Friday, August 29, 2008

What I'd give for some ice in my whiskey

For three years I've been a patient man. My wife loves her restored 1930's vintage ice box. And she should love it. She did a wonderful job restoring it. However man did invent mechanical refrigeration for some very good reasons. Don't get me wrong, an ice box gets the job done and gets it done well. However it's been a good many years since the ice man drove his wagon down our street. Also for some reason block ice can't be bought at all anymore here. That means nearly 25% of our freezers space was being consumed by ice making. Don't forget to add ice, or you'll be throwing stuff away. Also don't forget the byproduct of ice in iceboxes is cold water coming out a hose in the bottom. Forget to empty that bucket and you get a cold puddle on your floor. Not a pleasant suprise at midnight when wearing just socks. And if you like a good bourbon on the rocks before bed, forget the rocks. You won't have cubes handy with an icebox. Back in 1942 my appliance repair man grandfather, was given a slightly used Norge refrigerator by his emplyer as a wedding gift. An event that was given special note by my grandmother in her wedding book. Not a suprise given such things were rationed and hard to get during that wartime. Shortly after wars end my grandparents aquired a new Westinghouse which did daily duty until the mid 60's when it was replaced by a modern self defrosting Frigidaire. as long as I could remember my grandparents shopped monthly and kept the overflow in the old Westinghouse in the cellar. Just before my meeting Pelenaka, grandpa passed from this world and grandma went to assisted living. I begged for the old Westinghouse. It had been around from my earliest memories. It sat in storage for three years. Then it was saved by a side of beef. Yes a cow saved my beloved antique fridge. You see my wife is about the best bargain hunter I know. And she found a deal on meat, alot of it. Suddenly there was no room to make ice for the ice box. If you count the great grandmothers grandma nursed in thier elder years. Pelenaka and my children will make the fifth generation of the woodsrunner family served by this old timer. Considering grandpa always kept it in top shape and serviced, hopefully it will serve a few more. I don't know what my grandparents paid for it. But, it has to have one of the best depreciation rates ever. BTW, that picture was taken hours after being pulled out of storage. Pelenaka did her thing and it looks almost new now. Here's to having ice in your whiskey. Woods

It's about time! Maybe someday I can make a living at it.

In my late teens I aquired a blacksmiths outfit cheap at auction. Sold that stuff years ago. It's hard to explain such things being used as living room furniture to girlfriends and landlords. Back in may Pelenaka and I attended a local auction in an attempt to aquire an anvil. I ended up walking out with a bunch of old woodworking planes and a phone number in my pocket. The phone number led to this late 1800's vintage Peter Wright anvil. She weighs in at a near perfect 124lbs. I promptly built a stand from a couple old treated 2x10's I had kicking around. Someday I'll replace the stand with a more stable one built fron a 6x6. I didn't have any 6x6's in the scrap pile though. When I went shopping for a forge and blower, it was serious sticker shock time. Back in 1980 I bought an anvil, leg vise, forge and blower for under $100.00. The blower alone brings that much now. I used my money to buy the best quality anvil I could find. Any real blacksmith should be able to build the rest. I had an old all metal typewriter stand in my shop. A friend had an old GM truck brake rotor in his scrap pile. $3.00 for a hair dryer from the thrift store. $6.00 for a foot switch from Radio Shack. Had some pipe fittings in my supplies as well as the angle irons. Total with the fire cement and fire bricks came to less than $60.00 I've gotten 3/8" square stock to white heat, surely hot enough to weld at. The only real disadvantage is the steep sides of the brake rotor makes taking the fire apart difficult. Not impossible, just difficult. It will do for now. Hopefully what I have here will allow me to earn enough smithing to upgrade as I go. With luck this will eventually turn into a homestead business.

Honest! It followed me home! Can I keep it?

Part of the big tool deal turned out to be this old cider/wine press. Around the fourth of july these two elderly sisters called me and asked if I would be interested in thier late fathers tools. Too bad thier fathers tools went through a basement flood and didn't have much value. Except to me. I'm the guy that has devoted his life to keeping older quality stuff out of the junk pile. I threw a offer at them and told them I'd be interested in the cider press under the junk pile in the garage, and a couple other items for an additional money of course. They took a few weeks to think things over and I'd forgotten all about it. Then one day the phone rang and we met to talk things over. This time I took my photo album with me to show off my handywork. After looking at my other cider presses they decided I should have the cider press included with the tools. I can picture this thing refinished in food grade gray powdercoat with black legs. Unfortunately there isn't room in the workshop to keep it. There is only one wine/cider press allowed to have permanant residency on this homestead. I do know another urban homesteader that's been hounding me for a cider press. And he's an electrician! I can fix anything, but, if I can I hire out electricity. So, A swap has been propsed. My workshop may get electricity yet! Besides that this 100+ year old house needs some things fixed that are beyond my abilities. He gets cider and wine, I get peace of mind knowing my home won't burn down in the middle of the night. Sound like a plan to me! If any of my readers has information on Juicy Fruit brand fruit presses, I'd appreciate it. I'd like to know more about this thing.

Honestly, I only wanted a couple of them.

Last fall I came accross an old Bailey #4 plane in a thrift store for $4.00. This past winter found me leaving the hardware store job to return to the machine trades. With this job change came the opportunity to aquire rough sawn hard woods used for packing crates. There are several pieces of hickory, basswood, and oak out in the shop now. So, I figured I'd go out and find myself a jointer plane. By the time the summer was over my shop wall looked like this! To aquire the big wood bodied Stanley jointer plane I hade to buy the compass plane, and a millers falls #17 block plane. Then a month ago I picked up all the hand tools in an estate in the next town over. That got me the Stanley 78 plane , a Stanley 9-1/4 block plane and the greenlee drawknife. Then one day I found myself in a antique shop, for $10.00 I couldn't help but buy the Stanley #80 Cabinet scraper hanging vertically at the left of the photo. Another unintended collection I suppose. Just like cider presses and yankee screwdrivers. I'll save the yankee screw driver story for another day. They can be seen to the right of the photo.