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Files, Rasps and their Makers

  Breaking Tradition: The Two-Handed Rasp by Tom Fidgen 1 of 2  


Developing a working relationship with Noel Liogier, a fourth generation rasp maker in Lyon, France, I decided to reach out and see if he would be interested in developing this new idea...

A little more than a decade ago, I moved from a quiet, rural community on the East Coast of Canada, to downtown Toronto, the fourth largest city in North America. At that time, I had no idea what kind of workshop space I’d have in this new, urban environment, so I decided to ‘unplug’, and left all of my power tools behind.

For six years before that move, I was building custom furniture and traditional wooden boats in my workshop on Cape Breton Island. During those years, I was using both a blend of power and hand tools but definitely enjoyed the pace, and the quiet of hand tools much more.

While building these boats in mahogany, there were many days spent with rasps in hand, shaping the stems, knees, and breast hooks, on these lapstrake style wooden boats.

I remember wrapping duct-tape around the ends of my rasps, so as not to wear down my fingers, or cut myself while shaping the wood. (I’m also a professional musician, and my fingers are a very real part of my lively hood.)

I had a few friends at the time who were instrument makers, and they also enjoyed shaping the parts of their guitars and fiddles using rasps.

I can still remember watching them work, using their rasps much in the same way I did on my boats, the sometimes awkward movements as these one handed tools needed a second hand in use. I’ve seen luthiers using leather slips on the ends of their fingers, or wearing gloves while they worked, in order to make the process a little safer and more comfortable.

Fast forward a few years and I find myself now in my city workshop. Still using rasps and shaping wood, and still noticing furniture makers, struggling with with these tools, trying to make them a little more user-friendly.

I remember seeing the Lee Valley Tools catalogue, and noticed Veritas offered an auxiliary clip-on rasp handle. A great idea, but still, I felt there had to be a better way.

I should mention that over these past ten years, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had two woodworking books published (the third is currently in the works) and began travelling literally all over the world, teaching in woodworking schools from the Yukon to Australia, Germany to the USA.

Watching other boat builders and luthiers, furniture, chair and cabinet makers use traditional style rasps for shaping their work, I finally decided to do something about it. I felt that just because something is done a certain way for generations, doesn’t mean we can’t make things better.

During my travels, teaching abroad, I became well aware of the very fine, hand-stitched rasps made in France. After opening my own woodworking school here in Toronto, (The Unplugged Woodshop) we started carrying Liogier rasps in our store. Developing a working relationship with Noel Liogier, a fourth generation rasp maker in Lyon, France, I decided to reach out and see if he would be interested in developing this new idea I had, and he was happy and eager to help.

Enter the Two-Handed Rasp

I designed these rasps to be used like a spokeshave and dimensioned them accordingly. With a working area approximately 4” long and 1” wide, I felt they would have a familiar feel to woodworkers used to using a spokeshave, but benefit by the utility and function of a hand-stitched rasp.


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Stanley Chisels


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