Category Archives: NBSS

Quality is Contagious: John Economaki and Bridge City Tool Works

One of the lessons I learned while I was a student at the North Bennet Street School was an appreciation for quality hand tools and the superior work they can help produce. A hand tool that works well and feels good in the hand can be a joy to use — and all the better if that fine tool is also easy on the eyes.

NBSS America's First Trade School
NBSS America’s First Trade School

Many hand tools on the market today mimic or improve upon the designs of earlier tools. I love my Lie-Nielsen planes and chisels which take advantage of newer materials and manufacturing techniques and produce traditional tools that look great and work even better. A few makers have been a bit bolder with their designs and use of manufacturing technology — some of the new Veritas planes like the side rabbet or custom planes, Knew concepts coping saw and Woodpecker’s line of one time tools among others.

When I think about tools that are pushing the envelope in terms of design, use, manufacturing quality, and aesthetic appeal, John Economaki’s work is at the top of my list. If you are not familiar with John or his work, he founded Bridge City Tool Works in 1983 and like a fine micro-brewer has been making small batch runs of incredible tools ever since. Given the small production runs  these ultra premium tools have been a the higher end of the market and are popular with woodworkers and collectors. I’d love to buy every tool he makes if I had the budget to buy them all, but even one or two in your tool chest will be a delight to look at and use on a regular basis.

NBSS Edition Bridge City Try Square
NBSS Edition Bridge City Try Square

Quality is Contagious: John Economaki and Bridge City Tool Works

If you live in the Pacific Northwest you can see some of John’s toolmaking prowess and furniture making skill at the “Quality is Contagious: John Economaki and Bridge City Tool Works” exhibit which is currently at the Bellevue Arts Museum in Bellevue Washington. The exhibit will run through February 1, 2015. (The exhibit was curated by Nicole Nathan in collaboration with Economaki and formerly seen at the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, Oregon) and is a celebration of John’s work and dedication to quality.

If you are like me and live in the Northeast, do not despair — this exhibition will also be making its way to Boston in the new year. I am happy to report that the North Bennet Street School in Boston will be hosting this exhibition the late spring of 2015.

You can learn more about the exhibit at NBSS and tool here along with a personal appeal from NBSS President Miguel Gómez-Ibáñez here. Admission to the exhibit will be free and it will surely be a inspirational experience for both craftsmen and patrons of the arts.

Old North Bennet Street Industrial School Sign
Old North Bennet Street Industrial School Sign

“I am a huge fan of North Bennet Street School and can’t think of a more relevant venue on the East Coast for the exhibit – it is really quite an honor.” — John Economaki

Now here is the part where NBSS needs your help. Exhibitions are costly and, as a non-profit, the school has to raise $20,000 in funds to cover the installation, travel expenses and insurance. To help underwrite the costs, John Economaki designed a limited edition TS-1 Try Square (see photo above and below). The tool is 6.5” long, just under 4” in height and features a stainless steel blade with an 8:1 internal cutout for laying out dovetails. The innovative handle design interjects a fun combination of colors giving it a unique voice in the tool world. Individuals who contribute $250 or more, receive the NBSS square. For contributions of more than $400, supporters receive both the tool and a copy of the exhibit book.

Bridge City Book and Try Square
Bridge City Exhibit Book and Try Square

If you’d like to help support this worthwhile exhibit you can make your donation here.

Donations over $75 are tax deductible and if you work for a larger corporation you may want to see if they have a donation matching program. At my current day job, and my last job as well, they will match any donations I made thus effectively doubling my contributions. I encourage you to do the same if possible. I’ve already made my donation and eagerly await my new tool and book. I also look forward to seeing you at the exhibition.

Take care,
-Bill

1805 Taylor Old Up and Down Sawmill

One of the hidden gems of Derry NH is the 200+ year old Taylor Sawmill. It’s one of the last surviving and working up and down sawmills in the region and likely the country.

Taylor Sawmill, Derry, NH
Taylor Sawmill, Derry, NH

Powered by a large water wheel, this mill still operates for demonstrations and the occasional bit of restoration work.  It’s amazing to see and hear this mill in action. There is a distinctive noise as the saw makes each powerful stroke like clockwork, and it’s almost scary as you can feel some of the vibration through the floor and feel the air move as this massive timber frame saw blade oscillates up and down.

The mill is powered by a large water wheel which is fed by an adjacent pond.
The mill is powered by a large water wheel which is fed by an adjacent pond.

The blade itself is held in tension by a massive timber frame. You can think of it as a giant frame saw. The blades could be changed based on the type of materials being sawn and desired finish quality results. In the video below you’ll see the mill operating at one of its slowest speeds. Each blade was set and sharpened by hand. As the saw cut the timber, the ratcheting mechanism (driven by the massive geared wheel in the bottom left of the photo below) advanced the entire timber into the blade via a moving carriage.

Up And Down Sawmill in Action
Up And Down Sawmill in Action

The mill itself sits on land in Derry NH purchased by Robert Taylor in 1799. The mill started operating in 1805 and had a fairly long service life. The mill site and 71 acres around it were purchased in 1939 by Ernest Ballard. By that time the original mill itself had been scrapped. Ballard eventually found a similar up and down sawmill in Sandown NH and moved it to the Taylor site. Ernest and his wife spent several years restoring and rebuilding that sawmill. He had to make the missing parts and track down a viable water wheel. Thankfully he persevered and was able to complete this project. In 1953 he donated the mill and 71 acres around it to the state of NH, thus creating Ballard State Forrest.

Back in 2010 I visited the mill with a class of North Bennet Street School students and took several photos and videos which I have edited together into a YouTube video that you can watch  here which includes the water wheel and saw cutting a timber.

 

It was an incredible sight to see, and a great place to have a picnic or do some kayaking. If you are in the area, please check it it out. You can learn more about this mill and plan your visit by visiting it’s official web page here and the Wikipedia entry here.

Take care,
-Bill

Jordan’s Toolbox

Some woodworking projects are for fun, some are skill builders, some are to keep the lights on and some are for necessity. As they say “necessity is the mother of invention.” When taking a woodworking workshop at the North Bennet Street School one of the challenges is often lugging all your tools to class. The school is set in the North End of Boston and most folks take public transportation to get to the school as parking in that area is expensive and in short supply. I’ve seen folks use bags, backpacks, plastic toolboxes, 5 gallon buckets, rolling carts, suitcases, you name it. I can still remember lugging big toolboxes on the subway when I was student.

This past weekend one of my students, Jordan Ruiz, showed up to my Introduction To Shutters Workshop with the toolbox you see below:

Closed toolbox with oak hasp
Closed toolbox with oak hasp

He designed it off the top of his head and made it mostly from a single pine board.

Open drawer
Open drawer

What I like about his utilitarian design is how he translated a lot of the traditional hardware needs into wooden or other natural equivalents. Note the oak hasp which is articulated and secured with wooden pins. A hemp rope drawer pull. Dowels to secure the moving wooden tote handle, sliding top secured by a captured dowel etc.

French fitted packing foam to keep the tools in place
French fitted packing foam to keep the tools in place

I also like how Jordan used some packing foam to ‘French Fit’ all of the tools into his toolbox.

Jordan Ruiz with his toolbox
Jordan Ruiz with his toolbox

If he’s willing to do all that work to prepare for a workshop I can only imagine the dedication and creativity he’ll have at the job site. I think Jordan has a bright future ahead of him in the woodworking field. (He also made a very nice shutter as seen in the previous post)

Take care,
-Bill

A Good Shutter Can Be Hard To Find

You don’t often see a good working pair of shutters on a newly constructed home. Most times you see a pre-fab set of vinyl shutters screwed on to the side of a house or no shutters at all. The vinyl shutters usually have no hardware and often are not properly sized for the windows they are adjacent to. I want to reverse that trend and make sure at least a few folks know how to make a traditional wooden shutter.

Shop plans for my Shutters Workshop
Shop plans for my Shutters Workshop

I designed and taught an Introduction to Shutters Workshop at the North Bennet Street School this past weekend which was a lot of fun. Beyond my usual hand drawn plans I also modeled this project in SketchUp. (You can read more about that effort here).

The class hard at work
The class hard at work

In the class students learned how to make a shutter using traditional hand tools and via power equipment. They were able to weigh the pros and cons of each against their skill sets and use what was most appropriate to their project. (Some folks will be repairing a few shutters, others will be making enough for an entire home)

Making octagonal pins
Making octagonal pins

After building the frames, cutting all the mortises and tenons, and fielding the panels, everyone learned about traditional draw-boring. By making and using tapered octagonal pins and driving them through the offset hole drilled into the tenon, the joint is drawn together. This joint uses no glue, is quite strong and can be serviced in the future if a rotten piece needs to be replaced.

John finishing up his shutter
John finishing up his shutter

We also discussed many design options, regional variations and examined several examples we had on hand. It was a busy two days, but I’m hopeful that we’ll see some proper new shutters start popping up in the area.

Group picture with some finished shutters
Group picture with some finished shutters

Take care,
-Bill

P.S. I have several more workshops coming up at NBSS over the next 3 months if you are interested in joining me — there are still a few seats available. Up next is Traditional Molding with wooden Molding Planes in April, Saw Horses and Saw Hurdles in May, and Making a Window Sash in June.  You can learn more about each of them here.

NBSS Drywall Workshop October 2013

Teaching a weekend workshop is often like a two day stage performance. I’m up at dawn to prep, drive down, unload, on my feet non-stop for the class, then cleanup, head home, quick dinner, then out like a light, and lather rinse repeat. For most people that sounds like torture, but for me it’s fun.

Light stick framing lesson, then hanging sheetrock
Light stick framing lesson, then hanging Sheetrock

I love to share my passion for woodworking with others and teaching helps to feed the tool and and supply kitty for my various projects .

Closing in the wall
Closing in the wall

Last weekend I taught a two day workshop on drywall, mud work and textures. I designed the class last January and this was the second time we ran it. I’m happy to say that it sold out both times and we covered a lot of ground given we only had 2 days to work.

Aerial view of the class
Aerial view of the class

Each student had the opportunity to learn all the basics needed to tackle a new drywall installation or repair project.

Using a hawk and applying mud to the corner joint
Using a hawk and applying mud to the corner joint

The course covered a wide range of topics including:

  • Basics of Stick Framing
  • Hanging Drywall and Coursing
  • Taping, Inside and Outside Corners
  • Working with ‘Mud’
  • Wet and Dry Sanding
  • Texture Work
  • Repairs
Wet sanding
Wet sanding

My last workshop back in May was going to be the last workshop the NBSS Arlington Location which is a 10,000 square foot workshop which was my home when I was a student at NBSS. (It used to be the workshop and classrooms for Preservation Carpentry and Carpentry departments at the school). The school has now relocated all the programs back under a single roof on North Street in the North End of Boston a couple of blocks from where the school spent its first 134 years. This workshop requires a lot of space, ceiling height and access to a large dumpster and with all the hustle and bustle of the school setting up at the new location it made sense to run this workshop in the old and largely empty space left in Arlington. The class went great, but the the one sad part for me was at the end of the second day when I had to say goodbye to the Arlington space for the second time. But like all good-byes, it is also a new beginning…

The good news is that I have a few workshops scheduled in the spring at the new campus location. You can learn more about them here.

-Bill

A move 134 years in the making…

The North Bennet Street School (NBSS), America’s Oldest Trade School, has been a Boston institution located at 39 North Bennet Street in the North End since 1879. The school was incorporated in 1885 and has a long history of offering vocational training and forward thinking social services which continue through today.

After more than a century at the original location the school eventually grew beyond what the old assemblage of buildings (an ex-church, sailor’s retirement home, townhouses etc)  could fit and some of the programs had to move to other locations around the Boston area. In an effort to re-unify the school, update the facilities, and get everyone under one roof again the school embarked on an aggressive fundraising campaign and has now moved to 150 North Street in Boston (about 1/3 mile from the original location). This new building takes up a city block and has recently opened for the new school year. This new set of buildings once served as the Boston City Printing Press and a Police station. They sit above the entrance to the Callahan tunnel right on the Greenway. The buildings have a stately facade, are stoutly constructed and have an interior fitting for a school of this kind.

Wednesday night was the first North Bennet Street School Alumni Meeting at the new building. We had the opportunity to tour the new facility.I took as many pictures as I could with my iPhone and have shared them below as a virtual tour of the new building. This small set of photos do not do it justice, so I recommend coming by to see it in person yourself during this year’s open house events Nov 8-9. If you click on any of the photos below you can see it in a larger size and can also cycle through them like a slide show.

As a graduate of the Preservation Carpentry Program and workshop instructor at the school, the old building will always hold a special place in my heart, but I am happy to see this new building come together as it took an incredible amount of work by the school and its many supporters to pull of this move.

You can learn more about the history of the school here and here.

Take care,
-Bill

2013 BAC Traditional Building Intensive

Most people relax on their summer vacation. After a day on a beach I get antsy and need to keep moving, exploring and building. For the second year in a row I spent my vacation last week sharing my passion for the craft by teaching the 8 day intensive that is part of the semester long ‘Traditional Building’ class I teach at the Boston Architectural College (BAC) in association with the North Bennett Street School.

The Paul Revere House, Boston, MA
The Paul Revere House, Boston, MA

The class is part of the low residency Master’s Degree in Historic Preservation at the BAC. In this 8 week long class, 7 weeks are online with a series of interactive lectures/discussions and traditional coursework and one 8 day week is spent with the entire class in Boston participating in a hands on format. This works great for students who need to juggle work, family and other obligations while also seeking a quality degree on the way to a new or expanded career path.

Touring historic homes and buildings with Steve O'Shaughnessy
Touring historic homes and buildings with Steve O’Shaughnessy

On the first full day of class we took a walking tour of the city with Steve O’Shaughnessy (NBSS Preservation Carpentry Instructor) visiting several historic house museums and notable structures in Boston. Having worked for Historic New England, Steve is an excellent tour guide with a lot of great information to share.

Traditional Woodworking with Bill Rainford
Traditional Woodworking with Bill Rainford

The second day I spent the morning teaching the basics of traditional woodworking — using a smoothing plane, molding planes, drilling, chiseling and other basic bench work.

Field Work at Fenway Studios
Field Work at Fenway Studios

In the afternoon I taught the class about window restoration, window reproduction and condition assessment reports. We then went out to do some field work at the historic Fenway Studios.

The Saugus Ironworks
The Saugus Ironworks

Next up we visited the Saugus Ironworks which is a National Historic Park. Senior Park Ranger Curtis White was on hand to guide us through this landmark site and enthusiastically share with us his latest research about historic ironwork. (He’s a great resource and if you ever visit the park and run into him, tell him I sent you. )

Ranger Curtis White explaining how the ironworks produced iron
Ranger Curtis White explaining how the ironworks produced iron

Robert Adam (Who started the Preservation Carpentry program at NBSS and is a noted preservation consultant) lectured about historic hardware and fasteners.

Robert Adam talking about historic hardware and fasteners
Robert Adam talking about historic hardware and fasteners

Robert’s brings a portion of his comprehensive collection of historic hardware and fasteners allowing students to closely examine these items up close and differentiate fine details.

Historic Hardware by Edward Guy
Historic Hardware by Edward Guy

Sara Chase, a nationally known paint analysis expert and preservation consultant (+ advisor to the NBSS Preservation Carpentry Program) taught a session on traditional paints and their manufacture.

Making paint with Sara Chase
Making paint with Sara Chase

During this hands on session students not only learned how to identify various kinds of historic paints they also had the chance to mix their own paints in a traditional way and try their hand at applying them.

Mulling historic paint with Sara Chase
Mulling historic paint with Sara Chase

After a visit to the MFA in Boston, next up was NBSS Preservation Carpentry Instructor Rich Friberg to teach the basics of Timber Framing.

Rich Friberg Timber Framing Lesson
Rich Friberg Timber Framing Lesson

Rich brings with him a deep well of knowledge and a passion for teaching this craft.

Jennifer wielding the 'Beetle' mallet
Jennifer wielding the ‘Beetle’ mallet

Students had a chance to layout and cut mortise and tenon joints….

Joey with the 'Commander' mallet
Joey with the ‘Commander’ mallet

try out some joinery on the large scale with traditional timber framing tools…

Lisa mortising
Lisa mortising

and fit the joints they made.

Completed Timber Frame Sill
Completed Timber Frame Sill

The completed 8′ x 10′ sill shown above would be the first major element of a modest sized barn or outbuilding.

Matt Gillard teaching some basics of Masonry
Matt Gillard teaching some basics of Masonry

Preservation Mason Matt Gillard (owner of Colonial Brick Works) and Matt Blanchette gave a great lecture on traditional masonry tools, techniques and evolution.

Rachel cleaning off some recovered bricks
Rachel cleaning off some recovered bricks

This hands on session allowed students to mix traditional mortar, clean bricks, re-point, repair, lay brick and joint mortar.

Masonry group shot
Masonry group shot

At the end of the week the students also shared their presentations and research proposals. To celebrate the end of this very intensive week the Director of the Historic Preservation (HP) program Robert Ogle presented each student with an ‘I survived the HP intensive week 2013 @ the BAC’ Tee Shirt to commemorate the occasion. This well earned reward is one of three major intensives they will need to survive in order to complete the program.

'I survived the BAC Historic Preservation Intensive 2013' Tee Shirts
‘I survived the BAC Historic Preservation Intensive 2013’ Tee Shirts

Given that we all survived this very intensive week and you survived reading this marathon blog post, I think it’s time for all of us to rest up and prep for next year. 🙂

You can learn more about this class and the program here or go direct to the video here.

-Bill

Sloyd Workbench — Larsson Adjustable Workbench

Hello My Fellow Sloyders,

Recently we’ve talked a bit about the Sloyd Tool Cabinet and it’s contents — but with all these tools on hand and a book full of models to build, where do you actually build them?

I’d like to introduce you to a slightly more famous cousin to the Sloyd Tool Cabinet — the ‘Larsson Improved Adjustable Workbench’ or more commonly known as a ‘Sloyd Bench’.

Larsson Adjustable Bench from November 1908 Sloyd Record
Larsson Adjustable Bench from November 1908 Sloyd Record

This workbench was designed by Gustaf Larsson the principal of the Boston Sloyd School in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and manufactured by Chandler and Barber to Larsson’s specifications.  The bench was the result of Larsson’s experiences at Naas, at the Boston Sloyd School and at  the North Bennet Street Industrial School. It draws upon design elements found in traditional continental European benches but was scaled to the needs of a classroom setting and had to accommodate both children and adults.

The Sloyd Record: Issue No.1 January 1904 -- Boston Sloyd School Alumni Newsletter
The Sloyd Record: Issue No.1 January 1904 — Boston Sloyd School Alumni Newsletter

How do we know so much about this bench?

In some ways it is fairly well documented in old tool catalogs, like those of Chandler and Barber — the premier supplier of ‘Sloyd System’ benches, tools and supplies and in other advertising. In addition, a fair number of these benches still survive which is a testament to how well they were built and how many of them were produced. While the North Bennet Street Industrial School catered to training immigrants and younger students in its earliest days, the Boston Sloyd School focused on teaching the teachers of Sloyd. Teachers would come to the school, learn how to teach Sloyd to students and then go back to their municipalities to teach Sloyd to the local population. So with diplomas in hand these new teachers often wanted to order the same or very similar setups to what they learned on. This was the genesis of many manual training programs in the United States.

Chandler and Barber Sloyd System Supplier Ad from January 1904 Sloyd Record
Chandler and Barber Sloyd System Supplier Ad from January 1904 Sloyd Record

Above you can see one of the many ads Chandler and Barber took out in Sloyd related publications — in this case the ‘Sloyd Record’ which was the alumni newsletter of the Boston Sloyd School. Chandler and Barber seemed to be the most prolific dealer in this space, but just like today there was a lot of competition. You’ll see ads from Hammacher Schlemmer (they used to specialize mostly in tools and hardware back then), lumber dealers, publishers and other similar companies trying to get a piece of the apparently semi-lucrative Sloyd pie.

Buy the best -- buy a Larsson Bench from Chandler and Barber
Buy the best — buy a Larsson Bench from Chandler and Barber

The competition got so fierce that some of the Chandler and Barber felt it was worth mentioning how others got burned trying to save a few dollars going with a competitor’s bench of inferior quality. Don’t be a part of that sorry lot…..

Larsson IMproved Adjustable Sloyd Bench as seen in 'A Textbook Of Working Models Of Sloyd' By Gustaf Larsson
Larsson Improved Adjustable Sloyd Bench as seen in ‘A Textbook Of Working Models Of Sloyd’ By Gustaf Larsson

What made this bench so special?

Beyond being the brand name bench associated with Sloyd pioneer Gustaf Larsson the bench did have some novel features. If you look carefully in the picture above you can see a set of hinges on the cross member of the base (near where you see the word Pat.Aplc..). Why would anyone want hinges on their bench? Essentially you could take the top of the bench off, flip up or down those blocks, re-install the bench top and be able to accommodate both children and adults in the same workspace. Over the years several models of bench were associated with Larsson’s name, including the popular No. 5 model shown here, another larger model designed for 2 students to share a workspace, and even a clamp on vise which could be used for light work when attached to a sturdy table.

Beyond being a reasonably stout bench, it could be ordered with wood or metal vise screws, a few variants of removable tool rack (which made it easy for instructors to see if all the tools were put back in their proper place and in good condition), vise and dog hole configurations and similar tweaks.

Larsson Improved Adjustable Bench as Seen on Craigslist (Thanks to Gary Roberts for the link)
Larsson Improved Adjustable Bench as Seen on Craigslist (Thanks to my friend Gary Roberts for the link)

During my time at NBSS over the years I’ve had the chance to work at some of these benches a few of which seemed to survive in the darker corners of the workshop department. At the time I didn’t realize the history of what I working on — I thought it was just another old workbench which had seen better days and was propped up to accommodate taller students. At this sort of old bench I first learned to layout and cut a proper dovetail and it was well suited for the task and you could fit a fair number of them in a modest sized classroom. The benches were commonly bolted down into the floor which made up for the lack of mass when compared to a full sized bench. As a joiner these days I am used to working from a much larger bench as I work on a bigger scale, but if you are tight on space or find a good deal on a used model, it would be a great place to start on your path to more enjoyable woodworking.

In your travels, if you see any of these benches, tool cabinets or Chandler and Barber catalogs from the early 1900s, I’d be interested to see or hear about your findings here on the blog or via email.

Take care,
-Bill

Installing Doors and Windows as Performance Art

This past Saturday I taught a workshop on installing doors and windows at the North Bennet Street School’s Arlington location. While it is the last workshop that will be taught at that location before the big move this summer into the new facility back in the North End of Boston it did not feel as much like the end of an era — it felt like the beginning of something new. The Arlington location was where I learned as a student and where I first started teaching workshops at NBSS so while I am a little sad to see the old shop get packed up, I look forward to seeing where we can push going forward with new classes and new opportunities.

Door and Window Framing Mockup
Door and Window Framing Mockup

In designing this class part of the challenge was to make accessible to a wide audience and also be reasonable with the materials. The format of this workshop was a full day of me demonstrating, lecturing a bit, answering questions and letting the class try some of the hands on operations.  By the time I got home I was on my feet for about 14 hours that day and felt like I completed a long piece of performance art.

Using shims to center and plumb up the door
Using shims to center and plumb up the door

We covered a lot of material given this was only a one day class:

  • basics of stick framing
  • how to install a new pre-hung door and adjust it
  • how to install a door knob and lockset
  • how to trim out the door
  • how to cut sheathing for a framed out window opening
  • installing and leveling a window
  • how to wrap and flash around a window
  • how to cut a stool and trim out a window
  • And MANY general questions along the way
Bill demonstrating how to adjust the door's opening
Bill demonstrating how to adjust the door’s opening

If there are carpentry, preservation carpentry, or general woodworking workshops you’d like to see offered at the school or in my own shop, please let me know as I’m always looking to teach something new and entertaining.

NBSS Distinguished Alumni Award Winner 2013: Brandon Gordon

An annual tradition at the North Bennet Street School on graduation day is recognizing a distinguished member of the alumni community. The students, staff and alumni community nominate candidates who are out in the field practicing their craft and embodying the best of what the school has to offer and this year we had another strong group of candidates which made the decision a tough one.

This year’s winner of the Distinguished Alumni Award (DAA) is Brandon Gordon (PC) of the National Park Service Historic Preservation Training Center (HPTC).

Left to right: Mrs. Gordon, Brandon Gordon, Bill Rainford
Left to right: Mrs. Gordon, Brandon Gordon, Bill Rainford

Brandon currently works as a project supervisor where he is responsible for for planning, evaluating, initiating, administering, performing and supervising work on the National Park Service’s (NPS) most complex and unique preservation projects.  He has used the knowledge and skills gained from NBSS to accomplish work on a variety of historic structures that cover a wide range of time periods and architectural styles.

In his own words:  “I continue to pass along these preservation and restoration techniques to advance the skills and methods of project teams.  My NBSS education has allowed me to direct highly skilled preservation trades people in the utilization of special tools and techniques necessary to carry out preservation projects. I also serve as a training instructor for lesser skilled employees by organizing and producing training programs for the NPS.  I have presented workshops on maintaining and repairing historic wood windows to NPS employees, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and at IPTW.”

Brandon speaking to the class
Brandon speaking to the class

During Brandon’s visit we had our usual end of year BBQ and toured the Arlington facility. Later this summer the Carpentry and Preservation Carpentry departments will be moving to the new NBSS location on North Street in Boston where all the programs will again be under one roof — while nice to get all the programs back together again I also felt a bit sad that this was likely the last big hurrah at this location which was home to me when I was a student.

Handing out the perfect attendance awards
Handing out the perfect attendance awards

After a nice introduction from Rich Friberg, Brandon took the opportunity to talk with the students about what he did when he was at NBSS, some workshops he taught at NBSS, what he’s done since graduation, a bit of advice, and answering questions from the class.

Dave receiving his award
Dave receiving his award

Next up, it was time to hand out the perfect attendance awards + scholarship which were started last year by Johnathan Ericson (PC ’11). Judging by the long list of winners it was nice to see the level of dedication exemplified by this class of students.

A funny moment during to the talk
A funny moment during to the talk

During the Q & A session there were some good questions and amusing anecdotes that kept everyone entertained including what it’s like to work on the White House when the President is coming and going via the Marine One helicopter.

The O'Shaughnessy Method: Capturing some of Steve's funnier pearls of wisdom
The O’Shaughnessy Method: Capturing some of Steve’s funnier pearls of wisdom

And  no recap of the day would be complete without a mention of the last day of class surprise PC1 (2014 class) had for Steve O’Shaughnessy their instructor. They had custom shirts made which made which decry ‘The O’Shaughnessy Method’ which captures some of the more poignant, memorable or hilarious things Steve said to them during the year. (Click the picture above to view it larger and read it) If anyone has a copy of the original graphic, please send it my way.

The PC1 class sporting their new T-Shirts
The PC1 class sporting their new T-Shirts

It was a beautiful 90+ degree day at the school and great to finally meet Brandon in person. As the students move their tools out of the shop for the summer and get ready for their internships or new jobs I know they are going out into the world with a solid skill-set that will serve them well for years to come.

Congratulations to Brandon and the PC Class of 2013 — you have a bright future ahead of you!