Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Loose Ends

Today a coupla short bits and bobs that don't deserve individual mention.

Firstly, having found hideous prices of copies of From Tree To Sea (see entry here), I stumbled across the fact that Classic Hand Tools sells a 2007 reprint for a considerably less horrific £19.95.

Secondly, you may have noticed I've closed the comments to anyone not logged in via Google or using the so-called 'Open ID'. I'm sorry to have to do it, and please feel free to vent your ire on the spammers who've forced the move. I'll hold your coat.

Lastly, further information suggests devoting time to considering the history behind Monday's tool box would be a waste; it's not at all what it seems. Although I'd still like to identify that brass square properly. The Old Tools List has had a few thoughts on the whole thing under the subject line 'Son of Studley' if you're interested.

That's all, folks.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Boxing Clever

In a bid to kick re-start the longest rumination over a tool cabinet build in human history, I've been perusing the Google image search using suitable parameters for inspiration. There is much of it, but can get a bit "samey" unless you dig deep. Digging really deep, I stumbled over this tool box. In the very likely event that said page will disappear into the retailing ether before we're all very much older, I'll repeat the salient facts, and all the pics here. Because I find it utterly fascinating.

Attributed as 19thC American, 10 inches wide, 14 inches high, 3.5 inches deep. i.e. Holy smokes, that's small. Hardly bigger than a sheet of paper. 

Applying the helpful inch scale provided by the folding rule, I reckon the materials to all be 0.5 inch thick, including the door and (I think) the back. So the interior space is teeny-tiny.

If it wasn't for the big brass square/bevel doodah, I might well have assumed it was for a child, because all the other tools are entirely kiddie friendly. My mind, and brief research, has drawn a blank on the square's name and purpose, which might give us a clue as to the purpose of this kit.

Cranked brass hinges. All the hardware is pretty robust and looks like good quality.

The carry handle is anything but flimsy. And pivots. For a purpose, or just what was available?

The body of the box takes something of a Studleyesque approach to squeezing in a lot of tools in a small space. It helps when they're small - I estimate the miniature plane is only about 2.25 - 2.5 inches long. Not absolutely sure of the tool in the corner with the bulbous handle. It seems to have a point on the end of the handle, which can't be comfortable, and a rather bashed up appearance to the brass below the wood.

Things get really interesting in the bottom half. First off, some saw medallion re-use there, which I'm partial to. Secondly, the worlds smallest claw hammer? Thirdly, the spokeshave. Okay, I can see how you'd probably have to trim down the handles to get it to fit, but amputate them entirely? Fourthly, it appears that the section with the hammer, square, and rule will hinge down. Is it there we'd find chisels? Screwdriver? Gouges? Brace bits?

Despite the pretty rough finish on some of the interior, clearly this wasn't built by a total mug; perfectly good panel door there, to go with the dovetailed carcass. The hanging pull and hooks seem a bit odd for a box that appears designed for transport, so I wonder if they were a later addition.

Which all leaves me wondering what this box o' tools was for. It'd probably help to identify the square 'n' bevel, but I reckon the contents suggests the exact fitting of something, probably in a confined or restricted space. And really it's too bad we can't find out what's behind the hinged section.

Anyway, it's given me plenty of entertainment. Trouble is it's also distracted me into wondering about building one, which is entirely not helpful. Where's that To Do List...?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Miss Otis Regrets...

... that this blog is no longer going to accept Anonymous comments. The amount of spam I'm having to trawl through on the off-chance there may be a real comment in among the boots, bags, and boobs has got ridiculous.

We'll see how it goes. Odds are you've already got one of the accepted IDs and it will make no difference to you, but apologies if you're one of the terminally suspicious who refuses to sign up for anything and can no longer comment. If you're desperate, email me; if enough people moan about it, I may reverse the move. But you'd have to comment with awesome regularity in return... :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

From Russia...

... With Colour.

Ran across some marvellous colour photographs of severe-looking Cossacks and chaps of Oriental appearance flogging piles of carpets the other day. No big deal, except apparently they were taken between 1909 and 1918 by a chap called Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii; of whom I've never previously heard, but boy, he'd got his colour photography technique down well. Those colours really pop. All the background and some non-woody examples here.

Naturally, when I see a collection of early photos is available to peruse online, my thoughts turn woodworking-wards. Alas, no luck finding a picture of Uri in the Urals posing in front of his carpenter's bench, but still some of interest, I think.

Carpenter; Samarkand.

And again, I believe, although the archivists haven't made the connection (over-worked, under-appreciated beings, as they are). Don't know about you, but henceforth I shall feel wildly underdressed in the w'shop in comparison. Some accurate work on the finished pole; also done with the adze?

Railroad construction on the Shadrinsk-Sinara railroad in Siberia, aka Log Cabins A-Go-Go. This is a photo I'd like to be able to step into in order to get a closer look at what they're doing. And also ask someone why they elected to leave that particular - perilously leaning - tree, and then build a cabin right slap bang next to it...

Log Sawing; Kuzminskoe. Pit sawing! Except, on trestles. So, Trestle Sawing! Which sounds more like an accidental meeting of saw with workshop appliance, so maybe not... Three of them on the go at once, and I can't help noticing that while all the "top dogs" are concentrating on the cut, all three bottom sawyers are having a good goof towards the camera. Welcome relief from the dusty tedium, I imagine.

Elsewhere in the Oka River region, a saw mill.

Joining shop for the production of scabbards at the Zlatoust plant. Pardon me while I succumb to large, unguarded bandsaw lust; as is always inevitably the case. Seems to me that bit of heavy iron in the foreground has a German manufacturer's name on it, no? Also getting brief glimpses of vice-like things, possibly on benches, but not enough to be sure. Ack, another one I'd like to be able to step into - or at least swing the camera to the left a bit.

Now we're indoors, let me pause to recommend your own perusal of the Interiors tag in the archive of this collection; there are some gorgeous pictures, just not woodworking ones. Meanwhile onto the weighing section at the Chakva tea factory in the Caucasus.

Why? Because wouldn't claiming to be building a "Tea Bench from the Caucasus" sound terribly impressive? While looking entirely doable too. The Schwarz needs to get onto that and it'll be the Next Big Thing in no time.

Found the tea house of the simple bench via searching for furniture, which also produced this from the White Palace museum in Rostov.

The Borodino Museum has a similar "pile it in" approach to museum display. Such as is likely to make one blench, in this case; pretty sure the maker of that desk hadn't envisioned someone stacking half an armoury (including small cannon) onto it. Given his expression, the character in the portrait may well be the maker... Oddly unadorned drawer fronts, I thought; jars slightly to my non-Russian eye.

And finally, no appreciable woodwork in this one, but truly, it's not often you see that many sabres and assorted other implements for dispatching the enemy displayed in one place and quite like that. It's at the home of the big iron seen earlier - the Arsenal Museum of the Zlatoust plant - so you might want to take particular note of the scabbards.

So there were considerable hours wasted - or, well spent, as I'd like to think - going through that lot. Too about the lack of Vladimirs in Vladivostok or similar posing with their tool kits, but heigh ho. Do svidanja.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Bristol Plane Makers

Haven't been in the workshop at all this year. 2013 clearly stinks, but then what d'you expect when it has a 13 in it? Shouldn't we be superstitiously skipping this one? Or maybe calling it 2012b?

Oh, right. Happy New Year, gentle reader. Hope you're enjoying it and had a ball over Christmas and all that jazz. However, that is not why I'm here.

Back in the early stages of the Epic Advent Posting Madness of 2012 (aka 2012a), I wrote of one of my old tool buying encounters. As these things sometimes do, this resulted in a follow up from a reader.

Pete R is in the research stages of a book on Bristol plane makers, and thus zeroed in on the remembrances of Greenslade's of that city. Alas, I have no further information, but this seemed like as good a place as any to flag up that he's currently researching journeyman plane makers, but would presumably be interested in any information on the plane makers of Bristol, if anyone out there has any. A long shot, I know, but it's funny how folks wander along with all sorts of knowledge and we might as well tap it as not.

If you have anything, drop me an email or a message in the comments box, and I'll put you in touch with Pete.