Odds ‘n Ends VII

            The November 3 Writing arm chair class is in session this week.  As occasionally happens, this class is real heavy on members of the Royal Orders.  In fact, it is the first class we have had in a long time when we did not have a Raising. That means that everyone in the class has been here previously, and has already been Raised to Master Chairmaker.  It’s too bad, as those are fun ceremonies.


            Still the week will have some great moments. Dick Cowan and his son Rich became the 144th and 145th Knights of Windsor.  Sirs Dick and Rich are only the third father and son in the Orders.  They are second father and son to be knighted together.


            There were nine knights and a duke in their honor cordon. That means the Assembled Multitude was made up the remaining six students and Sir Lyndon Gallagher’s wife Patsy. With all the knights gathered by the band saw in their royal regalia, the rest of the shop floor was pretty sparse.  This caused one wag to observe that ever since Obama was elected its gotten harder to find peasants.


            After his father’s Long Kiss, Sir Rich puckered up to plant his lips on the enormous red bauble I wear on my left hand. Sir Jim Tenpenny decided the ring should be washed. In the middle of Sir Rich’s Long Kiss Sir Jim poured water on the ring. When he returned, a dismayed Sir Rick saw he had a bottle of Hot Stuff in his hand.


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            I like when guys bring me gifts. Dick gave me an autographed copy of his book Wildfowler Decoys.  Dick is currently working on a second book about Long Island cork decoys.  He has also been writing a lot for Decoy Magazine. 

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            While this is not a gift, it sure is interesting.  Sir Dan Santos brought with him an original Nantucket fan back he purchased at auction. Sir Dan was commissioned by Winterthur to make an exact copy of a Charles Chase Nantucket fan back in their collection. Sir Dan went down Delaware to photograph and measure the original.  He also brought his first prototype for us to see

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 I received the following email from Roger Brooks. He was commenting on the post about Sir Ron Tatman going to Iraq.      “What a kick it was to read on your Blog that there is a wood shop now at Camp Liberty, Iraq. Nothing like that when I was over there (as a contractor). Reading the blog reminded me of my feeble woodworking attempts at Camp

Victory, and thought you might get a chuckle out of it. I warn you though; this was before acquiring any woodworking skills, and before my time of instruction at The Windsor Institute.             “During the first year of the war, we had to make do with what we could beg, borrow, find, or steal.  I should say though, this was the  only time I ever stole…. Um – borrowed. After all, when we went home we left everything where we found it. On the other hand – I didn’t ask if I could borrow anything when I took it (usually in the middle of the night.) So I guess I stole it for a given period of time. Anyway, I scrounged a 50ft mega power cable and used it to hook up to a military generator. We ran the cable to a tree where we connected it to a scrounged circuit breaker box. This was removed from a skeet shooting range formerly used by the now departed Sadaam.

            “We nailed the box to a tree next to our row of tents. We distributed the power to AC units we bought from local Iraqi friends to cool our tents.  It’s no fun trying to sleep in 90+ degree heat all night long. The only cooling you can get is by rolling over every fifteen minutes to let evaporation cool the sweat laden side of your body – a discomfort we learned to live with during our first two months in Iraq.


            “As far as tools for woodworking, all we had was a circular saw, handsaw, and a drill. We scrounged or bartered several sheets of plywood and some screen material. These ended up as functional (if not craftsman quality), winter and summer doors for our tents.


            “Winter does bring rain showers, nasty mud, and a few cold nights to ‘ol Baghdad. At least one night it got down to the freezing mark. The solid doors were cut out of the middles of single sheets of plywood. The middles then reattached with hinges (also scrounged) to the frames left by the cutout. This eliminated zipping and unzipping flaps all the time, and did a good job keeping the varmints out (our tents had no integral floors of their own). We made the tent floors out of big aluminum pallets normally used to load equipment onto transport aircraft like the C-130. We do owe the U.S. Air force a debt of gratitude for allowing us to, um, borrow them. They made excellent flat, stable flooring for our digs.” 

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Sir Mike Lynch recently emailed me.  Although he didn’t say so, I now know why he didn’t make it to a class last year.

“Hi Mike,

            “I used the web site to reserve a spot in next year’s November settee class. As I told you a while ago, my wife Juliana and I were expecting a new baby. Well, Evan Michael was born last March 19th. So, we have Mark age 6, Sarah age 3, and Evan. Things around here are pretty exciting.


            “Unfortunately, now I have to live to be 100 years old to see the kids through college. I draw inspiration from people like Sam Maloof, who is still making chairs at 89. Jules and my doctor are making sure I take better care of myself in the second half of life.”


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Commenting on our October 15 eNewsletter Sir Joel Jackson sent me this report.

            “How ironic that you would send a picture of the “cats in a chair.”  I just recently delivered a special order chair to a woman in Midland, Texas. She wanted the seat to be 4 inches deeper than a standard chair. I moved the front legs of a sack back up 2 inches to allow for some of the added cantilever. The reason for the added depth…she wanted her cat to be able to sit behind her while she worked at her computer.

            “I promised to report on the show I did in Houston. It was a tremendous success! I have never seen more people at a show. A constant stream of customers walked by and into my booth. I add Arts and Crafts pieces to my Windsors. I had made a Greene and Greene hall bench in cherry, as well as a couple of Stickley and Limbert tables.  I ended up selling my large tavern table, and hunt board with hutch, two of the G&G benches and a Stickley table. Orders are coming for several more pieces.    

Oddly, I didn’t sell any chairs, but I did get some future potential orders for those, as well. Overall, it was the second most successful show I have done in the 5 years I have been making furniture. Prior to the show the organizers had suggested this might happen.  They said  Houston was ready to get out and enjoy a day of art. We did have a pretty tough month (Hurricane Ike and the credit crunch).

            “The weather was perfect, so out the buyers came. I ran out of business cards mid-afternoon on Sunday (the second day). I had printed an extra 150 (making 500, total). Needless to say we were stunned. My wife was especially pleased since we did not have to load the large table, hunt board/hutch and bench back into the trailer. It just shows that there is still money out there, you just have to be in front of them at the right time.”


            Sir Joel added the following to his report.  Perhaps some readers will be generous and help out with a disabled vet. I have already sent Joel some tools.


            “I have been a member of the Old Tools list for a long time. Over the past few months I have gotten to know a young man who served in Iraq and was seriously injured. His name is Nathaniel Meadows. He was introduced to the List by the owner of Adria saws, who also checked out his legitimacy.

            “Nathaniel was a medic and actually did some of his training here in San Antonio. After his injuries, and his return to the States, he suffered from severe depression. At one point he was suicidal. He remembered many pleasant times in his youth when his grandfather would include him in his woodworking projects. Those memories helped pull him out of his depression.

            “However, Nathaniel has few tools. In talking with him, he cherishes the used tools, and imagines the hands that have used them in the past. The list and I got together and sent him a good number of tools. Because he sounds like a great young man I have continued my communications with him. I prodded him into sending me a “wish list” of tools he doesn’t have, yet. As you can now guess, the list included chairmaking tools.


            “Nathaniel would greatly appreciate any tools any of your reader might want to send him. This kid is SO patriotic and humble.  He doesn’t understand that we owe him so much. He thinks it’s the other way around.”


            If you want to send Nathaniel tools, contact me and I will give you Joel’s address.


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            Pat Hamilton sent me some sample wooden medallions he had made.  These  may interest you.  Pat recently acquired a laser engraving and a laser cutting machines. He used them to engrave and cut out the medallions.  On mine, he engraved a Windsor chair with my name.  He also made one for Fred Chellis.


            Pat’s idea is to offer woodworkers customized inserts for their furniture. The idea is to replace branding your work.  Instead, you drill a shallow insert with a 2 ½ inch forstner bit and glue in the medallion.  I think it would look nice.


            I suggested to Pat that by adjusting the diameters he could offer customized drink coasters and poker chips. If you want to contact Pat use his web site www.themakersmark.com


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