The Chopstick Olympics and Other Cool News…

Drivel Starved Nation!

I am back from my third trip to Asia in the last six months and this was the best trip yet  — I have lots of news to share.

I stopped by the factory producing the Chopstick Master and watched as the very first units were being boxed. This was so cool to see. Production right now is constrained to 1,000 units per month, but will dramatically increase at the first of the year.  Here’s a pic;

First Units

As you can see, the boxes turned out terrific. I have never been involved with a project of this scale so I am learning lots of cool things, and I will share some of them in a later post.

The furniture trade show I attended in Shanghai had 500,000 visitors in five days. It was enormous.  Just like my previous two trips, we made lots of chopsticks. Here’s a pic of one of my favorite makers (she had a little help from her parents who both made sets);

Young lady and chopsticks 700

As mentioned, we held the very first “Chopstick Olympics” and it was a blast. Four finalists were timed with a running commentary by our MC. It was all in Chinese so I don’t know what was so funny, but everybody had a great time. Here’s the winner:

2015 Chopstick Olymipics Winner

The whole week was crazy fun. After I returned, we shot this little how-to video so you can see exactly how the Chopstick Master works. We are building a video studio in our skunk lab but the backdrops are not done. I hope you enjoy the cinder blocks as much as I do…

 

When I landed back in Portland, I got a ride home from Portland’s newest Uber driver who goes by “Little William”.  I thought he was a bit young at 8 months, however I was impressed with his right turns…  no need for the steering wheel!

Portlands Newest Uber Driver
Thanks for reading this totally awesome and worthless blog!

-John

14 comments on this post:

  1. Congratulations John!
    The story of the Chopstick Master is truly remarkable and an inspiration!
    I hope it is a smash hit!
    It’s amazing to think that BCT, the company (in)famous for small small-batch single-run high-end tools, just could be the firm that delivers hand tool woodworking to the masses!

  2. Thanks for the kind words! The irony of this project is hard to ignore for BCTW customers – and me. Regardless of the economics, this project is the biggest success of my professional life, and I think it is bigger than my recent retrospective exhibitions. To see so many people enjoy themselves is really priceless.

  3. Congratulations on such a huge product! It’s so ironic in so many ways: that a chopstick maker would be the most popular woodworking tool you’ve ever designed, and that the biggest market is in China. Who knew the Chinese would want to make their own chopsticks? Brilliant. You’ve clearly tapped into something deep and visceral.

    Your video is wonderful. Of all the videos you’ve done, in this one you seem to have a joy in your voice and presentation that I haven’t noticed in the others. On the other hand, this is the only tool you’ve designed that makes a finished product in one go. All the others just provide intermediate steps to getting a finished product.

    So now, if you could design the “Cabinet Master” – a simple jig for making a multi-drawer cabinet – just think of the possibilities!

    Congratulations again. And I LOVE your little Uber driver. I hope you gave him a good rating!

  4. john, 500,000 at the shanghai show and 1,000 sets per month at the constrained rate means 500 months to satisfy only those at the show. glad i preordered. this looks to be your best annuity project ever. don’t retire, looking forward to the cabriolet leg with claw foot master to go with the other suggestions.

  5. Dave-

    By this time next year, the CSM could be the best selling tool in our 33 year history. We will see…

    – John

  6. John,

    What tool is the current record holder for most sold and how many? I’m guessing Kerfmaker?

    Never ridden with Uber, but I know some cabbies aren’t too happy with them. Looks like little William is keeping his driving down low to avoid any trouble!

    Good video, it appears you are most excited about the finial? I would concur, it is just so cool putting that detail on perfectly- maybe the JMP was an elaborate endeavor that had to occur to come up with the simple cut used on the chopsticks- funny how the world works.

    Can’t wait to see mine,
    Rutager

  7. John,

    There are several comments in jest about jigs to make very complicated furniture projects, but I could see that an up sized(extremely)and modified version of this using the CT-18 could make octagonal bed posts- perfectly!

  8. Rutager,

    The TS-2, we have sold well into the six figure qty. over the years.

    Kerfmaker might be second, I really don’t track this stuff.

    The CSM over the next 24 months is going to be fun to watch.

    -John

  9. Rutager,

    I am clueless as to the status of Quality is Contagious. I do know it is nowhere right now.

    John

  10. John: Congratulations! I hope it makes you a wealthy chopstick potentate.

    Hopefully the Southeast Asian chopstick jig market doesn’t take you completely away from the North American woodworking tool market. We’d miss you.

    BTW, I’m finally traveling a bit farther afield than woodworking shows and short trips around the mid-Atlantic, spending a week plus in London museuming and looking at architectural details. *Now* I understand why you like traveling.

    Dave

  11. Dave-

    Have fun in London!

    As cool as the Chopstick Master is business wise, it is driving me crazy. I have been working on the CT-19 since Feb, and have been completely blindsided by the time commitment of the CSM. Haven’t worked on anything for months on end. That said, I have never worked on a project more fun, so I really can’t complain.

    By the way, why don’t you post a pic of you wearing one of those barrister wigs…

    John

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