Professional Windsor Chairmaker James Mursell bought his first travisher over 20 years ago. It was not that easy to use and one day it broke, leaving him without this critical tool. It is said that every cloud has a silver lining and this proved to be the start of his tool making career.
The first travisher was not pretty, but it worked satisfactorily and got James back to work. Soon afterwards a more sophisticated travisher shape was produced which was more rounded and fitted better to the hands – the forerunner of the current shape.
The biggest breakthrough came when James experimented successfully with ejecting the shavings through the top of the travisher rather than the back. This meant that the back surface was solid wood, giving a comfortable surface to push the travisher with the thumbs; also the blade was now supported along its whole length reducing chatter. The current shape had arrived.
James next teamed up with Ben Orford to make the blades for his travishers. Ben began his career as a green woodworker so was familiar with the tool already and understood the importance of a high quality blade when tackling tough woods such as English elm. Ben now makes batches of blades for James’ travishers throughout the year.
Most recently, James introduced his Black and Deluxe versions of the tool which use the engineering polymer Delrin. The Deluxe incorporates a solid brass wear plate in front of the blade.
James sells his travishers around the world and many chairmakers, cricket bat- and guitar-makers rely on his tools to hollow wood.