Chopstick Master from Bridge City Wins Major Award in China…

Drivel Starved Nation-

I created this blog as a space where I can act like an idiot, insult our customers, shamelessly plug new product ideas, embarrass my grown children, create mayhem for the staff here, and occasionally share information that is actually interesting. That said, I sadly announce that we have some good news to share.

For product designers and manufacturers, the “Academy Award” equivalent in our industry is the internationally coveted “Red Dot” design award issued annually by the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen in Essen, Germany.  It is a big deal. This is a two dimensional trophy;


This year, the Red Dot organizers created a new award exclusively for the nation of China which recognizes the cultural needs and tastes of that enormous country. It is called the “China Good Design” award and comes with a new, and equally prestigious “Red Dot” emblem.


I am pleased to share with you that on October 15th, the Chopstick Master was one of winners of the coveted “China Good Design” awards. Out of a thousand or so entries, there were approximately a dozen winners.

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The presenter is Mr. Gordon Bruce, a well known and respected design guru in the international design community.  Here he is making chopsticks, and just like everybody else who has used this tool, the smile is just the best part,

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And although I think this is all really cool, I am absolutely thrilled for my counterparts in China who I affectionately refer to as “Team Harvey”;

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They have been working their butts off for the past six-months ramping up production, and as you can see, they are a fun-loving, hardworking bunch of great people.

Several weeks ago, the Chopstick Master was presented to Mr. Yang Jin Yong for review. As I am told, Mr. Yang is the most famous woodworker in China. In addition to being a professor, he is a master furniture maker specializing in the furniture from the Ming Dynasty. He is considered a national treasure. (Don’t quote me on any of these facts, I am sharing what I was told — I am the patsy here.)

The Chinese video below was translated in China for the DSN, so it reads a little choppy. However, he did comment (paraphrased), “The Chopstick Master is a great invention. It enables non-woodworkers to match the craftsmanship of the masters, it makes the work extremely simple, smart, and enjoyable. It is absolutely fantastic!”  You can see both he and his wife making chopsticks, as well as his furniture work in the video below;

I hope to meet Mr. Yang on my next trip to China next year. That will be really cool!

During my last visit to the factory, we shot some commercials that will air during the Chinese New Year next year. Here is a still from one of the videos — take 18 or 19, maybe more. The laughter was caused by me trying to speak Chinese…


OK, that is all the good news I can stomach. I am more used to bad news and I have some. The Chopstick Masters will land in Seattle on December 12th. By the time they clear customs, they will arrive at our warehouse around December 15th which means that we will miss the holiday window. Interestingly, we tried to air freight these (fully willing to eat the added expense) but the little bottle of food grade chopstick oil became a huge negative for air transport. Don’t ask me why, I am the patsy here. Again.

They should arrive between Christmas and the second week of January if there are no further surprises.

Lastly, we were able to obtain about 80 extra units, so if you want to add this fun device to your home, this is the number; 800-253-3332. You can speak with Consuelo before she disappears for a couple of months, something about a new baby.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody – we have lots to be thankful for!

– Your Favorite Tool Potentate and Patsy


23 comments on this post:

  1. Wonderful news! Congratulations to Consuelo! Fingers crossed for her.

    Oh – and great work on the Chopstick Master, too. You must be delighting in the irony of your Chopstick Master winning a design award. Not your Foxtail plane. Not the gorgeous Flushing Chisel. Not the voluptuous MG-3 marking gauge. Not the innovative JMP. Nope. It’s a jig to make chopsticks. Who knew?!?

    Any chance you want a small Canadian to help you on your next trip to China? You must meet such interesting people!

    Congratulations again.

    — Peter

  2. Congratulations on the award and the success of the chopstick maker- the bad luck you’ve been having for the last thirty some years had to turn around at some point, you know, Ying and Yang!

    I guess I’ll just have to skip the sushi dinner I had planned for Christmas and have ham, or maybe pizza…again.

    So, “Team Harvey,” what do they do, are they a retail woodworking dealer, a manufacturer or something else?

  3. my wife used to work for a german specialty marketing company and it tried many times and failed to obtain a reddot designation/award. congratulations! sounds like consuelo was impressed by little william’s ability to get out of the house early and earn a living. too bad we don’t have tougher child labor laws. congrats to consuelo as well. while the cat’s away….. don’t bother closing the barn door now that you are back from china.

  4. Peter,

    You can only win one of these awards if you apply. As a tightly focused niche business, the expense (in my opinion) doesn’t warrant the potential reward. This product has a market potential where an award like this may help marketing-wise. We’ll see.

  5. Congrats on the award, John. Well deserved. Looking forward to award winning chopsticks in the new year!


  6. It’s an interesting thing to me, how Asian folks interface with us here in America. I’ve got a few friends who have adopted “English” first names. I’ve seen companies do the same. And of course there are all the CSRs and telemarketers.

    I always wonder about why one name or the other is picked. I asked my friend “Justin” who is Korean (and went to U of Oregon) how he picked that name and he said he liked it.

  7. You are welcome.

    I think it is brilliant for Asian cultures to have English sounding business names, both the business and the people. Speaking only for myself, there is no way I could remember a name that I cannot pronounce.


  8. Plenty of them don’t do it and you almost certainly manage them fine: just in the car space, there’s Toyota, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Kia, Honda, Mazda, and Nissan (Formerly Datsun in the US and now part of Renault).

    Sometimes I feel funny how many foreigners and immigrants speak English better than Americans, while there are few other than immigrants or first-gen Americans who can speak another language. I get that English has become the international language of commerce, but it’s another way we’re just plain lucky.

  9. lucky maybe, but don’t forget tom lehrer’s lyrics:

    You too may be a big hero
    Once you’ve learned to count backwards to zero
    “In German oder English I know how to count down
    Und I’m learning Chinese,” says Wernher von Braun

  10. My Chopstick Master arrived yesterday and I quickly made two sets; one of each size. This was so much fun and so easy to use! Brilliant design, John! It really is an all-in-one solution. Now, I just need to find some decent sushi in Western Kansas…..

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