At the Leatherman booth, we met Sergio Del Bene, long time friend of Tim Leatherman, and Adrian Pallarol, the silversmith responsible for the 25th Anniversary Silver Charge tools. Both of these gentlemen are from Argentina, and both are great spokesmen for the Leatherman Tool Group.
Above is a file photo of Adrian (left) and Sergio (right)
Adrian has been customizing Leatherman multitools for a number of years now. We first saw his work in phographs that NeitherExtreme took during his visit to the Leatherman retail store last year. Those photos were incredible, but to see this man's work in person was absolutely stunning! Intricate detail, exquisite workmanship, and old world craftmanship. Each piece is a true work of art.
These masterpieces really draw a crowd, so it was not a huge surprise to find Adrian's work prominantly displayed at the Leatherman booth. However, we were quite surprised to see the man himself, all the way here from Argentina! And apparently he has to earn his air fare back and forth, because Tim had him working like a dog the whole time we were there!
No kidding, right in the midst of thousands of people, here sat Adrian Pallarol the Silversmith, precisely tap-tap-tapping away with his hammer and punch on yet another intricate Leatherman Charge scale! It was obvious that the guy really focuses on his work, as he was able to keep at it even while taking the time to answer a slew of questions from yours truly.
I learned quite a bit from Adrian, but am not quite
ready to become a silversmith myself.
Somewhat surprisingly, the process to make silver scales actually begins with copper. That's right, a copper version of the finished scale, right down to the very last detail, must first be produced. Adrian uses a number of techniques, both ancient and modern, to carve out this master scale. The detailed basket weaving and floral patterns are all carved by hand of course, while the racy LEATHERMAN
logo is cut with a modern pantograph machine.
After the copper master scale is completed, it is clamped to the ram of an EDM (electrical discharge machining) machine. The EDM uses electricity flowing through the copper master to burn a reverse-image cavity in a block of steel.
Once the cavity dimensions are complete, the block of steel becomes a mold. Pieces of silver are melted down over an open flame, then the liquid silver is ladeled into the mold by hand, one scale at a time. (Like I said, a mix of modern and ancient) Once it cools, the rough silver scale is removed from the mold and it looks like this:
Now comes the really tedious and intricate work. Adrian uses his hammer and a number of tiny little punches and awls to do the final carving and detailing of the scale. This portion of the work is done entirely by hand. Last comes drilling out the pivot bolt holes and hand polishing the silver. The end result can be quite breathtaking.
So if you are exclusively a multitool user
, you are probably rolling your eyes right now, wondering why on earth someone would want to beautify a tool?
But if you really enjoy seeing an artist work in his true medium, then you will appreciate the work of this Master Silversmith.