It’s time to start thinking about the 2019 EAIA Annual Meeting Wednesday, May 15th thru Saturday, May 18th, 2019! We will be based at the Westford Regency Hotel in Westford, Massachusetts (https://www.westfordregency.com/). Room rates at the hotel are $125/night. Come and join us for another great meeting full of great activities and great people.
On Thursday we’ll visit the Lowell National Historic Park (https://www.nps.gov/lowe/index.htm). The park is the site of the Boott Mills which were part of an extensive group of cotton mills built along an extensive series of canals town. The Boott Cotton Mills complex is the most intact and houses the Boott Cotton Mills Museum. The History of Lowell is closely tied to its location along the Pawtucket Falls of the Merrimack River which provided water power for the factories that formed the basis of the city’s economy for a century. The city of Lowell was started in the 1820s as a money-making venture and social project referred to as “The Lowell Experiment”, and quickly became the United States’ largest textile center.
The Merrimack Manufacturing Company opened a mill by Pawtucket Falls, that began weaving cotton in 1823. Within two years a need for more mills and machinery became evident, and a series of new canals were dug, allowing for even more manufacturing plants. With a growing population and booming economy, Lowell was named after Francis Cabot Lowell, and was officially chartered on March 1, 1826. By 1850, Lowell’s population was 33,000, making it the second largest city in Massachusetts and America’s largest industrial center. The 5.6-mile-long canal system produced 10,000 horsepower, to ten corporations with a total of forty mills. Ten thousand workers used an equal number of looms fed by 320,000 spindles. The mills were producing 50,000 miles of cloth annually.
Other industries developed in Lowell as well: The Lowell Machine Shop as well as other machines shops served the large number of weaving mills. Moxie which was created around 1876 by Dr. Augustin Thompson in Lowell, Massachusetts. originated as a patent medicine called “Moxie Nerve Food”. He claimed Moxie was especially effective against, “paralysis, softening of the brain, nervousness, and insomnia.”. In 1880, Lowell became the first city in America to have telephone numbers.
Uriah A. Boyden installed his first turbine in the Appleton Mill in Lowell in 1844. It was a major improvement over the old-fashioned waterwheel. The turbine was improved at Lowell again shortly thereafter by Englishman James B. Francis. Francis had begun his career in Lowell working under George Washington Whistler, the father of painter James Abbott McNeil Whistler, and his improved turbine, known as the Francis Turbine, is still used with few changes today. Francis also designed the Francis Gate, a flood control mechanism that provides a means of sealing the canal system off from the Merrimack River, and completed the canal system by adding the Northern Canal and Moody Street Feeder, both designed to improve efficiency to the entire system. We’ll get a first-hand look at the canal system and the turbines on a narrated boat tour of the canals.
The Lowell Mill Girls were young female workers who came to work in industrial corporations in Lowell, Massachusetts, during the Industrial Revolution in the United States. The workers initially recruited by the corporations were daughters of propertied New England farmers, typically between the ages of 15 and 35. By 1840, at the height of the Industrial Revolution, the textile mills had recruited over 8,000 women, who came to make up nearly three-quarters of the mill workforce. While their wages were only half of what men were paid, many were able to attain economic independence for the first time, free from controlling fathers and husbands. As a result, while factory life would soon come to be experienced as oppressive, it enabled these women to challenge the then existing gender stereotypes. As the nature of the new “factory system” became clear, the Lowell Mill Girls joined the American labor movement. In 1845, after a number of protests and strikes, many of the mill girls came together to form the first union of working women in the United States, the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association. The Association adopted a newspaper called the “Voice of Industry“, in which workers published sharp critiques of the new industrialism. The “Voice” stood in sharp contrast to other literary magazines published by female operatives, such as the “Lowell Offering“, which painted a much more sanguine picture of life in the mills. We’ll spend time at the Boott Mill, tour the canal system by canal boat, and visit the tenement houses where the Lowell Mill Girls lived.
We’ll also take the time to visit the New England Quilt Museum (http://www.nequiltmuseum.org/index.html) which is less than a block from the Boot Mill site. The New England Quilt Museum, founded in 1987, is the only museum in the Northeast solely dedicated to the art and craft of quilting. Their collections are strong in 19th century quilts, with a geographic focus on New England and the museum staff are planning a special display of their early quilts just for our group.
On Friday, we’re going to feature a wide-ranging series of hands on workshops, lectures, and demonstrations. You’ll have a chance to try your hand at blacksmithing, rigid heddle loom weaving, cross stitching, 19th century candy making, and decorative plaster molding. We’ll have a demonstration on bookbinding. More workshops and hands on activities are in the works so stay tuned. You can take a tour of the Starrett factory and museum in nearby Athol, Massachusetts. You’ll get to see some very early Native American tools from the extensive collection at the Peabody Institute of Archeology (https://www.andover.edu/learning/peabody) and be able to try your hand at flint knapping. . You’ll hear about Civil War Soldier’s quilts. We’ll be entertained at our banquet by Doctor and Doctor Noah (yes there are two) and their “Amazing Mechanical Magic Lantern Astronomic Slide Show.” Both the Fiber Interest Group and the Blacksmith’s Interest Group are helping to put together this meeting.
And of course, we’ll enjoy tailgating, our annual Whatsit’s session, the ice cream social, displays, and tool trading as well as the Silent Auction, our Annual Meeting, and Banquet. The theme for the displays is Fiber Arts Tools and Machine Tools. So, start thinking about a display. They’re a great way to share your knowledge and some of your tools with the rest of us. The more displays the better! Also, don’t forget the Silent Auction. Items donated by members help support EAIA’s annual budget. Share your creative talents with the rest of us and bring an item or two for the auction.
Bill and Alyssa Rainford and Eileen and Paul Van Pernis are co-hosts for this meeting. Put the dates, May 15th thru May 18th on your calendar. Think about your display, and an item or two to donate to the Silent Auction. Bring a friend or your family and come enjoy a great 2019 EAIA Annual Meeting in Massachusetts. Watch for more information about the 2019 Annual Meeting in Shavings and on the EAIA web site (www.eaiainfo.org).
By Paul Van Pernis
The Blacksmith Interest Group (BIG) of EAIA held a regional meeting at the reconstructed Moses Wilder Blacksmith shop in Bolton, Massachusetts on July 28th.
The purpose of the meeting was to provide hands-on demonstrations and give participants an opportunity to try basic blacksmithing using coal forges. There were 30 participants which was the number that the shop and grounds could reasonably accommodate. The event lasted the entire day with demonstrations and presentations in the morning, followed by lunch and an afternoon of opportunity for participant forging with coaching from master smiths at one of the four available blacksmithing stations (forge, post vise, anvil and tools). The day ended with an hour or more of participants’ stories and networking about blacksmithing. The participants who were not already members were introduced to EAIA; several became members as a result.
The meeting started with a brief introduction to EAIA and the Moses Wilder blacksmith shop, the original of which was moved to Old Sturbridge Village in 1957 and an accurate reproduction built in the early 2000’s by the Roemers on the original foundation at their home.
Derek Heidemann, Coordinator of Historic Trades at Old Sturbridge Village, demonstrated the forging of blacksmith’s tongs from a single piece of mild steel, first by forging jaws at either end, then diagonally slitting the piece to form the reins, and finally punching and riveting the hinge joint. Rob Lyon, Derek’s former mentor, was the “striker” for the project, an interesting reversal of roles.
Dirk Underwood, Blacksmith and edge tool maker, demonstrated blade making from large coil springs. Dirk is well known in the area for his knives made from a wide range of materials and processes including lamination of chainsaw chain and ball bearing races!
Rob Lyon, the former Master Blacksmith at Old Sturbridge Village discussed early iron production from bog iron, a process that was very important to the trade and economy of New England in the 18th and 19th Centuries.
Tom Kelleher, Historian and Curator of Mechanical Arts at Old Sturbridge Village, discussed the economic aspects of early blacksmithing using early account books and journals to illustrate the discussion. His talk was particularly interesting as it highlighted the use of “virtual money” to value transactions either in English pounds or American dollars even though very little actual cash changed hands. The talk also underscored the importance of bartering goods and services as well as the wide range of tasks of the typical rural blacksmith, often done in between tending for his farm which was often his primary source of food and income.
Bob & Max Roemer, owners of the reconstructed shop, demonstrated the use of a restored antique Champion tire and axle upsetter to shorten the circumference of an iron wagon tires which had come loose from road wear and/or shrinkage of the wooden parts of the wheels.
The meeting was considered a success at several levels. EAIA’s Blacksmith Interest Group looks forward to having a similar event for the 2019 EAIA Annual Meeting in Lowell, Massachusetts (May 16 – 18, 2019). Please come join us, either as one interested in trying your hand at the forge or as a presenter/demonstrator.
By Clayton Ray
Postman’s 1998 book, Anvils in America, is a landmark in the study of American anvils. He documented all of the major makers and many minor ones. It would, however, be too much to expect that he could have exhausted the subject, but not too much to suspect that some among the varied membership of EAIA might have knowledge of obscure brands, from advertising, brochures, catalogs, or other scattered contemporary sources. A few examples may serve to clarify the subject. All are late nineteenth or early twentieth century cast anvils.
Postman, page 140, recorded one “GEM” anvil but found no information on the maker. It is a cast iron anvil, unusual for its lugs for anchoring it, otherwise known almost exclusively on Fisher anvils. My example is shown below.
Postman, pages 197-203, documented the American Star anvil, made in Trenton, NJ, the outstanding feature of which is its patented so-called “tempering cavity,” a cylindrical hole extending from the bottom well into the core of the anvil. The logo is a 5-pointed star centered on its right side.
Star was a popular logo and name of a wide variety of manufactured products, including one or more little-known anvils in addition to the American Star. Among these is the Swedish North Star brand, with a 5-pointed star. I have two anvils of about 100 lbs. each with embossed stars, about 2.5 inches in diameter, on the right side. These stars are unusual in being 6-pointed instead of the common 5-pointed stars. The only other mark is the weight on the front foot.
I have two anvils, one 8 lbs. and one 58 lbs., marked “U.S.A.” in large embossed letters on the right side. The letters are set in a recessed rectangle with rounded corners. They have hardy holes, but no pritchel holes.
Last, and to me most interesting, is an 18-lb. bench anvil, with no name, but with “chilled semi steel” in embossed letters along the right side near the bottom. Most unusual are swales on the underside, four linear crosswise and four circular, one at each corner.
Your help is needed in filling out information on these and many other obscure makers of U.S. anvils.
After over a week of heavy rain, the skies began to clear on Wednesday morning May 23rd in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania just in time for the tailgating activities in the Comfort Suites University Hotel parking lot, signaling the start of EAIA’s 85th anniversary Annual Meeting. It didn’t take long for the rather vigorous tool sales to begin.
Everything from a spinning wheel, to planes, to hammers, to books, and even an early 5 key clarinet found new homes before the day was over.
The registration table was busy as 158 people signed in for the meeting including 21 first time attendees. Registrants were thrilled to find the complimentary gifts in their registration packets, particularly the 11th in the series of commemorative medallions designed by EAIA member Tom Elliott and the beautiful limited edition “libella” produced specifically for this meeting by Lee Valley Tools. EAIA Board member Robin Lee’s generosity made sure that EAIA’s 85th anniversary Annual Meeting will be memorialized in grand style.
Thursday morning the sun was out and the EAIA members in attendance left the hotel for a very busy day with tours of the Bethlehem Steel Works, the Moravian Museum, the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts and lunch in the Colonial Industrial Quarter. You can check all of these interesting sites out at, www.historicbethlehem.org.
It was a day filled with history, learning, new knowledge and camaraderie. The Fiber Arts Interest Group met back at the hotel in the late afternoon for a presentation on “rug punching” presented by Becky Densmore.
Members of this group also displayed their project from last year at Old Sturbridge Village, as well as other works in progress, and made plans for activities at the 2019 Annual Meeting.
Dianne Carpenter made sure that anyone who wanted some wonderful raw wool sheared from her own sheep went home with all they needed.
We convened after dinner at the National Museum of Industrial History just a few blocks from our hotel for the Ice Cream Social and “Whatsit’s” session. While enjoying Moravian cake, Tandy cake and Shoofly pie as well as ice cream with all the toppings, EAIA member Bob Muhlbauer entertained us with his singing while accompanying himself on his Martin guitar (he’s really good!).
The museum had been closed to the public for our event and members had the opportunity to view the exhibits at their leisure. This relatively new Smithsonian affiliated museum (see www.nmih.org) is located in a restored building on the Bethlehem Steel grounds and is well worth a visit if you’re in the Bethlehem area.
Terry Page and his crew once again did a fine job with the interesting “Whatsits” brought in by members. We managed to figure out most of them at this always popular part of our annual meetings.
Everyone went to bed tired but happy on Thursday night and were ready and raring to go again on Friday morning. We carpooled to nearby Nazareth, PA in the morning and visited the Moravian Historical Society Museum and then enjoyed a fascinating tour of the Martin Guitar Company.
Martin Guitar has been making beautiful handcrafted guitars and ukuleles in Nazareth since 1845. Many commented that this tour was “the best industrial tour” they’d ever taken (https://www.martinguitar.com/). The Martin Guitar Museum located at the factory is filled with fascinating exhibits and fabulous guitars.
Friday afternoon we enjoyed the sunshine and pleasant surroundings at the Jacobsburg Historical Society, home of the Pennsylvania Long Rifle Museum.
The wonderful all volunteer staff put on a fabulous program as we learned about the five generations of the Henry family who made long guns at the site. The afternoon provided a relaxing time to view the Henry’s carriage house, the blacksmith shop, the boat shop, the summer kitchen, as well as the family museum and the Pennsylvania Long Rifle Museum. This group of dedicated volunteers have made the Jacobsburg historical Society a great place to visit if you’re ever in the area (www.jacobsburghistory.com/).
Friday evening, many members enjoyed the face paced antique tool auction put on by Mike Urness and Sara Holmes of the Great Planes Trading Company. It was another full day of learning and fun!
On Saturday morning the tool exchange started as soon as the doors open and we enjoyed 23 displays brought by members with the theme, “Tools that Cut and Tools that Measure. The displays were varied and showed great ingenuity.
Many members also attended the Saturday morning workshops which included blacksmithing, a great lecture and tasting by Historic Bethlehem’s own beer historian.
We learned how to make Moravian stars, had a behind the scenes textile and doll house tour at the Kemerer Museum and even heard about the history and making of the Polly Heckewelder doll, the oldest continuously made doll in the U.S. But there was still more! On Saturday afternoon, Henry Disston Jr. gave a wonderful lecture on the history of the Disston Saw Company. At the conclusion of his talk Henry and his brother Michael paired up with Henry on his Martin Guitar while Michael played his Disston musical saw.
We also discovered that one of our own EAIA members, Tal Harris also plays the musical saw and we were treated to a wonderful spontaneous concert!
Saturday evening concluded with the always fun Silent Auction with items donated by EAIA members in attendance, with many of the items made by EAIA members. All the money raised goes to support the EAIA budget and lots of people went home with one or more items from the auction. Our banquet and Annual Meeting followed with good food, great conversation and fond farewells as the evening wound down. The Lehigh Valley proved to be a great location for a memorable meeting to help celebrate EAIA’s 85th Anniversary!
We’ll meet again next spring in Lowell, Massachusetts May 15th thru May 18th 2019 for EAIA’s next Annual Meeting. Mark those dates on your calendar and join us for a great time!
Stay tuned for a picture gallery of the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting coming soon!
by Paul Van Pernis
Please check out this online photo gallery from the event which you can find here.
 A libella is a plumb level. The Assyrians and Egyptians were probably the first users of the libella. It consists of an “A” shaped frame with a plumb line suspended from the apex that coincides with a mark on the lower crossbar when the instrument is level. Archeologists are of the belief that the horizontal foundations of the great pyramids of Egypt were probably defined by using a libella. It was once a standard piece of equipment for the woodworker, carpenter, stone mason and surveyor. It can determine plumb and level, be used as a square and even serve as a ruler if needed. The modern toolbox has replaced the libella with three tools; a spirit level, a plumb bob and a framing square.
The Lehigh Valley was a great place to celebrate the Early American Industry Association’s 85th Anniversary during our 2018 Annual Meeting! Beautiful weather, fantastic historic sites and museums to visit, great workshops, ,demonstrations,tool trading, and member displays. All done while we enjoyed lots of learning, friendship and fun in and around Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Watch the slide show below and enjoy the memories. Can you find yourself?
Thanks to all of you for coming and special thanks to my co-hosts – David Lauer, David Pollak, and Eileen Van Pernis who helped make it all possible. We hope to see all of you and many more EAIA members in Lowell, Massachusetts for the 2019 Annual Meeting May 15th thru the 18th, 2019!
This is the first of what is intended to be an occasional series describing some of the Stanley Model Shop tools in my collection and sometimes giving opinions and historical tidbits relating to them. Many of the Model Shop tools are prototypes and, thus, are either one-offs or very limited production models. Although information about a number of Model Shop tools has been published in journals such as The Chronicle, The Gristmill, and Fine Tool Journal and in various blogs, information about many others is not generally available to the tool collecting community. I hope this series will help spread information about a few more of these very interesting tools.
Stanley maintained the Model Shop from the earliest times . The Model Shop gave Stanley inventors an opportunity to try out new ideas and develop prototypes for new tools, to test prototypes and production parts, and to evaluate competitor’s products. The Model Shop also stored prototypes for future reference. Stanley actively solicited ideas for new tools from users at least as early as 1900 with the August 1900 Catalogue No. 26 stating on page 2 “We are frank to state that the design of many of the special tools which we show originated in the suggestions of our customers. We are always pleased to receive suggestions from the tool-user.”  I have heard, but I can’t remember where, that Stanley held regular Tuesday morning meetings to consider ideas and prototypes for production.
There were a number of authorized clean outs of obsolete prototypes, casting patterns, and other material from the Model Shop over the years with the largest happening in 1964 and 1974. Typically, the removed materials were designated as “junk” and employees were allowed to take what they wanted. This accounts for many of the prototypes seen today.
Many of the model shop tools share characteristics that differentiate them from production tools. First, they are very limited production tools or one offs, some of which are unlike any regular production Stanley tools and some of which differ from regular production tools only in minor details. Many Model Shop tools use mostly stock parts, but have specially made unique features. The stock parts may be parts pulled off the production line or may be unfinished, imperfect, or seconds not of acceptable quality for sale. Cutters may or may not be marked. Lastly, many (but not all) of the Model Shop tools have Model Shop identifying marks painted or scratched on them, often in several places, or have tags identifying them as model shop prototypes. Most of the identifying marks are numerical, although some are alpha-numeric. These Model Shop marks don’t seem to have any particular chronological order and may have been put on at the whim of whoever was cataloging the prototypes that day. Most Model Shop tags I have seen have dates which are useful for telling when the prototypes were made.
With that introduction, we now turn to the subject of this piece, a transitional furring plane prototype (Figure 1). This is one of my favorite prototypes because of its simplicity and its self-documenting provenance. As with many Model Shop planes, this one shows no signs of use.
The prototype is based on a regular production Type 10 (1893-1899) Stanley No. 35 transitional plane. Features of Type 10 include an S casting mark on the lever cap, left hand threads on the adjusting nut, three patent dates on the lateral lever, and a STANLEY / PAT AP’L 19 92 stamp on the cutter. The stamp on the cutter is quite weak on this example. The patent date refers to Edmund A. Schade’s Patent No. 473,087 “Plane Iron” of that date for placing the large hole in the iron at the bottom of the slot in the iron rather than at the top as had been done previously on Stanley bench planes.
Although the patent for the “Schade slot” was not issued until 1892, Stanley had been producing and marketing the feature in 1890  . These dates became important because features made publicly available more than two years before the patent was granted rendered the patent void. Among others, the Ohio Tool Company copied the large hole at the bottom of the iron (Ohio Tool used a hexagonal hole rather than a round one). Stanley sued for patent infringement with the trial beginning in 1901. Ohio Tool asserted that the low hole was a prior invention available to any company. The court agreed with Ohio Tool, noting that the patent was an obvious solution to a simple problem, and Stanley lost the case.
Edmund A. Schade was born August 29, 1855, in Saxony Germany . The family immigrated to America about 1864 and Edmund apprenticed in the Sargent & Company machine shop prior to 1873, when he was employed by Stanley Rule & Level Company. Shortly thereafter he rose to foreman of his department and by 1900 became Mechanical Superintendent and remained so until his death in 1932, ending a 59 year career with Stanley. The April 19, 1892, plane iron patent was Schade’s first known plane related patent. Other notable Stanley plane patents by Schade include the design patent for the No. 20 circular plane (1893), patents for the No. 55 combination plane (with Justus Traut, 1895), the early Bedrock plane frogs (1895), the tilt handles on the No. 85 and 10 ¼ planes (with his brother Albert, also employed by Stanley, 1905), the new style Bedrock planes (1911), brass bushings and machine screws to secure the frog on transitional planes(1912), Gage iron planes (1920), the design patent for the No. 144 plane (1925), and the patents for the No. 164 plane (1927) and Ready Edge Blades (1927).
Returning to the prototype furring plane, it was made by modifying the sole of a No. 35 plane. As can be seen in Figure 1, Figure 2, and Figure 3 the sole has been by hollowed out ahead of and behind the mouth, leaving small bearing surfaces at the mouth and heel (the purpose of the two small bearing surfaces is to allow the plane to follow the contours of rough sawn lumber when planing the “fur” off rather than to produce the flat surface that typical smooth planes produce). Figure 3 shows that the hollowing out at the toe was not done very carefully; the cut is slanted across the toe of the plane. Figure 3 also clearly shows the markings on the nose of the plane: the Model Shop number 3706 and STANLEY / RULE & LEVEL COMPANY / NO. 35 with the last line being cut in half.
Details of the markings on the sole of the plane are shown in Figure 4. I have observed the I15 mark on other Model Shop prototype planes. Its significance is unknown to me. The sole behind the mouth also contains the signatures of E. R. Van Vleck and Boyer Lilpho(?) and the date March 26 / 04. The toe of the sole is signed “Made April 9/04 by E. A. Schade.” I have seen other examples of Schade’s signature and this appears to be in his hand. It is interesting that Schade, who claims creation of this prototype, signed it two weeks after the other two. E. A. Schade has been discussed above, but the identities of E. R. Van Vleck and Boyer Lilpho(?) are unknown to me. Were they employees of the Model Shop or did they have other positions with the Stanley Rule and Level Company? If anyone knows, let me know.
The date this prototype was made raises a question about its intended purpose. It was made more than a year after Jefferson Allen’s “Plane” Patent No. 721,771 of March 3, 1903, but before the cast iron bodied Stanley No. 340 furring plane was marketed in 1905 (Figure 5) . Was this intended to be a quick and dirty prototype of the No. 340 or did Stanley consider making a transitional furring plane. If the latter, one suspects that the time of consideration must have been very brief because the wood sole of the plane with its small bearing surfaces near the mouth and heel would have worn away very quickly when used on rough lumber.
It should be noted that the transitional prototype furring plane and the production No. 340 plane resemble the plane shown in Allen’s patent (Figure 6) only in broad concept. The patent states “This invention has for its object the production of a novel plane in which the cutting edge of the plane-iron is situated some distance below the sole of the stock, whereby the plane may operate upon portions of the surface to be planed which are below the level of the higher portions thereof.… [S]ince the sole of the plane is above the level of the surface being operated upon it is possible to plane or smooth the depressed portions in the surface.… My improved plane is especially useful in such operations as smoothing up the boards of a floor.… My improvement is of such a character that it may be applied to any type of plane.”
The primary feature of the plane is “a gage rib [6 in Figure 6] which extends across the sole thereof adjacent the mouth through which the cutting edge of the plane-iron projects. Preferably this gage-rib will be constructed to be detachably secured to the plane, so that the plane can be used with or without it, as desired.”
The plane also features a detachable nose piece (nose-plate) (8 in Figure 6) and a rocking support toward the rear of the body (13 in Figure 6): “I have herein illustrated said rib as being formed integral with a nose-piece 8, which is detachably secured to the front end of the plane, whereby said nose-plate and rib may be removed whenever it is desired to use the plane in the ordinary [w]ay…. I will also preferably provide the heel of the plane with a detachable half round or semispherical projection 13 to form a sort of rocking support for the plane when my improvements are applied thereto. This rocking support provides means whereby the plane may be regulated slightly to better accommodate it to uneven surfaces.”
The Model Shop prototype furring plane (Figure 1) and the production No. 340 furring plane (Figure 5) resemble each other closely in concept and design and are a great simplification of the rather complicated design described in Allen’s patent. Allen promotes his plane as “especially useful in such operations as smoothing up the boards of a floor” while Stanley recommends the No. 340 plane “[f]or preparing lumber as it comes roughly sawed from the mill. The construction is such that it will remove the fur, grit, dirt, etc., and in fact “clean up” the surface and get it ready for the bench plane quicker than any other hand tool.” 
If you have additional information or comments about this or other Stanley Model Shop prototypes, please contact me at email@example.com or reply to this blog. I look forward to hearing from you.
 C. Blanchard, “The Stanley Model Shop or Barrel Days,” Fine Tool Journal, vol. 50, pp. 22-23, Fall 2000.
 Stanley Rule and Level Company Catalogue No. 26, August, 1900.
 J. Walter, Antique & Collectible Stanley Tools, Guide to Identity & Value, Marietta, Ohio: The Tool Merchant, 1996, p. 806.
 R. K. Smith, Patented Transitional & Metallic Planes in America–Vol. II, Athol, MA: Roger K. Smith, 1992, pp. 224-229.
 J. Walter, Antique & Collectible Stanley Tools, Guide to Identity & Value, Marietta, Ohio: The Tool Merchant, 1996, pp. 457, 809.
 Stanley Tools Catalogue No. 110, 1911, p. 38.
The 85th Anniversary Early American Industries Association Annual Meeting is not far off. Join us in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania as we explore the diverse and fascinating history of the Lehigh Valley May 23rd through May 26th, 2018. We guarantee you’ll have a good time, make new friends and learn more about early American industry and the fascinating history of the Moravians.
On Thursday one of our stops will be the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts which is housed in three interconnected mid-1800’s homes in Bethlehem. The museum is one of only 15 museums in the United States dedicated to the “decorative arts”. The period rooms, and galleries highlight furniture, paintings, china, clothing, and silver from over three centuries of decorative arts. The museum is named for Annie S. Kemerer who was born in 1865 just south of Bethlehem. Annie married into a prominent Bethlehem family and she and her husband had one son. Annie and her family enjoyed surrounding themselves with beautiful furniture, paintings, and decorative objects. After the untimely deaths of her son and then her husband, Annie became a recluse but continued to be an avid collector of antiques. Through her generous bequest, the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts was established in Bethlehem after her death in 1951. Annie Kemerer’s extensive personal collection includes lovely examples of Pennsylvania German textiles, exquisite furniture, priceless Bohemian glass, and her breathtaking 200-piece wedding china.
The Historic Bethlehem Collection Resource Center was added to the Kemerer Museum in the fall of 2013. This is a two-story environmentally controlled vault that houses all of the most sensitive objects in the collections of Historic Bethlehem Museums and Sites. On the interior there are floor to ceiling glass walls making it possible for visitors to see the collections.
The second floor of the vault is home to the distinguished Elizabeth Johnston Prime Dollhouse and Toy Collection, forty-four structures and 6,000 pieces, making it one of the largest antique dollhouse collections in the United States. This collection, spanning the period from 1830-1930, recounts 100 years of architectural and decorative arts history. Mrs. Prime was so precise in her collecting that she only put pieces in each house that were period-appropriate, down to the china. Because the collection is so vast, the museum feature select houses throughout the year. During our EAIA Annual Meeting we’ve arranged special “behind the scenes” tours of both the dollhouse collection and the Kemerer’s extensive textile collection.
On Friday we’ll visit Martin Guitar in nearby Nazareth, Pennsylvania. Established in 1833 by Christian Frederic Martin the company is highly regarded for its steel string guitars and is a leading manufacturer of flat top guitars. The company has been run by the Martin family throughout its history. The current chairman and CEO, C.F. ‘Chris’ Martin IV, is the great-great-great-grandson of the founder. The firm was the first to introduce many of the characteristic features of the modern flat top, steel-string acoustic guitar. Martin instruments can sell for thousands of dollars, and vintage instruments occasionally command six-figure prices. We’ll take a tour of the factory to see how these world class guitars are made and spend time in the delightful museum that is housed in the factory.
Friday will also allow us an opportunity to visit the Moravian Historical Society in Nazareth. Housed in the George Whitfield house (1740-1743) the Moravian Historical Society museum houses one of the oldest and most distinguished collections of artifacts, art, and architecture related to Moravian history in North America. You’ll see the first violin made in America, early Moravian made organs and an amazing collection of Moravian musical instruments. The eighteenth and nineteenth-century Moravians considered music a necessity, an essential part of their daily lives. Many Moravian clergy and laypeople were trained in music before they came to Pennsylvania by the same composers who influenced Mozart and Haydn. In Moravian life there was no distinction between the “sacred” and the “secular.” Each person’s gifts were used for the benefit of the entire community. While there was little emphasis given to music as a distinct profession–many of the composers were also teachers and pastors–music was an essential part of everyone’s education.
Throughout the history of the Moravian Church, instruments have been used consistently in worship as well as entertainment. Instruments came to America early with the Moravians; by 1742 Bethlehem had flutes, violins, violas da braccio, violas da gamba, and horns. Beginning in the early 18th century, Moravian settlements in America used the trombone choir consisting of alto, tenor, and bass trombones as a distinctive part of worship. In 18th century Moravian settlements, the trombone choir, playing from the church tower or from in front of the entrance, served to call the congregation to worship, and served as the congregation’s “portable” ensemble for accompanying outdoor services, burial services, and the Easter sunrise service traditionally held in the graveyard adjacent to the church.
On Friday afternoon we’ll have lunch at the Jacobsburg Historical Society (just 4 miles north of Nazareth) home of the Pennsylvania Long Rifle Museum. The Pennsylvania Longrifle Museum features more than 100 historic arms on either permanent display or in rotating, topical exhibits. Displays feature Henry firearms dating from the American Fur Trade, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the American West, and the early twentieth century. Most of the firearms were made by the Henrys of Bolton, but the collection also contains arms made by Abraham Henry (1768-1807), who apprenticed in Nazareth under his brother William Henry II (1757-1821) but returned to Lancaster to practice his trade. The Bolton area itself produced guns for more than 100 years. Here are a few tidbits about Jacobsburg and the Henry family.
And of course, we’ll have our Whatsit’s session on Thursday night, so don’t forget to bring that tool you just can’t quite figure out and we’ll see if we can collectively give you an answer.
There’s a lot to do in the Lehigh Valley in and around Bethlehem. You may want to come a day or two early or extend your stay for a day or two just to spend some more time in this fascinating part of Pennsylvania. Here are a few possibilities:
It’s not to late to sign up! Do it today! Don’t forget to bring your “Whatsit” and please think about bringing something you’ve made or an item you want to donate to our Silent Auction. It’s scheduled to take place right before our Saturday night banquet. All the money raised helps support EAIA! Come and join us as we celebrate the Early American Industries Association’s 85th anniversary in the Lehigh Valley!
by Paul Van Pernis
The Early American Industries 2018 Annual Meeting is only about 3 months away. On May 23rd through May 26th, 2018, we’ll celebrate EAIA’s 85th anniversary during our annual meeting in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania. What follows are a few historical facts, some teasers, and hopefully an enticement or two that will convince you to come join us for all the fun.
Did you know that the Moravian church has been around for over 550 years? Founded in 1457, the Moravian Church, or Unitas Fratrum (Unity of Brethren) as followers of John Hus gathered in the village of Kunvald, about 100 miles east of Prague, in eastern Bohemia, and organized the church. This was 60 years before Martin Luther began his reformation and 100 years before the establishment of the Anglican Church.[i] The eighteenth century saw the renewal of the Moravian Church through the patronage of Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf (What a great name!).
The Moravians settled in Pennsylvania on Christmas Eve in 1741 founded their communal society in Bethlehem. Here’s a fact – Moravian College in Bethlehem traces its origin to a girls’ school called The Bethlehem Female Seminary founded in May 1742 by sixteen-year-old Countess Benigna von Zinzendorf. The young countess, was on an eighteen-month visit to the Moravian settlements in the New World with her father, Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf when she felt moved to start the school. Because the Moravians consider every human soul a potential candidate for salvation, they feel every human being should be educated. Their philosophy is summed up by one of their early bishops Amos Comenius who said, “not the children of the rich or of the powerful only, but of all alike, boys and girls, both noble and ignoble, rich and poor, in all cities and towns, villages and hamlets, should be sent to school.” The Moravians therefore considered schools secondary in importance only to churches. Come and see the wonderful architecture of the Moravians. Experience their culture and learn more about their communal society. We’ll visit not only the buildings, but we’ll have a chance to visit the Moravian Archives during an open house in the evening on Wednesday May 23rd. The Moravians kept great records of all of their activities, and these records, pictures, drawings, and artifacts are preserved in the Moravian Archives.
Bethlehem Steel can trace its roots to the Saucona Iron Company which was established in Bethlehem in 1857. On May 1, 1861, the company’s title was changed again, this time to the Bethlehem Iron Company. Construction of the first blast furnace began on July 1, 1861, and it went into operation on January 4, 1863. The first rolling mill was built between the spring of 1861 and the summer of 1863, with the first railroads rails being rolled on September 26. A machine shop, in 1865, and another blast furnace, in 1867, were completed. During its early years, the company produced rails for the rapidly expanding railroads and armor plating for the U.S. Navy. During World War I and World War II, Bethlehem Steel was a major supplier of armor plate and ordnance to the U.S. armed forces, including armor plate and large-caliber guns for the Navy.
In the 1930s, the company made the steel sections and parts for the Golden Gate Bridge. During World War II, as much as 70 percent of airplane cylinder forgings, one-quarter of the armor plate for warships, and one-third of the big cannon forgings for the U.S armed forces were turned out by Bethlehem Steel. Bethlehem Steel ranked seventh among United States corporations in the value of wartime production contracts. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation’s 15 shipyards produced a total of 1,121 ships, more than any other builder during the war and nearly one-fifth of the U.S. Navy’s fleet.
At the end of 1995, Bethlehem Steel discontinued steel-making at the main Bethlehem plant. After roughly 140 years of metal production, Bethlehem Steel Corporation ceased its Bethlehem operations. During the Thursday tours we’ll learn more about the history steel making during our guided tour of the blast furnaces and the buildings remaining on this historic site. We’ll top that off with an evening tour of the National Museum of Industrial History located in one of the 100-year-old Bethlehem Steel buildings. The museum which is within walking distance of our hotel is being closed to the public for our group and we’ll enjoy our Ice Cream Social and Whatsit’s session at the museum Thursday evening, May 24th. The museum staff will be on hand to answer our questions and the museum will be ours to enjoy. This Smithsonian affiliated museum houses a great collection of machinery that was displayed at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. In addition, they’ve got great information on the steel industry.
Did you know that the Lehigh Valley was the home of America’s silk industry? More people including women and children were employed in the Lehigh Valley’s silk mills than steel mills. The museum has a wonderful display about the silk industry including a Jacquard silk loom.
There’s all of this and lots more to do and see during EAIA’s 2018 Annual Meeting. If you have registered already, do it now! I’ll tell you more in the next installment of Tales, Teasers, and Enticements.
by Paul Van Pernis
[i] John Hus (1369-1415) was a professor of philosophy and rector of the University in Prague. The Bethlehem Chapel in Prague, where Hus preached, became a rallying place for the Czech reformation. Gaining support from students and the common people, he led a protest movement against many practices of the Roman Catholic clergy and hierarchy. Hus was accused of heresy, underwent a long trial at the Council of Constance, and was burned at the stake on July 6, 1415
In my professional travels in developing countries, I’ve been amazed how analogous work methods are to those used in America in the early period of our trade history. Several years ago we had the opportunity to join our son in Kenya where he was finishing his junior year at UMass. As Peace Corps volunteers in the early 1970’s in the northwest corner of Kenya near Uganda we hadn’t an opportunity to explore the coast despite my interest and experience as a wooden boat builder. Knowing the era of traditional construction of wooden Lamu dhows was declining, we took the opportunity to fly from Nairobi to Lamu Island in a small plane to sail a dhow and explore the construction and maintenance of these venerable vessels. Lamu Island is located on the Indian Ocean on the northern coast of Kenya about 60 miles south of Somalia. The island had been the center of dhow construction for several hundred years and has not changed the construction techniques or the general structure in all that time. All of the construction is done on the island, from selection of ribs in the endless mangroves that surround the island to the forging of all the fittings that are used in fastening the hulls of the boats. Consequently it’s a time capsule and a window on the entire construction process. In many respects it’s an analog to the methods employed for shipbuilding in America two centuries ago, but with much more basic tools.
Since my son and I are amateur blacksmiths, we made sure we saw that component of construction. After sailing along the coast in a hired dhow we moored on the northwest side of the island at the small town of Matondoni, famous for centuries as a boat building center. There were a number of dhows and other small craft under construction or maintenance along the shore. After enquiring about forging of the nails and other fittings for the boats we were led through narrow passages in the crowded village to a small rectangular shelter made from palm leaves on a bamboo frame.
We were introduced to the elderly occupant who was seated on the floor before several pieces of random iron and a small fire. He was the nail maker for the boatyards in Lamu and also sent nails down the coast toward Mombasa. He also forged other fittings, but his primary focus was the very long tapered nails that fasten the ribs together and the planking to the ribs, hence are of vital importance to the integrity and water tightness of the hull.
He very generously demonstrated the forging process from beginning to end, starting with a piece of reinforcing rod and ending with a perfectly tapered and headed spike. He also challenged our son to make a nail who did so with modest success after some coaching.
The smith’s forge was a small hole in the ground into which two metal pipes had been inserted to provide forced air to the fire. The fuel for the forge was charcoal and the bellows were made from two modified plastic lined cement bags. The bottom of each bag was attached to the end of one of the pipes. The other end of each bag was open; each side of the opening had been sewn to a straight sticks that formed a crude but effective valve. The bag was filled by lifting the open end, closing the sticks together and compressing the bag to push air into the pipe and then into the forge. By operating one bag in each hand, the smith was able to provide a continuous flow of air as shown in the photo below.
Note the great care that he has taken to economize on charcoal and maximize the forge fire by placing a small piece of metal over the fire to concentrate the heat. In the lower left-hand corner note the piece of corrugated steel roofing that was moved around to minimize the effect of wind.
The forging process started with the heating of rebar in the forge as shown above, drawing it out using a partially buried sledge hammer head as an anvil.
The piece was straightened and partially cut with a hot chisel on the 3” x 3” steel bar beside the smith.
It was reheated in the forge and the cut end upset in preparation for forging the head,
the head forged in a rudimentary nail header, a hole through a vehicle leaf spring,
and resulted in a very neat rose-head on a 5 in. spike.
I was very interested in how the spikes were driven into the boats since it appeared that a small pilot hole would result in splitting when the spike was fully pounded in place and a larger hole would potentially leak. Much to my surprise each hole for a spike is typically drilled with three or four bow drill bits in sequence corresponding to the taper in the spike. Consequently the spike doesn’t split the wood, holds well, and is virtually leak proof.
We left Matondoni with a great deal of admiration for the quality of craftsmanship with very basic tools…and little bit of practical experience with bellows we never imagined existed. A classic case of innovative “making do”, something for which blacksmiths have been known for times immemorial.
During my professional career I’ve spent much of my time overseas including a 3-year period running an engineering and construction company in India, many of the projects of which were in the south. Due to the 1100 mile commute back to my family in New Delhi, I spent a number of weekends at various project sites and wandered through villages and towns of the area. As is the case for many EAIA members, I was fascinated by skilled craftsman and their tools, most of which they purchased from local shops or, more typically, constructed by the craftsman after buying critical components such as blades.
One Saturday afternoon in the industrial district of Chennai (southeastern coast of India), I was attracted to a hardware store that sold a remarkable range of locally and internationally sourced tools. Over one of the display cases was a large array of wooden planes. To my surprise they were not locally produced as was typically the case, but came from the north and were all branded “ALFA”. The proprietor of the shop told me that they are a bit more expensive than those that could be sourced locally, but were provided by a small company, EN-TECH Engineers, that wanted to develop a nation-wide brand that represented consistent quality for wooden tools at an affordable price. The owner of the company had personally traveled to Chennai with a trunk load of planes to develop the market.
I couldn’t help thinking that I had fallen into a time-warp, an analog of American plane making and marketing that was occurring more than a century and half later than similar business models in the US. I also realized this was a rare opportunity to examine the model, not through records, but through witnessing the process and the people who were implementing it. I bought one of the planes.
The address on a small “rack-card” that contained advertising and the entire line of products gave me enough information to track down the owner, Zakir Hussain, who I contacted by phone. I expressed my interest in seeing the entire process and meeting the people involved. He immediately invited my wife and me to come up to Muzaffarnagar, his base of operations only 80 miles from our home in New Delhi. He also suggested that we make it a two-day visit to include seeing the craftsmen of Saharanpur, a city of approximately 700,000 people of which over 75,000 were in woodworking trades, primarily furniture and carving. Saharanpur also had a number of skilled blacksmiths and edge-tool makers from whom Zakir sourced some of his edge tools.
We drove our trusty Tata Sumo, a bare-bones Indian SUV that seemed indestructible but equally uncomfortable on Indian roads, to Muzaffarnagar where we met Zakir and retired to a small hotel to rest for a very full couple of days ahead. Early the next morning we set off to the wood auction in Saharanpur to begin the journey along the pathway of manufacturing a wooden plane.
The wood auction is truly a one-stop source for every part of a tree. The small straight branches not used for firewood are sold to weave into the walls of homes, large logs are sold for sawn timber, and the remaining smaller pieces are sold to make small carvings.
Most of the wood used for planes is sheesham (Dalbergia sissoo) of the rosewood timber family which grows in the Himalayan foothills of northern India. It is both hard and wear resistant, more so than white oak. It is also used for carving and furniture, but has been replaced to a large degree by teak, both species now being plantation grown. An important characteristic of sheesham is the resistance of its heartwood to insects. However, its sapwood is susceptible to infestation, an important consideration for Indian craftsmen making or selecting a plane to be used in India.
There was a bit of clowning and dancing for the benefit of my wife, Alice, who was a great novelty; our host told us that they’d had never seen a European women at that wood auction.
The successful bidders moved their wood out of the yard to the mills or their furniture shops.
Zakir then took us into the havelis (old townhouses that now typically have commercial activity on the ground floor) of Muzaffarnagar to see some carving, but more importantly the source of edge tools that his manufacturing team used in making their planes.
We initially went through some of the small craft shops where carvers were working but quickly moved to the source of edge tools, spending some time with an edge-tool blacksmith and some of his family.
His operation was a typical small family operation, including his young son who was turning a wheel that ran the blower for a very small forge. He should have been in school, reflecting a common problem of child labor among lower income families in India despite a constitutional prohibition prohibiting children under 14 from working.
His father was using discarded high speed still drill bits to forge chisels and gouges several of which I bought based on his “cataloge” burned into a small piece of plywood.
We traced the next step in the plane-making process to the saw mill where the logs were sawn into slabs and the slabs were edge-cut.
Other than the pulleys and belts from an old “one-lunger” gas engine, the process was essentially as it was (and in some cases is) in the US. The one significant difference was the hospitality which included the elderly owner’s offer to smoke an Indian hookah. Somewhat to our surprise, it was started with cow dung which the elder sawyer assured us was quite sanitary due to the heat.
The boards were then sorted, edged, and sent off to the carvers of Saharanpur and Zakir’s shop.
The next step was at EN-TECH: cutting the plane blanks to length and some very preliminary shaping.
Clearly hand safety was not a significant concern and the electrical code was dealt with “economically” (wire in outlet without plugs!).
The plane blank was then trued with a fore plane.
The actual plane shaping then started with scribing the dimensions for the mouth and blade recess.
Note that these operations used the craftsman’s feet as the vise, very similar to a number of craft techniques elsewhere in South Asia and Southeast Asia.
The bed was filed flat, and
the inlets for the wedge and blade trimmed with file and float.
In parallel, the blade was straightened, sharpened, and the cap trued.
The blades for rabbeting and molding planes were cut, forged and shaped from discarded band saw blades. As was often the case in the US, bench plane blades in India were purchased from reputable edge tool manufacturers and were made from high carbon steel. I can attest that they held a very good edge having used mine for several years.
The overall body of the plane was finally and carefully shaped.
The blade, cap and wedged checked for fit. The final “QC check” was actually trying the plane which is perhaps the most important QA test: real functionality!
The stages for producing a smoothing plane are shown below.
Although the process I‘ve described is for a smoothing plane, the company produced a wide range of planes using basically the same processes.
I obtained one of each type produced under the ALFA brand.
Regretfully, EN-TECH’s ALFA brand was discontinued. The larger Indian tool firms had made relatively inexpensive copies of several Stanley and Record planes which were more durable, much easier to adjust, and relatively inexpensive. The local carpenters who couldn’t afford the metal planes continued to purchase planes from small local suppliers despite the typically inferior quality….but lower price. I believe that Zakir thought there might be an export market for amateur woodworker who wanted to use traditional hand tools. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case, although some extremely high quality wooden planes are being imported from China in addition to those from Western Europe.
Although not a success in the long run, it was very interesting to witness the process and the business model of promoting quality through brand recognition. It was also very interesting to see how the parallel to the American model for plane development was truncated by taking advantage of American manufacturers’ early metal plane designs rather than going through the period of transitional planes that we did. It’s comparable to the implementation of cell phone technology in India vs. the US. India had relatively little stranded investment in “copper” ground line communication, was able to quickly adopt cell phone technology from the west, skipped the cell network development stages we went through, and now has very robust cellular networks.