Frequently Asked Questions
What materials are used in these tools?
High quality, polished stainless steel and bent red oak handles.
How is the handle made? How do you bend the wood?
First, the raw wood is kiln dried to reduce its moisture content. Next, the wood is worked into a round shape on a lathe. To create the DY shape, the wood is first split down the middle about 8” inches into the handle. This split portion is then boiled in a solution to soften the wood. When malleable enough, the split end of the handle is forced into the mold. While still in the mold, the wood is kiln dried again to lock in the signature shape. After the shaping is complete, the handle is finished and the blade attached. This intricate process takes about 27 days for each tool.
Is this a new product? Why haven’t I seen it before?
The oak D-handle is 15 years olds and there have been over 9 million of them produced to date. The stainless steel blade has a similar track record and has been distributed in large quantities throughout Europe for almost a decade. One of the most unique aspects of these tools is that they already have such an impeccable reputation for quality but are relatively new to the U.S. market.
These tools seem almost too pretty. I’m afraid to put them in the dirt! Are they really meant for gardening or should I just hang them up on the wall for display?
The materials selected for these tools were chosen first-and-foremost for their ruggedness and durability. The primary goal has always been to create a tool that would provide a gardener with a lifetime of service.
We chose the oak because of its density and strength and because it becomes even sturdier as it ages. While almost any wood can be dressed up to look pretty, not many can offer the strength and longevity of red oak.
We constructed the blades from stainless steel for three reasons. The first is the act that the material has an astonishing weight to strength ratio. There are many carbon steel tools that have similar strength characteristics but are significantly heavier than stainless steel. Our tools are meant for gardeners, not 250-pound construction workers. A good strength to weight ratio is extremely important in creating a tool that is efficient and enjoyable to use.
Stainless steel also proves to be very durable under extreme conditions. It is the material that is used in the critical parts of multi-million dollar yachts. Even when under constant stress and exposure to the open sea air, stainless steel holds up. We needed something that could withstand soil contact, digging and prying. Stainless steel was the only viable option.
Finally, because stainless steel will not rust and because the blades are polished so well, the tool slips easily into and out of the soil and residue resists sticking to the blade. This tends to make the gardening experience much more efficient and less draining. After these raw implements of strength and durability are already in place, it is the craftsmanship that adds the beauty.
Why shouldn’t I just buy a Home Depot tool? They certainly are a lot cheaper.
While there are many reasons to choose a Brook & Hunter tool over one purchased at a large retail chain, we will focus on the three primary ones.
- Technical: Oak exceeds ash and hickory in strength by far, and when compared to fiberglass, oak is much more pleasing to the touch and will not splinter. As for the blades, solid stainless steel is much stronger than the bent metal tools. Bent metal tools are not even welded onto the handle, only bent over it. Any gardener that has used such tools for a moderate amount of time will understand that ash can splinter and bent metal blades can bend or break. With Brook & Hunter tools, this does not happen, but if it does, we will replace it, quickly and without hassle.
- Practical: Even when wearing gloves, a gardener can still suffer a great amount of hand irritation if they a forced to work with the rough, grainy surface of an old ash handle. Furthermore, should their blade be worn and rusty, they will have to contend with the difficulties of even penetrating the soil in the first place, not too mention all the extra work of shaking off residue that sticks to the blade. These things do not happen to Brook & Hunter tools. Their oak handles will remain soft and smooth and the stainless steel blades will glide easily in and out of the soil with every shovelful of dirt.
- Financial: These tools were constructed so that they would last an extremely long time. Should they break, we will replace them. With all the extra labor and replacement costs that go into buying a bent metal shovel or other low quality tool, a gardener cannot afford to make the wrong decision.
Where are the tools made?
There are two types of answers to this question, depending on one’s perspective.
- China. For many people, this is all they need to hear before they turn around and loose interest. It allows anyone with a bias towards Chinese culture, politics or some other unrelated topic to have their feelings about the garden tools influenced by irrelevant variables. “China” is the simplest answer but it is not necessarily the correct one. People should know the entire story.
- A small village in South Central China with a population of around 800 people. Our factory provides employment to approximately 300 of these 800 residents and for almost 16 years has been their primary source of income. But more than that, the people of the village are connected with these tools. It is a livelihood. Their skill at their craft is something to be admired and their sheer patience and attention to detail is remarkable. We pay our workers double what they would receive in the city working at a factory, and in return, they remain committed to the product and to the company.
Yes, the tools are made in China, but there is no way that they could be made to the standard they are and still be affordable for U.S. and European markets had they been produced anywhere else. We pay our people well, but it is ultimately the inexpensive manufacturing costs of China that allow us to produce a quality product at an affordable price.
Where does the oak come from?
It comes from seven different sources in southern China. All our handles start from rough sawn material that comes directly from the lumber mill.
Is there a warranty?
Yes. For Residential Use our policy is “if you break it, we replace it.
” This offer does not extend to commercial landscapers whose ideals of worthiness are often measured against the amount of tools they able to break. Also, please let your stores know that if this policy is abused by one of their customers, they have the right to revoke the warranty. The preferred method for returns is for the store to replace the customer’s damaged tool with one from the shelves. The store can then send the damaged tool back to Brook & Hunter, but the replacement tool will be sent out as soon as the request is received and is not dependent on receiving the damaged tool first.
Do you carry spare handles?
No. That fact that a vendor would even sell spare handles is a specific indication that they EXPECT the handle to break and they intend to profit from it. The reason we use Oak handles is to seriously reduce the chance that the tool will even break in the first place. Because of this, rather than selling you a replacement handle, we will give you a new tool instead.