A new range of traditional, hand-forged garden tools has been developed by John Miller to recreate old-fashioned designs
John Miller has gardening in his blood. His father was a market gardener in Jersey in the 1950s, and when John started gardening himself, he inherited three of his father's tools: a spade, a fork and a hoe. The tools moved from house to house with him over the years; they were neglected, left outside, never cleaned - but still they soldiered on. When, eventually, the handle of the spade broke, John looked everywhere for a replacement. 'I could find nothing like them in the market,' says John. 'So I decided that I would try and replicate them.'
He searched high and low for someone who would manufacture them, even exploring options in India, as that is where many of the tools in the UK are made nowadays. 'Everything seemed geared to the lowest common denominator and the lowest price,' he says. 'Most tools are made with stainless steel now, but it isn't as strong as the traditional high carbon steel used in the past.'
Eventually he discovered Carters, a company established in 1740, still making high quality hand tools in the traditional way, and started working with the company to revive these old-fashioned work-horse tools. 'Carters helped me bring back garden tools that feel good to hold and good to work with. They are tools that you put away at night like chickens; they aren't outsourced or cut to the bare minimum to save money. They are proper garden tools made in England where the Industrial revolution started.'
The tools are made in Carter's factory in West Yorkshire from solid high carbon steel and American ash. High carbon steel is much stronger than stainless steel, which cheaper garden tools are often made of nowadays, and the the traditional forging process produces tool heads of exceptional strength. The strapped handle, with a metal socket, evenly distributes the stress points, so that under load, the handle can flex slightly. High quality kiln-dried American Ash is used for the tool handles, which has an attractive grain. Finished with a beeswax polish, the tools are ready to go to their new homes.
To buy the range of tools, click here.