Microplane, whose manufacturing base is in Russellville, Arkansas, started out in 1990 as a new type of woodworking tool - the Microplane rasp, which was originally called the 'Ultra-Shaper', was invented that year by brothers, Richard and Jeff Grace, at Grace Manufacturing Inc. The company already had almost 20 years experience of making parts for the high tech printer industry, but until then had never produced a product of its own design. The Microplane Division of Grace Manufacturing was not established until a few years later in 1997.
What makes Microplane tools quite unique is the process used to produce their razor-like edges. The process, known as photo-etching, creates holes by dissolving the metal with a chemical, leaving edges that finely slice rather than tear or shred. "We etched a series of holes in the metal and then started trying it on things" said Jeff Grace. "You can tell every desk in the plant that Richard has ever used by the fact that all the corners are planed away".
To give a little further potted history, Microplane’s big break came in 1994 when the company diversified into kitchenware with the Microplane grater. The story goes that a lady by the name of Lorraine Lee living in Ottawa was making an orange cake. Annoyed with her old grater, she picked up a tool her husband Leonard had brought home from Lee Valley Tools. She slid the orange across its blades and shards of zest like snowflakes fell into the cake mixture. And so the Microplane range of kitchenware was born.
Today Microplane not only manufacturers woodworking products and kitchenware, but has also branched out into personal care, with its foot file showing just how versatile the concept and design of this basic tool has proved to be!