Spring, wonderful spring…. urrr – what?

Spring is taking its sweet time showing up in Carlisle this year – it is not particularly unusual for things to be snowy, cold or unsettled in March – but this year we have had 3 Nor’Easters in the first 10 days of the month and a near miss on a fourth.  Right now it is changing back and forth between snow and rain this morning (Sunday) – but nothing should come of it.

The 2nd storm was problematic – a LOT of heavy wet snow that came down overnight and stuck literally like glue to the trees.  I was out at 5:15am trying to clear the driveway of downed limbs with my ax (which took over an hour to chop and haul stuff away).  As the sun came up, some breeze started stirring up and it was like fireworks going off in the woods – about every 30 seconds you could hear a limb or a tree exploding and coming down.  On the trees that were still whole and just bent over the driveway, I whacked what I could with my ax (with the leather sheath on it) or pulled on them to shake the snow off – it was very difficult – the snow was glued on.

So – lots of trees down, lots of heavy snow.  lots of firewood available soon 🙂

My work has been getting very crazy – so apologies for my handful of regular readers for the lack of updates.  We have been working on a 3 way internal merger of subsidiaries.  10 days ago we added another 2 – so we are doing a five way smash together/tease it apart all at the same time.  I have been telling folks at work – if you like working on projects, this is project management Valhalla – work, work, work everywhere you can see!

Pictures below of snow storms – at the very bottom are three from February that include the delivery of the Shepherd’s Hut wheels from the UK

March 8th storm – pictures of the Granary Burial Ground near Boston Common

the March 13/14th storm – about the same snow level, but HEAVY and on the coast, very windy

 

 

 

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Metal working stuff this weekend in Carlisle

Good morning – we are going through a spring thaw here in New England – it got up to the high 40’s yesterday and for the next week, it is supposed to bounce around from the 20’s to the high 50’s – I suppose based on how the jetstream fluctuates – a little to the west and the warm air from the south will get sucked up along the coast – a little to the east and that action will be out to sea and we will have the arctic down-draft instead.  A few dozen miles probably will make a big difference – so we shall see what we actually get.  There is about 3 or 4 inches of snow on the ground except for the banks of the pond which have southern exposure and have pretty much melted off due to solar gain.

My eBay vise arrived in excellent condition – the seller very helpfully took it apart for shipping and did an excellent job packing/protecting it.  It is up in my Dad’s shop next to the wood stove till I have a place to mount it – we are actively trying to get my shop de-cluttered now that the first workbench is complete.  Maybe today we will get the drill press assembled and off the floor.

My Dad has gotten a lot of ideas around doing things with sheet metal and has purchased a number of new tools – the most recent one is a rotary shear (think REALLY powerful can opener style).  Pictures below of some of the recent purchases.   I am interested in trying them out !

Last night we watched a DVD that was a Christmas gift —  “From Ore to Axe” which is a film by Ken Koons and is not only really interesting, but has really high production values considering about 5 guys and an iron ore sniffing dog made it.  Basically, these smiths have been experimenting for about 10 years to recover the techniques for finding iron bearing rocks, building a furnace out of clay, creating charcoal and converting the ore into iron and then something useful.  They are really good at it now and really show you the whole process.  In the movie, they take you through the entire process from rocks found in the woods to making a Hudson’s Bay Axe style axe from Vancouver, British Columbia (the link here takes you to Best Made – I have one of their Hudson’s Bay axes and love it).

There are a lot of videos on YouTube about the blacksmithing parts and it turns out there are also at least a fair amount on the smelting of the ore – but I have to say, Ken Koons and team make it really, really clear in terms of why they are doing things the way that the do and how to do it – that clearly comes from a LOT of practice.

Lee Sauder is one of the blacksmiths in the video and he has extensive information on his website, sculpture for sale and what not – it is very interesting

  1. http://www.leesauder.com/smelting_research.php
  2. http://www.leesauder.com/sculptures.php

https://youtu.be/vWxs7ZV5Ly8

I started to dig around on YouTube this morning about smelting iron ore and found there is a group in England who are taking a scholarly approach and writing papers, books and what not – the Wealden Iron Research Group .  It may not be true – but based on the results in the video below – you get the impression that the Lee Sauder/Ken Koons team have really been DOING IT while the team in the UK has figured out how to do it and done it a few times – but more to be able to write it up rather than actually get really good – both are adding to the current record of information in different ways!

https://youtu.be/zsywnQJMJEk

 

Out of the Weald, the secret Weald,
Men sent in ancient years,
The horse-shoes red at Flodden Field
The arrows at Poitiers!”

from Puck’s Song, Rudyard Kipling

Iron was made in the Weald from pre-Roman times until the beginning of the 19th century. Its legacy is recalled by a host of place names, such as Minepit Wood and Forge Lane, by the hammer and furnace ponds which survive in the landscape, and by the cast-iron graveslabs and firebacks that can be seen, respectively, in Wealden churches and farmhouses. During the first part of the Roman occupation, and again, in the 16th and early-17th centuries, the Weald was the most important iron-producing region in the British Isles. Over 800 iron-making sites have been identified in the Weald, and more are discovered each year. Since 1968 when it was established, much of this work has been carried out by the Wealden Iron Research Group (WIRG).

Their next publication is going to be a book (Adventure in Iron
by Brian G. Awty) that in part, looks at early blast furnaces –

“The blast furnace and its spread from Namur to northern France, England and North America,1450-1640; a technological, political and genealogical investigation.

This remarkable piece of scholarship, the result of more than 20 years’ research in British and continental archives, traces the spread of iron-making through the families of the skilled personnel who operated the furnaces and forges from late-medieval Belgium via northern France and Britain to colonial America”

This could be pretty interesting!

Finally – the way I found the Weaden Iron Research Group themselves is via the YouTube channel of Harry Rogers – who looks super interesting too!  

He is a leather worker and windsor chair maker – with 46k subscribers to his YouTube channel and lot of very interesting videos on leather working, old farm implements and what not.  Its amazing what you can find on YouTube!

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Tithe Barn Shepherd’s Huts coming to Carlisle Massachusetts

Somehow or other, I imagined that I had put this information up on my blog before this but as I was writing out my other post of today about blacksmith vises and my future mobile blacksmith forge, I realized that I had not done it yet.

Ok – some background.

The problem – I need some space to store things that should not be in the carport, under the house or inside my shop.  Wood shed kinds of things like gasoline and other flammables, wood cutter stuff etc… but I don’t have a good place to build a shed.  Tom McGillvray always says I spend far too much time looking for the end or the edge of the internet – meaning I find a lot of offbeat things.  I was looking at arctic sledges one night when I realized that I don’t have to have a building – that is attached to the ground – I just need something that will shelter things and having it mobile would be useful.  Why not build a shed on top of a movable platform?

Here are some pictures I thought were interesting and useful.  I bought a LOT of reprints of old books on wagon, sleigh and carriage designs – which are interesting but not super useful because they all just assume that the blacksmith will take care of all the dirty mechanical bits and never actually describe how to design/build those parts!  I actually found someone in Canada who makes modern sledges out of iron and oak and sent them an email – but they never responded.

Then I had a further thoughts (in case you are wondering – this has been percolating in my head for something like the last 2 years).  A sledge is great, has very good ground pressure dispersion – but it is not very easy to move unless there is snow on the ground or you have a big tractor/team of horses.  So I started thinking about wheels – iron wheels so you don’t have to worry about keeping tires pumped up.  This led me to Shepherd’s Huts after some more google work – some nice shots below.

Shepherd’s Huts are a European thing but mostly seem to be British – they are huts for shepherds (duh) that get moved around and have basic amenities like a wood stove, a couple of beds and furniture – a place for the shepherds to be without camping on the ground.  My not so brilliant brainwave was that this would work as a true shed as well.  The key bits are the frame and the the mechanical stuff like the steerable front wheels and the wheels/axles themselves.  Turns out you absolutely cannot find cast iron wheels in North America except as mixed odd lot eBay items.  But there is quite an industry in the UK that makes Shepherd’s Huts for garden use and what not.  I found a few that also will sell you the piece parts – in particular Blackdown Shepherd’s Huts   and Tithe Barn Shepherds Huts

I ended up liking the piece parts that Tithe Barn offers the best and I contacted them.  They were SUPER nice and helpful both via email and over the phone.  They work closely with a local blacksmith and also a small family owned casting foundry.  When I contacted them, they said shipping to the US was not a problem and they have been getting more and more international orders lately.  They suggested that I buy TWO because the neighbors will want one when I get it finished – I laughed because I had already decided to buy two – one for a storage shed, the other as a mobile blacksmith shop (another thing that needs outdoor space instead of being inside my workshop).  I figured that if I was going to have a pallet of iron bits shipped from the UK to the US, I might as well pay for the shipping only once and pulled the trigger on wheels for two huts, their associated matched axle bits and plans for their steel chassis (which I will either weld up or contract out (hopefully contract out since if I do it, it will take me forever!).  Either Leo Cavalier’s shop or Alan Carpenito (who has moved out of town but is an incredible welder)

I think what I am going to do is to have the storage shed built with one or more ramps so I can move in mowing equipment/snow blowers etc…  The blacksmith forge will have a very robust frame with sides that either swing away or up for rain protection.  My Dad and I are looking on I-Beam structures and hoists – so you can easily offload heavy things like anvils to the ground and then back up into the hut when it is not in use?

Design thoughts are not complete – so good fun is being had chatting about it all.

 

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Project stuff in the dead of January

Good morning all – I hope you are all enjoying the long MLK weekend and thinking of all the interesting people that you know who are not the same as you?  I have this weekend – but maybe not in the way that is very mainstream – how does other people’s work go around the world and come down through time.  People you may never meet?

In order to get my workshop going has turned into a bit of a chicken and the egg thing – literally everything is sitting on the floor and to do anything, you have to do it on the floor until you get the first workbench assembled.  That seems simple to resolve but has proven a bit annoying till now.  I found and bought a small workbench kit from WoodCraft Supply from a company called RAMIA   (which is a Czechoslovakian company) and it is just amazing and very cost effective.  First it is very, very well thought out and secondly the workmanship is unbelievably good.  As we were assembling everything over a couple of weekends we came to the conclusion that this was built to aircraft spec tolerances – everything is cut, drilled, measured to less than a 1,000th of a inch.  Everything fits literally perfectly.

Anyway – my Dad and I put it together as a team over the past few weekends and it was a really fun project to do together (it is designed as a two person job and debated if one person could do alone – we think a single person could but it would take some tricky balancing or a third hand 🙂 ).   The next project is to get some stuff done and get the garage organized and cleaned up because there is basically no floor space at the moment.  Below is a picture and the advertising copy from WoodCraft

A lot of our customers are weekend woodworkers working in their garage who don’t have the space for a permanent bench. RAMIA had actually once made what we thought might offer these folks a viable option, so we asked if they could make it again. RAMIA set about improving the design to produce the HB-S Folding Workbench. Although it does not actually fold up, it does stand flat against the wall to a height of 48.5″, extending out only 9.84″ with the bench down. Swing the bench up into the work position, extending it a full 29.5″ into the room, and then swing it down when you are done. The bench comes with two front vises – one in front and one on the end, which can be mounted for either right- of left-handed use. The HB-S is constructed from European Beech with the same attention to detail RAMIA gives to all its benches.

In other project news and partly how I got to thinking about how people are people no matter how you may think you are separated from them – even in time.  I was online last night and just randomly was thinking about blacksmith post vises and I decided to do a google search for images.  I ended up on an eBay posting from an antiques dealer in Maine who was selling one and I bought it on the spot via their “buy it now” feature.  I bought it because I will need it for my future blacksmith forge setup but also because it is really pretty neat – it was forged by John Woolley who had a foundry/forge near Paul Revere’s house and he was active from 1847 to 1879.  Unusually for a vise, the maker’s name was extensively stamped on it.  I talked with my Dad and we decided it was a steal – some blacksmith tools are better if they are old for two reasons.  One – they can be extremely niche and therefore there is not a lot of modern demand for a tool and therefore the quality and durability can be extremely hard to judge and secondly, some equipment really doesn’t take a lot of abuse  – like one of these vises.

The way they are used is to be mounted on alongside a post or a heavy duty bench with direct support against the ground – basically so they are totally locked in and won’t move if you are bending hot iron in them.  They have a relatively course thread screw – so you don’t have to spin the screw arm very much for them to close.  With relatively little time, you can place something hot in the jaws and clamp it down.  This doesn’t make them very precise but that is not what you need when you doing rough shaping of hot iron from the forge.

I really like the idea that a tool that was built locally in Boston up to 160 years ago is still going to be used for its intended purpose.  John Woolley clearly cared enough about what he was doing to be atypical and put his name on his products – I think he would smile to think that someone, generations later, that he would never meet, will take pleasure using his tools.

This will get setup as part of the mobile blacksmith shop that I am going to build out of one of the shepherd’s huts that I am going to make/have made.  I traded emails with the shipping company and the piece parts from England should arrive around 1/25/2018.  I just realized that I need to create a post about that too!

here are photos of the vise, the eBay posting and some very short materials I found out about John Woolley.  To give you a size perspective, the vise weighs about 75 pounds.

1847-1879
BLACKSMITH POST LEG VISE
J.WOOLLEY
BOSTON
STAMPED
A SUPER UNIQUE IN THIS CONDITION
VERY HEAVY DUTY VICE/VISE
MAINE ESTATE FIND
THIS IS ONE OF THE MORE RARE LEG VISE SINCE THERE WERE ONLY IN OPERATION 32 YEARS
WOOLLEY MARKED THERE VISE VERY WELL
THE VISE IS BEEFY ,THEY DID A GOOD JOB
THE LEGS ARE SUPER STRAIGHT AND CORRECTLY DESIGNED
MOUNT IS IN VERY SOLID SHAPE
MOUNT IS NOT TWISTED IN ANYWAY
MOUNT HOLES ARE NOT DRILLED
JAWS ARE PARALLEL AND WIDE
JAWS DO HAVE A PRITCHEL HOLE
SPRING IS WELL DESIGNED AND WORKS WELL WITH LEG DESIGN
IF YOU LOOK OR COMPARE THESE LEGS WITH OTHER VISES THEY A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT
LEGS ARE BEEFYER THEN MOST OTHER 5-1/2″ JAW VISES
DID I MENTION THE LEGS ARE SUPER STRAIGHT,HA !!

THEY USED A BUILT UP BLOCK METHOD TO PRODUCE THERE BOX
THE BOX IS LONG AND DEEP
THE INTERNAL THREADS ARE IN GOOD SHAPE
THE SPINDLE SCREW IS REALLY LONG,LONGER THAN MOST
THE SCREWS FIRST SCREW THREAD ARE WORN BUT THE FAR END THREAD ARE IN VERY GOOD SHAPE
WE FIRST THOUGHT THIS THING IS JUNK BUT AFTER FURTHER INVESTING IT REALLY NOT
WE TESTED THE SCREW IN INCH INCREMENT AND IT HOLDS TIGHT IN EVERY POSITION
THE BOX AND SCREW ARE SO LONG THAT THE REALLY GOOD THREADS GRAB HOLD IN EVERY POSITION
YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS BEFORE PURCHASING,WE DONT HIDE POSSIBLE PROBLEMS
WE LET YOU MAKE THE DECISION
ADDING PICTURE OF SCREW SOON

POST LEG VISES ARE STRONGER THAN LARGER WORK BENCH VISES
POST LEG CAN HANDLE THE HARD POUND DAY AFTER DAY

SIZE
JAWS 5-1/2″
STANDS 39-1/8
SMALLEST O.D.OF BOX -1-7/8 TO 2-1/4″ OUTER RING
SCREW SHANK 1-3/8
HEAVY OVER 75 POUNDS

TIME TO MAKE A SPOT FOR THE OLD BOY
THE VISE WANTS TO KNOW IF ITS TIME TO GO BACK TO WORK ?????

SOMEONE MAY WANT TO PUT THIS ONE IN A MUSEUM WITH OTHER POST LEG VISES

CHECK OUT MY STORE FOR MORE BLACKSMITH TOOLS
WE ALSO HAVE FLOOR MOUNTS YOU COULD USE TO MOUNT YOUR VISE ,STEAMPUNK YOUR VISE
I WILL BE ADDING MORE POSSIBLE MOUNTS WHEN FOUND
IT WILL LOOK COOL AND AND CAN STILL BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF IT

AFTER A GOOD POUNDING ON THE VISE ,,THE VISE WILL SAY “IS THAT ALL YOU GOT WEAKLING
I HAVE BEEN HEAR A LONG TIME WHAT YOU GOING TO DO TO ME,NOTHING HUMAN,HA!!!!
I WAS MADE TO KICK YOUR ASS,HAVE SOME FUN

DONT FORGET ZOOM FOR A GOOD LOOK
I CAN SEND MORE PICTURES ,IF NEEDED

“A LITTLE HISTORY”
“MAINE IS THE FIRST PLACE IN THE COLONIES IN 1607 TO PRODUCE QUALITY BLACKSMITH TOOLING
THE TOOLING WAS USED IN THE PRODUCTION OF SHIPS RIGHT ON THE KENNEBEC RIVER AT FORT ST.GEORGE”

GET IN THAT SHOP AND MAKE SOMETHING SPECIAL

******************************************************

Nick Fohl – from a google search on John Woolley – edited out the other manufacturers – please refer to toolarchives.com for the full article

A COMMUNITY EFFORT DOCUMENTING THE HISTORY OF TOOLS

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Home » Vises and Clamps » Gripping Tool Manufacturers » Early Vise Makers

Early Vise Makers

Here we will list the names of early vise makers as we find them.  The dates represent the earliest and latest records we find of them being in operation.

John Woolley – Salutation St., Boston, MA 1844 – 1879 – Mr. Woolley is listed in the 1844 “4th Exhibition of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association” as having on display 4 new vices.  We only find 2 patents for John Woolley:

  • ​Patent March 16, 1831 – Edging Machine for turning the edges of tin, copper or sheet-iron
  • Patent #4,184– Cooking Stove

Vises and Clamps

Copyright 2017-2018 The Tool Archives©

 

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Minus 11 degrees

EDIT – if you are seeing slow performance, apologies for that – it seems like my hosting provider, for unclear reasons, moved my website to a server farm in London UK.  I have no idea why

A cold start to 2018 for sure – today (Sunday Jan 7) it is negative eleven fahrenheit outside as I am typing this.  Below are some pictures from sunrise at my house yesterday morning

We had Winter Storm Gayson blow through fast and hard on Thursday.  About a foot of snow, but lots of wind and continued drifting as it has been very cold for the past several weeks – so the snow is dry.  Now things are generally wind packed down and layered – which is neat.

I am trying to get back into the flow of regular posting – the last half of 2017 was busy and tumultuous – I also had my job change (and it is still changing) as my subsidiary started the process of merging with two other subsidiaries under my parent company.  It has been crazy as we have all been groping around trying to figure out how to make it a success.  Things are coming together better now, which is good, since the legal join up happens on 1/31/2018 !   (to give you an idea, we don’t have a name yet )

So – since my last post – what has been happening?

In August, something that the Carlisle Fohls have been looking forward to for a long time actually happened – the driveway at my parent’s house got regraded/rebuilt.  It had turned into a definite country lane over the last 4 years – a high center line and deep slopes /ridges on each edge.  It had become a bit of gymnastics exercise to keep it mowed properly in the summer and it had become very difficult to snow plow in the winter (the ridges prevented the plow from pushing the snow off to the side for long stretches – he had to just blast ahead which was very hard when there was a lot of snow).  My Dad finally was able to track someone down who would actually show up and they did a wonderful job – raised the bed up, knocked down the sides, filled in holes – everything

In September we did some nice outdoor stuff – we took a trip one weekend to the Acton Arboretum – which is a really, really neat place that is right near us but I was not even aware it existed.  Some really cool plants and clearly a LOT of love and energy has been going into it for a long time.  I ended up only taking pictures of their grape arbor however to get ideas for building something like it myself.

My Dad and I also, as part of the get moving around outdoors campaign, a short walk over at the Carlisle Cranberry bog.  The bog is now shutdown primarily due to the extreme price depression for cranberries – Farmer Duffy can’t make any money farming them and has decided not to renew the lease (the vines are 100 years old and not super productive and the prices are very depressed – not a winning combination).  The town is trying to figure out what to do with things.

Both my parent’s and I on another weekend, took a trip over the Minute Man National Park and walked in over to the Hartwell Tavern on the original Battle Road.  It is restored and they have an onstaff re-enactor staffers who interpret the site for visitors – who was a very interesting person.   We walked down the Battle Road to Samuel Hartwell House.  It is now only a frame structure because it was destroyed by fire – but it was an operational restaurant up into the late 1950’s or early 1960’s – my parent’s both have memories of eating there.  The whole place is pretty neat – I want to go back again once the weather warms up!

https://www.nps.gov/mima/planyourvisit/placestogo.htm

 

here are photos of the Samuel Hartwell house

In late September, I went to the Microsoft cloud computing conference in Orlando – man was it hot and humid.  It was in a giant convention center – each day was about 5-7 miles of walking for an event where you are supposed to be sitting in presentation sessions!

 

October was a blur, but I finally got to take a vacationy vacation – Tom McGillvray and I rented a small house on Nantucket.  Pat Clouthier, her sister and some friends also stopped by over Halloween – it was chilly but very fun and much needed

we were in walking distance to the main town – which was nice – and the Halloween celebration was really fun.  Great costumes by everyone and extremely family oriented – lots and lots of kids.  We saw one adult costume which was a Mexican Pinata with two people in it – they were walking along throwing candy out the bottom.  It was really funny and popular as you might expect.  The next day, we went to a local yarn shop and got talking to the owner about the costumes from the prior night and we mentioned the Pinata – turned out it was her and a friend in the costume!   They showed us video they took from inside.  They had cheesy mariachi music and margaritas too !  very fun

We also spent some time at the Nantucket Winery / Whiskey distillery / Nantucket Brewery.  Despite what you might think about such a combo organization – they do a VERY nice job with their products and have a great outdoor tasting setup.  We had a very good time sitting in the sun, tasting and then having someone else (Uber) pick us up and take us back to town 🙂

 

And some more photos after Halloween

And finally December 2017 and year end – snow and ice

up until late November and early December, it was deceptively mild here in New England.  It has been COLD since then however – we had an ice storm around Christmas and it has snowed a lot and stayed very cold to very, very cold since then.  Well below zero overnight and some days very windy, creating a strong wind chill.  Lots of hot chocolate

and finally – everyone please stay warm!

 

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Art is now being installed at the new house

Today my Dad and I finished the construction and installation of the custom art hanging hardware for the awesomely awesome Forbidden Planet canvas art hanging that Tom McGillvray gave me as gift several years ago when we were still roommates in San Francisco.

Across the street from our old condo is a furniture and furnishing store called HD Buttercup – they specialize in low production run eclectic furniture and items as well as left overs.  Worldwide pool of procurers apparently and lots of wild stuff.

One day, Tom and I wandered in (I think because we were moving out to a rental apartment and needed some different furniture??).  Anyway, as I remember it, there was a giant canvas hanging that was a reproduction of the 1933 King Kong movie poster and my immediate reaction was ‘that is SO COOL !”  .  Apparently Tom remembered it and knew that I was a big fan of the film Forbidden Planet  – so he bought it for me as a present !!  Thank you again Tom!

It is very large so it has been rolled up for a number of years till I had somewhere to hang it – now I do and I have 🙂

We mounted it on a trimmed up and slimmed down 2×4, 7 foot long piece of pine and used mounting hardware from http://www.arakawagrip.com/solutions/art-hanging – which is a cable based system that is VERY easy to move art around.

I think it look super good (plus I have a new, modern style wool rug and some new pillows that my Mom just finished).  The pillows are super duper cool – heavy white cotton duck fabric and very smooth dyed fabric from Kauai on the front – with embroidered turtles and dolphins.

Things are starting to shape up.  I might go over to a West Elm store tomorrow to look at some chairs and other furniture that I cannot easily build.

Cheers everyone!

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I miss him a lot…

My younger brother Pete passed away on July 7th.  I miss him.

more below the break

Continue reading

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Professional photos of my house are here!

The Marketing team at Acorn Deck House Company has very, very graciously given me permission to use some of the photos they took recently of my house.  I believe they are working on a new version / update of their website and some of this material looks like it will be included.

Thank you so very, very much to Paul Hebert, Tim Hebert and all of Paul’s crew – you guys are FANTASTIC.

To Acorn Deck House – you are so wonderful to work with and I truly appreciate your generosity in letting me use some of your material in this blog.

To Atlantic Industrial Models – Joe Fassa and team.  Thank you very, very much for the wonderful execution of the metal work shown here

And finally, a huge shout out to Anthony Crisafulli for the awesome photos

Embedded YouTube video below – the embedding forces it to be pretty small – I recommend going to the bottom right hand corner of the video and either clicking on the FullScreen icon or clicking over to YouTube so you can watch it there.  Great Stuff!

All I can say is WOW – what great photos Anthony!

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Recent trip to California

I just got back from a short trip to California.  Besides normal things like meeting up with friends, checking in on things in the office, we had a work BBQ.  8 folks from our office in Pune India are over visiting for training and the team self organized a wonderful BBQ at Shadow Cliffs Recreation Area in Pleasanton, CA.  I think it is a re-use of a former gravel pit (there is a cement and gravel company up the road).  A wonderful place for families – there is a swim area with full lifeguard support that very gradually goes out into the lake and the water is warm.

We had about 60 people show up and I was so busy chatting and flipping burgers and dogs on the grill, I forgot to take any people shots.  All I personally took was when I took a brief walk to check out the rest of the lake

Coming back to New England was a bit of a shock.  May 2017 was the 5th wettest month on record and was cold (40’s and 50’s mostly).  When I left for California it was mid forties – stepping out of the airport on my return, it was 97 degrees and very humid.  Driving home (around 5:00pm at this point) – I was heading south on Rte 95 when I passed through a thunderstorm.  Sheeting down rain and in 1/3 of a mile the temperature dropped from 98 degrees to 81 degrees!  The storm was only 1 mile wide and then the temp shot back up again on the other side.  Very weird!

Summer is finally coming!

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2017 – A cold and wet spring in Carlisle

Spring so far has been a bit disorganized for me – which has been mirrored on the weather front as well.  Since my last post, we had a least one late snow & ice storm and several cold fronts of rain blowing in.  But grass is growing, trees are budding and planting is going on.

In terms of planting, I have been working with John Bakewell of Carlislearboriculture to put in a traditional English hedge along my property line with the Kimball’s property.  See my prior post here

John arranged for Rototilling and in April I helped him plant the Hornbeam, Hawthorn and Arrowwood.  Yesterday I planted the Blueberries, Grapes and I also planted my four American Chestnut seeds.

  1. Twenty Five seedlings of Hornbeam
  2. Twenty Five seedlings of Hawthorn
  3. Twenty Five seedlings of Arrowwood
  4. Six seedlings of Concord Grape
  5. Six seedlings of Frontenac Grape
  6. Six potted Blue Berrys

I stumbled across the American Chestnut Foundation a few years ago somehow and I joined last year as a Chestnut Leaf Sponser, which as a benefit, allowed me to get 4 chestnuts for planting.  The ACF is attempting to get around Chestnut blight and re-establish the American Chestnut tree into the North American forest.  Before joining, I had never realized that Chestnuts made up 25% of all trees in the US forests and in some places, fallen chestnuts could be a foot deep or more.  When you think of today’s forests, they are out of balance from what they used to be – the calories inherent in the chestnuts are missing.

The four chestnuts that I have planted are the property of the ACF and I have to report back regularly on their progress – a neat way to participate in something that could be very transformative of the countryside in the coming decades!

Speaking of transforming, my Dad and I are working on reconstructing his workshop and decluttering it of equipment and stuff that he is not regularly using.  For his birthday, he received a new sander.  I am taking his old sander out of the shop.  We are also looking at getting the wiring re-done and a lot more lighting that is also task focused.  My birthday gift to him is building a customized workbench for the new sander.  In the picture below, you can see the shop at maximum clutter – now thankfully already being reduced

Plenty of projects still to go!

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