A Bit of History

Hi, I’m Matt Stern, founder of The Tool Merchants.  I’m also a husband, father, homesteader and, big surprise, a tool lover.

About 10 years ago, I was a lifelong city boy who found himself living in Costa Rica, off the grid, in an open air house, with a 5 gallon bucket for a toilet.

As I sat on my plastic throne, I was faced with a simple hand drawn diagram that to this day inspires and challenges me.

Nutrient Cycle - Broken and Intact

Close Our Loops

What an idea! Close our loops: the “waste” from one element is the food for the next, and on and on.  In other words, there is no such thing as waste, at least not in nature.

It is such an elegant and simple idea, yet not so easy to apply, as our current systems for providing many of our basic needs are incredibly complex, destructive, and entrenched.  In other words, broken.

So What?

So, what can we do about the broken system we find ourselves in?

For me, the answer begins with providing for my own needs with resources and energy as close to home as possible.

This means looking first to our garden and woods for nourishment, medicine and warmth, and then moving out to my community, then bio region, and so on.

Hand tools help me provide for some of these needs in an ecologically friendly way.

They help me bring in food from our garden and orchard to our table and pantry; and wood from our forest into our home for warmth (and someday soon for cooking and heating water!)

This is a big part of why I value good hand tools so much.  Not only are they a way for us to connect and interact with the natural world around us, but they have so much potential to help us feed and nourish ourselves.

Kids w- Chickens 16 x 14


Since leaving Costa Rica (and my bucket throne), I’ve spent the last 7 years working on organic farms and now on our own 5 acre homestead in Southern Oregon, where I live with my wife Robin and two children.

Most of the tools we sell are ones that we use regularly in our garden, orchard and wood lot.  We work them pretty hard, as they are intended for real work, and so far, they are holding up nicely.  I am glad to share them with you.

I hope that the tools here will serve you as well, and that they will be an important part of your own nourishment, and the regeneration of our abundant and productive landscapes.