The Anti-Roy

I have been anxious about all the conflict and flux in the woodworking universe. To help calm myself, I went out seeking woodworking comfort food.

Klingspor is a global abrasives manufacturing company with an American division. This division has three retail woodworking stores in North Carolina. They are having their 14th annual Woodworking Extravaganza a third of the state away in Hickory, NC. It has all the usual extravaganza stuff, various manufacturers, demonstrations, competitions and lots of sandpaper. They sell roll ends, surplus, discontinued products. Boxes and boxes of the stuff. I am still working through my box of sheet sandpaper bought three or four years ago.

This year there was the added attraction of the (in)famous Scott Phillips. For those not familiar with Mr. Phillips, he has been the host of Public Television’s The American Woodshop for 17 years. This is a little unusual in that Mr. Phillips has been associated with Woodcraft. In North Carolina and on-line, Klingspor is a competitor of Woodcraft’s. Who knows how relationships in corporate America work.


Watching Scott work, I realized that there are some differences between Scott and the legendary Roy Underhill. The obvious one is that Roy eschews the use of power tools while Scott embraces them. Sometimes while they are running. Roy has studied and is a practitioner of traditional methods and techniques. Scott is not bound by tradition and is willing to stretch and experiment with ideas on the use and application of tools. Scott is a pioneer and I do not think we will see his like again.

There are similarities between the two. Both are entertainers and know how to work a room. Both are passionate about their woodworking. Neither is afraid of hard work. During a demonstration, Scott realized the Kreg Foreman was not plugged in. He didn’t raise a fuss and demand that someone fix it. He humbly crawled under the table and plugged it in. I also have never heard Roy ask anyone to plug-in any of his tools.

While I was there, Mr. Phillips was showcasing the year’s best new woodworking product. As luck would have it, the manufacturers of the best new products all had booths there. It just goes to show that Klingspor only invited the best manufacturers to their show.

Scott Phillips demonstrating the best new products.

Scott Phillips demonstrating the best new products.

A few years back, I had the chance to talk to Mr. Phillips at a Cincinnati Woodcraft the day before Woodworking in America opened. I think he really does understand his place in the woodworking firmament. He views himself as the guy that demonstrates that anyone can woodwork. He tries to keep things simple and fun. Many of us watch his show and roll our eyes. I don’t think those who do are his target audience. His show is always entertaining although perhaps not for the intended reasons.

It’s a living…

Update: This blog has been modified to correct a word omission.

A Questionable Blog, But It’s Short

If you are a genteel person with a sensitive nature, you should leave now. Some might find this topic shocking, not in the Howard Stern or South Park sense. More like the stereotypical maiden aunt from Dayton expectation of shocking.

If you are still reading you either are a curious person or don’t have a freakin’ clue what I am blathering on about. Whatever your reason, read on.

I have seen the following item in the men’s room of several higher-end restaurants and bars. I’m not sure if it’s a hipster trend or there is just a really good salesperson out there catering to all the right places. Well, here goes.

There are now toilet seats with handles:

It's got a handle. Click for a larger view. Really?

It’s got a handle. Click for a larger view. Really?

This looks like the Kohler White Stronghold® Elongated Toilet Seat With Integrated Handle and Self-sustaining Check Hinge, $28.46 street price. Available in Almond, Black Black and Biscuit at slightly higher prices.

Is this a growing niche market? There are many similar products including add on handles called Nifty-Lifty and Flipsit (Antimicrobial) and a foot powered lifter. There are a lot of really odd products out there related to toilets that I hope to forget once this blog is finished. There are some things you can’t unsee. Research takes a toll.

I asked my wife if there are similar things in the women’s room. She shouldn’t recall. In fact, she couldn’t say if the toilet seats are open front or closed front (horseshoe or oval). Part of me is glad. We don’t need two overly curious minds in the family. I will just need to do research on my own.

Or not.

Life Immitating Art – in Ecuador



There is this image in today’s blog over there at Lost Art Press:

Used with the tacit permission of Lost Art Press. Click to visit their blog.

Used with the tacit permission of Lost Art Press. Click to visit their blog.

The plate is titled How to Stack and Preserve Wood, Plate 4 and is from the forthcoming Roubo on Furniture, a work in progress from the fine folks at Lost Art Press. What struck me was that I saw the real life version of this plate in Ecuador. The reason I was not blogging for a while was that we were on a trip to Ecuador. My wife had always wanted to visit the Galapagos Islands and this was her chance. We recruited four friends and booked ourselves on a tour of the Galapagos Islands. On the way down, we spent three days in Otavalo, a center of weaving and a market town a few hours north of Quito. More on that later.

What struck me about the plate in the LAP blog was that I had just seen the real life version of the plate driving from Otavalo to Quito. We were traveling down the Pan-American Highway. Between the recent earthquake damage and all the local festivals, the 90 minute drive took about four hours. This left lots of time for observing the scenery. We passed several small lumber yards that looked something like the plate.

This is the lumber yard.

This is the lumber yard.

And here are the lumber stacks. Just like Plate 4.

And here are the lumber stacks. Just like Plate 4.

And another lumber yard.

And another lumber yard.

There will be more about the trip in the next few days but for now I will offer you some panoramic photos I took at a raptor center near Otavalo and the drive south. The last two panoramas prove that you can take panoramic photos with your iPhone from a moving vehicle if you reverse the scan and are traveling at a relatively constant speed on a level and smooth road. Results aren’t perfect but are interesting.

The other pictures are from a brief stop in Cayambe, home of our driver and location of his family’s biscotti bakery. Click HERE to see the pictures.

I’m Not Sure I Believe in Coincidence…

There are two recent niche media events that will go unnoticed by 97% of the American public. In late August, the Discovery Channel announced that Tory Belleci, Grant Imahara and Kari Byron would not be returning to Mythbusters for the 2015 season. The show seems to be going back to its roots and will return to the original format of Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman working alone. (Will folklorist Heather Joseph-Witham, Ph.D. return?) It could be budget, could be a creative reboot. It does remove some of the silliness that the show would occasionally devolve into. But they have their fans and will be missed.

The other niche trio making news is Bob Lang, Glen Huey and Chuck Bender leaving Popular Woodworking. I first met (if you can use that word) Glen Huey five (?) years ago at my first Woodworking in America. The local Woodcraft was holding a meet and greet with some woodworking luminaries. Ron Herman was there. Rob Cosman. Scott Phillips. Glen Huey and I believe Chuck Bender. And I am sure there were others but I was too new to the celebrity woodworking world to appreciate who most of these people were. A violent thunderstorm kept some away while holding the rest of us captive. While waiting to talk to Scott Phillips, I chatted with Mr. Huey. (Not entirely true but true enough.) I attended a few of his classes over the weekend and was impressed. Favorably.

We next met when he came to Raleigh, NC for a Friday night talk and a weekend workshop for the Triangle Woodworkers Association. We talked more. Then we talked more when I came to the Pop Woodworking shop for Bob Lang’s Puzzle Stool class. Glen was there to help out.

He was on of those with whom I shared my furniture pictures before I was bludgeoned into doing the this blog. He even used some of my pictures in his PW blog.

I initially met Chuck Bender through osmosis. He and Glen Huey seem to be joined at the hip. I started to talk to him while talking with Glen. It would be rude to not talk to him. I then gave him a lot of money and was allowed to hang out with him at his Acanthus Workshop in Pennsylvania for a week. He too came to Raleigh for a weekend workshop and we bonded further.

In 2012, Woodworking in America was held in Pasadena, CA and Cincinnati. In Pasadena, one of the after hours activities was a tour of and dinner at the Gamble House (a Greene and Greene designed Arts and Crafts house in Pasadena). I had toured the house before. It is a dark house on a bright and sunny California day. At night, it’s really dark. I shared a table with Bob Lang at dinner that night on the equally dark terrace. I’m not sure he saw me and ever realized who he was talking to. We then renewed(?) our acquaintance at his Puzzle stool class.

I was concerned when I read that these three gentlemen were leaving the magazine. I consider Megan Fitzpatrick a friend and this can’t be making her life any easier. (There are many working definitions of friend but for the purposes of my blog, I’ll use my definition.) I think we need to consider the entire Alexander Graham Bell Quote – When one door closes, another opens: but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed-door that we do not see the one which has opened for us. The three will experiment with new ideas on presenting their craft and some new and different voices brought in to fill the void at the magazine. More woodworking content cannot be a bad thing.

Now for the coincidence portion. Three people left Mythbusters while thousands of mile away, three people left Pop Woodworking. The Ohio crew are all talented builders and I am sure one of them can learn to use a TIG welder and plasma cutter. Glen looks like a natural to be the heavy equipment operator. They have a built-in following. Research show that the only people left watching TV on TV are those who might be considered older. It stands to reason that sponsors might want to find personalities the would appeal to that demographic. And, as a professional that has been involved in the entertainment industry since 1977, Bob Lang has really, really good hair. He truly does. (Bender, not so much.)

Not all will accept this theory yet no one has risen to refute it. One of my cats did walk away rolling his eyes upon hearing my theory. I think it was because there no treats involved. He is more accepting when there are treats involved.

Whatever happened, only them that were there will know the truth and then only their truth. Your truth may vary. I choose to believe their motives are pure.

And it doesn’t really matter. In a million years we are all dust…

Rewind and Final Adamstown Omnibus Photo Dump

I refuse to do the obvious “I’m baaaack” that was recently used by a definitely possible but uncommitted presidential candidate. It’s too obvious. And unless you’re Jack Nicholson (or Eminem), you shouldn’t use it either. It’s been done.

Before I explain where I’ve been for the past few weeks, I want to wrap up my nostalgic visit to Adamstown and do one final blog showing all the wonderful things you can find there.

This isn’t one of them:

Might be more vintage than antique.

Might be more vintage than antique.

I show this one to demonstrate that there is something there for everyone, even those that don’t deserve it.

I like this server a lot more:

Not real old but old enough.

Not real old but old enough.

with great and unique bellflowers:

Bellflowers with sand shading.

Bellflowers with sand shading.

Here we see an interesting use of veneer:

Almost makes me want to build veneered furniture.

Almost makes me want to build veneered furniture.

And this:

It's electric!

It’s electric!

Finally, a formal painted corner cabinet.

I wish I had the house to go with this cabinet.

I wish I had the house to go with this cabinet.

To see the entire Adamstown set on Flickr, click HERE

If you are in the area, you should definitely plan on spending the day. I hope to make it there again next year. And the year after that.


For reasons I’ll go on (and on) about later, between now and around October 1st, I will have even more limited internet access than I have with AT&T DSL. (“More limited?” How did that make it past the editor?) If I can get a blog out, I will, but don’t expect anything until October 2nd.

Don’t worry, I’m not sick or dying. It is possible that I might die between now and October 2nd, but that’s not at all expected and nothing going on would lead me to believe that I might pass on. Of course, one never really expects it, does one?

In the mean time, there are some blogs back in the archives worth reading. Just search for Porsche, tractors, dovetails, hardware…

Enjoy and I’ll be back just as soon as the techno gods allow.

Smalls – They Have Them in Adamstown.

On the off chance you aren’t tired of Adamstown yet, this might do it. I was going to post something else for a few days but I am stuck in a hotel with connectivity that makes AT&T DSL look good. No, AT&T DSL IS bad. Nothing wrong with this set, I just thought you might like go somewhere else for a few days.

With these encouraging words, I offer you a set of pictures of smalls from that place. First is this small painted wall box:

Nicely decorated. Wouldn't this look nice in your house?

Nicely decorated. Wouldn’t this look nice in your house?

This poor cabinet has had a hard life:


and is still slightly toasty on the back:

Looks more than a bit rough.

Looks more than a bit rough.

Notice the back is unpainted. They really didn’t care about furniture backs much. More on that later.

This is billed as a Lancaster, PA folk art child’s jelly cupboard.

Like furniture only smaller.

Like furniture only smaller.

I have no reason to doubt them.

This is another unusual wall box. There’s not much of a slant to the lid. It’s nearly horizontal.

Darn close to a cube.

Darn close to a cube.

And in some odd cost savings measure, they only used one hinge.

Who needs two?

Who needs two?

And lest you think there is only small casework, there is also small seating.

They don't look comfortable.  Maybe that's the point.

They don’t look comfortable. Maybe that’s the point.

If you want to look at the rest of the smalls, go to my Flickr set HERE.

A Refresher Course on Painted Chests from Adamstown

Wrapping up my Adamstown travelogue, I offer a refresher course on painted chests. There are several styles of painted chests that can be divided into four major groups. First is painting for the sake of painting, much like you paint a house:

It's just paint.

It’s just paint.

Next there is the decoratively painted chests. Often religious, cultural or ethnic themes are portrayed. Some are celebratory, weddings, births. Some are just decorative:


Could be cultural or ethnic.

Could be cultural or ethnic.

They ya got yer faux wood grained, often done to make the chest seem to be made from a better wood. Possibly to make it look veneered.

Kinda looks like wood. Better than I could do.

Kinda looks like wood. Better than I could do.

Then we move into the abstracts, starting with imaginative wood graining and quickly moving on to things I don’t understand and might never. Wood graining on mushrooms.

Close to natural wood.

Close to natural wood.

Swirling grain.

Swirling grain.

Wood grain from a tree we haven't met yet.

Wood grain from a tree we haven’t met yet.

And then there is this one I like but don’t get:

What is it, really?

What is it, really?

I had this earlier blog on painted furniture, “As Close to Easter Eggs as I’m Going to Get.”

And my legendary Flickr set of Chests.

If there are any discrepancies between this and previous blogs, rest assured that this blog is correct. It just goes to show how much I have learned and how much smarted I am now.

Or not.

Cutting Edge Medical Technology – circa 1900

Really, I’m not try to drag out my Adamstown visit. There are just that many unique things that deserve attention that I am avoiding a large inclusive photo dump. And I always wanted to do a blog with “circa” in the title. I like that word.

There were two unique items that I feel deserve their own blog. The first is the:

McConnell Dental Chair Demorest, GA  -  USA

McConnell Dental Chair
Demorest, GA – USA

This is a portable, folding chair used by the traveling dentist. It was designed to fold and be carried in the back of the buggy.

Front view.

Front view.

Rear view.

Rear view.

Not only did the chair fold but the seat height was adjustable.

Seat height adjustment.

Seat height adjustment.

I am sure this chair was a marvel for the time, but consider how stable it was when it was occupied by a 300 lb. man during an extraction without anesthetics. I feel sure there were 300 lb. men in 1900. And they might have had bad teeth.

The other device is:

Dr. C. H. Williams' Lantern for Testing Color-Sense.

Dr. C. H. Williams’ Lantern for Testing Color-Sense.

This is described as “A Dr. C. H. Williams railroad lantern for testing color sense or blindness in railroad workers. Made by Peter Gray & Sons, Boston, Massachusetts, circa 1895.”

It consisted of a metal box with a wheel with 18 colored discs, three light bulbs and a rheostat.

The Lantern.

The Lantern.

There are several links for this lantern including this one from the University of Toronto Scientific Instruments Collection.

The Official Proceedings, Volume 17, of the Western Railway Club has a description here.

Next, Painted Chests.

Adamstown, PA – A Woodworker’s Paradise?

I could be that Adamstown was always loaded with tools, tool chests and workbenches and I didn’t notice. Now, with photographic evidence, I notice.

Lots of workbenches. Like this handsome devil:

What a nice bench.

What a nice bench.

There was text on the vise collars. I took a picture:


The mysterious text on the vise collar.

It says “C Christiansen, Chicago”. Turns out the Christiansen workbenches are fairly well known. While not common, not all that rare. A Google search shows many pages and references out there. Three of the more interesting ones are:

Ben Martin’s Christiansen Workbench Pictures

A Toolemera Blog: Another Christiansen Workbench

and from Sawmill Creek: My New (very old) Christiansen Co. Workbench

And then there is this poor, derelict, buried beast:

There's a bench there, really.

There’s a bench there, really.

that once had a sliding deadman:

There is a recess above for the deadman.

There is a recess above for the deadman.

And what seems to be a Nicholson style workbench:

Nicholson? Close enough.

Nicholson? Close enough.

Here is what seems to be a contemporary tool chest:

Doesn't look old.

Doesn’t look old.

with too many sliding tills.

Tills can't really slide unless you take out half of them.

Tills can’t really slide unless you take out half of them.

All this and more. Planes, saws, more beaches, more chests, a small lathe and more. To see this collection, click HERE.


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