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MsDebbieP's Company Tours #9: Microplane

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Blog entry by MsDebbieP posted 09-12-2007 12:37 PM 1308 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: Canadian Woodworking Magazine - Part II Part 9 of MsDebbieP's Company Tours series Part 10: Wood Shows »

This week, I had the privilege of speaking with Katie Surratt, the Marketting and Public Relations Associate at Microplane.

_

Microplane is perhaps best known for their rasps, but there is so much more to this company.

The History
The company first began its journey making parts for dot-matrix printers. As the need for these parts began to disappear the company knew that they had to start building something else.

The parts, which they had been making for the printers, were extremely sharp and so the brainstorming focused on this quality. In 1990 the Microplane rasp was born.

In 1994, the journey took a little twist, as Mrs. Lee (of Lee Valley Tools see previous interview) was looking for something to grate some orange peel and picked up the Microplane rasp that he been brought home from the store. The rasp worked so well that it was relabeled in the Lee Valley catalogue as a kitchen gadget – the Microplane Grater.

Along with this surprise use, the company received many letters telling them of how their tools were being used in the kitchen, and a new division was born. Microplane was now known for its woodworking tools as well as housewares.

The feedback continued to come in, telling of different ways the tools were being used. Two years ago, based on feedback from customers, Microplane expanded into personal care – after hearing that the kitchen tools were being used as foot care files!

And so now, the Microplane company (which has locations in USA, Canada, and Europe) has three divisions: woodworking, housewares, and personal care.

The Future
The vision for the future of the company includes continued searching for new and innovative products using their patented process that will help make people’s lives easier.

The Tools
What makes the products unique is the patented process of creating the rasps (etc.) using a chemical etching process rather than the typical stamping method.

The chemical etching creates a sharp edge that lasts longer, stays sharp longer, and is actually sharpened while being used on soft surfaces such as wood.

When asked what her favourite tool was, Ms Surratt named the stainless steel sanding disk. She says that there is nothing like it on the market and that it cuts faster and lasts longer than regular sanding disks.

Also, Ms. Surratt likes the disks because of their “green” benefits. Regular sandpaper creates a very fine dust (make up of sawdust and glues), which is very unhealthy to breathe in. Using the stainless steel sanding disks creates larger wood particles (and no contaminates) that basically fall to the ground rather than float around in the air. An added bonus is that the wood particles, mixed with glue, make good wood filler!

The sand disks, which come in coarse (40 grit), medium (80 grit), and fine (120 grit), removes wood five times faster than regular sandpaper, according to information on the website. Ms. Surratt also points out that the disks are intended to speed up the sanding process but not to create a finish-ready surface.
Other Resources

One of the hand tools that Ms. Surratt wanted to make note of is the Snap-in Rasp. The rasp has six different blades that can be attached and that can be flipped to do push or pull strokes.

The Snap-in Rasp cuts instead of tears, which means less sanding to do after. It can be used on end grain, cross grain – it doesn’t matter.

For more information on their products, visit their website at http://microplane.com/

Thank You
I’d like to thank Ms. Surratt for taking the time to chat with me. It was very interesting to hear how the journey of the company has transformed since its beginnings as well as the information on their products and the etching process.

- MsDebbieP_

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)



15 comments so far

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4438 posts in 2684 days


#1 posted 09-12-2007 01:26 PM

interesting.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2882 days


#2 posted 09-12-2007 01:48 PM

very interesting. Besides the tools themselves, I thought that the development of the company into what it is today provides a lot of “food for thought” for woodworkers considering entering the professional world.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View mot's profile

mot

4911 posts in 2758 days


#3 posted 09-12-2007 03:45 PM

Interesting about the sand paper. Thanks Debbie.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Mark Mazzo's profile

Mark Mazzo

352 posts in 2634 days


#4 posted 09-12-2007 03:59 PM

Debbie,

Very interesting read about Microplane. The evolution of the company is new to me. It’s great to see American companies re-invent themselves like this.

-- Mark, Webster New York, Visit my website at http://thecraftsmanspath.com

View Bill's profile

Bill

2579 posts in 2883 days


#5 posted 09-12-2007 05:49 PM

Bravo Debbie. Another well done story.

-- Bill, Turlock California, http://www.brookswoodworks.com

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1804 posts in 2808 days


#6 posted 09-12-2007 06:55 PM

Good job Deb. Good timing too. I’ve seen these and been interested in getting some of both the rasps and the drums. I do wish they made some smaller drums though. I’m going to get a set to help me work on the organic curves of my paddle. I plan on setting it up on a flexible neck for more control.

-- Bob, Carver Massachusetts, Sawdust Maker http://www.capecodbaychallenge.org

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2882 days


#7 posted 09-12-2007 07:36 PM

well, Bob… this company sure seems to listen to its customers!! If you need a smaller drum, I’m sure they will listen…

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View RobH's profile

RobH

465 posts in 2771 days


#8 posted 09-12-2007 10:51 PM

Debbie,

If I am not mistaken, their stuff is also used by doctors during surgery. Try looking at www.microplanesurgery.com. It’ll creep you out that they would use some of this stuff on the body. I think it mostly used for orthopaedic surgery.

Just thought you might like to know.

Rob

-- -- Rob Hix, King George, VA

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1804 posts in 2808 days


#9 posted 09-12-2007 11:30 PM

If you’ve ever watched them install an artificial knee it looks an awful lot like woodworking….yowch! Hammers, drills,...thankfully no tablesaws.

-- Bob, Carver Massachusetts, Sawdust Maker http://www.capecodbaychallenge.org

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2882 days


#10 posted 09-13-2007 01:18 AM

they didn’t mention it, Rob… but I’m sure they will be checking in to read the comments. So we’ll find out!! Now, I do know that Lee Valley tools is involved in the surgical tools.

Bob, when my Mom had her hips replaced it was really cool (and freaky) to hear about what they had to do…. I told her that she should ask for the old bone, to make it into a lamp or something… haha.
we had lots of fun imitating the sounds of the sawing and drilling, in preparing her for the surgeries… (she was a good sport).

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View RobS's profile

RobS

1334 posts in 3028 days


#11 posted 09-13-2007 03:38 AM

Ms Debbie, Great post! Thanks for doing that. They didn’t happen to mention that they would want to buy my idea?

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6686 posts in 2701 days


#12 posted 09-13-2007 05:56 AM

Great Article Ms. Debbie.

Amazing revival of a company, no?

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2882 days


#13 posted 09-13-2007 11:24 AM

Rob, I’m sure they’ll have a look at it :)

Lee—it’s fascinating. Great brainstorming: hey, looks like our company is a thing of the past.. what do we do now?? Ah…well, we’re good at this …. let’s make it do this instead!!

There are some struggling farmers up here that could use a little of that thinking!!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View Karson's profile

Karson

34902 posts in 3122 days


#14 posted 10-04-2007 03:32 PM

Great tour Debbie. I missed this one earlier and the LJ magazine brought it to life.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2882 days


#15 posted 10-04-2007 06:08 PM

yes. .. I am intrigued by their products! I haven’t order anything yet but it’s on my list!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

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