Jeffro Uitto crafts his tools as carefully as he does his furniture
By Kathleen Ryan
Jeffro Uitto both creates beautifully sculpted furniture from recycled wood and forges his own handmade tools. “I love creating something functional. It’s so satisfying to work with tools that you’ve made yourself,” Jeffro said. The Washington woodworker began “playing around” with crafting his own customized knives, adzes, gouges, scorps, and carving blades 10 years ago. “I don’t fancy myself a professional toolmaker, it’s just something I enjoy. I’m still learning and figuring out what works and what doesn’t—trying to make a nice functional piece that feels great in your hand.”
According to Jeffro, his toolmaking grew out of necessity. He was working on a special project that required a small draw knife with swiveling handles that he could use to strip the bark from small diameter branches. Lacking such a tool, he made one from an old file he found laying around his shop. “What usually sparks an idea for a tool is a custom application that requires something you can’t simply go out and buy.”
When thinking about building a new tool, Jeffro suggests looking around your own shop for items that can be recycled. “I’m a big fan of utilizing what you have on hand to make what you need. There’s always something you can use.” He also recommends yard sales, junk shops, and second hand stores as sources for old blades and other useful materials. “Look for things made of good steel that will hold an edge,” he said. “It’s also important to remember that you are building a customized tool that you will hold in your hands for hours and even days at a time for years to come, so make sure that puppy is a comfortable fit for you.”
View more of Jeff’s work at www.jeffrouitto.com.
Jeffro Uitto created this hook knife from an old kitchen knife that had a good steel blade. He uses this tool to clean up the roots he fashions into functional furniture pieces. It measures about 6 ½” long.
This folding knife was made from an old brass bullet shell casing, a piece of chainsaw bar, and a piece of spring steel for the lock. He built the handle from scraps of wood. Unfolded, this knife measures about 6″ long.
Jeffro built this adze from a leaf spring off a truck and a couple of pieces of chain saw bar. The handle was carved from crab apple wood. He uses this tool for stock removal, “It’s a little heavy but affective,” he said.
This small scorp was made from the spike dogs from a chainsaw heated up and bent around a 1″ pipe and a brass collar from an air chuck. He finished it off with a crab apple wooden handle. Jeffro uses this tool for cleaning and shaving stock off.