Tool News and Updates from Bridge City Tool Works

"I never run with scissors. Those last two words were unnecessary."— Unknown

Drivel Starved Nation-

John here, your favorite tool Potentate with a little news and some updates.

If you were not aware, we are about ready to enter our 33rd year.  This fact explains the letter I received yesterday for “Discount Crematory Services”…  If I am truly too stupid to quit Bridge City Tool Works, what makes me smart enough to croak in time for their big sale — what were these people thinking?
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Making Chopsticks the Bridge City Way… September 9th is the Day!

"Creativity isn’t about wild talent as much as it’s about productivity. To find new ideas that work, you need to try a lot that don’t. It’s a pure numbers game." — Robert Sutton

Drivel Starved Nation;

Sunday I leave for China, my third visit in the last six months.  I must say, the experiences and friendships I have accumulated are lasting and incredibly rewarding.  This may be the most fun six months of my BCTW business life. To think it took 32 years to have this much fun doesn’t say much for me does it? Oh well. Continue reading

The Chopstick Master from Bridge City; Production Prototype Images

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” — George Bernard Shaw

Dear Drivel Starved Nation;

The first production prototype came in last Thursday and I thought I would share with you a sneak peek. As mentioned, this item will be made completely in China and I think you will be thrilled with the quality.

Before we move on to the pictures, I want to thank all who commented on the logo – all my teachers in my life and my deceased parents would be pleased to learn that I do indeed listen.

Here is the new copyrighted logo for the box and the Chopstick Master; Continue reading

Making Chopsticks in Taipei with the New Chopstick Master™ from Bridge City Tool Works

"When 99% of people doubt your idea, you're either gravely wrong or about to make history."— Scott Belsky

Dear Drivel Starved Nation-

Several weeks ago, over the Forth of July holiday, I traveled to Taipei to unveil the second generation of the Chopstick Master™.  If you have never been to Taipei in July, it is hot. So hot in fact, on my cab ride to the exhibition hall I saw two trees fighting over a dog…

The second generation of the CSM saw the addition of a small sliding table and saw blade for making the pyramidal finial — think mini-Jointmaker Pro without any bells or whistles.  Everything went without a hitch, and we made a lot of chopsticks as you will soon see.

Pictured below is version 3 and it is in production.

CSm v3 on Butcher Counter Clear Guard 700 jpeg  - Chopsticks

Close-up of the Cutoff Sled

CSm v3 on Butcher Counter Clear Guard Close up 700  - Chopsticks

A happy chopstick maker!

Happy Camper 700 - Chopsticks

The chopstick making reception in Taipei was identical to what I shared from my Shanghai trip. In addition, we have now hosted five dinner parties this summer where our guests had to make chopsticks or they went home hungry. Interestingly, the joyful, enthusiastic reaction of our guests was identical to what I witnessed in Shanghai and Taipei. The similarities are so strikingly similar I think I have a better understanding of what is going on with the Chopstick Master™ and it may not only be about chopsticks…

Yes, there is instant gratification. Yes, it is really fun. Yes, the end result can be immediately put to work. And, it is really cool to end up with a finished product that is both flawless and professional, particularly if one has zero woodworking skills which is the vast majority of folks who have used the CSM so far.

Simply, I think it is all about “making”, and how starved many are to validate their own existence.”Making” awakens our spirit. Speaking from personal experience, “making” is a celebration of life itself — the feeling of being alive. Whenever I finished a piece of furniture I would sit in communion with this thing I made and bask in the warm feeling of being alive.  And then after about a half-hour, sometimes less, I began listening to the voice asking me “what the hell was I thinking?” But that is another story.

“I made this!” is a proud, powerful phrase and more often that not, I suspect a source of envy from non-makers. The Chopstick Master™ allows anybody to enter the realm of “I made this!” and it feels so damn good you can’t help but smile.

Here’s the Taipei video, and I think you will agree, we had a lot of fun. And the lady at the end… oh my, what a literal and metaphoric statement she spontaneously made…

I observed one lady in Taipei put her chopsticks in the little canvas sleeve and she held them to her heart and then began to slowly jump up and down with joy.  She was so excited I thought she was going to wet her pants, or knock herself out with her purse flopping all over the place.  She had a 5-star dentist smile for all to see.

On this trip I observed many couples who made chopsticks and as they walked away, holding their “his” and “her” versions (we have canvas sleeves for males and females), you could feel the affection they had for each other — a new bond from making.

Thanks for checking out the video, this was a damn cool trip!


  • Chris Schwarz, from Lost Art Press graciously hosted a chopstick making party this weekend and you can read about that here.
  • Yesterday an intrepid DSN member sent me a link from a woodworker in Japan who made a jig to make a 4 sided chopstick. It is a cool video, and aspects of it are remarkably similar to the path I chose for the CSM (which makes sense when you logically think about tapering a stick). This jig, properly scaled, could be used for tapering table legs and other four sided pieces where a sandpaper free, repeatable taper is desired.
  • After the Shanghai video was posted, my mother-in-law sent me a fascinating book all about chopsticks. You can check out 6,000 years of chopsticks here.
  • As mentioned in a previous post, the Chopstick Master™ is being made in China, primarily for the Chinese market but we are going to sell them in the USA and everywhere else.  The pre-order window will open in a couple of weeks and we will have all units delivered prior to the holidays. Full details, including the price will be announced at that time. I recommend ordering early, the first production run is underway and is a fixed number.
  • When you get a chance, Google “weight loss with chopsticks”.  Draw your own conclusions, but it is fascinating.
  • If you have a friend, family member or neighbor who might find the CSM fun, direct them over to  to get their name on the notification list.
  • The CSM you see in the video above is version 2. You do not need a vise for the CSM but at trade shows the vise is a handy inventory control tool. Version 3, (which is in production) looks really similar but has been tweaked — no more changes are required.
  • Yes, the CSM will make both Chinese style chopsticks (5mm tip) and Japanese style (2mm tip).
  • Yes, customers will be able to order extra chopstick blanks and sleeves (10 sets at a time) and in different woods.
  • No, I don’t know the woods yet.
  • The Chopstick Master™ comes with enough blanks and sleeves to make 10 pair of chopsticks.

Lastly, I will be headed back to Shanghai in September for the world’s first “Chopstick Olympics”. This should be a hoot as I have never been associated with a tool that is this much fun!

Thanks for taking the time to read this drivel!


The Chopstick Master version 2… V3 is in Production!

Drivel Starved Nation,

I just returned from a trade show in Taipei demonstrating version two of the Chopstick Master.

All I can say is “WOW”.  Just like in Shanghai, the people making chopsticks were about as happy as happy can be. I really feel damn lucky that this idea has been so well received, again. It was 4 days of pure joy – you can view the Shanghai video here. The Taipei video will be done in a couple of weeks and you will be able to see for yourself how much fun I had.  The image below is of Team Chopstick Taipei, the tall freak in the back is your favorite Tool Potentate. The “Chopstick Girls” are in the front row and they truly are Chopstick Masters after this exhibition! Continue reading