|Sunil Chetiwal: Hobbyist Tool Maker|
Sunil is a social auditor for a major online retailer whose job takes him all over the country and especially to factory towns. While on tour, after work he never fails to locate the local tools bazar and goes foraging for tools and accessories.
The knowledge he has gathered about tools and their availability in different parts of the country is truly phenomenal. He could make good money as a consultant for sourcing tools and accessories.
While in New Delhi, where he lives, Sunil's spare time is spent scouring the tools markets of Chawri Bazar as well as the shops at Chandni Chowk, Sadar Bazar and other places that sell all kinds of stuff like chemicals, electrical goods, metal parts and what have you.
He has also come to know a few tool rooms and blacksmiths where he fabricates tools when he can. He believes that many tools that are expensive to import can be made cheaply in India.
|Sunil's Holdfast on right and Grammercy Tools holdfast on left|
His latest creation is a pair of steel holdfasts much like the ones made by the US-based Grammercy Tools. He chose hard steel used for making dies which is capable of withstanding a lot of pounding. He shaped then polished the holdfasts. They look and work well.
What pleased him most was the cost: a couple of hundred Rupees worth of material compared to the thousands required to import a holdfast.
I have convinced Sunil to make these holdfasts for those DIY woodworkers in India who might be interested in acquiring his handmade tools, holdfasts included. Interested individuals could email him at email@example.com.
|Sunil's Dowel Plate|
I also liked a dowel plate he made. It is a piece of thick hard steel with four holes in them - from 1/8th inch to 1/4th inch. The one he gave me works fine and I bashed out a few Pine dowels in rapid succession.
Sunil says that a lot of tools are being made in India, many of which are exported worldwide, but the problem is lack of information. It is difficult to locate the right manufacturers, dealers and sellers.
While there is a lot of "cheap junk", as woodworker-author Christopher Schwarz contemptuously terms Indian made tools, there are also a lot of quality manufacturers. Often their products are not sold as "Made in India".
For instance, during a recent tour, Sunil visited a factory making clocks and clock parts. He found their work to be excellent; he then discovered that one floor of their factory is devoted to making dials and indicators for US attack helicopters!
Perhaps he and I will collaborate to make a list of some of the more interesting Indian tool makers.
He left me a mallet made of hard Sheesham which I tested by chopping a mortise. It was light but extremely hard; cost about Rupees 100 (less than two US dollars). Time we got down to a bit of serious searching.
1 May 2016
ps - Sunil sent in a few more photographs of his holdfasts; says he got several enquiries from readers. Hope these help.