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The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator

An aggregate of many different woodworking blog feeds from across the 'net all in one place!  These are my favorite blogs that I read everyday...

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The Barn on White Run

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Where modern craft meets the past.
Updated: 5 hours 3 min ago

Are You This Good?

Thu, 10/30/2014 - 4:01pm

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I’ve been working my way through the thousands of images to select the several hundred I want in VIRTUOSO: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley (submitting the manuscript to LAP in a few days) and I came across this one Narayan shot last year.  It is the dovetail set on the edge of one of teensy ebony-front mother-of-pearl inlaid drawers at the top of the drawers section of the tool cabinet.

Wow.

If you make it to the exhibit of Studley’s ensemble next May you can see it in person.  Almost this close.

Sunshine and Hot Rods

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 12:17pm

My final day in Cedar Rapids was pretty much one of relaxation, as all the goals I had for the visit vis-a-vie the exhibit The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley were met.

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I turns out that in a nearby town was a hot rod gathering, and Jameel and Father John’s dad Father Raphael had been a car buff and knew the organizers for the event.  So off we went to spend a glorious day in the sun looking at the rods from the days of my youth.

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After that we went to a huge yard sale with tons of tools, none of which tempted me, and finished off the evening dining on Mexican food.

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Thanks to the fantastic contacts the Abrahams have in their home town, the visit was about as perfect and productive as it could be

Studley Exhibit, Cedar Rapids Logistics Day 2

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 2:52pm

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Today was a seamless continuation of the successes of yesterday, as Jameel Abraham and I first went to the Scottish Rite Temple in Cedar rapids, Iowa, which will be the venue for the exhibit The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley.  We spent about an hour in the exhibit hall, brainstorming about the actual layout and design of the event.

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Can’t you just see it now?

Following that we went immediately to a theatrical lighting supplier to order the necessary fixtures to make sure the exhibit is visually compelling.  It will be.

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I spent the afternoon heading an hour north to purchase some Select white oak to complete the purchase of materials for the Studley workbench replica I will build to use as a prop in the exhibit.

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Now that is a bench top!

I can now leave Cedar Rapids knowing everything is moving forward.

Studley Exhibit/Cedar Rapids Logistics Day 1

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 7:50am

As I write this I’m in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for a few days of running around making arrangements for next Spring’s exhibit The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley (tickets available here).  In the company of Cedar Rapids native and vise-maker extraordinaire Jameel Abraham I made excellent progress finding the perfect shops to build the exhibit case bases and plexiglass vitrines.  Jameel took me to a plastics shop he frequents in Cedar Rapids, and the manager said, in essence, “Yes, we can make this case for you, but the guy you really need to be talking to is down in Iowa city.”  Since Jameel had other business in Iowa City, off we went.

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The first stop in the Iowa City area was the cabinet shop Jameel had recommended for the base of the display cabinet and the platform for the Studley workbench.  It was the right choice.  Any shop that can do the sort of work they do is fussy enough for me.

Next we visited the plexiglass shop, and yes indeed he was the right guy.  We speced out the job and he has it on his calendar.  Another great thing is that the cabinet shop and the plexi shop guys know each other and have worked together in the past.

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Our final stop int eh area was one of Jameel’s lumber dealers, and while he was doing his business I purchased some mahogany for the replica of Studley’s workbench I will be building to include as part of the exhibit.

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I will be hanging a number of piano-maker’s vises from the replica, and they will be “touch-able” by the exhibit visitors.

Finding the perfect shop for the plexiglass work was one of my prime concerns, and it feels great to have it resolved.  Even though the cabinet work for the exhibit will be minimal and fairly simple, it was a real treat to visit a woodworking shop that makes exquisite cabinetry and architectural elements.

MikeM’s Vise

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 4:19pm

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During last month’s foray into the alien planet known as Newengland I stopped in South Portland to visit MikeM, who had emailed me about a wheel-handled vise he found at a flea market up there.

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Since I have been on the hunt for piano makers’ vises for several years, and since he was literally less than a mile off the interstate, stopping to check it out was a no-brainer.  The vise itself was a head-scratcher.

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It is definitely in the same vein as all the others I have seen, and no two have been identical thus far, this one was a real outlier.

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The general configuration certainly conformed to the style, but the travel of the face was quite short, and where in the world did that five-spoke wheel come from?

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One thing that definitely made me smile was the factt hat he had taken my advice and made some polissoirs himself from whisk brooms.  I was honored to add to his collection with a genuine Roubo Polissoir from Don’s Barn.

Thanks Mike for sharing this peculiar tool with me.  I will look fine alongside all the others in the book.

Matt’s Basement Workshop Podcasts

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 7:38am

Tomorrow night at 7PM Eastern Time Matt Vanderlist will post a video interview he did with Narayan Nayar and me on the upcoming doings of the Studley enterprise.  Chris Schwarz blogged about this the other day, and I have borrowed this picture from that blog (it is very difficult to take a picture of yourself while appearing on camera.)

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It was great fun to chat with Matt and we enjoyed the experience and the discussion immensely. You will no doubt notice my well-coiffed and sartorially splendid self, looking like I was at the end of a long slog,   For me it was the pleasant near-culmination of a week wrapping up my research on the tool cabinet in preparations for polishing the manuscript, which is ongoing at this moment.

We also shot another ten minute special segment on the workbench, which I believe Matt made available to his patrons for the web site, but I understand that segment will not be posted on the general site.

I watched both of the videos and thought they looked like fun.

Random Amusements (wa-a-a-y off topic)

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 4:58pm

For the most part I try to keep this blog focused on artisanry and homesteading, but every now and then I veer off course.  This is one of those times.

My post-adolescent life has seen me plagued with sleeping problems, mostly that I had difficulty falling asleep when I was supposed to be going to sleep.  Three or four hours of tossing and turning was not uncommon, one or two hours was the norm.  (I did get a lot of extra reading and writing done, though.)  One thing that helped me a fair bit was to listen to the spoken word as I was trying to get drowsy.  For some reason music did not work as well, so from the time of my teens I would listen to radio to sop up the extra brainwaves or something.

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In recent years late night radio has increasingly irritated me, mostly the 1:1 ratio of programming to non-programming like commercials, news, promos, public service announcements, etc., so instead I’ve switched to downloading old-time radio shows especially of the detective variety, which work like a charm.  One delightful recent discovery was a contemporary Toronto radio theater troupe that creates hilarious over-the-top homages the the hard-boiled detective genre, in the character of Black Jack Justice and his sidekick, Trixie Dixon, Girl Detective. Though I am no longer plagued by sleepless nights, the habit is hard to kick and at times I still find myself listening and laughing out loud as I drift off to sleep.

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Totally unrelated, a biographical documentary has been released recently for my long time friend, economist Dr. Walter E. Williams.  I have not yet seen it but will soon, but it is unlikely that I will be surprised after three decades of camaraderie and lengthy dinner conversations chewing the iconoclastic philosophical fat.  I am proud to call him “friend.”

Tomorrow, back to woodworking.  I have about 20 blog posts in the can, and just have to parcel them out as the final grind for Manuscript Studley takes control of my life for a fortnight.

Roubo and Studley updates

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 6:25am

My two-week-long trip to make on-site exhibit arrangements and a final examination of the Studley Tool Cabinet and Workbench began with a long day’s drive from the Virginia mountains to Cincinnati.  I remain convinced that Google Maps employs aspiring NASCAR drivers to ascertain driving times.

About an hour out of Cincy I drove through a storm cell that almost certainly contained a tornado or two, or so I deduced from the building parts flying past me on the road.  I’ve driven through rain so intense that I could not see the road in front of me, but this was the first time I have ever been in rain so fierce that I could not see the road beside me.  I pulled into a gas station as soon as I could see well enough to navigate, but immediately noticed two things.  First, the gas pumps were scattered around the lot, some on top of cars.  Second was the unmistakable smell of gasoline.  I moved on as soon as I could get turned around.

As I write this I’m in Fort Mitchell visiting Chris Schwarz for the evening, reviewing the recently returned page proofs for the Roubo l’Art du Menuisier Book of Plates and working through some of the details for the soon-to-be-submitted manuscript for VIRTUOSO: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley.  We spent a fair bit of time discussing Chris’ vision for the physical manifestation of the latter.  To tell you the truth I am ambivalent about some of these details; I just want the book to be as compelling as Lost Art Press can make it.  Given their track record, I have nothing to worry about in that regard.

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A special treat was to be a fly on the wall as Chris and Megan Fitzpatrick discussed an upcoming PopWood article (November, I believe) about a cabinet with some spectacular Gothic tracery Chris is finishing.

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And I cannot deny the little tremor of pleasure I experienced when noting this image.

Are You Tired of the Studley Tool Chest Yet?

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 8:28am

Recently I was asked if I was ready to wash my hands of the Studley project, both the manuscript for the book VIRTUOSO and the upcoming Studley exhibit next May.  I had to think for a minute, because the truth is I am a bit weary from the pace of working around the homestead, wrapping up Roubo 2, and completing the Studley manuscript and making all the plans and arrangements for the exhibit.

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But no, I am not tired of H.O. Studley.  How can you get tired of contemplating and exploring things like this?

Parquetry Tutorial – Assembling the Field

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 7:09pm

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Once you have cut an adequate number of equilateral parallelogram lozenges, take a piece of heavy paper larger than the finished field onto which you will create the pattern field from the lozenges as has been illustrated previously.

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Mark the center lines of the pattern on both axis and the outer perimeter of the pattern field (one helpful step is to draw all the lines entirely to the edges of the paper; it will come back to assist you very soon!) begin to assemble and glue down the pattern with hot hide glue

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Take care to periodically check the pattern against the pattern system making sure to always get the correct orientation of each lozenge.  Otherwise there will be wails of anguish when you discover something out of proper orientation, resulting in aggravation, discouragement, and perhaps abandonment of the technique.  That would be unfortunate as it is such a powerful and useful design tool.

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When you get enough lozenges glued down so that the entire pattern field is obscured, set it aside and let the glue harden prior to the next step of trimming the field.

Yes, There Are Still HO Studley Exhibit Tickets

Sat, 10/11/2014 - 7:05am

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Recently I ran into someone who expressed dismay that the upcoming exhibit Henry O.Studley Tool Cabinet and Workbench was sold out.

“Where did you get that idea?” I asked.

“I tried going in to buy mine on the second day they were available and had no luck, so I figured it was sold out.”  Convinced of the unavailability he had never returned to see the status of the exhibit or its web site.

I reassured him that this was an artifact of the total meltdown of the web site in the first hour of tickets going on sale several months ago.  If he returns to the site, all is well and functional.

It occurred to me that others might be thinking the same thing, hence this post to remind everyone.

The truth is there are still plenty of tickets available, and you can order them now.  I do not have the spreadsheet in front of me right now, but I am pretty sure there are still time slots that could accommodate a woodworker’s guild or any other groups who wanted to purchase tickets and make it a shared experience.

Spread the word.

If you have any questions, drop me a line at the contact page of this site.  And make sure to check out the goings-on for Handworks, occurring at the same time and only twenty minutes away.

Boullework Day 3

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 6:02pm

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Our final day for the recent Boullework marquetry workshop included wrapping up our sawing,

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assembling the finished patterns,

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and gluing them down to supports.

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For small compositions I am a big believer in using bricks as free-floating dead weights to hold them steady while the glue sets.  I think these will be used as project starters in the future.

The students also had time to examine their tordonshell they made on the first day, which had air dried until the end of the second day and then spent the final night and day in the dessication chamber.  Thus they had their own pieces to take with them, along with the leftovers from the pieces I’d made for the workshop.  They’ve got plenty of tordonshell to experiment with several new projects.

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I also allowed them to practice with two important tools.  First, the chevalet,

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and second, the Knew Concepts precision saw (full disclosure — I often collaborate with Knew to give my two cents about developing new tools and uses for those tools).

A grand time was had by all, and I enjoyed it immensely.  I look forward to the next time I teach this workshop.

Boullework Day 2

Thu, 10/09/2014 - 6:30am

Sawing,

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all

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day

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long.

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Beeswax Mold Success and Production Begins

Sat, 10/04/2014 - 6:44pm

I unpacked the new silicone rubber mold and wooden pattern for the new beeswax mold, then tried it out with some molten beeswax I had previously processed.  Success!, and I am pleased with the outcome.

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Production has now begun.  Thus far I have orders for about 300 1/4-pound blocks.  I should be caught up with these orders in less than a month.

If you would like any of this hand processed beeswax, drop me a line at the Contact portal of this site.  The slightly-more-than-a quarter-pound block is $10 plus shipping.  This is the beeswax I use myself when doing Roubo-style finishing, and demonstrate using it in the new video Creating Historic Furniture Finishes that PopWood released a little while ago.

Once the Studley book manuscript is submitted in about a month I will turn my attentions to many new projects, including the creation of new finishing products including pigmented waxes and “Mel’s Wax,” the revolutionary high-performance furniture care product invented in my lab at the Smithsonian.

Boulle Marquetry Day 1

Fri, 10/03/2014 - 6:31pm

We hit the ground running at about 9 this morning with the review of Boulle-work, and then assembled packets for the first sawing exercise, whose only real function was to get newcomers comfortable with the tool and technique of sawing at this scale.  Boullework is essentially a fret-sawing technique, and I started everyone off with a copy of their initial to saw in three parts; copper, pewter, and tordonshell.

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The first step was to cut all the pieces in the packet the same size,

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then score one face of the metal pieces to serve as a cleaner gluing surface.  This meant that all the work was being done in a mirrored pattern to the final workpiece.

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We assembled the packets with 1/8″ plywood  as the bottom face, followed by the copper layer, followed by a piece of waxed paper (as a sawing lubricant), then the piece of tordonshell followed by another piece of waxed paper, then the pewter layer and finally another 1/8″ plywood face.

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Veneer tape wrapped around the corners held the packet together, and the pattern was glued to the face of the plywood with stick glue.

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Everyone used the same type of saw, a traditional German jeweler’s saw, fitted with 6/0 blades.

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Getting the teeth in the right orientation was a challenge, given the near-microscopic size of them.  I prefer these tiny blades as they allow for more detailed cutting, and leave such a tiny kerf.

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A hole drilled with an eggbeater drill gave entre’ for the blade to be inserted through the packet,

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and sawing could begin.

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The scale of the sawing is tiny, and so is the saw dust.

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The results of this introductory exercise was gratifying.

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We then made some tordonshell, with everyone getting their hand in the process.

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The second,  larger packet was assembled, and the sawing began on the more complex pattern.

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Here is how far we got today.  More tomorrow.

 

Autumn

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 6:21pm

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In previous years our sporadic presence in the mountains often meant that we missed autumn, which comes and goes pretty quickly.  The trees reached full color only a week after beginning to turn, and will be gone in another week.  When the sun is shining the maples are practically neon.

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I continue to chop up trees, and this is maple the first large tree I felled completely by myself.   It was about 60’tall and 18 inches at the base.  I definitely need a larger, more powerful chain saw.  The firewood inventory continues to increase, the local habit is to have next year’s firewood pile sitting and seasoning through the coming year.  I’m thinking I may be approaching that point fairly soon.

Also I am moving the tree line back to the southwest of the barn.  In winter the trees, even though devoid of leaves, are thick enough such that I loose sunlight by about 2.30.  I’m hoping that by moving the tree line back 100 feet I can extend that by an hour.

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Preparations for the Upcoming Boulle Marquetry Workshop

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 6:57pm

 

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This coming Friday through Sunday I will be teaching a three day workshop on the Boulle technique of marquetry at The Barn.  This is something I very much look forward to.  So, for the past few days I have been punctuating my days by preparing the classroom space for the event.

 

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One of the parts attendees seem to enjoy the most is the making of tordonshell, and here is a batch I have prepared for them to use.  They will make their own to take home.

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Come Sunday afternoon they will have some finished panels, the number and complexity depending on their interest and the time it takes them.

I still have an empty slot for this, so if it interests you drop me a line at the Contact portal for the site.

MOFGA

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 5:50am

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A week ago Saturday we attended the Maine Organic Farmer’s and Grower’s Association annual “Common Ground Country Fair,” a weird amalgam of passionate foodies, sensible homesteading and rural stewardship, self absorbed yuppie/hippie types who likely shed their costumes and returned to their Ivy-League lives by Monday (I can only hope they didn’t stay that way in perpetuity, although I don’t know what those old balding men will do with their pony-tails), skilled craftsmen, pagan mythology, eco-hysterics, some pretty cool gadgeteering, and some stuff that simply defied description.

And of course, fabulous food.  And friends.

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I especially enjoyed the skilled trades and crafts on display and being demonstrated, including hewing,

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ash sapling peeling for basketry,

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furniture making,  woodlot and forestry managing,

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a huge range of primitive skills like starting a fire with a bowsaw setup and making archery bows (I wanted to take the fellow’s drawknife and sharpen it proper, because he was basically chewing his way through the wood), spectacular sheep dog exercises,

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stone carving humble,

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and spectacular, and a whole bunch more.

It definitely supplied this year’s quota of human contact, although that one gal with the black make-up and a hardware store’s worth of accouterments in/on/through her face makes me wonder about the human part.  I really wish I had taken a picture.  I simply do not understand the appeal of self mutilation.

It was pretty clear that the patron saint for the event was Karl Marx, and the omnipresent hectoring of the unctuous enviros made me recall this observation of CS Lewis.

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

Still, a grand time was had!  I only wish I had yelled out, “Hooray Monsanto!” or “Fracking now!” just to see the tremors sweep through the crowds.

 

 

The Jonathan Fisher House

Sat, 09/27/2014 - 4:45pm

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The second stop on the New England Tour 2014 was the homestead of Joshua and Julia and Eden, and what a delightful stop it was.  Aside from the fellowship we encountered an overload of learning and experiencing

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On our way to dinner the first evening we stopped by the Jonathan Fisher House museum, where Joshua is engaging in a lot of important research and recreation for his upcoming book on this rural Maine polymath.  There was simply too much to see in such a short time, and I am eagerly awaiting the results of Joshua’s research on this remarkable man who was part parson and part inventive genius furniture maker.

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Of course one notable item in the collection is this Roman style workbench,

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while another is the windmill powered lathe that Joshua is currently reassembling after two centuries of non-use.

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Miraculously many of the original turning gouges are still in the collection.

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Fisher was many things including an accomplished artist, as these prints from his woodcuts will attest.  I fully expect Joshua to paint a compelling picture of rural inventiveness and creativity from the Maine frontier of two hundred years ago.

Ben’s Bench

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 5:24pm

This year’s just-completed whirlwind blitz through New England began with a day of photographing Ben’s bench in central Rhode Island.

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It turns out that Justin, the son of some dear friends here in the mountains, knew a guy with a piano maker’s workbench.  The upcoming book on HO Studley and his tool cabinet and workbench will include a gallery of similar benches and vises, and Ben’s was certainly worthy of inclusion.

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The bench featured a number of exciting revelations, not the least of which was the number “15” stamped perfectly on three of the adjacent parts.  I can only conclude that there are (or were) at least 14 other units of the same manufacture somewhere.

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What was best about the visit was that Ben’s bench is still a working tool to this day.  He was apologetic about some of the accretions, but I was thrilled to see it still helping a guy make a living.

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The motley crew, with Ben in the center and Justin on the right.

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by Dr. Radut