Northern Michigan in Focus: Florip Toolworks
A skill that was born out of necessity.
Erik Florip was in the Marine Corps, stationed at Camp Pendleton, and he needed some furniture. So, he built it himself.
Turns out, he was pretty good and he loved it.
Today he’s still building, giving other carpenters the only tool they’ll need for the rest of their lives and beyond.
Corey Adkins gives you a look at what he does in this week’s Northern Michigan in Focus.
“So, I built one and it worked really well, so I decided to build a couple more with woods that I had around and trying to find the techniques to do it,” explains Erik.
Out of a small 9 x 18 foot garage, this Marine’s passion turned into a business, Florip Toolworks in Empire.
Erik makes every part of the saws, from the wooden handles to putting the teeth on them. He even mills his own hardware.
“They just have a better feel to them. It’s a nice, wooden handle. They were hand-shaped back in the day, with brass components on them,” says Erik.
Every piece of wood is a canvas for Erik.
“Until you’re sitting there for hours on end at a lath or a mill or shaping these handles so you can get a feel for a file in your hand and what it does to the wood when you pass the file over it, so you’re finding that balance,” says Erik. “To go from really a blank sheet and to turn it into something. You know, it’s the ability to have something that’s an idea and actually put it in your hand .”
One by one, every other tooth on the saws must be sharpened in the opposite direction by hand.
Then, it’s hammered out tooth by tooth by a machine so the saw cuts bigger than the width of the blade.
Then it’s leveled out, just to be sharpened again.
A meticulous job that Erik doesn’t take for granted so this can happen.
“A lot of time goes into each saw and they are built for very specific tasks. There isn’t one saw that I make, there’s a line of saws and each one has its job,” explains Erik. “So you have your well-rounded kit of saws to use ultimately to build your beautiful piece of furniture using them.”
There’s even a woodworker halfway across the world using a Florip Toolworks saw.
“I’ve got some tools in the heart of Russia,” says Erik. “So, that’s neat to have these tools all over the world and to think about in 150 years, if they’re well cared for, they’ll still be doing the same thing that they’re doing today without any issue.”
Just imagine that. Your grandkids could be using a signature made saw you bought made from an idea that Erik Florip had in a little garage and turned into reality.
“It’s cool to think about, to have something that will exists maybe when somebody does their Google search in 100 years on the saw that the found somewhere they’ll find the history of Florip tools on there and how it got started,” says Erik.