Best Made: cloth extension cords and other classic goods

 S Files 1 0071 9222 Products Cloth Extension Cords 961

In 2009, graphic designer Peter Buchanan-Smith designed a classic, high-quality ax. That product led to "Best Made," Buchanan-Smith's online catalog of vintage-inspired, "authentic"-feeling products like shears, blankets, tin cups, caliper pens, and that sort of kit. (Here's a 2010 NYT article about the ax, etc.) I like the look of these cloth extension cords! They're $38 each. Best Made Company (Thanks, Koshi!)



      1.  Exactly, we’re not a bunch of maker-lovers. This isn’t freakin’ boingboing or something.

    1. I used cloth-covered wire I ordered from Sundial when I rebuilt a smooshed 1930s era electric fan I found in the recycling bin.

      I would definitely use their product again; it’s modern high-quality insulation covered by an authentic-looking fabric jacket and should last as least as long as the original did.  Ordering and shipping was uneventful and the wire arrived well packaged and undamaged.

      Note that cloth-covered wires (like silicone wires) may tend to pick up cat hair and dust, but it’s a small price to pay for cords that won’t look jarringly out of place on antique appliances.

  1. I like the look too, but it looks so obviously handmade that I had to check it out. Sundial Wire offers 3-conductor 18 gauge cloth-covered wire for $0.95/foot, in lots of fun colours. That and a few bucks worth of hardware will net you a bunch of extension cords for yourself and as gifts for less than half the price. Super easy – if you can use scissors and a screwdriver you can make an extension cable.

    Argh, slipped while I was figuring out the href. Damn you, Colonial Pink!

  2. I can’t say I’d call it art, but I certainly understand the appeal of making one simple thing the best it can be, and an ax is a good place to start. One summer as a kid I had to dig a half dozen sassafras root balls out of our back yard by hand and went through a lot of tools trying to cut away the runners and break the main clusters up small enough for my 11 year old self to haul into a wheelbarrow, before finally coming back to a simple long-handled ax. I had to re-shim the head several times where the handle kept getting loose, so right now my image of a perfect axe might not include that pretty hickory or ash.

    Just thinking about it brings a wave of sense-memory of that scent… sassafras combined with the wet clay mud.

    1. Snow and Neally – ah yes, I hear they are “proudly made in America” from low quality Chinese heads and American hickory handles.

  3. Best Made? Best markup, more like:

    – Yujiro thread cutter: $38 from Best Made, $23 from Hida Tool
    – Anthology of American Folk Music: $90 from Best Made, $79 from the Smithsonian
    – Higo knife: $60 from Best Made, $24.50 from Lee Valley

  4. “- Higo knife: $60 from Best Made, $24.50 from Lee Valley”
    Sure, if you ignore the fact that one is made in North America and the other is made in Japan. Not to mention the styling differences. Maybe it’s not worth the price difference to you, but I don’t see what that has to do with what I spend MY money on.

    But hey, if any of you are willing to spend the time curating a collection of high-quality products that you think are worthwhile and, often, customizing them in a way that you think adds to their value and you want do it all for free and sell them to me for no markup, go for it! I’ll be the first to subscribe to your mailing list and/or RSS feed.

    For anyone that actually likes Best Made, the membership-shopping site Huckberry does a pretty good job of featuring similarly vintage-inspired brands in a wide variety of categories. I don’t think their “members-only prices” typically represent a very good discount, but it’s a great way to get turned on to people making cool things with (usually) an eye toward artisanship and quality.

      1. Possibly, but I couldn’t find anything on the Lee Valley site detailing where their Higo is made, and according to their site they make “the vast majority” of their own product and are based in North America.

        1.  The Lee Valley Higo is Japanese-made. I have one, and it was my EDC blade for a while. The Lee family are a bit obsessive about knives, and import a lot of fine sharps from Japan. The Best Made one looks overly fancy; a higo is basically the most heavy-duty carpentry knife you’ll ever (ab)use.

          Best Made do have a pretty website, though.

  5. Tom Scocca, on Peter Buchanan Smith

    Irony and masculinity were rushed to NYU Downtown Hospital, bloodied with ax wounds and unresponsive, on a pair of canvas stretchers with polished maple poles, modeled on the stretchers used by John Dos Passos in the ambulance service during the Great War. Doctors said it was unclear whether either would survive.

  6. Wow, that’s what I call overpriced.
    What does someone do with this tat, other than hang it on the wall? I can’t see shelling out that kind of money on an axe, and for the price of his first aid kit, I’ll have one three times the size if I were to source the stuff at the corner store.

  7. I beg to differ on the axes.  In 2011 I spent a total of perhaps one month splitting firewood with an axe.  The axes on Best Made Company looks like retro crap from Restoration hardware -looks great, doesn’t work.  for me the best wood splitting axes, and machetes, are made by Fiskars (Amazon, Lowe’s, elsewhere too).  
    Fiskars 36 inch splitting axes are fantastic. No need for extra wedges and sledgehammers.  Just the Fiskars axe and you.
    The other fantastic tool is Fiskars Brush Axe -essentially a machete that works much better than the regular machetes you’ll find in Home Depot or Lowe’s…

    1. I had great success with a fiskars reel mower last summer so it’s nice to hear that they make consistently good stuff – I’ll put the axe on my list! Thanks!

    2. The Fiskars hatchet I’ve used is quite good.  Pedro the Cruel gave it as a present to my son on his 9th birthday, because the plastic handle and thin head are light enough for a child who is just learning to handle razor-sharp implements.  We still use it regularly, it’s an excellent tool.

      The estwing all-steel axes and hatchets from Home Depot/Lowes are also quite good.  They require more initial sharpening than the Fiskars hatchet did, but the steel hafts are dramatically more capable of withstanding abuse than wood, fiberglass or plastic.

      Incidentally, if you are splitting locust, osage, or some other twisted-grain wood, you will need sledge’n’wedge or a splitting maul.  A regular axe just makes the job far more difficult (and you can break your axe, too!).

    1. Why not fetishize nostalgia? 
      Our popular culture fetishizes everything else- from religion to food to fashion.

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