Fall 2018 after a long hot and wet summer in Carlisle

It was a long, hot and wet summer this year – but fall has finally arrived.

I have been working pretty much every weekend for so many weeks now that I cannot really remember – definitely stretching back into September.  A big project at work that took me down to New York, which was interesting and I had the opportunity to meet up with my new department and my peers in person.   Made a live, on stage, presentation to all the senior leadership of technology of the parent Bank – which was stressful since I was presenting the technology of the group I had just joined 5 weeks before to people who were asking detailed questions.  Fortunately my new boss was on stage with me and it went well – but it was a pretty long hour or so!

I got a chance to visit Ground Zero and the Oculus (the new memorial/PATH train station) since it was directly across the street from my hotel.  By the way, how is it that the Hilton Millenium directly downtown doesn’t have a WiFi internet system except in lobby (which also doesn’t work)?.

I found the site a very excellent combination of memorial and bustling life moving forward.  They have struck an excellent balance.  I didn’t have time to visit the museum itself but it is supposed to be very, very, very good.   I really liked the Oculus – it is a building that is getting USED but also helps you think.

Finally – a bit of a shot of the Farm Stand near my house – all dressed and bustling with harvest energy!

and I almost forgot – here is the final installed stone work that marks the permanent maximum extent of my lawn

 

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stone work for the border of my lawn

As part of my terms and conditions still outstanding, I need to mark off with some sort of permanent markers the maximum edges of “lawn” which is essentially where the siltation barriers were.  This is totally fine as it is swamp cabbage land on the other side!

My Dad and I enlisted our friend Jic Davis to help as he has a lot of experience with stone and stone work.  My thought was to make some stone posts out of granite in the same way the Colonials did it – keep true to the site!

As it turns out, he was very gracious and not only showed me how to work the stone, but he let me use his tools AND gave to me some granite.  Thank you Jic!

Two weeks ago, we went over to his house and picked the top two stones off his stone pile and used his loader/forklift to move them onto his gravel driveway out of the sun (it was VERY hot and humid).  Then using his electric hammer drill, I drilled 1/2 inch holes around 8 inches apart and placed ‘pins & feathers’ in the holes.  Pins and Feathers are the traditional way to split stone – essentially you have a spike (the pin) and place it in the hole.  On each side, you place iron/steel strips- the idea is that as you drive down the spike, they slide along the strips and there is a spreading pressure you exert on the stone – since stone resists compression very well, but not tension/expansion, it is possible to split the stone.  You need to have a feel for the grain of the stone and as Jic pointed out, the rock was being VERY cooperative that day.

we used, without much success, the exact same method to attempt to break up the boulder 13 years ago back in 2005.  Shown here in this link http://www.sixthelement.org/images/carlisle/index.html

Things worked out great, I was able to split the rocks into exactly the size and shape needed to mark the boundaries.  It was super fun.  Thank you Jic!!!

I have photos below AND also Jic took some movies of the drilling (with Slo-Mo) and tapping away at the rock

 

 

 

 

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Scotts Valley Fohl family visit to Carlisle

Jeff, Meghan, Mason and Owen left to go back to Scotts Valley on Friday (today is a rainy Sunday morning).  We had a GREAT time and I hope they did as well.

Unfortunately the subsidiary that I work for is in the midst of a 5 way merger and things are extremely busy and time sensitive leading up to our next phase on August 1st – so I was not able to take any time off beyond the weekend to hang out.  But we did have the opportunity to see each other each night and on the weekend we got some time to play Dungeons & Dragons with Mason and Jeff hosted a party at my house on Sunday which went super well.  The Muldowney’s came, Chris Fielding and his kids, the Collins’ (both Massachusetts and Maryland set), Scott Johnstone, Craig First, the Richardsons (my neighbors), friends of Chris and Mary Collins from down in Maryland and Ben (a friend of Meghan’s from California who is living in New England at the moment).  Probably missing some folks too!

Quite a successful party – food was good, conversation was good and the zillion kids all had a great time doing gymnastics, blowing bubbles with commercial and hand made bubble machines and of course, getting Kimbles ice cream !!

Yesterday, my Dad and I went up to Brentwood New Hampshire to Highland Hardwoods to look at speciality hardwood for building the first shepherd’s hut.  With the frame done, now I need to finalize the design of the structure itself, get the materials and start building.  I was thinking of using oak 4×4 beams for a post and beam construction – but I may fall back to local Concord Lumber construction grade pine.  Highland Hardwoods was not what I was expecting – it was more of a traditional lumber warehouse – which I suppose makes sense since the majority of their wood is locally sourced and used in construction.  What I am used to is MacBeath Hardwood in Berkeley California who ship in wood from all over the world and it is a spice shop of exotic smells in their warehouse.  Some thinking is needed for this project, but as Dad pointed out, I also have projects like a coffee table or two, a media center for the TV and other projects – Highland should be able to do the job for me !

Had a great time with family and I hope they had fun too !

 

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Welcome to July!

July has arrived and it is HOT but some cool stuff has been happening here

My parent’s and I have been pulling my house into final order as prep for Meghan, Jeff, Mason and Owen arriving and spending time here in Carlisle.  They are going to stay at my house while I stay at my parents.  All the stuff that was on my plan for ‘eventually’ is actually happening and it is GOOD.  Art is being hung up, furniture is being used, books are being unpacked from boxes and put up on shelves.

So far this weekend, we assembled my new dining chairs (3 out of 4 arrived – the 4th should be Monday or Tuesday).  They are transparent acrylic and come in super fun colors – appropriately enough from Flash Furniture.   I took the advice of some of the Amazon reviewers and purchased rollerblade wheels and used them instead of the wheels that came with the chair – just as insurance against scratching the hardwood floor.  My they roll like wicked now.

I also got some more book shelves.  Today will be unpacking the remaining books and placing things on shelves – or as much as we have energy for

what do you think?

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Old Home Day in Carlisle, 2018

http://www.carlisleohd.org/   (click here for the newly revamped website with great photos – definitely capture the feel of OHD)

Good morning all – this year’s Old Home Day in Carlisle was a bit cold and damp with occasional showers, but definitely not rained out.  Old Home Day is a traditional celebration in some of the smaller New England towns and was created as a way for families to get together and celebrate Independence but also recognize the realities of life – that a lot of folks feel tied to the town they grew up in, but don’t live there any longer.  So Old Home Day is offset from the 4th of July and allows people to celebrate the 4th where they live, but still come Home to “their” town.   An excerpt of the history of Carlisle’s Old Home Day (researched by Al Peckham) is below – taken from the Old Home Day website

ORIGINS OF OLD HOME DAY
Researched and written by Al Peckham 

    At the annual town meeting 85 years ago, on February 1, 1909, Article 15, “To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of one hundred dollars for Old Home Week and to appoint an Old Home Week Committee to act thereon.” The article failed to pass.But in 1912 the first old home celebration was held for one day on July 31, 1912, according to Ruth Wilkins Hollis’ record, “It was a beautiful summer day, with the Town Flag flying on the Common and the Soldiers’ Monument in the Square decorated with flags and flowers.”
That was 82 years ago. The next year a Carlisle Old Home Day Association was formed. Held annually until 1915, the fifth event was held four years later after World War I on September 1, 1919, including a reception for Carlisle soldiers and sailors returning from war service. The parade that day included most of the twenty World War I veterans and a few Civil War veterans. …..

If you do a Google search on Old Home Day you get smattering of town events and some hits for Old Home Week.  Carlisle is definitely in a select few who have a celebration like this.  I personally think it is a LOT of fun

This year, like every year, there are lots and lots of kids and many kid events – we saw a portable rope bridge, live music and the traditional midway.  I got a very good cheeseburger and chips from the Boy Scouts (a very efficiently run BBQ setup – well done guys!) and when we got there, things were winding down.

My parents both entered art work in the Art/Craft show and my Dad won the Best In Show prize – HUZZAH !!    This is actually a pretty big achievement considering the quality of work on display in the amatuer categories and the really, really talented professional artists who had pieces there (including Maris Platais – who is amazing and internationally known  https://www.mysticseaport.org/artists/platais-maris/  )   I have two pieces by Maris and they are really nice.  We had a celebratory clinking of the glasses during juice and cookie time before dinner – ha!

My Dad’s show winner is a large wood sculpture carved in Elm wood – left over from tree’s that died due to Dutch Elm Disease.  As related to me, this was his first large sculpture attempt and I remember as a very little kid the care and effort that went into the final smoothing of the wood using tool steel scrapers.   He also entered in a bronze and stone sculpture and a polished walnut sculpture – both of which demonstrate mathematical topology concepts

My Mom entered several quilted wall hangings which are great as well.  As of a month or so ago, my Mom has sold every piece of fabric art that was displayed at the Carlisle Artisans – a double HUZZAH !!

A memorable Old Home Day for sure and good times had by all

 

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Catching up and moving into summer

Its been a bit since my last update – mostly because work has been taking up a lot of my mental energy.  Our 3 way merger has evolved now into a 5 way merger and the time frames have not changed (actually compressed a bit) – that is not leaving a lot of left over brain cells for the weekend.  But this week was not too bad and I have coffee in hand and I thought I would capture what has been happening since the snow disappeared?

First off – my Dad and I have been working diligently to de-clutter and organize his workshop.  We have gotten rid of some things that were no longer needed and have come up with new organizational schemes for materials and tools – so we are utilizing the existing space much better.  We moved the electric welder over to my shop (still need to put that back together at some point), added a lot of eye hooks in the ceiling as a mount point for a new and really slick chain fall hoist from a firm in Japan – it is totally sweet.  You can lift several hundred pounds with just finger tip pressure pulling on the chain and it is very easy to control.  It makes moving around some of the new sheet metal tools my Dad has bought very easy.  Below is a picture of the kind of stuff we are doing – getting things organized has made it a lot more pleasant to be in the shop along with the new lighting and heating system too – it means it is getting used several hours a day vs a few hours per year!

Sticking with that theme – one set of shepherd’s hut wheels has been converted by one of the crack welders at Leo Cavelier’s (actually Cavelier Welding now) into the frame of a hut and they delivered it.  I decided to do one hut at a time to capture lesson’s learned and have one less thing to deal with at a time.  It came out really, really well and looks super neat.  I am working out the framing design now

Skipping backward in time, Tenley came out during the snow to visit Carlisle – I was super busy at work and didn’t get to take much time off (brain has short circuited – I can’t remember now – I must have taken a day off??).  Regardless, that was super fun and we unpacked my artwork – some of which I had packed away for 10 years plus and had forgotten about.  We did layouts and her expert color eye was put to good use deciding what should go where – thank you Tenley!   (last weekend we actually hung things up 🙂   Oh and the furniture I ordered arrived too – two pull out sleeper sofas and a rocking chair.  All very nice looking and comfortable

Over the Memorial Day Weekend, my niece Margaret walked her graduation for her Masters degree in Leadership from Saint Mary’s College (she still has to defend her thesis this summer – apparently that is their standard structure – they have an offsite in Santa Cruz designed into all and everything).  CONGRATULATIONS MARGARET !

It went very well, with her mitre board decorated with “One Degree Hotter” – which was very appropriate since it was HOT.  Even in the early morning, the sun was blasting us – we only lasted till a few minutes after Margaret got her diploma and then we left.  Over half of the guests were clustered in the shade under the trees on the walk way up to the graduation field – barely able to see but cooler – so we were not the only ones feeling it!  We went off to the Lafayette Park Hotel to freshen up and attend the reception in the Library that Tenley set up.  It was very nice and I had a lot of interesting conversations with folks.

From graduation, I drove down to visit Jeff, Meghan, Mason and Owen (the Scott’s Valley Fohls!) in their new house.  Man, it is totally great!  The house is older, so it has the kind of quirks a 100 year old house will pick up but there is tons of light, the neighbors are nice, really nice family outdoor space on the decks and room for outside stuff on the lawn.  Plus  the barn is super cool and adaptable to what ever without being too fussy

I arrived on Sunday, so we went to Roaring Camp Railroad on Monday (Memorial Day) to ride the steam trains through the redwood forest and they were also having a huge US Civil War re-enactment with probably 300 re-enactors.  It was super neat.  We rode the steam train up the mountain, where a group of teenagers re-enacted a skirmish between the Confederate and Union forces.  Man where they having fun and they were so, so into the interpretive process – once their battle was over, they rushed up asked everyone on the train what kind of questions they had.  They wrapped it up with a competitive volley competition – where each side fired a volley to see who could be the most in sync.  I  was very impressed – both were good, but definitely the kids being the Confederates were better – they were spot on.  It occured to me that since the Confederates “lost” the skirmish, putting the more disciplined kids onto that side was probably planned out – it takes more organization and discipline to act out losing!

There was also good food – we had hot dogs of course !  Then there was time to watch some Blacksmith demonstrations (the Blacksmith was very good at explaining what he was doing to the kids and I bought a steel dinosaur for Owen and steel 6 side die for Mason).  They have a print shop which I briefly visited – it was pretty neat.  But then they had the big battle which started with the artillery blasting at each other from long range and quickly escalated to back and forth infantry battles.  Surrenders, lightning raids, rescues gone wrong – they had it all.  Over the course of about 40 minutes they battled back and forth (I noticed more than one “dead” soldier managing to die with their hat over their face to avoid sunburn).  At the end, only the two wounded flag bearers were alive and they marched off the field together.  A sobering and very well done interpretive battle – they wrapped things up with a lot of explaining what we had just seen – it was very well done

Regarding the trains – the steam locomotive is super interesting – it is all wheel drive, with geared bevel gears on each  wheel truck and a super short wheelbase to allow it to make tight turns and go up steep inclines.  We went up a 9 degree slope at one time which is one of the steepest, if not the absolute steepest, inclines in North America (anything steeper becomes usually a cogwheel rail system).  The locomotive is a Shay design (named after the designer) and a lot of thinking went into it – all the drive equipment is on the right hand side of the locomotive – so all the steam pistons, drive shafts, gears etc… is right there and easy to service.  They told us they have a Heisler locomotive and to repair a cracked gear they had to take the entire train apart – since the drive line runs through the center of the train.  According to the conductor, who was explaining things as we went along, the expectation was that the locomotives were essentially viewed as disposable and would only last 10 years in the field – when they broke down, often they would be shunted off to a siding and abandoned.  But because the Shay design was so easy to work on, they continued to be maintained and so the majority of the logging locomotives that are still around in North America are the Shay design.  Here is a link to the official history of the Camp and their locomotives 

Here is the link to my own Youtube.com channel – I took a lot of video from Roaring Camp

I am not sure why Youtube picked the frame below to use as the ‘splash’ – because the video is about the family eating lunch at a picnic table and only at the end does a quick pan around the area -weird.

 

 

Here are some of the photos – somehow I was not in the same place as Mason and Meghan most of the day – sorry for the lack of photos there!

 

Finally – what have I done recently?  well I finished a coffee table that I made out of the wrecked rear mag wheel from Skip Barber’s Formula 5000 car and I fixed the broken side table that I have had hanging around for long time – it now stands fully upright and can support a cocktail again without spilling.  I forgot to take pictures – so I will have to do that and post them at a later time

Have a good weekend everyone!

 

 

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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

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