HO Studley

Was It A Howard Carter Moment?



Howard Carter is the British archaeologist who first excavated King Tut’s tomb.  Imagine what it was like to be him and rediscover a treasure that had been unseen for three thousand years.   I wonder if that was what is was like for Sandor Nagyszalanczy in 1988.


Earlier this week I had the pleasure of speaking with Sandor Nagyszalanczy, prolific author and former Senior Editor of  Fine Woodworking.   I’d been trying to find someone who could provide that institutional/historical context for the emergence of the tool cabinet when it burst onto the woodworking scene in 1988.

It tuned out that Sandor was the guy.

It was he who took the original phone call when the owner of the Studley Tool Chest was casting about trying to figure out exactly what it was that he had.  Sandor made arrangements to go visit it.  When he opened it, it was, and I am quoting Sandor, “Jaw dropping to floor!”  He set up to take the photographs that eventually entered into our consciences on the rear cover of that magazine.

When Sandor returned to headquarters, it had the same effect on them as it did on him, and plans were immediately put into motion to get it into print as soon as possible, which turned out the be the rear cover for Issue 71, June/July 1988.

As fate would have it, that issue of FWW contained the one and only article I ever did for them.

Goose-bumpy, huh?

To complete the circle, when I first got permission from the current owner to write a book, of course I immediately approached Lost Art Press editor/publisher Chris Schwarz about it, Chris asked me what I wanted the book to be like.  “A combination of Charles Hummel (“With Hammer in Hand”) and Sandor Nagyszalanczy (The Art of Fine Tools),” I replied.  No kidding.

This account of Sandor’s adventure and pictures from that first encounter will be one of the many threads in the tapestry of the book VIRTUOSO, the manuscript for which I am rounding the turn toward the home stretch.  I was happy to share much of my research fruit with the man who was the first outsider to learn of the iconic artifact.


For more information about the upcoming exhibit of the Studley tool cabinet and workbench, go here.