Once upon a time during a fine crisp winter, many split tips where dealt by the rock. Many men came and went from the South Wales blocs with a spicy little slit in the finger. Not a new occurrence by any means, but this particular year we laid siege on Neath Abbey Quarry, a brilliant local bouldering venue. Notorious for having some of the best and sharpest micro crimps around. During these fine weeks of our precious winter weather window, prevention, cure and healing those little splits was a central focus of mine. Of ours.
Fed up of busting through the existing products on the market. These tiny little sanders you can barely take skin off with, ones you have to throw away after a few uses, buying 2,3,4 products just to do a single job. It was not good enough for us, we needed something better. We needed The Sander! After stewing over this for a few sessions, Ish had a dangerous brain wave:
"Ill just make my own" he thought.
"It'll be fully reusable, life long".
"It'll save the planet from nasty glues and unnecessary over consumption".
"It'll save everyone tonnes of cash and valuable time" he postulated.
"It'll save the world, practically a new universe was created in that moment".
Alright, maybe not, but he had a good idea and whole lot of stoke!
After a high tech prototype was constructed with no skill but a whole heap of love , it soon became apparent that he needed help!
Look at this beast!! Version 1.0!!
Obviously this was not going to cut the mustard! But it was the concept that mattered. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder right?
The key attributes they wanted this Sander to have, were as follows:
- Reusable, you can put any sandpaper onto it, and refit it as many times as you like. Gives us the ability to choose our own grit and feel with sandpaper and have a lifetime product.
- No glues or nasties that just ultimately hurt us and planet to make.
- Sturdiness, it needs to be a unit, stacked, hench, yoked, something you can grab hold firmly and apply plenty of pressure to. No half arsed tiny things you cant sand that rhino thick skin away with!
- Shape, it needs to be sculpted in such a way that it can get into those horrible splits within the creases, you know between the pads of your fingers. You need a sharp edges to file your nails on. You need length to take away skin, with long fluid strokes.
- Save people cost, and effort, long term. It needs to be something people can buy once, throw in the bag and know it will last!
Enter into the scene: Strong Tom. Not just a wizard on the rock, Tom is a wizard in the workshop. A master craftsman. Legend has it that Plato (I) had him transported back in time as a baby to learn the high art of craftsmanship from the Greek Gods themselves during the year 541 BC. We don't dispute this.
None the less, Ish showed Tom his humble peg prototype. And a few short days later a miracle had happened.
Tom took the concept and attributes Ish had outlined and gave them life. As God breathed life into Adam through the humble nostril. Tom breathed life into wood through its whole face! Have that God! Made by hand under the light of crackling lightning and roaring thunder. Thors hammer trembled.
As you can see it had almost everything. The wedge to allow for reusable and custom fit sandpaper, sturdy feel and size, sharp edges and shape for filing the nails and getting into all those folds and creases. No glues! We were onto a winner.
Over the following weeks the two, now Demi Gods laboured away honing their combined creation. Long hours where spent in the workshop tweaking, amending, testing. Session where had at the crag asking for advice from friends and foe alike! We ended up with a slicker and more ergonomic shape. A much more versatile product than anything else out there. (in our not humble opinion)
Testing underway, we gave our closest allies Sanders and they set about using it and giving feedback, we sent one to Steve McClure who gave us some good advice, and loved it, even sanded his Knees with it! Check that. We created something so magical the UKs most legendary climber even got his knees pedicured with it! We'd made it. Kill me now Juliet for my life is complete!
Ish and Tom, set about fine tuning the production process. This included using a CNC machine to cut the parts. And a whole heap of custom, handmade jigs to drill the holes and make it all fit together. When I say Ish and Tom, I mean Tom did everything practical under the apprentice eyes of Ish who just nudged the creation ever so slightly with his beady eye and concept in mind, trying not to saw his fingers off in complete terror every time he hit the "ON" button using the table saw. The world already has a Tommy Caldwell it didn't need another one! A truly team effort..I think!
So thats where we are. They now sell on Banana Fingers, and on our website Splittips.co.uk. We will be refilling the stand at Roc Bloc Cardiff soon, once our new and improved model is released, and hopefully continue pushing them in other walls and stockists. Get in touch if you fancy one, they are radical, actually work, saves money, the environment, and your skin from brutal splits. Its a no brainer. If its good enough for Steve Mac and his knees. Then it belongs in every climbers bag!
Enjoy my friends.
Peace and Love!
Written by: Plato circa 541BC (on returning from the future)