Frankly, The Folksy Magazine


Matt Cox, My Essential Kit

by Emily. Average Reading Time: about 3 minutes.

Matthew Cox theothers

Matthew makes stunning musical instruments using an essential tool kit to be proud of!

Like many others on Folksy I have not got the budget to go and buy what people might consider the proper equipment, so I have had to improvise on certain things. Some of the things I use I don’t feel I will ever replace, even if I could afford to get the real deal.

1: DIY Steam Bender

A shop bought one of these will set you back a fair few hundred pounds. This one is made from a wallpaper stripper and a piece of thick drainage pipe. I rest the pieces of wood I want to steam on some scraps of wood inside, to keep them out of the condensation. It will soften 4mm hardwood in 10 minutes, enough to bend it into any shape you like.

2: DIY Bending Iron

This is another expensive item to buy so I ended up making this. Its basically a baked bean can with holes in, on the end of a blow torch. This is great for bending small bits of wood. You just need to get them slightly damp so it doesn’t burn.

3: Scroll Saw

This is my favorite of my larger tools. It will cut the most intricate shapes out of metal, wood and plastics. It is well worth getting a scroll saw if you need to cut fiddley things out. It makes my Woodypop artwork possible! This one I got brand new and unopened from the free-ads for £30. There are lots of good things there so its worth keeping an eye on.

4: Planes

Planes are wonderful things but only if you can keep them sharp! These are 2 of my best ones. The smaller is a Stanley from the 70s, I bought it in its original unopened box for £10, the second is a Spinney from the 50s that a got for £1! They both came from carboot sales, they only needed a few minutes sharpening and they were ready. A modern plane of the same quality will cost you well over £50

5: Sander paper cleaner rubbery thing

I have no idea what this is made of but it came free with one of my tools as a promotion. Its a block of really hard possibly rubber, that you rub against used sandpaper or sanding disks on your machines. It magically removes all the debris and you are left with almost brand new sandpaper!

6: Pegs

I needed a lot of clamps so came up with these. Clothes pegs with rubber bands on to give a bit more strength. They are really strong little clamps now.

7: Decent carving knives

This is one thing that it really pays to have a decent set. A nice set of carving knives are a must have for anyone that works with wood.

8: Digital Caliper

This is one of the best time saving devices I have ever got. It is accurate to .1mm and it makes measuring and marking things out so much quicker.

9: Car products

Products that are aimed at wood workers or musical instrument makers have a massive premium attached to them. I have found that I get just as good or ever better results using automotive products and they cost a fraction of the price. “rubbing compound” and “scratch remover” are my favorites. Using the rubbing compound followed by the scratch remover will give your finish a mirror shine (like a car!)

10: Fret Saw

This is a saw I use for cutting fret slots in the necks of instruments. It is hand made by Crown in Sheffield. It has an adjustable depth guard so you can be really accurate with your cuts.

You can see Matt’s wonderful instruments here. He also makes great wooden portraits under the name WoodyPop.

3 comments on ‘Matt Cox, My Essential Kit’

  1. Annette White says:

    Excellent. Ingenuity and resourcefulness at its best.

  2. Helen Howlett says:

    Artisan craftsmen always used to make their own tools. You have great skill and great results. I love my stick dulcimer.

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