Hand Tools Reinvented
As a boy growing up in Havana, Abiel Rios Wong hungered to use his father’s woodworking tools. But they were kept in a locked case, and Abiel was never permitted to use them. In Cuba he attended a school for machinists and took classes in art, pyrography and leatherworking. After emigrating to the U.S. in his 20s, Rios Wong signed on as a longshoreman and in his spare time began making tools and selling them on Ebay and at shows. At first he turned mallets for carvers and made leather pouches for carving gouges and chisels. Soon he was buying old woodworking tools-hand planes, braces-and using his machinist skills to modify them with snazzy brass or cocobolo handles and fittings. Most recently, he’s been building tools from scratch, creating a new breed of tool that blends function with a sumptuous style from the age of the steam engine. This audio slideshow presents and describes the range of his extraordinary work.