polissoir

Model 296 Polissoir (and Whisk Brooms) Back In Stock

I am delighted to report that after a few weeks of being out of stock, as of ten minutes ago I am now replenished with Model 296 polissoirs and they will begin shipping again immediately.

Ditto the whisk brooms.

Prices and Postage

This is not a “happy” bog post.  It might be a little too much “inside baseball” but I thought you should know what is going on and what is coming down the pike.  It’s probably bad form to discuss openly the costs of running a business, even a hobby one, and I will give that concern all the consideration I think it deserves.  Okay, I’m done with that consideration.

It has been almost a decade since rediscovering the amazing surface prep and finishing tool called the polissoir, or polisher, and connecting up with a local craft broom maker to supply me with them.  In that period I have sold and shipped thousands(!) of polissoirs and blocks of beeswax etc., and I hope to continue that success and match it with that of Mel’s Wax in the coming months and years.  I delight in sharing the polissoir-and-beeswax’s almost magical qualities with the enthusiasts who have joined me in this trek taking a giant leap backwards in wood finishing.  To encourage these tools’ adoption by the woodworking world I have kept the pricing stable almost since the beginning, folding the postage into the purchase price and keeping that unchanged since we went “official” with the Shop function on the website.

Unfortunately the postage increases implemented by the USPO over the past two years have affected me to the degree that, all by itself, postage now consumes over 15% of my gross sales revenue (and nearly 25% of the net), a nearly 100% increase in just the past year.  This is so far out of whack I can hardly wrap my head around it, but the unavoidable result is that some of the heavier items in the Store will necessarily increase in price to reflect this grim reality as soon as we can edit the page.

(I am not griping about the post office, they provide excellent service to me and are convenient; I do not realistically have any other parcel carrier option out here in the hinterlands.  I usually make the five-minute drive to our one-window post office in town once a week with a canvas tool bag full of parcels to mail.  Making a three-hour round trip over the mountains to a parcel depot is not in the cards for me.)

To respond to this new cost reality, after long thought I’ve decided to raise the price of hand refined beeswax by $1 to $14, raising the Blend 31 to $17, and the shellac wax to $21.

All three models of the one-inch polissoirs will remain at their current price since they are so light weight and have apparently — thus far — remained below some postage threshold, but you never know with the USPS.

The large polissoirs, the two-inch woven-sheath and the Model 296 wrapped polissoirs, will be going from $47 to $49, and the two-pound bag of shellac flour will now be $75.  Postage for Mel’s Wax is also 50% higher per unit than expected but I will leave that price alone for now as a strategic move.

I’m not apologizing for the increases: even though this is a labor of love for me I simply can’t keep selling and shipping products at the previous prices given the rising costs of postage.  That is just a plain and simple fact whether I like it or not.  I will be sad if these price increases diminish interest in polissoirs and waxes and such, but as the pundit says, “Facts don’t care about your feelings.”

And, given the recent disruptions in the bee hive health I am doubly glad I bought a lot of raw beeswax for us to hand-process into blocks and polishes just before the colony collapse crisis.  I’m hoping that the raw material comes back down in price before I need to buy more at the end of this year, but at the moment the prices for beeswax are about double from when I bought some last.

Stay tuned and wish me luck.

donsbarn.com Store Inventory Re-filled

For the past several months just as I have been working feverishly on re-siding my daughter’s house my polissoirs maker has been concentrating on wrapping up his several years’ project building their dream house.  They have been moving in recent days, but the broom-making studio is not yet fully installed in the new house,  As a result the stream of new polissoirs dried up, and for the past couple of months at least I have been out of some inventory.  I am happy to report that as of yesterday I am now fully stocked with all the varieties of polissoirs, with the routine of making new ones back on track.  For the next several months we will be building the inventory for next year’s Handworks.

In addition I got the guy who makes the blocks of specialty waxes (that would be me) to get on the stick and re-stock them and Mel’s Wax as well.

I will be spending the next couple of days filling and shipping all the orders I have outstanding, and should be caught up by Thursday.  I’ve got a couple trips over the mountains in the meantime or I would get them done tomorrow.

Polissoirs Back In Stock

For several months my broom maker has been up to his eyeballs in alligators as 1) his brooms have been selling like hotcakes and 2) he’s been finishing building their dream house on the family farm.  As a result my inventory was low at first then gone altogether.  Last week I got an infusion of polissoirs so I can now fill my back-orders, which will ship out tomorrow.

Juncus Is Way Up!

I chatted recently with the cattle man who runs his herd on the pasture through which I drive coming and going to and from the homestead, and he was fine with me harvesting the Juncus that is burgeoning in the fields.  I am pretty sure I  will be able to harvest as much of it as I can possibly use, and then some, come August or so.  Fortunately the cattle have no interest in it so it should just keep on growing until I harvest the bundles and get them drying.  The clusters of the grass popped their heads last week, so now it is simply a matter of waiting for nature to take its course.  Fortunately most of the densest growth is adjacent to the road.

Over the winter I will start making Juncus polissoirs for sale, although since I have to do every step myself by hand they will be pricey.  If they do not sell, I will just keep them here for workshop students to use.

Juncus Popping Up All Over!

A couple weeks ago as we were driving up the road to the cabin, (our road cuts through a few pastures along its way, so there are literally times we have to wait for the cattle to move aside) Mrs. Barn remarked that there were clumps of Juncus effusus grass popping up in the fields.  I asked around, and it turns out that it is considered a noxious invasive in these parts, spreading in many pastures but inedible by the cattle, or at least not preferred.  So I am delighted that there will be dozens of Juncus bundles of new polissoir stock in a couple months, and our local cattleman will be pleased to have me cut it down.

For those who like me have been bitten by the polissoirs bug I will be harvesting then hand-making polissoirs for sale come this fall.  They will be identically configured to the Model 296.  My broom-maker is not set up to make these, he is set up only for working with the sorghum straw.  Juncus is simply too different from sorghum, most especially in that sorghum compresses comparatively little when bound whereas Juncus compresses about 60-70% during the binding.

Some Juncus left over from my last harvest. I will use this to improve my manufacturing technique.

They will be labor intensive and thus pricey, but if you gotta have one, I’m your guy.  They will be, quite literally, as close to what Roubo described as I can get without a Time Machine.  These are not better nor worse than my other polissoirs, they are just different.

 

A Juncus polissoir.

 

Up A Creek Without A Polissoir

At the recent gathering of the Professional Refinisher’s Group one of the presenters was addressing a topic that would have fit seamlessly with the use of polissoirs.  When I asked the host for his, I was informed it could not be found.  I canvassed the group and none was to be found.  Even I had not brought one with me!  While I normally travel with my rolling Store for some reason this time I did not.

But with a little thrashing around and some yeoman’s help from TomD we made one that worked enough or the task.

The starting point was the old shop broom, a roll of twine, and my dull Victorinox multi-tool knife (dull because I had cut some wire and had not sharpened it.  My bad.)

After cutting of some broom fibers we set about trying to find the string necessary.  We could not find anything really robust, what we found was some soft twine similar to macrame yarn.  So we used what we could find.  (I think the broom went back to hang on its nail, ready to go to work albeit a little less effectively).

Working carefully, and celebrating the fact that my broken arm from two years ago has recovered almost all of its dexterity and strength, I started putting it together.  My biggest challenge was trying to work right up to the limit of the tensile strength of our soft twine.  Normally I use heavyweight waxed linen cord, which I literally cannot break by hand, resulting in a polissoir so tight it has a sharp sound when rapped against a hard surface.  This undertaking did not yield such a result, but the polissoir was tight enough to serve well enough for the task at hand.

I trimmed one end  and we put it to work.

I’ll know to never travel anywhere without a polissoir in the future.  Note to self: when packing for a trip, it’s glaucoma meds, toothbrush, and a polissoir.