Lee Valley’s Latest Gag Tool
Yesterday, Lee Valley added to the proud pantheon of tools that includes the board stretcher and the left-handed screwdriver, all of which have duped many a jobsite newbie. The Ottawa-based company revealed its pocket dovetailer, which is the eighth installment of Lee Valley’s April Fool’s tool. It started with a low-angle jack plane with a 1€³-thick blade and progressed to include such impractical tools as the full-round spoke shave, the variable gang saw and story tape (the only gag tool you can buy from the company). At Lee Valley, making a gag tool is quite the art.
“You can’t just slap a laser on a chisel and call it your April Fool’s Day joke,” says president Robin Lee. “People will look at that and say, ‘Well, that just silly.’ The goal is to come up with something that really makes people wonder.”
In fact, a Lee Valley gag tool mush meet the following criteria: the tool must be somewhat credible; Lee Valley must actually make the tool; and it must work.
“We could have patented the gang dovetail saw because it actually works the way we say it does,” Lee says. It’s just a phenomenal piece of engineering. Rotating its knobs actually tilts and straightens the blades. It’s just completely impractical.”
When I spoke with Lee in mid-February, he wouldn’t reveal much about the 2011 gag except that his team had been working on it since December 3. At the time, the pocket dovetailer was done, a few weeks ahead of schedule. During March, the folks at Lee Valley photographed the gag instrument and worked on its writeup for the website. Below are some photos that show the birth of a fake tool.