plenty of time to connect with peers during the day, and of course, we'll host a networking reception to cap it off in the evening.

    Confirmed presenters include:

    Carly Ayres - Designer and Partner, HAWRAF Studio
    Craighton Berman - Designer, illustrator, educator and creator
    Emily Cohen - Author and business consultant
    Alex Daly - Public relations and crowdfunding expert, Vann Alexandra
    Michael DiTullo - Product designer and creative director
    Joseph Guerra - Designer and Partner, Visibility Studio
    Alexis Houssou - Entrepreneur and investor, Hardware Club
    Pedro Sanches - Designer and Partner, HAWRAF Studio
    Sina Sohrab - Designer and Partner, Visibility Studio
    Jamie Wolfond - Founder of Good Thing, product and furniture designer

    More presenters to be announced, and a full schedule will be published shortly. There are a limited number of Early Bird tickets available at a discounted price. Clear your calendars now and make plans to join us on October 25th!


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    FixIts™ is the first product to come out of Chris Lefteri Design and marks an extension from the studio's history as a materials design consultancy by bringing to life one of its founders first material discoveries.

    FixIts™ is the world's first compostable, hand-moldable plastic stick that softens in 60C water and thus can be used to solve an infinite number of challenges around the home or in creative projects. Fully re-usable, FixIts™ empowers consumers to do DIY on their own terms instead of overspending on single-use or niche equipment. It is the new kitchen drawer essential.

    Chris Lefteri, author of nine books on materials and design eponymous studio, has become well known for bringing about design innovation to global consumer brands through CMF and materials.

    Alongside founder Alison Lefteri and co-founder former student Forrest Radford, Chris is launching FixIts™– a product that can have a positive influence on the environment by focusing on fixing rather than disposing of products.

    Chris discovered the material while researching his first book on plastics in 2000. It is a project that is close to the founders' hearts, and one that is pertinent given our increasing need to deal with the consequences of plastic usage. FixIts™ brings to light a material that has a history of industrial applications to create a new opportunities for and by consumers.

    "We need to come at the sustainability issue from a new angle. It's no longer going to be about using guilt as an emotion to drive consumers to think twice about their carbon footprint, it's about making recycling fun, desirable and driving an approach that means you want to do good rather than the traditional approach of thinking that you should do good."

    FixIts™ is made from a plastic that softens at a much lower temperature than conventional plastics and exploits the main property of thermoplastics which is that they can be repeatedly heated, cooled and heated again. Not only does this render FixIts™ reusable, but the plastic itself is also compostable in accordance with requirements for EN-14995.

    After exploring around twenty different shapes that the material should be formed into, the studio settled on a simple stick. "We felt that with a totally new product, it would be hard to empower consumers with a product to fix problems they probably didn't know they needed: we needed a shape that felt familiar, generic and simple. It also made total sense that as a form, a stick lent itself to be placed in a cup of hot water."

    "We spent a lot of time working on the details of the stick: the size, the weight, the bezels, etc. We even added icon instructions to the back of the stick so that they can be easily shared and understood by users who hadn't interacted with the product before. The stick says everything it needs to; what it's called, what it does, and how to do it.. Making a simple product, as we have learnt, isn't that simple."

    "I have always loved discovering new materials and telling stories about a new way of looking at materials'. We have motto in the studio which we apply to all our consultancy projects based on defining the term 'new materials' under three headings: Use materials in new ways, use materials in new places and use materials in new places in new ways. FixIts™ evolved out of using an existing material in a new way. From the outset, the project was about creating a new story that was going to both inspire consumers to want to buy the product and at the same time make them feel they needed the product. I wanted consumers to feel like using it; fixing and making things was going to be fun as well as stopping you from throwing away broken products. I realized very early on that the brand had to be built around a communication story."

    The team worked closely with London-based branding agency Here Design to develop the branding. The project went through many iterations and name changes to get the simple message of the FixIts™ stick into a form that consumers would be able to instantly get and also want to buy into.

    Mark Paton Creative Partner at Here Design comments: "My first thought was literally 'Wow, what an interesting product – how does it work – how can we use that?' We were also very aware that both the retail context and the household context for this product was visually cluttered, so our approach throughout has been to create a very simple bold brand and identity.

    The brief to Here Design was to create a simple statement that referenced the optimism, simplicity and punchiness of 1950's packaging at a time when plastics was the 'new' material that was going to change the world.

    Mark explains how the "reference point was graphic Swiss poster design that incorporates bold typography and photographic imagery. We like how that approach allowed us to integrate the logo, product image and also explain scale and functionality of the product. The gift of being able to feature the product in the logo, is one that doesn't often happen in design so we grabbed the opportunity with both hand. Pun fully intended."

    In the 1950's, plastic was the future, it changed the way the world looked. It filled it with color and experimental forms; propelling designers to explore with their new found design freedom. Today it's the total opposite, our inability to act on the environmental warnings of plastic waste is resulting in plastics being material enemy number one; but not all of them have to be. 

    "What FixIts™ does is give a positive story to plastics by becoming a simple product that sits in the kitchen drawer, pen pot, ruck-sack, etc; that can be used to fix simple solutions that would otherwise result in a broken product being thrown away. Plastics are not going to go away, we just need to be smarter in how we use them. Launching today, we're hoping we'll find our early adopters and pioneers on Kickstarter. We're aiming to get 1000 packs of FixIts™ out through this campaign but we don't want it to stop there. We're hoping Kickstarter will help build the community that will allow FixIts™ to become a household emergency fixer."

    Check out FixIts™ on Kickstarter today!


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    Each year at the AIA Conference on Architecture, window manufacturer YKK AP America releases a video taking a swipe at the profession. Some of these have been cringeworthy--rapping architects is a favorite theme--but this year's, "Eat. Sleep. Architect" leaves the rhyming out of it:

    Unbelievably, reading through the YouTube comments reveals that not everyone realizes this is a parody!




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    Volkswagen's designers and engineers look like they had an absolute field day with their new California Camper van. They've loaded this relatively diminutive vehicle with built-in furniture, pop-out standalone furniture, two beds, a kitchen, an outdoor shower and more. It's not even the features themselves that most impress me, it's the way that everything has been designed to cleanly integrate with the structure, such that everything is invisible until the user chooses to reveal them. 

    Check out the video walkthrough:

    My hat's off to VW's designers and engineers, but I shake my fist at the executives. To name the car after a U.S. state, but not actually sell it in the 'States, just seems cruel.


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    About Armada: Armada is a full service furniture design and manufacturing studio based out of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. We focus on providing custom furniture solutions for NYC interior designers and architects along with providing a standard product catalog. We aim to deliver the highest quality products for our

    View the full design job here

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    When we think of rust, the first thing that comes to mind is "old," as the natural process is an indicator of age for most products and even modes of transportation like motorcycles and boats. Through his experimental materials project Rust Harvest, designer Yuma Kano aims to transform our notion or rust to something more positive. He created a process called Rust Harvest, in which the first step is naturally creating rust on metal sheets by exposing them to light, rain, earth and seawater. Next, Kano developed a method to separate the rust from the metal plates by pouring acrylic over them. From there he uses the completed acrylic panels to create various types of furniture. The insanely satisfying video below runs through the rust harvesting process in detail:

    The idea behind Rust Harvest began when Kano moved to a studio inside a shipyard located near Tokyo in 2014. He began wondering what materials he could use around the shipyard to incorporate the inspiration of his location into his work.  Eventually, Kano discovered the abundance of rust in the area, as the shipyard was located in close proximity to the ocean. Two years later in 2016, Kano began his first experiment with rust, leading to Rust Harvest. To give us a better understanding of the process, Kano handed us a sheet with translated answers to commonly asked questions. Below is the whole Q&A:

    How is rust produced / How do you create rust?

    The metal rust plates are produced by myself from scratch. Rather than using chemicals, I prefer to use elements from natural resources, such as sea water, rain, air, sunlight, soil, etc. As a result, I carefully and accurately add rust to metal, much like an artist painting on canvas. Of course, rust is a natural phenomenon, which makes it difficult to control fine details, but though the repetition and improvement of experiments, I am now able to adjust the color tints, for example, brown to orange. 

    How do you rust acrylic?

    Instead of rusting acrylic directly, I used an innovative method to transfer only the rusted surface from the metal plates using adhesive resins. 

    Why don't you use chemicals to rust?

    The various rust patterns that appear due to natural conditions such as the seasons of rusting, weather, time of day, etc. are far more provoking than using chemicals that forcibly rust metal without taking enough time and consideration, making the pattern and color become uniform and uninspiring. In addition, more complicated and beautiful rust patterns or colors will appear by coincidence and unexpected various conditions overlapping, I aimed to artificially produce a natural rust by changing such conditions to create my own patterns. 

    What happens to the metal plate after removing the rust? 

    Although the surface will not be as smooth and clean as before, it will be re-usable once all the rust surface has been removed. After removing the rust, the metal plate can be either recycled or reused to rust again and create a new rust surface. I have defined this series of cycles and concepts as "Rust Harvest", as if raising and harvesting crops.

    Why is the rust transparent when transferred on acrylic?

    I discovered this phenomenon after a certain failure during my experiments. It is obvious that rust will only occur on rusting materials. The rust on a metal surface will not transmit light, simply because metal is not transparent. On the other hand, acrylic is transparent, therefore when the rust is transferred onto an acrylic surface, light will be transmitted all the way through. Because of this, you will notice that the rust is formed by many layers, and you will be able to see the bottom surface of it, where it was otherwise hidden by the metal surface. 

    Does the rust on acrylic continue to develop? 

    The answer is no. Normally, rust progresses with the passage of time, but since the rust surface is adhered to acrylic, it will never be exposed to air to allow further rusting. In other words, it is in a state where the "time" of rust is captured inside the acrylic. 

    What is the purpose of using metal as part of your work? 

    I decided to make a principle of using metal as a part of my work. By doing this, you can see the difference in color between the rust and original metal, and it makes the texture more compelling. Moreover, using a pure metallic material for the parts will allow for rusting to occur with dirt and moisture. I expressed the change of time by combining the acrylic plates (in a state with "no rusting time") and the metal parts (in a state with "gradually rusting time") in a single piece of work. Decades later, the metal parts might rust as well as the acrylic surface, and I will look forward to seeing that happen. 

    In the future, what would you like to use this material on/for?

    I would like to use this material for spatial design as a building material in the future, such as a shops interior and architecture. It would be a beautiful environment if all the walls were covered with a rusty pattern, allowing light to pass even further. Since the material itself is acrylic, it has flexible manufacturing techniques and processes such as adhesion, cutting and bending. It is a beautiful material that has infinite possibilities. 

    Other than this rust harvest project, what kind of design do you normally do?

    With my client work, I collaborate with Japanese traditional craftsman, proposing designs that make use of available technology. I also do product development and design direction for other companies. At the same time, I am actively engaging in independent projects, developing new materials and announcing new product designs and concepts. This "Rust Harvest" project started from my own independent project. 

    What other kinds of material would you like to handle after this?

    The genre of materials is not important to me. Everything starts with research and experiments, and my job is to discover combinations of materials that nobody has noticed yet, how to use them, explore small ideas, shape them and finally propose them. 

    My job is to pick up a small phenomenon that others would overlook, explore new discoveries and events that lurk in my daily life, review existing concepts, expand those concepts and enhance the possibilities of design to reach a "new value". Regardless of textile design, furniture design or spatial design, my policy remains the same.

    *******

    Learn more about Yuma Kano's process here


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    Tea & Toast is a kitchenware product line consisting of a water kettle and toaster that were inspired by traditional tableware. The products were designed to compliment each other with unique, modern, and clean design aesthetics. Both products share a common design language based on high quality tableware elements that blend seamlessly into modern kitchen interiors.

    View the full project here

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    The Amabrush was a successfully-Kickstarted hands-free toothbrush that never actually shipped. Now another design for an automatic toothbrush, the CHIIZ, has been successfully Kickstarted, and perhaps they'll have better luck.

    Since the CHIIZ doesn't have the protrusion in the front of it like the Amabrush did, that means you can actually shave and brush your teeth at the same time:

    But if you really want to save time, you should simultaneously shave and use the CHIIZ while taking a pee in the shower and listening to a motivational audiobook. Five times the efficiency!



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    Is there a better way to see a country than by bicycle? A Belgian expat and cycling enthusiast named Carl, now relocated to Germany, just wrapped up an 80-day trip through all 16 of Germany's states. He filmed his journey and compressed those 80 days down into 80 seconds:

    I have to believe that not all of us are happy with just the 80 seconds of eye candy. I can't be the only one who is envious of Carl's journey and would like to see more.

    The good news is, Carl--who is fluent in German and goes by the handle "Ein Belg," slang for "a Belgian"--is in fact turning his journey into a documentary. In the trailer below we get to see what we don't in the teaser above, which is the actual interactions Carl got to have while traveling:

    Carl has released the two videos above in hopes of gaining the attention of a German production company. If any of you have a hookup, please forward this along!



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    We've all been in this situation: You're having a pool party, but after a few hours the guests have overstayed their welcome and you'd like them to leave, but you're too drunk to articulate it. With an above-ground pool you can just pull the cork and let the pool slowly drain, which sends a clear message. But those of us who've ponied up for the in-ground pool are S.O.L., right?

    Wrong! All you need to do is have one of these babies installed:

    Just imagine the footage in reverse. You press the button, the cover begins to close, and I think at least 75% of the people in the pool would make it out in time.



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    Art and Cook is looking for a Senior level package designer who is passionate about their craft; someone who maintains strong conceptual thinking while delivering on excellent designs. Responsibilities and skills: · Responsible for the timely

    View the full design job here

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    Shapeways, the 3D printing service and marketplace known for their reliable on-demand printing in a variety of materials, recently announced their first in-house line, Spring & Wonder. The collection features a variety of customizable jewelry that leaves customers in charge of the size, shape and message written on their pieces.

    Due to their ability to print in metal, Shapeways has already become a destination for people looking to test out their jewelry designs and even for people looking to create a line of their own. Spring & Wonder opens that possibility up to the public, allowing anyone to experiment with the joy of selecting your own design and watching it come to life via 3D printer. 

    "The vision is to enable anyone to access these tools by simply coding in javascript and connecting to Shapeways' software and systems, users can enable the interactive customization and click-to-print experience on their ecommerce sites such as Shopify. Spring & Wonder is a new company founded with these tools—and the promise of making the magic of limitless customization with 3D printing accessible to anyone. But really, just making cool jewelry we love and hope you do, too."

    Many people outside of the design and tech fields still don't understand that 3D printing in metals like gold, silver and bronze is possible, especially at a reasonable cost, so we're happy to see someone trying to close that knowledge gap.


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    Milwaukee Tool is looking for an experienced Senior Industrial Designer to join its in-house design team. Our product line is continually expanding; come join a growing creative team that is building a portfolio of advanced products. DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES Industrial design at Milwaukee Tool is

    View the full design job here

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    Shift is a smart projector which can dynamically project all kinds of text onto surfaces in the user's surroundings. By focusing on different distances, the user adapts and thus avoids a constant gaze at the screen.

    View the full project here

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    In Japan, chisels for striking are always hooped. That is to say, the butt end of their handles is encircled in a ring of metal. This is a good idea since they traditionally use steel hammers to hit their tools. In the West mortise chisels, which get the heaviest battering, and most bench chisels, which can still take a fair whacking are usually not hooped. So a good rule of thumb is to always use a mallet that is softer than the chisel handle. The reason is very simple. It is cheaper to replace an English joiner's mallet every few years, than it is to rehandle a chisel.

    The mallet in the foreground is my old one, which is well-used. The mallet in the background has been in action for a few months and just has a few dents. Mallets seem to stabilize with a few dents, and then a bunch of years later the big cracks start.

    Some of you might point to the super-hard lignum-vitae carver's mallet. Carvers hit their chisel handles too, and you don't see them complain. But it's about force. Malleting in cabinetmaking is, especially in mortising, a question of power. You want to hit the chisel really hard. The softer wood mallet does give less "feedback" because the face will distort, but overall the goal is power.

    With the lighter mallet, you need a longer stroke to deliver similar power, but the longer stroke is less precise. With carving, precision is everything, and a shorter stoke with a heavier, smaller mallet gives you more control. Even if you are taking away lots of material you want to do it in a series of controlled strokes, so you don't split away the wrong wood. So a denser, harder, mallet gives you more feedback, you can use a shorter, more controlled stroke, and overall you use less power per-stroke. The tool handle is in much less danger from a carver than a joiner.

    While lignum-vitae is an endangered wood now, and lignum-vitae have never been the most stable of woods anyway, there are lots of other options for carvers on the market now.

    ___________________

    This "Tools & Craft" section is provided courtesy of Joel Moskowitz, founder of Tools for Working Wood, the Brooklyn-based catalog retailer of everything from hand tools to Festool; check out their online shop here. Joel also founded Gramercy Tools, the award-winning boutique manufacturer of hand tools made the old-fashioned way: Built to work and built to last.



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