Les Hommes de la Forge de St Juery

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Over the weekend I selected the timber for the little wooden smoother I am making (more of which soon…). Reading the Lee Valley notes in the kit and poring over images of exquisite examples made by David Barron and others, my thoughts turned to what I need to shape some of the compound curves of the body. For this task nothing beats a good cabinet maker’s rasp and  there are none finer than those made at Le Forge de St Juery (FSJ). This is the location where Auriou has been producing their high-quality, hand-cut rasps since 2009.  The company was founded however in 1856, and is one of the few companies in the world still making rasps in ‘le style ancien’.

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These tools are used for shaping and detail work. In contrast to a file, which has uniform rows of teeth across the width of the tool, rasps have smaller teeth raised by hand (by ‘stitchers’ Denis and Jean-Luc) all over each face. Auriou makes a large range of different rasps in many shapes and sizes, all with varied stitching (the number of teeth) and grain (the size of teeth). Probably the major advantage of hand-cut rasps is the way the teeth are positioned on the surface of each face. Because the spacing of the teeth varies in relation to one another, the happy result is a progressive and chatter-free cut. Auriou rasps, unlike machine-made rasps, have teeth right up to the edges of the tool, allowing users to cut all the way into a corner. The teeth also extend to the tapered tip of the tool, enabling use in hard-to-reach places and (happy days!) Auriou also make left-and right-handed versions. Michel Auriou, being ‘un type bien’ (all round good bloke) has provided a set of 3 cabinet makers rasps and a set of 11Chris Pye carving tools for the Schwarz Anarchist Toolchest that Chris will build in July this year with us (more to follow in further posts on the Chris Pye tools…).  All this was kindly brokered for us by Mike Hancock of Classic Hand Tools who are UK distributors for Auriou.

So, that is another win for whoever wins this unique tool chest!

But – dammit all, being a leftie, it is clear there is no way of me snaffling any of these tools for a short spell in my own atelier before the lucky winner gets their paws on them.  Clearly I need to put scruples to one side and raid the housekeeping (again Paul?) to get myself a couple of left handed versions of these bad boys so I can get cracking with my smoother.

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Paul Mayon

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2 thoughts on “Les Hommes de la Forge de St Juery

  1. I’ll make sure mine definitely does NOT get put on a bench next to yours though!…You made the smoother you have kindly provided for the ATC Chris will be building from solid Lignum vitae: Have you ever tried making one from the only wood that is harder: Buloke (Allocasuarina luehmannii). I know it is a very rare, difficult to work and expensive timber but it does offer a Janka hardness of 5060 lbf. Rather than making a monoblock plane I am contemplating a sliver of the stuff for the sliding surface and have already purchased something entirely different for the bulk of the body.

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