Lee Marshall – Innovator, Inventor & Dreamer…

by Robyn Hawk on June 1, 2009


January 2010 - Addendum: the newest of Knew Concepts saws is a truly remarkable replacement for the saw jewelers use daily! Cynthia Eid wrote a great piece which gives info on the progres
sion of these saws ... Development of the Latest Knew Concept Saws by Cynthia Eid


Lee Marshall is an innovator, inventor and dreamer...if you are a jeweler you owe a debt of gratitude to this ingenious man!

I am honored to count Lee as more than an acquaintance - he is my peer and a friend - you can only truly appreciate his role in the Industry by actually "using" one the tools
he has developed. From the Bonny Doon Hydraulic Press (the biggest hammer in the studio" to his latest the Knew Concept Electric Saw (a jeweler's scroll saw).

Lee Marshall - The Man

Who hasn't seen Tee shirts emblazoned with sayings such as "TOOL FOOL", bumper stickers with "I BRAKE FOR TOOLS"? 
How many times have you as a jeweler, given an encircled picture or catalog description of a tool or machine with the notation saying: "This is the one that I want for my anniversary, wedding,birthday, holiday, etc"?
Jewelers fall into a very special category of unique individuals. Those on the "outside" have a hard time coming up with gift ideas for them. 
Flowers won't work with this crowd; candy leaves them cold, brandy isn't the answer, and diamonds...they would only use them to make something for someone else! 
No, the best way to show love or friendship to this group is to give them a tool. 
These folks still cherish their very first good tool, and probably still use it every day. In my case, I still have tools given to me by my father over sixty years ago, and even though I don't use them much anymore, as our interests diverged, I still fondle them with reverence. 
Good tools free creativity, while poor tools limit it. 
I have been making tools for jewelers and metalsmiths for more than twenty years, and for the longest time didn't recognize that my appreciation for tools and machinery was shared by others. This was brought home to me when I shipped a tool to a customer and it happened to arrive on her birthday, along with a box of long-stemmed roses from her brother, and a package from her husband. As she related this story to me later, she confessed that she opened mine first. After all, the piece that she was working on needed the tool to finish it, and her husband would get to see her open his gift to her. Now, this is rationalization of the first order. 
For the past 20 years, I have been trying to figure out how to describe to others what it is that I do. I realize now that I occupy a very small niche within the universe circumscribed by the field of jewelry. 
While some would say that I am an insignificant piece of the larger puzzle, I feel that I participate in making objects of beauty. That's good enough for me. 
What I do is create jewelry for jewelers.
The Company
Knew Concepts - Fine MetalSmithing Equipment Designed for Artisans:
Jewelery fabrication equipment for the discriminating individual. "Buy once, buy well." Every item here is designed and manufactured by Lee Marshall, world renowned designer of the original Bonny Doon Hydraulic Press.

Every item is made in the U.S. with full backup for every product. My approach to design is that all improvements are "backward compatable" to the older product. That way, you the customer, are always supported throughout the life cycle of anything that you buy from us.

(I apologize for the spacing issues below - not sure how to correct it)
Lee Marshall Wins MJSA Innovation Award

   He's done it again. Lee Marshall, the creator of the Bonny Doon line of metalsmithing equipment, has developed a new line of products that is already improving not only the productivity but the health of metalsmiths. The Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America (MJSA) has recognized one of the new products, a blanking die saw called the Precision Saw Guide 2, with a 2007 Innovation Award. As pleased as Marshall is to receive the industry recognition, the gratitude he's receiving from his customers is what genuinely makes him happy. A long-time customer of Marshall's, Jennifer Friedman of Ventura, California recently told Marshall, "Without your good work our bodies would be killing us. You do great work for us Lee." You may not be aware of the daily bodily punishment metalsmiths endure. All four of the major causes of work-related back pain identified by the Mayo Clinic - force, repetition, posture, and stress - are of particular concern for metalsmithing jewelers. It takes a great deal of strength to cut, bend, and raise metal, and since 1990 Marshall's hydraulic press line has been credited with enabling beautiful metal work while saving the backs of the artists who produce it. Another occupational hazard understood by all jewelers is the ubiquitous sternum dent. It's the painful spot developed by all jewelers as they compress a saw frame between their chest and the bench to tighten every saw blade. This is just one of the problems solved by Marshall's Precision Saw Guide 2, on which the blade tensioning occurs by turning a knurled knob on the top of the upper blade clamp. The most aggravating problem jewelers experience when sawing metal is constant sawblade breakage. The Precision Saw Guide 2 significantly reduces blade breakage in two ways. First, the frame is designed for extreme rigidity, with vertical alignment incorporated into the frame itself. This rigidity ensures the blade will not deviate from perfect vertical alignment. Second, a brass hold-down pin prevents metal from binding and jumping - another cause of broken sawblades. The hold-down pin also provides guidance and support to the blade itself, allowing more pressure to be applied to the blade. Jim Binnion of James Binnion Metal Arts in Bellingham, Washington and an MJSA Innovation Awards judge says, "The saw frame is in alignment with the work in such a way that you can make precision cuts by hand - cuts that previously were attainable only with a machine tool. This is a tool for someone like me - a small jewelry designer who is trying to do limited scale production but doesn't have a lot of money to sink into tools." Another exciting invention from Marshall is his Knew Concept Power Saw, specially designed for metalsmiths to make controlled cuts with safety, and with the slower speeds required to dissipate heat. Renowned artist Daniel Brush is using Marshall's power saw for his current body of work in 1/8" thick stainless. He reports, "Every time I'm with the saw I say the same thing to Olivia, my wife. I frankly don't think I could make these pieces without this saw - not because of the time - but because of the smooth delivery. Cutting stainless by hand is like an ice-breaker going through Alaskan waters, choppy and irregular. This saw eliminates the inconsistency, and lets me cut a nice swath through the very mean waters." What keeps Marshall, in his mid-70s and certainly successful enough to settle into a well-earned retirement, developing new equipment? He says, "I have a commitment to the jeweler/metalsmithing community, and I can provide them with tooling and equipment that is unavailable elsewhere. I was rattling around in semi-retirement when I noted that my used saws (of an older design) were commanding almost full price on the Orchid market (www.userblogs.ganoksin.com). Clearly there is a need, so I decided to take another look at the Precision Saw Guide." The Precision Saw Guide 2 is an excellent choice for the 2007 Innovation Awards. Innovation is best defined as the act of making improvements by introducing something new. The Precision Saw Guide 2 is an admirable example of this concept, improving both quality of product and quality of life for jewelers, and at a price ($385) all jewelers can afford. To see the Knew Concept line in action, go to http://knewconcepts.com and watch the demonstration videos. As Cynthia Eid of Cynthia Eid Designs commented: "I like this new saw frame so much that I have been using it even when I am not making a die. The angle of the handle is comfortable, and the blade-tightening mechanism is much nicer than pressing a saw frame between my chest bone and bench. The saw frame has potential for appealing to all jewelers - whether they have need of the blanking die capability or not. As with many inspirations, this tool is brilliant in its elegant simplicity."  
Click here for a detailed breakdown of this "knew concept" saw!
Lee's "Jewelry for Jewelers" and Press Release for the MJSA Award were first posted on the Orchid Forum.

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