At the bi-annual Live Free or Die Tool Show and Auction in Nashua NH one of my favorite activities is look at all the unusual stuff folks have for sale. This year some of the most interesting items were not for sale. Behind a table of tools for sale and a framed photo of the Studley Tool Cabinet, Bill Garrett of Sparrowbush NY had a trio of tool cabinets each carefully fitted to hold a variety of unusual tools. From talking to Bill, he started with some regular tool cabinets and fitted them out to hold a variety of interesting tools from his collection. Clearly inspired by H.O. Studley’s work, Bill incorporated piano keys, tools racks, tills, unusual hardware and period details to fit in an impressive number of tools into a modest space. From carved ivory whales and fists, to highly detailed miniatures, to piano keys, small brass locks, an 1804 coin, period photos and advertisements the cabinets are a unique creation. I had a great time talking to Bill and poking around in all three cabinets. Please check out the photo gallery below and you might also find some inspiration for some hidden compartments in your own tool cabinet.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Next up was master tinsmith Bill MicMillen — who you may have seen at other EAIA events, Eastfield Village or Colonial Williamsburg.
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.
Bill went on to demonstrate how to make a tin cup walking us through the various forming and soldering stages.
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 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.
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.
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.
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….
Alyssa had her heart set on this nice turned pen made from kingwood and is already putting it to good use.
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 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:
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.
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.
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.
A Joiner's Guide To Traditional Woodworking and Preservation