RVP~1875 partners with English tool maker

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND – Premier English tool maker Robert Sorby announced April 18 it is partnering with Iowa-based woodworking museum and furniture workshop RVP~1875.

The aim is to promote the use of traditional hand tool techniques to student furniture and cabinet makers across Iowa and the USA.

Robert SorbyRobert Sorby will sponsor the museum and workshop by providing a range of tools for students’ work benches.

Robert Sorby has been manufacturing quality hand tools since 1828 and has a heritage dating back more than 200 years to the first master cutlers in England’s Steel City – Sheffield.

RVP~1875So it seemed like the perfect match to blend modern handcrafted chisels – manufactured using traditional techniques – with students learning hand tool carpentry skills that are as important today as they’ve ever been, said RVP~1875’s owner and master furniture maker, Robby Pedersen.

“I have been using Robert Sorby chisels for the past 20 years and have been thrilled with the results. In fact, practically every piece of furniture I have made has been produced with a little help from a Sorby chisel,” Pedersen said.

Robby Pedersen, RVP~1875
Robby Pedersen, RVP~1875

For the past 25 years it has been Pedersen’s passion to create furniture using only hand-held tools. His devotion led him to passing on his skills to an increasing number of students wanting to learn traditional woodworking techniques, through the many courses and apprenticeships provided at the century-old Milligan Lumber Grain and Coal building in Jefferson, Iowa.

According to many woodworking commentators, there’s been a resurgence in the use of hand tools as hobbyist woodworkers and DIYers rediscover the tried and tested techniques of the masters of old.

“You have to use hand tools to build period correct pieces of furniture,” Pedersen explained. “Tool marks and the overall look changes when you machine the wood. Hand saws and chisels force you to learn a lot more about the material and the connection becomes truly special between builder and product when every inch has gone through your hands. We use locking wooden joinery to build the world’s strongest furniture. For us, to be the best, I need what I believe to be the best chisels, Robert Sorby.”

Robert Sorby’s managing director Phil Proctor said: “We’re delighted to be helping Robby and his students by equipping the shop with our tools. There’s an historical affinity with our two organizations which makes this an exciting partnership. Hand tool skills are an important part of woodworking and as a company we’re wholeheartedly behind ensuring these skills are nurtured and passed on to future woodworkers.”

Pedersen’s shop displays one of the largest working sets of 19th Century woodworking tools in the U.S.A.  The shop features an 1860s foot-powered lathe and an 1870s hand-crank ripsaw (the shop’s only ‘power’ tools), and more than 500 different hand planes.

The showroom also displays more than 100 pieces of Pedersen’s prototype, historically built furniture, each with a story of historical significance.

RVP~1875 also regularly takes the show on the road: “We regularly pack up our most mobile work bench, which is a pre-American Civil War (1861-1865), to demonstrate and share the trade of furniture making with groups all over the central United States,” added Pedersen’s wife Angie.

RVP~1875 is the world’s leading historical furniture shop and museum specializing in making historically accurate furniture using the same skills employed by woodworkers in the 19th century.

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