Tag Archives: NC

The Tool Store at the Woodwright’s School

The Woodwright’s School is already hallowed ground for a lot of woodworkers, but hovering above workshop is Ed Lebetkin’s Antique Tool store….

Up the stairs and take a right at the large model plane
Up the stairs and take a right at the large model plane

Before heading up there, I was warned to leave my wallet behind as there would be a lot of temptation at the top of the stairs….Ed’s store is filled with just about every kind of traditional woodworking tool and accessory you could want.

Wide angle view of Ed's Antique Tool Store
Wide angle view of Ed’s Antique Tool Store

An amazing assortment of chisels, planes of every kind, marking gauges, braces and bits.

Wall of molding planes
Wall of molding planes

One whole wall of the shop is filled with molding planes .

Chisels, mallets, auger bits etc.
Chisels, mallets, auger bits etc.

New stuff is always coming and going so you’ll want to visit often — or see about renting a space to camp out and be first to check out the new arrivals. πŸ˜‰

Self-advancing Boring Machine
Self-advancing Boring Machine

During my visit I was enamored with an unusual boring machine. The castings on the tilt mechanism look similar to my old Swan boring machine but what made this machine unusual was the mechanism to advance the business end of the unit horizontally via the large knob on the bottom — rather than the whole dance of shimmying yourself and the unit up the timber and re-aligning the auger to make the next hole. The runners and support structure for it was all metal which leads me to believe it was a later design towards the end of that era.

New toys from Ed's tool shop
New toys from Ed’s tool shop

I tried my best to get out without buying anything — especially since the Nashua Live Free or Die Tool Show and Auction is coming up in a couple of weeks, but it’s like Ed knew I was coming. I found a great reprint book on Concord NH furniture makers, a book on the Shaker Barn full of tools at the Shelburne Museum in VT which I wrote about here, a MWTCA reprint of a tool catalog, a nice old Stanley auger bit extension for use with a bit brace, and a Stanley 203 bench clamp. This neat little clamp is something I’ve looked at in the past — and makes a nice addition to any bench with a sliding deadman. I look forward to giving it a try.

I’m looking forward to my next visit. If you’d like to plan a visit to the tool store or contact Ed you can find his contact info on the store’s web page here. Ed’s a great guy. If you meet him, be sure to tell him I sent you. πŸ™‚

Take care,
-Bill

The Woodwright’s School

For Labor Day weekend this year I flew down to the Woodwright’s School in Pittsboro, North Carolina to take a 3 day class on making a Jointer Plane with Willard ‘Bill’ Anderson (more on that in an upcoming post).

My flight got in early on Friday and I had the chance to hang out with some friends at the school during the last day of a class on building the Anarchist’s Tool Chest with Chris Schwarz.

The Woodwright's School
The Woodwright’s School

The Woodwright’s School is located in downtown Pittsboro which is a scenic town about 20 minutes from Chapel Hill.

Roy Underhill planing a groove
Roy Underhill planing a groove

Don’t let the sometimes quiet streets fool you, once inside the school you are in a lively space full of folks who as passionate about woodworking as you are. Roy was on hand to help students as they worked their way through the last day of week long class on building a traditional English tool chest based on Chris’ book ‘The Anarchist’s Toolchest’.

The class busy working on their Anarchist's Toolchest
The class busy working on their Anarchist’s Toolchest

One of the attractions to Roy’s school is its focus on only using traditional English/American hand tools — there were no whining power tools, no Dozuki saws and no plastic handles to be seen — or at least none that I saw when Roy was making his rounds. πŸ˜‰

Feeding Bill's bar tab and Khrushchev's shoe
Feeding Bill’s bar tab and Khrushchev’s shoe

If you ever read Roy’s book on public speaking you’ll get why Khruschev’s shoe is an interesting trophy. Beyond the witty stories and advice on how to keep a crowd engaged and entertained, the last chapter on the morning after a presentation was the one that resonated the most with me. Applying the advice therein has improved several lectures I have to make each year.

Drilling out a mortise
Drilling out a mortise

Traditional woodworking can feel like a very small world at times — the gentleman in the photo above was also in the class I took earlier this summer on making a Name Stamp with Peter Ross at Roy’s school — even though I was 700+ miles from home I happy to see that I could still run into people I knew.

Roy's corner cabinet
Roy’s corner cabinet

Loitering in the back of the classroom is a corner cupboard you may recognize from Roy’s show. I heard his wife has been waiting on it for a while — which made me feel a tiny bit better about the dresser I owe my wife Alyssa — which reminds me I need to get working on that again….

Chris Schwarz teaching
Chris Schwarz teaching

It was also great to spend some time hanging out with my friends Chris Schwarz and Megan Fitzpatrick including a stroll through Ed’s tool shop above the school.

Chatting with Megan Fitzpatrick
Chatting with Megan Fitzpatrick

No toolchest is ever completely filled and Ed’s shop has a huge collection of traditional tools on par with some of the best regional tool shows. I tried my best to be good and save my pennies for the Nashua tool show later this month, but I did find some new toys.

Chris' Dutch Tool Chest
Chris’ Dutch Tool Chest

I had fun chatting with everyone, examining some interesting tools and helping to sweep up before a trip to the City Tap — which is a awesome bar just behind the school with great food and drinks.

Roy helping a student
Roy helping a student

On my way out of the school I saw my old friend Otto Salomon and various other proper woodworking models from the Teacher’s Handbook of Sloyd.

Sloyd Prints
Sloyd Prints

It seems the Woodwright’s School is full of new and old friends that are literally popping out of the woodworking.

If you’d like to learn more about the school, make some new friends, meet up with old friends, or sign up for a class you can check out the school’s website here.

-Bill

Old Salem + MESDA

No visit to Old Salem Museums and Gardens would be complete without a visit to and guided tour of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (aka MESDA).

MESDA -- The Museum of Southern Decorative Arts
MESDA — The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts

Make sure to head over to the museum first and schedule a guided tour early — as they fill up fast.Β  I learned about this museum from Glen Huey’s book ‘Furniture in the Southern Style’. Just as he said, the museum staff were extremely friendly and knowledgeable. After my tour and talking to the guides, I was invited back to see some of the other rooms. I had a great time and made some new friends.

As someone who grew up in the Northeast and New England it was great to see some more of the vernacular pieces from the South and be able to compare and contrast the details with those of my own work. I hope to tackle some Southern style pieces soon. The museum also has a great research library and a staff who enjoy sharing what they know — I look forward to doing some research there in the future.

The Tavern at Old Salem
The Tavern at Old Salem

When lunch time came around we headed over to the Tavern at Old Salem. They had a newly revamped menu which included a lot of southern favorites and fresh local produce. I had a great pulled pork sandwich and warm German Potato salad — the best I ever had that was not made by family. I come from a long line of German ancestors, some of which were brewers, so much like the woodworking gene, I’m pretty sure a lot more things are hereditary. Love of beer, bratwurst, bacon, expressed construction in woodworking etc. I also think that German language has a nice sound to it — so that one must be subconscious as at a conscious level I don’t get it….

Ready to eat at the Tavern at Old Salem. (I had a great pulled pork sandwich)
Ready to eat at the Tavern at Old Salem. (I had a great pulled pork sandwich)

After lunch we had fun exploring the town’s many shops, houses and gardens.

Some of the beautiful gardens that are part of Old Salem Museums and Gardens
Some of the beautiful gardens that are part of Old Salem Museums and Gardens

Below on the blog is a gallery of some of the more interesting architectural highlights from my walk through the village:

You can easily spend a full day visiting Old-Salem and MESDA. In the evening things get pretty quiet in the historic area so plan your trip accordingly, but there are lots of other things to see in the surrounding area in the evening.

If you’d like to plan a visit to Old Salem Museum and Gardens you can check out their website here.

-Bill

The Historic Trades at Old Salem

This summer I had the chance to take a week long road trip and travel around to a lot of historic sites in Virginia and North Carolina. One of my favorite stops along the way was my visit to Old Salem Museums and Gardens in Winston-Salem NC.

Interpreters in the Joiner's workshop inside the Single Brother's House Shop
Interpreters in the Joiner’s workshop inside the Single Brother’s House Shop

I first learned about Old Salem while having dinner with Thomas Jefferson at Colonial Williamsburg. (No joke).

Window sash, drill bits, and chisel rack
Window sash, drill bits, and chisel rack

I also heard good things about it from Glen Huey’s book ‘Furniture in the Southern Style’ which draws upon some pieces from MESDA (The Museum of Southern Decorative Arts)

Carving over a bench hook
Carving over a bench hook

During our visit, my wife and I had a great time exploring the historic area and visiting the many shops and buildings.

Great traditional bench -- note how the shoulder vise is cantilevered out and there is a set of dog holes in the skirt as well.
Great traditional bench — note how the shoulder vise is cantilevered out and there is a set of dog holes in the skirt as well.

As always, the most exciting part for me was visiting with all the craftspeople who work in the various historic trades.

Full chisel rack
Full chisel rack

In the Single Brother’s House there were a series of workshops housing various trades that were vital to the community.

Molding planes
Molding planes

I felt right at home in the Joiner’s shop and if my wife would have let me I would have spent my day at the workbench talking to people….

Joiner's bench with angled legs and wedged tenons
Joiner’s bench with angled legs and wedged tenons

The workshop had a great assortment of jigs, fixtures, tools and unusual benches. Look at the great wedged tenons on the bench above. (Also check out the floating shoulder vise and skirt board with dog holes on the bench further up. Looks like they did not see as much use, but an interesting idea)

The shoemaker plying his craft -- in this case making a leather bucket.
The shoemaker plying his craft — in this case making a leather bucket.

The single brother’s house was where young men of a certain age could learn the craft and ply their trade before they got married and moved on to their own homes. In the shoemaker’s shop we had a great chat with a shoemaker who was making a leather bucket which was one of the many other wares a shoemaker would make for the town.

Some wares made by the Potter in his shop
Some wares made by the Potter in his shop

In the potter’s workshop you could see on display a wide variety of earthenware dishes, cups, and other ceramic objects. Most interesting to me were the ceramic tile shingles which you can see in the restored village.

Other trades on display were the gunsmith, apothecary, tailor, tinsmith and gardeners.

If you’d like to learn more about the craftsmen and women who work in the historic trades at Old Salem you can read more here.

If you are ever in the Winston-Salem area I highly recommend visiting Old Salem and checking out the workshops.