Read here how Jaap came up with the idea of Titanium garden tools.
The TI-tanium line embraced the principles that made the Sneeboer tools so successful and has elevated them to a higher level to add a very luxurious quality. Sneeboer’s exclusive TI-tanium line is made from a special grade Titanium, of course hand forged and comes with a hand-made walnut handle. Intended to be truly elite amongst garden tools the three available hand tools, transplanting trowel, hand-fork and hand-hoe have a design of pure charisma.
Who doesn’t want to be part of history - to be remembered... Like Einstein with his theory, Neil Armstrong as the first man on the moon, Roger Waters and David Gilmour from Pink Floyd with their famous music, dominantly present in their own area.
What’s in there for me? I have a book about the ancient history on garden tools. Since the beginning of mankind people have cultivated the soil...
But who invented the Spade, Fork and Trowel??? We did it : the hand-trowel, hand-hoe, and hand-fork now available in Titanium. It all began in 1913...
Frank Sneeboer, our master blacksmith wo is forging now the Titanium. It took us more then 2 years to know how we need to forge it. My dad and his two brothers started to forged stainless steel. I am not sure if they were the first ones, but what I do know is that their chosen alloy was the best. At first national, and later on international proven.
At that time many colleagues to my granddad made him clear that within two years he would go bankrupt... Well, not so, it turned out to be the best step he and his brothers had ever done.
Having the drive...Being one of the third generation Sneeboer’s I have the drive to do something that will be remembered in the gardening world. This not in terms of a new type of spade, fork or trowel since I don’t have experiences of a hardcore gardener due the fact I am not one. I will leave that qualification to, for example, Fergus Garret, the Head-gardener of the Great Dixter.
A new material...But like my my dad and granddad, I want to do something with a new type of material, yet unknown among the garden tools of this world. It must be a material from which I can require:
Durability * Rust-resistance * Light weight * Exceptional appeal and a good amount of “magic”
The only material that fit these requirements will be: Titanium. With Titanium I can reduce the weight of the metal-parts in any given tool with almost 50%. Depending on the tool, the handle will often be the heavy part - I might also be able to construct this in another way. The persons I consulted on this idea told me I was insane...I went to a Titanium exhibition and all the possible suppliers there turned me down...So at the end, I skipped this idea - but my mind was still spinning around:
I want to make the ultimate garden tool - and I will like to be a part of the “garden history” like my dad and granddad...
3 years ago our Danish internet marketing consultant told me that the world was ready for a “Jaap Sneeboer Design line”. I immediately picked up my old thoughts and files, I refreshed and updated them and took the next step. But where to start in a project where space science and medieval technology shall be combined to give the ultimate garden tool...
But...Where can I buy Titanium? - Is there a Dutch supplier? - Do I have to invent the wheel again? (yes, probably!) - Is there someone in my network who is familiar with Titanium? - What kind of alloy do I need? - Is Titanium weld-able? - Can I forge Titanium? - What will happen with the structure? - Can I give Titanium a different finish than the “Sneeboer” stainless steel finish?- and I can go on for hours...
The Titanium-world is a very small world, this makes it very hard to get hold of Titanium, especially as we are still in the starting progress.
The availability of the special alloyed stainless steel we use for our tools is very limited - but the availability of Titanium is 100% worse!
Advice on how to work Titanium is almost nil, because “nobody” knows. It’s a new “space-age” material not used in common products. At the end I bought a small sheet and a round bar of Titanium in Sweden with the advice: “Strengthen your bending molds because Titanium is totally different from stainless steel and it will destroy everything”.
After testing we came to the conclusion that our chosen “grade” wasn’t the correct one. The company involved in the hardening process of our stainless steel couldn’t advise us in depth on Titanium and only concluded:
“Wrong grade of Titanium...”
After testing 7 different grades of Titanium, we found the correct Titanium with an alloy we could deal with, after the necessary revisions of the bending molds. The welding process of Titanium is totally different from welding of Stainless steel. Different choice between a wire or electrode, different kind of welding gas, different kind of backing gas to prevent incineration of the Titanium etc, etc.
At the end the testing process took us about 3 years but now we have a perfect result and a perfect foundation to build on in the future. The first step...We have now taken the first step into the final production of a whole series of tools based on our original design but manufactures in Titanium. In the first (extremely limited) series of only three different tools in only 20 pieces each, we will focus on the very classic transplanting trowel, a hand-fork and a hand-hoe. These tools will be finished with handmade handles made of nutwood, a heavy brass ferule.
This first series is forecasted to be available end of september 2013 - all depending of the availability of Titanium. These tools will be “Collectors Items” and the revenue they will bring will be transferred to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. We have very warm feelings for this foundation and it’s admirable work.
About the handles:
We have been searching for the perfect match of a handle to accomplice the uniqueness and strength of the Titanium part of the tool. Not surprised at all, it turned out that we ended up with a rather rare kind of wood that only grows in a very remote and small part of the world and only in limited amounts. The wood demands a lot of processing before it's ready to use - but when it is, it's as perfect and as beautiful as the Titanium. The wood is from walnut and made by Houtwerk Hattem by Mr van Apeldoorn himself. The first batch of handles for our initial production mentioned above will be made 100% by hand i the Netherlands. The handle will survive as many generations as the Titanium!