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(New) Tools of the Trade

Marc Petitjean got tiers talking this year about the Magic Tool; it’s been reviewed in these pages before, but a brief word is in order. This tool does dozens of things, but is at its best in gathering and aligning CDC barbs for use in a dubbing loop. If you use a lot of CDC, you really should check this one out; I’ve found it indispensable. It simplifies handling, multiplies uses of the material, minimizes waste and enables tying methods that really can’t be achieved any other way. If you don’t tie much CDC, you probably won’t sec what all the fuss is about. The Magic Tool set contains three table clips (for feathers of different lengths), two sizes of clamps, and three wooden dowels for handling synthetic materials. It retails for $29.95. In fact, the uses of the tool are so various that Petitjean now offers a 33 minute instructional DVD that demonstrates its versatility. It goes for $29.95.

The attention given the Magic Tool bas, unfortunately, obscured a couple of other Marc Petitjean tools that are also worth a look. The MP Twister, a dubbing spinner, is ingeniously done. The spring arms that hold the loop open are closed by simply sliding a coil spring up the arm wires, and a thin diameter handle means rapid spinning. Handle and arms are hinged so that the handle can be held parallel to the shank during wrapping a huge improvement over most similar tools and the overall length of the tools allows your band to easily pass by the bobbin during wrapping. It’s nicely designed, very functional, slim and lightweight. It retails for $16.

Similar in design, the MP Pliers are a hinged hackle pliers. The hackle tip is captured by a narrow hook at the end of the tool and secured by sliding a coil spring up the shaft and into the hook gap. The hinge allows the tool handle to be held parallel to the shank during wrapping, a little like rotary pliers, which 1 find gives far better control of tension, feather orientation, and hackle placement than conventional pliers; and the wrapping motion is more natural. The unconventional grip mechanism holds a feather as well as any other hackle pliers I’ve used, though very small feathers require a more careful placement in the tool. The downside is that these pliers don’t work as well with some of the thicker or extremely thin materials we sometimes grip with pliers V-Rib, for instance, or biots. But for wrapping hackle, it is an ingeniously functional, high quality tool. It runs $16.