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