About Us, In Brief

From 2013-2019, The Tool Merchants actually sold garden tools. We had inventory, packed boxes, printed shipping labels, the whole e-commerce scene.

We sold thousands of tools to gardeners across the US and even abroad, and most were very well received.

But it got to be more busy-work than I bargained for, and profits were never enough to hire help, so in late 2019, I decided to transition the site away from tool sales and into tool reviews and education.

Recyled and Biodegradable Packing Material from Eco Enclose
Many boxes were taped.

My goal has always been to connect gardeners and homesteaders with quality tools, and The Tool Merchants still serves that purpose, albeit indirectly.

On a practical level, I hope you discover tools here that make your work in the garden even more enjoyable.

On a deeper level, I hope that through the use of hand tools, you will feel more connected to the land under foot, the trees over head and all the elements in between that in such magical ways provide for our basic needs.

Digital artifacts from our e-commerce days.

About Our Reviews

Essential Gardening Tools Decisions Decisions

One great thing about maintaining an inventory of tools was that I had my hands on every tool that came in. I also put most tools to test on our 5 acre mini-homestead in southern Oregon.

In addition to my experience, we collected reviews from customers.

The format of our tool reviews represents this pattern. I write about my experience with a given tool and present user reviews from real customers.


Affiliate Disclaimer

Thank you Badge
Click to shop on Amazon and support The Tool Merchants.

One way this site earns its keep is through affiliate links.

Certain links (like those to Amazon) generate a small commission when you make a purchase through that link.

There is no extra charge to you. Thank you for your support!

The Long Version

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

About 15 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.

Best weeding tool - Matt at NSH Garden Blog
The author in the garden.
Nutrient Cycle - Broken and Intact
Broken vs. closed loop systems.

Close Our Loops

In a closed loop system, 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 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.

Kids w- Chickens 16 x 14
The author's children, circa 2014.

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
The author's children, circa 2014.

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