New England Vise Tour 2013 — Days 5,6, and 7

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My fifth day of the Grand Tour took me to Bangor, Maine, where I met Tim Cottle for breakfast.  He said that I had to experience the local flavor of Dysart’s, a famed local eatery at a truckstop just south of town.  He was right.  The artery-clogging breakfast was fantastic!  Good thing I am fan of Gary Taubes.

After breakfast we headed into town to visit a friend of Tim’s, tool collector and maker Tom Christenson, whose showroom and tool-making shop were surely the envy of all who have seen it.


Tim’s generosity last winter in loaning me his version of the piano-maker’s vise was a huge catalyst in starting me down this road.  It was the first time I got to REALLY look closely at the form, and I spent hours cleaning it, taking it apart on my bench, and photographing it.  Tim’s vise is and end vise unit, missing the dog shuttle or “collar” used for the movable dog (see the previous post on Alan’s vise from Day 1). These pictures are from last spring, but my time with Tim was again a delightful interlude.


Thanks Tim.


Following my time in Bangor I headed south to the coast where I was to spend two days with new-old-friend Joshua Klein and his family on their newly emerging homestead.  While I doubt my wife and I could live in Maine, if we had to it would be at a place like Joshua’s.  Pond, gardens, greenhouse, chickens, and goats.  And, a building site where the new timber-frame shop is going up as we speak.  His current shop space is small, tidy, quaint, and a home to excellent craftsmanship and problem solving on a daily basis.


In addition to talking about all the “forbidden” subjects – religion, politics, tails-first vs. pins-first, shellac vs. polyurinate, etc. – we visited both of the Liberty Tool establishments, where I was somewhat frustrated by their lack of having stuff I wanted to buy.  Either their inventory was low or their prices high, I am not sure, but I did pick up a few vintage hand saws to practice on.


At the first Tool Barn we had arranged to cross paths with my former student Jon Brandon (on the left, Joshua is on the right) whose furniture conservation practice is also in southern Maine.  For two hours we caught up and projected forward.  We think we had not seen each other since Jon graduated from the Smithsonian’s Furniture Conservation Training Program more than ten years earlier.  Shame on us.


The next day included a trip to the Liberty Tools home base, where I was equally frustrated for the same reasons.  On our way there we stopped at the Jonathan Fisher House, a museum dedicated to a pretty amazing guy.  What caught my eye, among other things, was this “Roman” workbench that Fisher presumably used.  Chris Schwarz blogged about these benches, and I was pleased to see one from the early 19th century Maine frontier.  I hope Joshua is able to conduct some deeper research into Fisher’s furniture making exploits.

All in all I had a terrific time of fellowship and learning in Maine, with the opportunity to spend several days with like-minded souls.  I had such a grand time that another trip is scheduled for next autumn.

On my way out of town I stopped at the Lie-Nielsen mother ship.  If Martin Donnelly is the Spawn of Satan, Thomas Lie-Nielson must at least be Wormwood ;-).  Both gentlemen empty my wallet far too much.  And I remain eternally grateful to them for their contributions to the ongoing Woodworking Renaissance.