Apologies for the long story - it gets longer every year…
Like so many worthwhile pursuits, the eH started out as a couple of friends wasting time. Steve Buffel (of SPYY) and I were hanging out in his Calgary garage, and he showed me some old oak yo-yo blanks he’d made on a drill press (I think it had been an idea for his wedding?). I was like “can we make one?” and we did. And it actually played kind of great. Later that afternoon we tried a slightly wider one and lasered them in his basement.
It wasn’t until I got home to NC that I realized I couldn’t put the stupid thing down. I’d always loved wood yo-yo’s. Steve knew this and even patterned my metal “Flying V” as a cross between a No Jive and a Variflex “X-Games” slimline. I had been feeling more and more disconnected from the “roots” of my own yo-yoing, and playing the SPYY woodie gave me a radical idea.
I told Steve I wanted to throw a wood yo-yo - just ONE fixed axle wood yo-yo - for all of 2012.
He would have been within his rights to say “yeah, find a new sponsor”, but instead he said “I’ll turn it.” And the yo-yo he turned was exquisite. It was a cleaner, sturdier version of what we’d made - red oak, take-apart, with replaceable hemlock axles. It had my initials on it and was made in Canada, so it became “the eH”. Around the same time, Steve Brown sent me a cone of untwisted cotton string from the 60’s, and those became my raw materials for all of 2012. It was every bit as wonderful and as frustrating, as restrictive and as liberating as you could imagine.
I’d documented the project on my blog and on 365yoyotricks.com, and as the year wound down, some people asked if they could buy the eH. Andre was probably our most vocal supporter - he was the one who really saw the STORY of the yo-yo as worthwhile and he was adamant that he’d help in whatever way he could.
The problem was that Steve was not set up for a full run. The few he’d made for me were really difficult, and he was pretty burnt out with SPYY nearing the end of its run. Colin Leland had been making great wooden yo-yo’s for a couple years, and in 2012 his craftsmanship had really come into its own. Steve, Andre, and I asked him if he’d be ok making a yo-yo with specs he didn’t set, and he’d love to. And as we got to work, he ended up revising and improving the way the axles and screws went in. I was amazed the project came together, and elated that I got to actually release a wooden signature yo-yo. I wrote a little thank you note to go with the yo-yo and imagined that was that.
The fixed axle scene started to expand, though, and players kept telling us that they liked them. We did the initial version and, though SPYY evaporated in the summer, another for winter 2013 in red oak. We switched to white oak and TMBR’s innovative “wood-thread” axles for 2014 and again in 2015, then did a run of “eH-xotics” for 2016. Every year, they have gotten better and better and better. And every year, it has been more and more gratifying.
I assumed it had run its course, but I can honestly say that I think this year’s is the best incarnation yet (yes, I say that every year). We decided to go with ash and maple, with walnut axles again. They are slightly bigger and wider, and for the first time, feature a really nice lip. The added size helps both for spin time and for landing weird Varials and flip-tricks, and it Shoots the Moon like the Death Star. Colin’s attention to detail is incredible, and his use of sustainably sourced woods and plant-based, 0 VOC finishes should resonate with anybody who can dig the fact that every part of their yo-yo was once alive.
I’m immensely thankful to have been part of this incredible yo-yo culture, and the fixed axle subculture, specifically. And I’m in disbelief that we’ve been able to continue to tweak this model and release it to awesome players everywhere. To Steve, Andre, Colin, and everyone who has played any version of the eH, it’s really meant the world to me. And I hope you dig this one as much as I do.