Sunday, 12 June 2016

Eureka Moment

I’ve been aware of the Chouinard Expedition Repair Kit for quite some time. Chouinard was the fore-runner of Patagonia, and this item disappeared from the market many years ago. I’ve seen some efforts to recreate it, (another effort, and another.) Patagonia recently brought it back, but they can be challenging to track down.

I have a Stewart Speedy Stitcher, but the bulk and weight mean it’s a home work shop item. Now an awl isn’t even something I use that often, but still, a handy tool to have access to.

Being the guy I am, I thought of making one myself. I had found a collet chuck for a pittance at Princess Auto recently. Still a bit bigger than I wanted though. Plus I would have to drill a hole through hardened steel.

Another tool that I use a lot and will carry in the Sew’mups, is an X-Acto knife.

Both for regular #11 blades and for curved blades to use as a seam ripper.

While looking through a tool box that I had had up in the boat loft, I found this knife, that I had practically forgotten about. (I have a few knives like this. Building models, doing pasteup and stripping film – some I’ve had for 35 years.)

Since the curved blade is meant for a scalpel holder, it isn’t a perfect fit, but it holds without slippage or wobbling, so it’s fine.

Great, it holds the blades. But wait! The proper X-Acto brand knives I have, have a single slot to clamp the blades.
This one has two slots...and a hole to hold a circular object!
Like a #4 needle meant for the Stewart Speedy Stitcher.
My kit also contains some drill bits, and a saddler’s awl.

Now clearly it lacks the ability to mount a T-handle, but I may drill a hole though this so that I can use a cotter pin (or something similar) to use for that purpose.

Great to find one tool that can serve dual duty. And when it’s one I didn’t have to pay for – even better. Given this thing is likely 25 to 30 years old, I couldn’t for the life of me tell you who made it or where to find one.


  1. it is called a "pin vice" made to hold small drill bits

    1. Oh I know ... I just didn’t remember I had one.

      And, I was looking at them recently, but all the pin vices I looked at only held a drill bit – not a blade. Or X-acto knife holders that only held a blade. The fact that this can do both is what had me thrilled.