Chestnut is a well known name in the woodturning trade but what is not generally known is that Len Piers who was a fellow of the Worshipful Company of Woodturners assisted the proprietor of Chestnut greatly in the days when it was being set up. The result of this is that the mixtures were developed especially to suit woodturning rather than trying to span the whole woodworking industry. The Company now sells a wider range of products but the recipes of those original products have remained the same. Len helped me greatly when I was starting out as I had known him from the electronics industry before heart problems drove him out to escape the stress. By adopting his methods Chestnut’s materials naturally suited me best as well and now of course those are the methods I’m teaching now.

Len is now sadly dead but his wife Jill and son Donald have carried on. I have now developed strong ties to them through the Gripper Disc as Don needed my help setting up his own production facilities to make it. I now sell the whole range of the Piers Catalogue and Don splits his margin with me so my prices are the same as his.

There are a great many companies making abrasives for the woodworking industry and over the years I have tried most of them. Once you appreciate the efficiency of good quality stuff and learn to use it properly the attraction of low prices for poorer products soon recedes. If you then pay even more to buy the already very good VSM products but go further up the market into the stearate lubricated Vitex range then you find the boost in your productivity more than offsets the cost. Zinc Stearate is a solid waxy substance which is applied electrostatically to the high quality Aluminium Oxide on Cloth product where it reduces heat build up from clogging and friction. Contrary to popular belief good abrasives rarely wear out, they stop cutting when the grit is stripped off. The only woods that can truly wear the grit are the jungle woods high in silica. Slow growing home grown woods have fibres too narrow to take up large particles of silica unlike the rainforrest monsters. Some woods, Iroko for example can sometimes contain so much silica that it can throw sparks from the tools. Amateurs often protect their fingers from the heat of sanding by folding the abrasive sheets over and over, others use wads of cloth or felt. The heat then melts the resin and the grit is stripped. Worse the wood is overheated too at the least crazing the surface with hailine cracks and at worst scorching it. The right way is of course the use a single strip of abrasive cloth and learn to control pressure and keep the temperature within comfortable limits both for the fingers and the wood.


Elsewhere in this web-site you will see that I process virtually all my own wood starting with wet logs from recently felled local trees. Occasionally however I run short and top up with boards from Don. My kilns are converted deep freezers Don’s was built by Len when Len, Jill and Donald were all making stuff together. That kiln is a walk in one taking boards Don can barely lift especially when they are wet. I can usually supply myself and all my beginners on courses but beyond that my course customers are passed on to Don. Don prices his materials the way I do, incoming cost plus labour at reasonable rates plus a margin to cover overheads and a fair profit. This then means the we undercut the craft retail outlets hugely. What’s not obvious however is the quality of the kiln work. Our wood is monitored with electronic moisture meters otherwise our products will warp and split after we sell them to spoil our future markets. We know of craft outlets and even commercial dealers who don’t even have kilns let alone monitor moisture content.