The Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts

 

Edge tool making

 

The making of edge tools, including billhooks, sickle blades and scythe blades, and woodworking tools such as froes, axes, chisels and gouges.

 

Status Currently viable
Craft category  Metal
Historic area of significance
Area currently practised
Origin in the UK
Minimum no. of craftspeople required
Current no. of trainees
Current no. of skilled craftspeople
Current total no. of craftspeople

 

History

 

Techniques

 

Local forms

 

Sub-crafts

  • Axe making
  • Billhook making
  • Chisel making
  • Scythe making
  • Sickle making
  • Woodworking tool making

 

Issues affecting the viability of the craft

  • Training issues: There is no formal training or qualification, such as City and Guilds – all training must be done in-house
  • Training issues/recruitment issues: Very difficult to find trainees – problems with knowing where to recruit, how to identify individuals who want to come into these types of industries etc. It would be good if there was an organisation which could help with identifying potential trainees and matching them up to potential employers.
  • Training issues/recruitment issues: It is very difficult to find apprentices/trainees – very hard to find suitable people with the right work ethic.
  • Training issues/recruitment issues: It is very hard to find the right type of apprentice/trainee – people may have trained as an ‘engineer’ or as a ‘woodworker’ but don’t have the specific skills needed so training has to take place completely in-house.
  • Training issues/recruitment issues: The UK doesn’t promote crafts enough – schools don’t teach woodwork anymore, school-leavers aren’t aware of crafts as a careers opportunity, ‘industry’ is becoming a dirty word
  • Training issues/recruitment issues: Lack of woodworking, metalworking and exposure to craft skills in schools, and no technical schools/colleges
  • Legislation: Legislation regarding health and safety, taking on apprentices etc. can put people off – obviously something needs to be in place but the legislative burden can be off-putting to potential employers
  • Foreign competition: Competition from cheap foreign imports
  • Market issues: Consumer price expectations when competing with Chinese prices
  • Market issues: The internet means that customers focus on price rather than value
  • Supply of raw materials: As of 2 January 2017 all species of rosewood and some species of bubinga have been added to the CITES endangered list and a permit is required to export any items containing any species of rosewood. This may affect tool makers, stringed instrument makers and furniture makers.
  • Business issues: Increasing bureaucracy for small businesses such as insurance, health and safety, pensions, electrical certificates etc. take up the time of the limited number of staff in a small business, and take their time away from making or from business development.

 

Support organisations

 

Craftspeople currently known

  • Thomas Flinn & Co. – based in Sheffield. Have a department specialising woodworking tools.
  • Richard Carter Ltd. – based in Huddersfield. Primarily manufacture spades, shovels and handles, but also manufactured edge tools and other tools. Twenty people working in the factory in total.
  • Henry Taylor Tools Ltd. – based in Sheffield. Manufacture wood turning, wood carving and woodworking tools. Have seven skilled employees.
  • Robert Sorby – based in Sheffield. Manufacture wood turning, wood carving and woodworking tools. Twenty people involved in manufacturing, including three apprentices – metalworking, woodworking, and hand grinding.
  • Joseph Marples Ltd. – based in Sheffield. Specialise in gauges, bevels and squares for woodworking. Four skilled craftspeople.
  • Ashley Iles (Edge Tools) Ltd. – based in East Kirksby, Lincolnshire. Manufacture wood turning, wood carving and woodworking tools.

 

Other information

 

References