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Tormek and Nick Agar, one of our most influential ambassadors and friends, have a rich history together. The first interaction with Nick was when he met our founder, Torgny Jansson at a Woodturning show in England back in the 1990's. It was during this meeting that he received his first Tormek Sharpening System. They would later meet on a Woodturning cruise set amongst the beautiful fjords in Norway in 2008. This meeting solidified their relationship. Prior communication between the two was done through writing for numerous years.
Nick moved from Totnes, England to Brooklet, Georgia in 2019. Since his move he has created an extraordinary studio space where he offers classes for wood turners, as well as, works on his own masterpieces. 2019 was an important milestone for Tormek as well, we decided to build a United States office location to better serve our customers in North America.
While attending a demo with Nick in Atlanta, the idea for the creation of a Viking Shield came about. Nick wanted to create a special piece for us at Tormek that represented our solid friendship throughout all these years. A Viking shield was the perfect depiction because it symbolizes strength and solidarity. Tormek’s bond with Nick has been solid and he stands behind the Tormek brand and our products. This piece of art was a way for Nick to represent our relationship, as well as, show his creativity and unique style of wood turning.
This beautifully crafted Viking shield took approximately 80 hours to create from start to finish. The amount of work and attention to detail that went into making this masterpiece is so incredible, we want to take you behind the scenes and delve deeper into Nick’s creative process.
To begin, Nick had to find lumber boards of Maple that were even grain and dried out.
With the help of a friend, a cabinet maker, Nick cuts, joins and assembles the maple boards into a large circle.
Working with wood is not easy without the use of sharp tools. Nick has used the Tormek sharpening system and jigs to replicate angles on many of his tools. He is a true believer of the honing wheel.
Take a look at the reflection in the maple from the tools. The edge is beautifully honed which cuts the grain instead of scraping it off. A sharp tool delivers a better cut and uses less sandpaper.
Attached to his lathe, Nick starts by turning a “boss” in the center of the disk. Note: A “boss” is the center of a Viking shield made of metal, created to protect the soldier’s hand in battle. This is the part of the shield that withstands the test of time.
From this point forward is where Nick’s artistic talents come to life. The shield design is a vision in his head. There are no plans or step-by-step instructions to follow. Instead of adding metal accoutrements to his wood shield like they did in the Viking era, he carefully carves out what would have been add-ons from the single piece of maple.
Using a drill, he sets a depth stop to make sure he leaves enough material to maintain the shield's shape.
If you take a class at Nick Agar’s Studio, you will learn how important it is to thoroughly sand your project before applying any finish. Nick starts with an a coarse abrasive sandpaper and incrementally works his way up to 800g or finer. After the shield was perfectly smooth and flawless - he beat it with chains and hammers to distress it and made it imperfect! Nick’s vision was an authentic, rustic Viking shield complete with rust and imperfections.
Now that his perfectly crafted shield was made to look imperfect, it was time to apply the finishing touches. Nick used Rustina paint made by Chroma Craft to make the wood look like rusty metal. There are excellent painters in the world, but it takes a very special talent to make a brand-new wood sculpture look like a centuries old metal shield. One of Nick’s favorite challenges is to take wood and ultimately make it look like another form or material altogether. To complete the process he added a coat of lacquer to protect the patina.
Being the true artist that Nick is, and knowing that we would proudly display the shield in Tormek’s new United States office and sharpening studio, Nick built a simplistic birch frame. His goal was to stay consistent with minimalistic Scandinavian architecture.
In March of 2020, when we visited Nick Agar’s Studio in Brooklet, Georgia it was time to unveil his masterpiece. Nick presented it to us as a “house-warming gift”. We are truly honored and proud to call Nick a Tormek ambassador and friend.
Below are some examples of the wood carving techniques that demonstrate Nick's talent. If you would like to learn more about Nick, his woodturning and carving skills, and how he uses his Tormek Sharpening System to sharpen his tools please visit our short series here: "Sharpening Techniques for Woodturners".