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 Joel's Blog

The Gramercy Tools Saw Etch Story


At the of the summer of 2006 Timothy Corbett and I had finished up the first Gramercy Tools Saw - the Bowsaw and were embarking on our next project - a dovetail saw. Earlier today I was writing a blog entry on the development of that saw and Tim shared with me some of the original artwork for the saw etch of the dovetail saw. I put aside my original story for now so I can bring you this.

The Statue of Edwin Booth stands in the center of the park and in the background of the final etch

We figured out that there are roughly two ways to brand a saw. Stamp or engrave the brass back, which was the common thing up to the mid 19th century, or etch the blade with acid which was popular in the latter part of the 19th century. Both of us really loved the artwork of the old saw etches and Tim, who had experience in acid etchings loved the idea of doing a proper logo for Gramercy tools, appropriate for a saw blade. Originally the etch was for a line of panel saws made for us by a third party but when we sent the artwork to the maker he could not do the detail we needed and the project was dropped. We finally found a company that could actually do a real acid etch on a piece of steel. Deep enough to withstand wear and analog enough to allow the classic detail that we wanted in a professional saw etch design.

The first drawing to show the real elements of the final composition

Gramercy Tools got its name because at the time we were located on 20th street in Manhattan and every day I walked past Gramercy Park, the last private park in NYC dating back since 1831. It seemed appropriate to do something related to the park.

A later sketch - we can see a sketch of the holdfast in the corner - an alternate view that was rejected

We started with a narrative idea, a joiner on his way to work in one of the fancy townhouse next to the park. I don't remember if Tim and I had conversations about the content of the etch or if he just came up with the design. But I do know on one hot day in the late summer of 2006 I found myself walking back and forth in front of the 20th street gates of Gramercy Park. I also lent Tim a copy of my reprint 1897 Sears Catalog so he would have some reference material on clothing.

Then he disappeared for a week or so. I only made two important contributions to the project. Complaining to Tim about how long it took him to draw the logo. And I suggested that some holdfasts to keep the etch from sliding off the saw would be a good idea. You can see he wrote "holdfasts" on the sketch.

The background isn't drawn yet but we can see where we are going

Days went by but soon we had finished art. The original is very large and done by hand. We use the etch on a lot of tools and at exhibitions. Depending on the size of the saw the etch will have more or less detail.

N.B. If you wish to see some of Tim's other, non-tool artwork his work is currently in an exhibition at The Invisible Dog open until December 30th. Go see it - it's a great show.!!!

Tim did some test photos to see how the banner bunting would look when held by a holdfast

The final etch with all its details

Join the conversation
12/14/2016 Marshall Brodsky
Considering your current location perhaps you should rename your tool line Ebbets Field, and have an etching of Roy Campanella at bat.
12/14/2016 Todd Gelormino
Great story. Always love a little back story to something as important as a logo. Good one Marshall!
12/14/2016 Terrence Walsh
Great story. Love the artwork. Thanks for mixing history, art, and tools!
12/15/2016 Christopher J. Thomas
I love your acid etch logo, truly first rate, old chap!
Thanks for the background on Gramercy Park, something Donald Trump would have never endorsed!

Cheers, Christopher
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The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the blog's author and guests and in no way reflect the views of Tools for Working Wood.