Tag Archives: EAIA Annual Meeting

Tools for the New Frontier: 1790 to 1840 — EAIA Annual Meeting 2014

Fort Pitt Canon
Fort Pitt Canon

Things have been quiet on the blog front the past few weeks. Some folks wondered if I was kidnapped or worse. Thankfully I am safe and sound, though exhausted. I’ve been working 12+ hour days for the last three weeks straight at the day job. My volunteer night job has been developing a new website for the Early American Industries Association which is one of the oldest and most prolific groups of its kind. Any spare moments beyond that have been spent in the shop or preparing the baby’s room.

I’m proud to say that the new EAIA website has been online for a few weeks now and you can check it out here. It offers a new more modern feel and is built on the WordPress platform. My hope is that we can get more folks involved — especially the next generation of tool and early industry aficionados.  If you have an interest in blogging or would like to share some related content with the group (even if you are not a member) please contact me here.

If you are not already a member I highly recommend checking out this great organization. The two major publications — The Chronicle and Shavings alone are worth the cost of membership. You can find many other like minded folks who are into traditional hand tools, techniques and the study of industries that helped shape America.

The EAIA is also known for it’s Annual Meeting and regional meetings. They are a great opportunity to visit new areas and museums, get a behind the scenes look at a given venue and socialize/network with like-minded friends. You can see some highlights of last year’s meeting in my earlier blog posts here.

This year’s meeting theme is ‘Tools for the New Frontier: 1790 to 1840’ and will be this coming week in Pittsburgh PA. Highlights will include visiting the Heinz Center, Old Economy Village, the Fort Pitt Museum along with the usual EAIA events of the tool swap, tool auction, whatsits? and many mixer events. If you are interested you can learn more here.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the conference.

Take care,
-Bill

P.S. I’ve been busy working out in the workshop and after the conference will be posting some updates on what I’ve been up to. Stay tuned.

EAIA 2013 Cape Cod — Day 3 Tool Swap, Tinsmithing, Tool Chests, Auction and Banquet

Day 3 was the last day of the EAIA 2103 Conference on Cape Cod. It was another busy day full of events. After breakfast we headed off to the Tool Show and Swap where folks setup tables full of tools for sale or trade or a booth with a display to show either a unique collection, research results or other things of interest to the group.

Tool show and swap
Tool show and swap

Seeing the prices folks wanted for some items, I’m not convinced they wanted to sell them — but I guess that is why most folks refer to themselves as collectors (or hoarders — as my wife often calls me) and not sellers.

It was great to finally meet Chris Schwarz in person as I've been a fan of his work and writing for a long time.
It was great to finally meet Chris Schwarz in person as I’ve been a fan of his work and writing for a long time.

A highlight of the event for me was finally getting to meet Chris Schwarz in person. I’ve conversed with him via email and similar means for several years, but it was nice to get to talk with him in person. I am a big fan of his work, research and writing.

Very nice display showing how wood and metal planes can be restored
Very nice display showing how wood and metal planes can be restored

This display was interesting in that it showed a split view of before and after restoration. Having brought many an old plane back to life, it was a nice presentation.

Bill McMillen giving his talk on Tinsmithing
Bill McMillen giving his talk on Tinsmithing

Next up was master tinsmith Bill MicMillen — who you may have seen at other EAIA events, Eastfield Village or Colonial Williamsburg.

Bill McMillen's talk on 'The Tinsmith In America: The Trade, Materials, Tradesmen, The Tools and Products'
Bill McMillen’s talk on ‘The Tinsmith In America: The Trade, Materials, Tradesmen, The Tools and Products’

Bill gave a nice talk on the “Tinsmith In America: The Trade, Materials, Tradesmen, Tools & Products”. It was interesting to see how the trade came to America, changed and migrated over the years.

Soldering a tin cup
Soldering a tin cup

Bill went on to demonstrate how to make a tin cup walking us through the various forming and soldering stages.

Bill McMillen demonstrating how to tinsmith as he makes a cup
Bill McMillen demonstrating how to tinsmith as he makes a cup

Bill demonstrated his considerable hand skill in making the cup by hand and also showed how some of the later forming machines changed the way common items were made.

Chris Schwarz giving a talk on 'Tool Chests Fancy & Simple'
Chris Schwarz giving a talk on ‘Tool Chests Fancy & Simple’

Chris Schwarz gave a talk called ‘Tool Chests Fancy and Simple’ where he explained a bit about the evolution and anatomy of tool chests — from the densely packed and high style H.O. Studley Toolchest, to fare more utilitarian models.

Chris Schwarz and his tool chests -- then and now. You can see how far his research, his work and his designs have come over the years.
Chris Schwarz and his tool chests — then and now. You can see how far his research, his work and his designs have come over the years.

It was also interesting to see some of Chris’ journey from earlier power tool oriented projects to later more traditional projects that focused on traditional joinery and hand tools.

Joint stool at the EAIA Silent Auction
Joint stool at the EAIA Silent Auction

In the evening we took part in the EAIA annual silent auction that benefits the EAIA endowment. There was a nice selection of traditional tools, books and items folks donated and/or made for the auction.

Beautiful chair in the silent auction that I believe had a relationship to (or at least a design derived from) the works of Wallace Nutting
Beautiful chair in the silent auction that I believe had a relationship to (or at least a design derived from) the works of Wallace Nutting

Alyssa and I had a lot of fun in the auction and it took some bidding, but we got some of the items we set our sights on….

Turned kingwood pen
Turned kingwood pen

Alyssa had her heart set on this nice turned pen made from kingwood and is already putting it to good use.

Books and turned pen we won in the silent auction. The had I bought from the Lost Art Press
Books and turned pen we won in the silent auction. The had I bought from the Lost Art Press

I won an old book from Winterthur Museum on the Dominy Clock shop which came from Long Island (a few towns out from where I grew up) and was a book I’ve been hunting around for for several years. I look forward to reading it soon and visiting WInterthur later this year as they have an exhibit on 400 years of Massachusetts furniture and has several reproductions made by friends from NBSS.

After teh banquet dinner Myles Standish came to regale us with stories of his life and to answer questions.
After the banquet dinner Myles Standish came to regale us with stories of his life and to answer questions.

After the auction we had the annual meeting and banquet. Following dinner, Myles Standish came to regale us with stories of his life and travels and answer any questions the audience had.

Beyond all the events I also got some shiny new toys:

Saws and Carriage Maker's Rule
Saws and Carriage Maker’s Rule

I got the carriage maker’s rule and old hand saws at the Great Planes auction and will put them to good use in the shop.

Lot's of new reading material
Lot’s of new reading material

At the tool swap I got some great books this year. I got a bunch of historic reprints from the Toolemera Press that I had been thinking about for a while. In an antique shop on the Cape I found a nice 1950s set of 4 Audel’s books on masonry. At Plimoth I got one of Peter Follansbee’s DVDs on carving (Which he was kind enough to autograph for me), a DVD version of making a chair from a tree, and a nice book on English Period House Fixtures and Fittings which looks like a nice reference book.

Lee Valley Saddle Square made for the 80th Anniversary of the EAIA -- I look forward to using it at the bench.
Lee Valley Saddle Square made for the 80th Anniversary of the EAIA — I look forward to using it at the bench.

I’ll end with the first thing I got on this trip — picked up during registration — which is a nice Lee Valley Saddle Square which was engraved to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the EAIA. Similar to Lee Valley dovetail saddle squares I have I’m sure it will earn its place in my tool chest.

I had a great time on this trip and while it was hard to go to work on Monday, I was happy to think about the great time we had and look forward to next year’s event.

EAIA 2013 Cape Cod — Day 2 Heritage Museum, Sandwich Glass Museum and Tool Auction

Day 2 of the EAIA 2013 Cape Cod conference turned out to be as jam packed as the first day. The weather was perfect and we got to explore some new museums.  First stop was the ‘Heritage Museum and Gardens’ which I had never been to before.

The Heritage Museum's trough that leads seemingly uphill to a waterfall. Very Neat.
The Heritage Museum’s trough that leads seemingly uphill to a waterfall. Very Neat.

The entrance had this trough which looks like it just just out into space and almost looks like it is flowing uphill…

The beautiful gardens and waterfall at the Heritage Museum.
The beautiful gardens and waterfall at the Heritage Museum.

From the side you can see how it ends with a waterfall surrounded by one of the MANY beautiful gardens on site.

Circular Shaker barn -- a very good copy of the barn at Hancock. It was home to the automobile collection and related exhibits.
Circular Shaker barn — a very good copy of the barn at Hancock. It was home to the automobile collection and related exhibits.

There is also a very good replica of the Hancock Shaker Village round barn which is home to the automobile collection and related exhibits.

Motorama signage and the largest collection of Corvette Prototypes I've ever seen in one location
Motorama signage and the largest collection of Corvette Prototypes I’ve ever seen in one location

Inside the barn was an exhibition on automotive design, GM’s motorama exhibitions and the largest collection of Corvette prototypes I’ve ever seen under one roof.

Harley Earl's retirement gift from GM -- a 1963 Stingray Vette that matched his shark.
Harley Earl’s retirement gift from GM — a 1963 Stingray Vette that matched his shark.

Harley Earl’s 1963 Stingray Corvette convertible that was designed to be painted like the mako shark that hung on the wall of his office. After several attempts to match the color of the shark, the engineering staff stole the shark at night, painted it to match the car, and then said ‘Look the car matches the shark now’

Corvette CERV III Prototype from 1990 stuffed full of technology that was ahead of its time. Looks a lot like the much later 1997 C5 generation
Corvette CERV III Prototype from 1990 stuffed full of technology that was ahead of its time. Looks a lot like the much later 1997 C5 generation

This 1990 prototype corvette was one of the HEAVIEST corvettes ever made and was jam packed with so much new technology it was not feasible as a production vehicle. But its absolutely amazing to me how many of the design cues eventually made it into the car during the much later C5 generation.

Tour of the gun collection
Tour of the gun collection

Next up was a tour of all the long guns and interesting pistols the museum had in their archives.

Alyssa riding the carousel with me.
Alyssa riding the carousel with me.

There was also a restored carousel that we all got to ride on. It was probably 10+ years since my wife and I last rode a carousel — but even as an adult it was still a lot of fun.

One of many interesting trade signs...
One of many interesting trade signs…

Near the carousel there was a section full of interesting weather vanes and trade signs.

Trade signs for a butcher shop were about as literal as you can get.
Trade signs for a butcher shop were about as literal as you can get.

Next up was a visit to the Sandwich Glass Museum which recounts the history of the Sandwich Glass Works.

Working kiln inside of the Sandwich Glass Museum
Working kiln inside of the Sandwich Glass Museum

Inside the visitor center is a nice new and working kiln.

Glass blowing demonstration
Glass blowing demonstration

After a video history and lecture on the women of the Sandwich Glass Works we were treated to a glass blowing demonstration.

Re-heating the glass
Re-heating the glass

In the evening we returned to the hotel for the Great Planes tool auction. In a room full of tool collectors and experts the prices for a lot of items seemed to go higher that I would have expected — or at least higher than I was willing to pay, but I got a couple of small items near the end after all the big spenders got a little tired out. I got a nice pair of old Disston hand saws and a 4′ carriage maker’s boxwood folding rule which I can put to good use.

Great Planes tool auction at night
Great Planes tool auction at night

It was another busy day down on the Cape. Up next, Day 3 Demonstrations, Lectures, Silent Auction and Banquet….

EAIA 2013 Cape Cod — Day 1 — Woodworking with Peter Follansbee

For me, one of the highlight’s of this years EAIA conference was a lecture from and later talking with Peter Follansbee of Plimoth Plantation.  I met Peter before as some of my classmates from NBSS have worked at the plantation, but on this visit, it was particularly interesting to learn more about what brought him to the plantation and how his work and research have changed over the years.

Peter Follansbee in his natural habitat -- the Joiner's shop
Peter Follansbee in his natural habitat — the Joiner’s shop

Peter answered many questions and demonstrated some carving at the bench. In person I find he often has funny anecdotes and snarky comments that are both cutting and entertaining.

Shavings from the early part of a day's work -- the way a shop should look.
Shavings from the early part of a day’s work — the way a shop should look.

I particularly liked the carved book stand (seen below) which could be adjusted for viewing angle, and had small dowels that can keep the book open.

Carved Book-stand by Peter Follansbee
Carved book stand by Peter Follansbee

He also demonstrated some light spindle turning at his pole lathe.

Peter turning at his pole lathe
Peter turning at his pole lathe

In the shop, as always, were examples of the varied sorts of work he carries out. Seen below is a great looking carved English style chair, and behind is a greenwood chair similar to that which is seen in Jennie (John) Alexander Jr’s book on working with green wood which I heard was the inspiration for Peter’s recent book on making joint stool from a tree.

Beautiful carved chair. In the background a chair built to the specs from 'Make A Chair From A Tree : An Introduction To Working Green Wood' which was the inspiration for Peter's 'Make a joint stool from a tree' book.
Beautiful carved chair. In the background a chair built to the specs from ‘Make A Chair From A Tree : An Introduction To Working Green Wood’ which was the inspiration for Peter’s ‘Make a joint stool from a tree’ book.

Peter was gracious enough to sign my DVD of his carving, so that also made my day.

Peter splitting wood with a froe and answering questions from the audience
Peter splitting wood with a froe and answering questions from the audience

Surrounded by a throng of overly eager visitors, Peter took question and demonstrated the use of a froe for splitting wood.

Peter's version of the Anarchist's Tool Chest
Peter’s version of the Anarchist’s Tool Chest

Above you can see some joint stools from his book on that subject along with his own interpretation of the Anarchist’s tool chest based on the recent book by Chris Schwarz. It was neat to see how Peter used (presumably) blacksmith made hinges and painted the chest. (Along with a different panel configuration for the lid). You can learn more about it on Peter’s blog here.

A sample of the high style work Peter produces. Similar to a piece he has at the MFA next to a partial original. It's amazing to see how much brighter the colors were originally.
A sample of the high style work Peter produces. Similar to a piece he has at the MFA next to a partial original. It’s amazing to see how much brighter the colors were originally.

And finally, shown here is an example of some of the high style work Peter produces. When I give my class a tour of the MFA America’s wing each summer I am always happy to show them the original they have on display alongside the reproduction Peter produced for the museum to show how the piece likely looked when it was new. I always find it interesting to see how earlier generations enjoyed color, and changing styles much as folks do today.

It was another great visit to Peter’s shop, and I look forward to seeing what he’s been up to on my next visit to the plantation.

EAIA 2013 Cape Cod — Day 1

This past weekend Alyssa and I attended our first EAIA annual meeting which was held in Hyannis on Cape Cod. For those not familiar with the EAIA, it is the Early American Industries Association which is an organization that celebrates the trades, crafts, and tools that were a part of American history and have made an impact in all our lives.  We were members for a few years, but this was the first event we attended…and now we can’t wait for next year’s events! Below and in some upcoming posts I’ll try to recap some highlights from this years events which kept us busy.

Obligatory tourist picture of me in front of the sign where we are...
Obligatory tourist picture of me in front of the sign where we are…

You can learn more about the EAIA here

View of Plimoth Plantation from the Fort
View of Plimoth Plantation from the Fort

We started out our day with the introductory/orientation film and then an interesting talk by Peter Follansbee who is an expert on 17th century woodworking and quite the interesting character. He talked about his own background, interesting changes at the plantation over the years and research into traditional woodworking of that era.

Beautifully stacked firewood getting ready for the long winter ahead
Beautifully stacked firewood getting ready for the long winter ahead

After that program we were free to explore the plantation and/or take part in some other behind the scenes tours.

Justin Keegan (NBSS CFM + Plimoth Interpretter) hewing a log
Justin Keegan (NBSS CFM + Plimoth Interpreter) hewing a log

My wife and I had been to Plimoth many times over the years, and some of my classmates from NBSS worked at the museum so I did not have high hopes for this part of the event, but I was happy to see some programs and behind the scenes events where I learned some interesting new information. We also got to have lunch ‘Like a Pilgrim’ eating some food prepared as it would have been back in the 17th century — so some traditional turkey, vegetables, desert, condiments, utensils (or lack thereof — I missed my spork), and table manners.

New building in the village
New building in the village

In the Plimoth Maritime Workshop we took part in a lecture on 17th century Shallop boats, how they were used in the colony and how the plantation recreated some of these vessels, issues that came up during construction and how they fared on the open sea.

Lecture about the 17th century Shallop (boat), its use in early Plimoth, and the recreation of some of these vessels
Lecture about the 17th century Shallop (boat), its use in early Plimoth, and the recreation of some of these vessels

I love to see this sort of behind the scenes workshop — to see how they setup, how they work, what tools they use etc.

In the Plimouth Maritime Workshop -- I love to see the behind the scenes workshops at this sort of living history museum
In the Plimoth Maritime Workshop — I love to see the behind the scenes workshops at this sort of living history museum

The pungent smell of pine tar on the rigging from the Mayflower II which was in drydock was quite strong, but added to the ambiance — though folks with asthma did not agree with me on that.

Even if you were great with knots as a scout, I bet you'd have trouble with the massive rigging covered in pine tar that belong to the Mayflower II
Even if you were great with knots as a scout, I bet you’d have trouble with the massive rigging covered in pine tar that belong to the Mayflower II

We had great weather all weekend. We also took part in a private tour event where one of the curators explained how the plantation uses experimental archaeology and character interpretation to explore the mindset and problems of the time period and also to try and answer some of the questions we have about the times given the incomplete records that survive.  Who would have thought that thread + textiles specifically spun to recreate a 17th century coat would help improve sutures used in open heart surgery?

Annual session of 'Whatsit' where members try to guess what some particularly odd tools were used for
Why did these chickens cross the road? …. to get to Peter Follansbee’s talk of course.

The livestock on the plantation were quite used to humans and friendly; no animatronic squirrels like at Williamsburg (*wink* to my friends at CW with that old joke)

Peter Follansbee in his natural habitat -- the Joiner's shop
Peter Follansbee in his natural habitat — the Joiner’s shop

There were also numerous demonstrations from folks working in the historic trades — blacksmithing, woodworking, pottery, textiles, cooking etc.

Carved Book-stand by Peter Follansbee
Carved Book-stand by Peter Follansbee

If you’d like to learn more about Plimoth Plantation or plan a visit of your own, check out their website here.

Annual session of 'Whatsit' where members try to guess what some particularly odd tools were used for
Annual session of ‘Whatsit’ where members try to guess what some particularly odd tools were used for

After dinner and an ice cream social for first time attendees we took part in the annual ‘Whatsit’ session. Folks try and stump the other tool enthusiasts with their recent finds — or figure out what that oddball tool your late relative left you in his will was actually used for. Not surprisingly there is not as much demand for a brass button polisher or ox training yolk as you might think.

It was a beautiful day filled with back to back events. Stay tuned for a bit more on woodworking at the Plimoth Plantation and Day 2 and 3…