Tools for Working Wood
We are closed today - Moving! - Open 2/16 at our new location!

 Joel's Blog at Tools for Working Wood

Sawmaking returns to 26th Street  

02/10/2016

As you can see Tim is standing on our new (used) pallet shelving, as he fastens it to the wall of our new space at 112 26th street. Moving into any old building is an adventure and this coming Friday is the massive "move the inventory day". We are packing through Thursday night and hopefully, the trucks will show up on time. Otherwise... well let's just not go there. Next week we will be at the Somerset Woodworking Show, and while normally the show is physically exhausting, compared to the move it will be a vacation and I am looking forward to it and seeing a lot of old friends. I'll be there Friday and Saturday so stop by and say hello. We will also be showing off new tools from Festool along with lots of other new stuff.

Unfortunately, as I have found out in the past few weeks, our new little dead end block at 26th street, which has excellent 4G service is not served by ANY high speed internet provider and has the worst internet service of any location in the United States. Hopefully in the next few months we can get someone to run a cable out our way, or figure out had to get a microwave tower to point our way. I suppose for a company involved in traditional skills like woodworking, hand carrying bits and bytes over the Pony Express might be all we deserve.

One of our customers, Gail Middleton, discovered that a century ago a famous saw manufacturer, Joshua Oldham & Sons had their premises exactly where we are moving to. Same building. Since Gail made me aware that we are stepping into some really big historical shoes I have located some letters and a catalog from the company. They seen to have made mostly power saw blades, mostly for saw mills. I'll have more information as I find it and make sense of it. The big news is that on December 11, 1901 their original factory burned down, to be rebuilt by 1903. I found that information here with a cool picture and I need to get to the library to take a look at the original and more importantly find out more about the magazine "The Saw-book Quarterly" (and get a better scan). I am positive it was a house organ for Oldham - the address is part of the factory, but I am really curious what the contents were. After we move it will give me an excuse to do some research.

Take a good look at the wall above Tim. If you look closely you can see where the a new wall was rebuilt over the fire damaged remains of the original factory.

In closing I hope to see all of you at the show next weekend, and of course come visit us at our new address starting March 1. 2016.
Tags:Product News, Sales, and Promotions,Historical Subjects
Comments: 5

New Space - New Plans - Too Much to Do!  

01/27/2016

"Why do you have a picture of a truck in your woodworking blog?" you may be thinking. Good question! And good news to offer in response: we're moving! This is the first glimpse inside our new space at 112 26th Street in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn. The new space is located only a few blocks from where we are now and as of yesterday the heat is on! The best part is that after eight years on the 5th floor - until recently, with only part-time elevator service - we are moving to a ground floor. We have finally surrendered to our in-store customers' request for earlier hours, and we'll be open at 8 AM Monday through Friday. Full hours will be 8 AM - 5 PM Monday - Friday and 11 AM - 5 PM on Saturday. We are expecting to open around the first of March. Stay tuned for more information...

Please plan to visit us at the Somerset Woodworking Show on February 19 - 21. Like last year we will be full force with our hand tools, including Blue Spruce Chisels which we are stocking but aren't on the website yet (wait a few days) and tools from Sterling Toolworks, Chris Vesper, Ray Iles and others. Back in Stock - bench chisels From Ashley Iles (the best deal in quality chisels we know about).

In other news, I don't know when I will have details but now that we have a new space, in April, we will be offering some practical courses in woodworking. We have no plans to compete with any of the actual woodworking schools but we want to focus on auxiliary skills that are still very central to woodworking, are related to toolmaking, and that we get asked about all the time. First up will be sharpening and grinding, taught by yours truly using techniques that I have written about in Fine Woodworking, and seen in my sharpening video. The current thought is to offer classes in evenings and then once in awhile have an all day Saturday class for those who have to travel. It's actually pretty fun, bring the family into the city for a day, come to the class, let the family go off to shop, eat, go to a museum or a show. If you are interested drop me a line and I'll start a list. The courses will show up as a new product as soon as I finalize the syllabus and schedule.


Ps- if you know anyone selling a propane forklift we are in the market for one right now.
Tags:Product News, Sales, and Promotions
Comments: 11

Moving! Moving! Moving! and More on Building Decorations - And Popular Science!  

01/13/2016

Walking home with my son from Sam Asch Music on 34th street we went east on 30th Street from Seventh to Sixth Avenue. I took a picture of an interesting building and got the idea of a blog entry that is a bit of a continuation of last weeks theme. But before we talk about that. BIG NEWS!

After eight years in Bush Terminal we are moving 7 blocks north to our own warehouse on 112 26th street. Effective (at the latest) March 1, 2016 we will have a ground floor location! Park your car in our driveway steps from the front door! Expanded Hours - opening at 8am Mon-Friday - and maybe (just maybe) even free coffee before 9:30AM. More on this with details as we get closer to the move date!!

The first building that started it off was this Medieval police station. Then there was this Mesopotamian building a few houses down and that's when I got the idea that a blog on just the building decorations on one block - that's it - one block - 30th between 6th and 7th Avenues has to offer for the wandering pedestrian.
Then on the other side of the street was this Gothic building. Technically speaking they should all be called "Neo-Gothic" or "Neo" this or that but that just sounds pretentious and we can all agree that the King Nebuchadnezzar probably didn't work in the Neo-Mesopotamian building, everyone knows he didn't commute and lived and worked in Babylon.
Then comes a bit of Federalist decorations followed by last (at the corner of 6th Avenue) and certainly least, a modern angular building, sans any decoration.


Next week I'll talk more about the move, it's really exciting for us - but moving at least two semi's of stuff, a machine shop, and eight years of misc is a nerve-wracking adventure.

FLASH--- This just in!
A Big Thank You goes out to Popular Science we listing our new Hardware Store Saw and one of the "Top 16 Gadgets We Loved in 2015" Thanks very much and for those interested in the saw, we are backordered but we are ramping up production and are catching up. One of our major New Year's Resolutions (aside from surviving the move) is to ramp up production of all the Gramercy and BT&C products so supply can meet demand!


Tags:Product News, Sales, and Promotions,Historical Subjects
Comments: 3

The Casual Decoration of Objects Before the 1930's  

01/06/2016

The volcabulary of ornament contains many different elements of design, all of which have been used at one time or another to decorate objects. The most obvious are the basic ogee and cove moldings we find on furniture and architectural items going back centuries. Other bits of that vocabulary include Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns which date back to Roman and Greek times. We don't call those elements "classic" without cause.
The Tudor Rose is another classic bit of decoration dating from at least the 16th century and the Tudor Dynasty (1485 - 1603) - Henry VII - Elizabeth I. The photo below is of a tudor rose I carved following instructions in E. J. Tangermans wonderful book "Whittling and Woodcarving". I just did the one but the design is a standard decoration that you routinely see in rows and rows all over Tudor and Neo-Tudor era buildings..

Up until the 1920's when architecture became more about the overall silhouette of a building (IE the scale model of the building could impress a client) than the details (the things that catch our eye on a daily basis) buildings and furniture were covered in all sorts of decoration. Below you have a picture of a random older school building with really wonderful carved scrollwork at the entrance.

So here I am, on my way to the Museum of the City of New York ( see the blog I wrote about that) and I am standing in the IRT Union Square station - build 1904 - and I noticed that in a cast lintel supporting a staircase we have a modified Tudor Rose (top picture). There is absolutely no reason for the rose to be there. You can even say that the decoration is inconsistent with the surrounding area, but them 1904 station builders could not resist. The detail is cast in, so it doesn't cost much to do. It is an exposed surface, so why the heck not decorate it. And what we end up with is a late Victorian subway station with their take on a sixteenth century design element. And if that's not cool I don't know what is!
Tags:Historical Subjects
Comments: 7

The Craftsman Magazine, Christmas, & Jacob Riis  

12/30/2015

This past Saturday the whole family went up to the Museum of the City of New York for a banner day of really excellent exhibits (and some surprise free ice cream!). One exhibit that I was particularly keen to see was about the work of pioneering social reformer Jacob Riis, the famous author of "How the Other Half Lives." I've been very interested in his work for years because of his photographs of workers, slum life, and life on the Lower East Side (a traditionally immigrant section of Manhattan where my grandmother's family first lived when they arrived in New York). But to illustrate the cliche of "I learn something new every day," I learned from the exhibit of a connection between Riis, a religious man who lived in Richmond Hill, Queens (one neighborhood over from where I lived as a teenager) and Arts & Crafts furniture.

Let me explain.

The focus of the Early 20th Century American Arts & Crafts movement was "The Craftsman Magazine," which is now a great resource for all those A & C furniture designs that have become so popular among furniture makers. Gustav Stickley and others in the forefront of the A&C movement believed that publishing plans to make them accessible for people to make their own furniture was philosophically very important and the modern context of "The Craftsman Magazine" for me at any rate is as a source for furniture plans and and other items in the A&C design world. If you look through the magazine there was also a big push on "traditional living." But, frankly, I never really paid that much attention to anything other than the design and furniture articles.

Imagine my surprise when in the middle of the Riis exhibit there was a copy of the Craftman magazine! Riis wrote for them! What did he write about? Not about the squalid and unsanitary conditions of the poor, but rather of how Christmas was celebrated in Richmond Hill, and how he and some wealthy New Yorkers tried to get some traditional values back into the bacchanal that New Year's had become. He even mentions some of the old City traditions and where they came from, and the big tree at Madison Square, a tradition that has been relocated to Rockefeller Center for over 70 years now.

But here we are in the Christmas season and the turn of the New Year, and finding quite accidentally this connection between Furniture and traditional values for the season is pretty exciting.

Note: you can read the original article here. Here is a link to the issue (Riis's article is the fourth one, and first link is to the frontspiece and has a cleaner image of the tree). The entire archive of Craftsman magazines is here.

BTW in case anyone from the Museum of the City of New York reads this blog, I want you to know that between the Riis exhibit, the Folksingers of New York exhibit, the Landmarks exhibit, and the history of affordable housing in NYC exhibit - the Museum's current exhibits - you really demonstrate a mastery of putting subjects in context, way beyond just showing the ephemera of the subject matter. This is hard to do, and you folks did it really, really well! And the free, most excellent Blue Marble ice cream all visitors got on the day we visited was a stroke of genius!

For those of you who follow the "Work Magazine Reprint Project" a quick heads up as we are rapidly approaching the 200th issue which sadly, as I cannot locate more volumes, will be the end of the series. This is a real bummer but we have had a great run and some of the content (which will remain on-line) is amazing. The good new is that Ben's blog which has been fallow for several years is about to get a resurrection with lots of new content! - Stay tuned!

In conclusion - From everyone at Tools for Working Wood, We wish you and your family a very happy, healthy, and wonderful New Year!
Tags:Historical Subjects
Comments: 5

Christmas Cheer  

12/16/2015

Last Saturday was SantaCon, and the streets of the city were filled with hordes of mostly young adults, dressed up in Santa clothing, bar-hopping. I suppose this is one way to prepare for the holiday season. Meanwhile, we here at TFWW were fielding two, make that three, types of customers: people buying woodworking-type gifts for their woodworking friends; cabinetmakers desperately getting supplies so that they could finish a job and deliver before the holiday; and finally those needing some tools for themselves so that they can make gifts for people.

For spoonmakers, we stock lots of carving tools. For people who need a simple yet impressive project, we stock Hock Kitchen Knife kits. And for the ones just starting that carved dresser to be finished in two weeks: well, we have no idea.

When you buy a tool for someone you are not only getting them a gift of something that they might not feel comfortable on buying for themselves, you are giving practical, put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is encouragement for what for most hobbyists is a fun, but challenging (and often solitary) hobby. So many of our customers are thrilled when someone actually gets them a tool they like and need.

For the people making presents, I say the best part of making a present for someone is that you are giving someone the most precious gift a modern person can give: The Gift of Time. You are saying to someone, I value you enough to spend my spare time on making something I hope you will like. It doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't have to be complicated. Home-made gifts are always important.




Tags:Product News, Sales, and Promotions
Comments: 1
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the blog's author and guests and in no way reflect the views of Tools for Working Wood.
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Recent Blogs:
Sawmaking returns to 26th Street-02/10/2016
New Space - New Plans - Too Much to Do!-01/27/2016
Moving! Moving! Moving! and More on Building Decorations - And Popular Science!-01/13/2016
The Casual Decoration of Objects Before the 1930's-01/06/2016
The Craftsman Magazine, Christmas, & Jacob Riis-12/30/2015
Christmas Cheer-12/16/2015
Festool Fall Promo - Festool - A - Friend-12/10/2015
A Video about Pottery-12/09/2015
The Art Nouveau Furniture of Carlo Bugatti (1856-1940)-12/02/2015
Repair Tip-11/25/2015
A Visit to the Long Island Museum of American Art, History, and Carriages-11/11/2015
Begin at the Beginning-10/28/2015
Here Lies Duncan Phyfe-10/21/2015
July Fourth Weekend and Objects That Connect. -10/07/2015
On the Diversity of Saws-09/30/2015
Woodcarving At Coney Island-09/09/2015
The Philadephia Museum of Art and Festool Fall News-09/02/2015
New Saturday Hours-08/19/2015
A Look at Violin-Maker's Planes-07/08/2015
Linoleum Block Printing-06/17/2015
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