Monday 9 July 2018
Vallorbe are a Swiss company specialising in making precision engineered tools with plenty of bite. Based in the Vallorbe region in Switzerland famous for iron foundaries and tool production for over 400 years, the company is a result of three manufacturers in the region joining forces in 1899.
When we heard that Classic Hand Tools were to be a distributor in the UK for Vallorbe's new range of rasps and rifflers, our curiosity got the better of us and we called in a couple of the rasps to see if they would be a good addition to the woodcarver's arsenal of tools.
We're big fans of the Auriou hand stitched rasps and rifflers (tested in Woodcarving 113) for their superb quality and results. As the Vallorbe are machine made, I had my reservations about them being as good as the hand stitched tools, but I wondered if these would be a suitable and cheaper alternative?
First impressions were positive; they certainly looked the business and felt solid in the hand. Made from chrome alloy steel, they should last a good while and keep their form.
Vallorbe grade their tools from 00 for extra coarse right through to 7 for very fine, so it's just a matter of choosing the appropriate rasp for the work and timber you have, and screwing it onto the additional blue handle, ready for shaping!
As these tools are pretty big, I wasn't looking to use them to get into tight corners or difficult areas; these are suitable for larger areas in need of shaping or filing down. I had a couple of experimental projects on the go which are still in their early stages and need a lot of shaping, so it was a good opportunity to test these rasps here.
It didn't take long to see how well the Vallorbe rasps cut, with fine sawdust piling up in a matter of seconds. They seem fast, control is good, cuts are clean and use over longer periods was comfortable enough.
It is encouraging to see that you can get nice, fast results without always having to opt for power. Sure you need to put in a bit more physical effort, but there is something satisfying from using a hand tool which you can't always get from using power; plus the control is more assured as you don't have to worry about the tool running away from you and taking far too much wood away.
In terms of comparing to other machine made rasps I have used over time, these certainly seem to be a marked improvement and offer a very agreeable option if you are unable to afford the hand stitched tools. Performance is very good indeed, and quality very high. These are great for removing large areas with reasonable speed, and are suited to in the round work of varying sizes.