Mar 272010

I don’t have too many shopping fantasies. There is one. I’d like to get in a boat and cruise over to Eastsound on Orcas Island and visit Smith and Speed Mercantile and load the boat with their high quality hand tools. The store is owned by some Orcas Island homesteaders who, according to their website, walk the walk:

“We live off the grid on Orcas Island, meaning we are powered by solar, we use little fossil fuel on our farm and the only line that enters our house is the phone line.  We do most of our farm tasks by hand. Whether it is using the broad fork to prepare our garden beds, or the one man cross cut saw to cut our firewood or the Austria hand hammered scythe blades with a curved wood handle to quietly lay down the grass in our field.  Having used all manner of powered equipment we are convinced it disturbs the peace within your land, your body and mind.

Our focus is on hand tools because we value the place a good hand tool holds as the conduit between man and nature. It allows us to create in the natural world. We think feeding your body good food, and the way it is achieved is just as important.  The work with hand tools is another way of staying healthy- so you and the earth remains healthy- all prosper and benefit.”

Good quality hand tools aren’t cheap. On the other hand, they’re worth it. I’m on my third digging fork in a year having bought two from the Lehman’s catalogue only to have them break tines when turning sod.

Lehman’s quickly replaced the Chinese made fork with another and when that one lasted only two weeks they came up with a US made fork that seems to be holding up. I like Lehman’s and have purchased a number of items from them but I really want to get to Eastsound.

Smith and Speed has quite the collection of digging tools including the Orcas Broad Fork, a tool that would do some serious sod turning and aerating.

They carry all the Gransfors axes and mauls.

They also carry hand made carving tools from North Bay Forge on Waldron Island, an operation worth more discussion because its local and very high quality.

Smith and Speed has the scythe I wrote about the other day.

Moving away from power tools is a big step for most people. It’s a step worth considering. Power tools do disturb the peace and aren’t always faster.


  5 Responses to “Smith and Speed Mercantile”

  1. Randy, I get over to Eastsound quite abit with my boat midweek during the summer. The county dock is a couple hundred meters out of town. I can give you a lift , its only a 30 minute ride from Lummi. Course we could kayak in keeping with the spirit of the place but we couldn’t haul as much booty.

  2. I’d love to go anytime. We’ll have to call and make sure they are open. They keep odd hours.

  3. Jim and Randy the trip to East Sound sounds like fun. let us know when you want to go and we can keep with the ecology thing by cruising over at six knots at a gal. and hour. Larry MV Synergy. Pura Vida

  4. Hope you are serious. Could be our version of a carbon trade. Use hand tools to justify a big boat. Makes sense to me.

  5. Sounds like a super place! If there’s space on any trip to Orcas, I’d love to joint the expedition!

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