Useless Tools

Mallet and Chisel (Douglas Fir, Red Oak)

As a student at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, I was taught to make a number of basic tools – mallets, planes, bevel gauges and the like – tools essential to a shipwright’s toolbox. These exercises, a few excess pieces of douglas fir, and my old Rockwell wood lathe led me to create my first of tool parodies, a hugely over sized wooden mallet and its companion, an equally over sized wooden chisel.

From that starting point I’ve continued to create imaginative, exaggerated, and at times distorted versions of tools that might occupy the toolbox of a shipwright or carpenter. Drawing on my medical background, I’m also adding a group of medical tool parodies – tools no longer found in a doctor’s historic black bag. What all of these creations share is their fundamental uselessness, the insights they give us about classic real tools, and their ability to delight.

Rabbit Plane Sewing Kit Musical Caulking Mallet (B-flat)

(Douglas Fir, Walnut) (Yellow Pine, Jute Twine) (Mesquite, Purple Heart, Clarinet)

Licking Plane Licking Plane

(Douglas Fir, Purple Heart) (showing tongue blade)

Bear Claw Hammer Cat's Claw Hammer

(Mahogany and Oak) (Mahogany and Maple)

Crab Claw Hammer Panther Claw Hammer Lobster Claw Hammer Eagle Claw Hammer

(Mahogany and Oak) Great White Wrench (Mahogany, Cut Jade, Acrylic Paint)

Political Spin Mallet Neurologist's Pinwheel Wooden Stethoscopes

(Douglas Fir, Purple Heart & Locust, Ebony, Purple Heart, Authentic, pre-WWI on left

Antique Carved Bottle Stoppers) Maple, Mahogany, Angelique) Oversized, Walnut on Right