The perfect 4th—tools, food, and friends

You might remember the William incident a few posts ago and if so, you know Will and I enjoy talking tools and just hanging around in parking lots crazy early in the morning, looking at stuff in the dark. Wait, that sound a little strange? Anyway, the last time we met in April I was invited to his family’s camp in Maine over the 4th for a lobster bake.

Now just to clarify, “camp” can mean different things in different regions of the US. Near me we’d say shore house but in some areas a camp can be quite primitive which this was not. As someone who enjoys utilitarian designs, shore or camps maximize space very well. This one, if I remember correctly, was made around the 20’s with a few add-ons but retained that New England, clapboard feel.

So I’m getting a little ahead of myself. The trip really started with my Dieselgate buyback and replacement Alltrack. Next I put my trusty 10 year old Thule bars on and strapped on my NDK kayak. Then after a short day I hit the road, not forgetting a saw for Mr. Will.

The Alltrack made the long trip smoothly, thanks to a mid-day start. New England holiday traffic didn’t get bad till the end of the trip, arriving at the Height hippy House just in time for dinner. After a quick bite I got the tour and spent the rest of my time, where else?

Checking out the shop and new addition on back, plus a few newly acquired tools, I HAND delivered (friendship has it’s privileges) a freshly sharpened Disston No 7, 6-1/2 point, a very rare pitch. I’ve only see a few in my travels and the saw was part of a collection we split in the spring, including a few unusual Disston made hardware store saws. I’ve posted a few pics on my Instagram account: Second Chance Saw works.

With the new saw in hand, test cuts were needed and fun was had. Vertical cuts with a 26” panel saw in a small vise can be a little tricky but it was clear the saw was not the issue, as Will made short work of it. While I flubbed a few cuts getting a smooth start, it was decided his little shop needs a saw bench for guests! I Editors Note: The saw Will is using is not the saw in question but a D8 that I had sharpened for him last year.

The next day we loaded up a few provisions (beer and wine) and continued north to the summer camp on the ocean. His family smartly decided to take a different vehicle knowing birds of feather flock together. Will and I took the back roads and hit a few tool places, the biggest being Liberty Tool Co. Liberty’s been on my bucket list and although I didn’t buy anything it was well worth a stop in the one horse town of Liberty. The store is what you’d expect in a used tool shop, piles of tools including barrels of worksaws and shelves of books as far as the eye can see! The 3 floors plus basement were packed.

After a healthy stop we hit the road again. They have 3 locations, so we also stopped by Captain Tinkham’s Emporium . By now we needed to make time so we could get to the camp and meet up with the family, who left 5 hours after us and finished the 3 hour trip before us. My only excuse is we needed to stop for beer and wine. Driving the back roads of Maine is beautiful so losing time really is no trouble.

The rest of the weekend was just shear bliss: sun, good food, and fun conversation. Although we didn’t do any tool hunting once at the camp, Will ‘s mom is also a collector of many vintage things including tools, filling the house with many items to look at.

Now it’s important to know, while saws and sharpening take up a good deal of my time, I also enjoy other hobbies including kayaking. With all that was going on the week before this trip, I had considered forgoing traveling 500 miles with a 17’ fiberglass kayak on the roof. I was so glad Will had talked me into it. Not 20 minutes after pulling in, I was pushing off into the water for a quick trip across the bay to Seagull Island. The paddling conditions were really nice. We had one night of rain but otherwise low wind and calm conditions.

It was a long weekend but not nearly enough time to really enjoy all the views and the area in general. On Sunday we enjoyed their annual lobster bake with super fresh lobster caught the day before. The weather cooperated so we could eat by the sea.

The following day I took one last early morning paddle before everyone chipped in to get things cleaned up, followed by lobster rolls made with the leftovers. I’ll tell you this, Maine camp life sure is a good one!

Sadly it was time to put the kayak back on the roof and shove off. Being a couple of tool guys, we fit in a pit stop at the Fairfield Antiques Mall . The rest of the trip was uneventful and tool-less which is how I like it when making long trips. I did end up getting a rather nice scythe as a parting gift from Will which I look forward to learning to sharpen and using at my house.

That’s it for now. Hopefully make it over to the Disston plant in the next few days with some updated pics.

Joe Federici AKA Purveyor of saw goodness

The William Incident—Tool Karma

Since we’ve established the saw advocate (AKA me!) hasn’t been blogging much, I’ll provide a quick synopsis. About 2 years ago I relocated from North Jersey to the burbs just outside Philly. In doing so I moved from a one bedroom to a house that needs some TLC and updating. It’s been mostly positive except for the loss of free time.

That said, I still hit a few local estate sales, auctions, and Mid-West Tool events. Of these the spring & fall MJD auctions in NH are a must. Over the years I’ve made friends with a group of buyer/sellers in the parking lot and we set up next to each other. The mornings are fast paced but by afternoon we’re thick as thieves.

The parking lots fill up year after year not just because people are looking to buy or sell, or the allure of finding the diamond in the rough, but to catch up with like-minded friends, to hear stories of barn finds and what the kids are up to. Sprinkle in a little tool history, rubbing elbows with the parking lot bully, AKA Patrick Leach, who thinks he has divine right to all tools, a few beers, dinners bull shitting, and it’s a fun time I look forward to each year.

Now onto what I’ve dubbed the “Will Incident”. Parking lot picking is all good and fun and honestly, some like Patrick make it more of a physical sport, most of us just take the high road. Josh, of the infamous hyper kitten tool co, once said to me, “There will always be more tools,” or something to that effect. So when I find myself wrapped up elbows deep, ready to pull tools out of someone’s trunk before he’s parked, flashlight in hand, leveraging my body to block off others, I stop and remember this is all for fun.

So now that I’ve set the stage for the high paced, fast moving world of tool picking, I’ll continue with the “Will Incident”. Around mid-day, after the morning rush of sellers showed up, a car pulled in with NY plates. I walked over to do a cursory check for saws. Patrick on cue, seeing me, quickly asks, “Do you have any saws?” Knowing that if he goes through them quickly he can take time on the rest. The seller Chris said yes and points out a till. Patrick opens the box and looking down at the handles from the top proclaims, “I can tell from the handles none of are interest.”

At this point he turns and walks away. I talk with Chris a bit. Similar story to all of us, he buys and sells a bit. These are some he had been holding for a bit and was now looking to clean out space. I first notice the till. It’s nicely built, hand dovetails, missing the front latch, with steel hardware on the side. It’s a good size.

Realizing it won’t be long before the rest of pack finds this latecomer I get looking. I quickly find a few really nice ones, Patrick and his magical eyes missed. I pull four panel saws out of the till, Disston No 7, two D8s, No 12, and a No 9 made for HS hardware in NY. That last one is one I’d never seem. Most of the HS hardware saws are No 7s or No 4 Backsaw.

I pay Chis and ask if the box is for sale. Chris says not at this time; it’s holding the saws but maybe tomorrow. So I happily take my winnings back to show my friend Will and tell the tale of the fish that got away from Patrick. I also said let me show you this till; it’s a good looking one and I’m going to see tomorrow if he wants to sell it.

An hour or so go by and Will and I do a walk around to check out any price drops. I point out the box to Will who quickly asks if it’s for sale. Chris says, “Wow, this is a popular box but no it’s not for sale at this time.” I pointed out to my friend “Mr William” I was interested in the box. Now just to keep the story going I’ll fast forward to the next day. Most vendors drop the price on stuff and Chris still had a few good user saws so I walked over to relook things over. I decided to pass as I was hoping to bid on a few auctions. As I’m looking at a cute 16” No 7 that had the slightest bend in it, agonizing as I often do, knowing the bend won’t affect the cut but explaining that to the common ebay buyer is impossible. I look up and Mr William says, “I’ll offer you 40.00 for the box,” and just like that’s it’s sold out from under me. What? What just happened?? I had a plan and was just about to field an offer. I’m crushed, hurt, angry, bummed. How could my former friend and tablemate in sales do this?! And what could be worse you ask? I’ll tell you. To be asked to help carry said box back to his car!

Now let me stop and say: hopefully you know at this point it was all in jest. Will is a very good guy and friend. The grilling he took the rest of the weekend far outweighs the worth of the box or my need to own it. In fact, I’ve paid an old Italian woman to curse the box so any tools inside will turn useless, parts will go missing and all will rust.

So I was so busy giving  Will a ribbing I forgot to take a pic. of the box. I did request one but that request was denied. Editors Note: picture was added after this was published

I should also point out I did a very similar thing to a friend last year over a Richardson Brothers No 7 panel saw. A friend asked me to look it over; I did, then asked how much, and said I’ll take it. I was thinking he was pointing it out to me rather then asking my opinion. Karma can be a bitch and when the tank runs dry things are bound to happen. The William incident is the tool gods’ setting the scale right along with Patrick’s oversight of the 4 saws.

The rest of the weekend was spent in the auction. I normally buy a few saws on Friday in the Auction and this year won 2 nice Disston Hardware etched saws. The rest I haggled for in the parking lot.

Thus ends another spring auction and I look forward to seeing my New England friends in the fall.

Karma tank restored. . .

The saw Monger

another ending

biketripNHAnother tool season, like summer, is coming to a close. But here in the northeast, September treats us to many warm days and cool nights perfect out door activities and my favorite time of the year.

September starts with my annual trip to the Gauly river.  A few weeks later I’m off to MJD’s auction in NH. I have a little more time on my hands, so after the show I met up with a friend and we spent a week on the motorbikes camping and riding through RI, MASS and NH.

But enough about that as most of you are saw guys like me!

It would seem we have the lustrous and larger then life Patrick Leach to thank for an ever earlier and earlier arrival of the buyers and seller.  So with that in mind, I arrived Wednesday and found tables all ready as I back the van into my usual spot.

NHparkinglotThe pickings in the fall are always a little lighter then spring but I wrangled a few nice saws and picked up a really nice craftsman built saw vise perfect for full size saws. Something I hadn’t come across in the past. Then I found another one the following day!  The second being of furniture quality and quickly found a home with my friend and deft tool repair craftsman John Porritt.

John, being a life long artisan and trained cabinet maker, has a great knowledge of early joinery and being a fellow saw lover he fancied the vise and somehow it followed him home but not before a great discussion on all things woods and the history behind “yew” wood used in English and Welsh longbows and the reason it is found in churches. All very cool, note to self: plant some around the shop before the next siege!

Friday’s auction, often called “the dealer auction”, wasn’t heavy in saws but did offer a lot of great items that I’m sure have found their way into the hands of many of you. I’m, however, more of a lot lizard and enjoy trolling the yard, digging and conversing with others. Those of you that know me, keeping my mouth shut while sitting through an auction is torturous.

FriAuctionSo back out in the parking lot, but not before I grabbed a few napkins (for drive) I walked over to Don Rosebrook’s amazing collection of near mint saws and saw accessories. It’s a real treat just seeing so many pristine examples of saws Don has collected over the last 10+ years. This year he brought some interesting sales displays, one being a large Disston sign in the shape of a D8 rip saw. The handles was cast and I’d say it weighed over 20 lbs. Far outside my price range but just awesome to see. The saw used was from around the glover patent when the medallions were still sunken. I personally think those are the nicest years.

disstonsignThis year I also brought some saws and a few other odds and ends to sell. Mostly straight warranted superior saws that would make good users that I had picked up the year before in box lots. Changing gears and selling was fun and I enjoyed talking and meeting locals who came Saturday to walk around the parking lot. Saturday is also the main sale for most of the collectors and larger buyers. Prices seemed to be good and that was nice for all of us who resale. I finished packing up my things in the AM and made plans to travel back towards Boston to meet up with a friend and now customer Freddy Roman. I had met Freddy the prior year through Josh Clark. Freddy makes reproduction and custom designed period furniture. I’m sorry to say I just didn’t think of taking my camera with me into Freddy studio. The minute I got back onto the expressway I smacked my head.  Regardless, check out his site.  The shop was filled with projects in various stages of completion. Freddy had contacted me about buying a rip saw plus having me look over and sharpen a few of his saws.  Before leaving he followed me back to the van to check out my latest finds.  The gentleman packing up next me gave me a Disston meat saw that hadn’t sold and I exchanged for a saw in my inventory.  Freddy took a shine to it, so I was more than happy to pass it on to a new home.  Meat saws have never held much interest to me unless it’s a maker I fancy.

triprouteThe business portion of the trip concluded, I checked in my friend Bob Mac and set an ETA for meeting up. Having spent a few days in the van and now switching gears to the bike required gathering my previously gathered, but yet to be packed clothing and gear for the next week, then fitting into and on the bike. This being the second time in the last few months we’ve bike camped, we both have our preferred kit.

RIjamestownOnce together we discussed routes and figured out our general daily route then printed up a trip tick of sorts and a tank map. Route set, we finished loading gear and a final check of the weather. I won’t bore you with the finer details of the day to day and just say it was great time and the weather was better then I had ever hoped. I’m am an avid camper so for those interested would happy recommend any of the sites we camped at if you’re traveling in those areas.  By far the two nicest were also close to each other. In the past, most of my time sight seeing and camping in NH has been around the Whites, but the lakes and surrounding area of Winnipesaukee were spectacular. Pawtuckaway and Bear Brook State Parks both offered some of the best views and cleanest campgrounds I’ve been at in recent memory. I’m sure this being off peak times played a big part, but just the same, if you’re in the area they are worth checking out.

tripMAI’ve listed them in the order we camped and corresponding to the map pictured above.

Shawme-Crowell State Forest MA
Wompatuck State Park MA
Pawtuckaway State Park NH
Ammonoosuc Campground NH
Bear Brook State Park NH

tripwhites01The time we spent in North Conway and around the whites is always majestic, and it was nice taking the road up mount Washington as thus far it’s always been on foot. The k bike also enjoyed a few roads less traveled and handled the 15 or so miles of dirt as if it were a dual sports.

tripwhitesWith that I’ll say cheers till the next post. Last weekend was the open house at Hearne Hardwoods and I want to thank everyone who stopped by and double to those that bought a saw or other item. More to come on that with next post.

Joe Federici
saw wrangler

End of an Error

SAABGT850As I posted in the last blog I bought a new car but I’d be seriously remiss if I didn’t take a second to share the passing of truly one of the best cars I’ve ever owned. I recently bought a new car, 2013 Jetta Sportwagen tdi, and with it traded my 1998 SAAB 900 SE.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a car guy and like most of us I’m loyal to my brands. So why the change of heart? Well I spare you the long rant but mostly it has to do with the GM takeover and quick dismantlement of EVERYTHING Saab owners appealed to. As happy as I am that GM and American car manufacturers are doing better, it doesn’t help those who loved everything Saab offered – a truly unique car that married luxury with utility performance safety. Let us not forget Saab may not have invented the seat belt but in 1958 was the first to make them standard. So now I’m getting comfy with the new ride but with a tinge of sadness.

Ok enough about cars (for now). Let’s talk saws. When you’re looking for like- minded individuals you need not look further than the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association. I think it was Matt Cianci from the saw blog who turned me onto a member while looking for information on a saw maker. When I got a bit deeper into saw-dom, I found most tool guys were members regardless of their geographic location. So this being my second year in the fold I really wanted to make one of the bigger national meets. As I’ve already been hobnobbing with a few board members, I made plans for the June spring meet.

The drive out from Jersey is about 12 hours so I decided that leaving around sunrise was my best bet and it worked well. Vincent Van Go may not look it but travels quite nicely provided you’re not looking to break land speed records.

Once there I quickly found the reserved parking area for the boot sale on Thursday. Funny enough, when I pulled into the area, rolled down my window to ask the first fellow van dweller in the parking lot, it was none other than the infamous leader of the “I’ve got a saw problem” 12 step plan.

This man really needs no introduction if you’ve spent anytime reading about saw identification. He most likely has the largest collection of American backsaws in the United States…Phil Baker. I’m sorry I didn’t spend more time talking with him but it was just nice to say hello and thank him for all the great research he’s done. I did learn he’s an avid tennis player and plays almost everyday. Good for you, Phil.

Left: a late start to the AM sales. It's not often you find table setup AFTER sunrise. Right: a possible one of a kind patented saw with removable teeth.

Left: a late start to the AM sales. It’s not often you find table setup AFTER sunrise.
Right: a possible one of a kind patented saw with removable teeth.

So despite the long drive I was there only for a short time, and for those that know me, I’m not much on waiting around for paint to dry. After finding a flat spot it was into the lobby to meet up with friend and co-hoarder of saws, Mike Stemple, for dinner. As it turned out we were joined by a few friends. Mike knows just about everyone in the club so it’s always fun hanging out with him.

sawsDinner was followed by a little show and tell saw-style. Mike and David Latouche both have a wonderful collection of early American makers and really excel at researching history on the makers and also the interrelations between all the makes.

It’s truly a small world when you realize that most of the early makers were transplants from the same area in England. Then after coming to the trained a few future makes that because the seeds for most of the US makers. The scale of the US being so small at that time you’d think it be easy to research makers but do to a lack of good records it can be very slow going. So most of what’s available is advertisement and basic business and tax records.

parkinglotThe threat of bad weather, possible tornadoes or hail, thankfully turned out to be heavy rains overnight. By the morning things had cooled down with just a light drizzle. The rain slowed down the early morning sale but by noon the sun was out and most tables were set up.  For me the boot sales are always my favorite, not just because I resell but also it’s a really great way to meet people and gain a little info. Who doesn’t love finding tools or things and learning about their use or the history that goes along with them?

This being a different region it was interesting to see such different makers as well as lots of farm type equipment. The standard makers like Stanley and Disston were there as well as some makers I don’t tend to find around these parts: E.C Atkins and even a few C.E. Jennings saws and early Philly makers.

Sadly the sales wrapped up early as many members were attending a local tour of the La Porte County Museum and Hesston Steam Museum offered through the club.

Friday was the indoor sale and trade displays. I didn’t get the opportunity to see them but I’m told this year’s were really impressive to say the least. I headed back in the morning and had another thankfully uneventful trip back to the northeast.

Although it was a short trip it was great seeing everyone and making a few new friends. I’m sorry I missed the “friends of Phil Baker” picture that Mike orchestrated and emailed me afterwards. Any saw problem clubs there are I really should be a member of.

As always, if anyone is looking for restoration or sharpening services, I do my best to keep turnaround to less than 2 weeks. I’ve also been trying to post a bit more through my direct site and on ebay  as “buy it now”. I know many of us are not fans of the auction site or auctions and I do my best to balance things so everyone is happy. . .

Cheers and I hope everyone’s summer is going well

Joe F.
Saw Mechanic

Good pie and cheap gas

VAPA_01Enticed by the thought of possibly owning a panther head saw, I decided to take a chance, eat a workday, and make the trip to the family owned and operated Horst auction facility in the heart of Amish country. As it turned out so did one of the bigger resellers of vintage tools. Oh well. A good friend and fellow veeduber and now blogger Malissa Weikel made the trip which made for some fun conversation and catching up, with the vans mostly off the road to save them from all the salt used on roads in the northeast.

VAPA_02Unlike most of the auctions I attend, this one was primarily early American arts and crafts, furniture and décor, something not in my wheelhouse. But as it turned out, being from the area Malissa had a good working knowledge that we tested while previewing. Also not knowing the place I got there a little early to register and check things out. The selection of tools wasn’t much but what was there was nice and after previewing we grabbed some homemade soup and pie.

VAPA_03At some point the topic changed to record keeping as Malissa handles the books for a family run furniture/design company The Cutting Edge, as well as her brother’s insurance company. Sitting behind us, Doug Robinson owner of As Good As Old overheard us (those that know me know I’m anything but soft spoken!) and offered solutions he’s found. Doug, Malissa, and I then talked for a bit about that, tools in general, and of course saws!

VAPA_04With the time fast approaching my hopes of owning a panther head saw were dashed as Jim Bode walked in. For those of us who know Jim, he’s a really nice guy but business is just that and he deals in large volume; within 3 bids the price was above my limit. There were a few other saws on the docket so I figured I’d see how things went; however Jim was on a roll and it was one of those days I left empty handed. Regardless, I made a few friends and learned a few things including what Chow Chow is.

From the Amish countryside of PA, my next stop was the outskirts of Richmond, VA to a friend and fellow saw lover Mark Stansbury. Now for those of you who live in this part of the country, you know running the gauntlet between the inner harbor of Baltimore to Washington, DC is a textbook example of road rage. In hindsight I hit 4 fender benders on 95 in a 10-mile stretch. My leaving around 4pm on Friday didn’t help much but I’ll spare you the blow by blow.

Once there, I stopped for gas, doubled check my directions, and was surprised by the cheap price of $3.13; nice!

VAPA_05I don’t remember when I first emailed with Mark but I’m sure it had to do with Foley equipment. I consider myself to have a better than average working knowledge of the retoothers they made but when it comes to the rest of the line up and the filers in particular, Mark’s your man. In addition he updates a blog Foley Filer. Any of us who own Foley equipment know that they breed like rabbits, and one of the reasons I was heading to his house. I’ve had a Model 61 filer, a late model power setting, and 30/31 retoother sitting in my back shed for the better part of a year while I found homes for them.

PAVA_06Once settled in Mark gave me a quick tour of the shop. His shop space like mine is quite small and Mark built the above ground non-poured foundation to simplify the permit process. Considering its size it’s really quite an impressive loft space with running water! Currently the loft is used for storage of his collection of mostly US made saws. By this time it was getting late so we tabled the saw talk till the AM along with unloading the filer.

The show was a bit later than normal with no tailgating and was billed as “The Richmond Antiques Spectacular.” The tool sale was in conjunction with the local tool club Richmond Antique Tool Society or RATS for short.

So not needing to rush we unloaded the Foley. If you’ve not had the pleasure of carrying a Foley filer, I’ll just say that keeping it to a minimum distance is a real priority. Mark’s garage wasn’t far from the driveway and after manhandling it into place I caught my breath. Looking around I’d say his garage houses the largest collection of Foley equipment I’ve yet to see. I was a little awestruck to say the least. With labor done we finished up the tour from the night before; I wanted to see a few things in the daylight. All I can say is everywhere we went Mark’s got saws. Plus they are really well organized (note to self) and tucked away; needless to say it’s a good size collection and I couldn’t talk him out of a single saw! Hell, I even got some out of Mike Stemple and I thought that was the litmus test for saw negotiation.

I did end up getting a replacement die and hammer for my retoother and although they aren’t a high wear item they do get worn down over time; not having access to a surface mill it’s nice to have a backup.

VAPA_06By this time it was getting close to go time and I followed Mark. We grabbed a quick bite and continued onto the antique and tool sale just a few minutes before the doors opened. I was heading back afterwards so I walked the room with purpose looking for saws of interest. Mike introduced me to a couple of the RATS members, Rick Long president and Joe Fisher.  I found 2 nice D-8 rips and Mark got 2 nice examples of “new” 16.

The last item to cross off the list was the hand over of my 30/31 filer to Dana Horton. Dana had picked up a Model 30 retoother that’s pre-electric motor and had emailed to ask a few questions about its use. I offered my 30/31 as the parts don’t swap out with the later models and for occasional use the 30/31 has some advantages; although hand operating the flywheel isn’t one of them, it’s nice to have your hands free to steady the carrier.  While it’s running, vibration can really be the Achilles heel of the retoother. The carrier uses wing nuts and vibration tends to loosen them. If that happens mid-toothing, well let’s just say hopefully it’s NOT a customer’s saw.  Dana however has the right attitude and understands the tradeoffs and won’t be running a priceless, one of a kind saw through it.  Having limited time we unloaded the toother, Mark and I ogled the Emmert’s vise he’d brought to sell and decided we’d all need to continue this another time. Hopefully I can work something out to visit Dana in the spring.

The return trip can be summed up in one word, traffic; but once past the inner harbor it was smooth sailing and I unloaded my few saws and met up with a friend for dinner.

VAPA_07Sunday I should have spent in the shop catching up on some handle repairs but scored free tickets to the auto show in Philadelphia. The Convention Center is located across from the Reading Terminal Market and for those of you with visits to the Keystone state, aka the “city of brotherly love”, aka “you’ve got a friend”, should for sure grab lunch there. It’s as Philly as the Disston Keystone Saw Works. It first opened its doors in 1872 and still houses over a hundred merchants ranging from live poultry to fine dining and just about everything in between. I’m a sucker for the pulled pork with broccoli rabe and a long hot from DiNic’s, hands down one of the best in the world, but I digress.

Finished with lunch we made the trip to the Convention Center.  I’m feeling the age of the Saab with over 190K on it but as of yet I really haven’t found a suitable utilitarian replacement. I’m sure like a lot of woodworkers I don’t own a truck; most of my cars have been hatchbacks that have the ability to have seats that lay flat and pull double duty hauling stuff. I also don’t tend to like larger gas guzzling cars. My 1998 4 cylinder still gets around 30 mpg on the highway.

VAPA_08For a few years, about the only car of interest to me was the VW SportWagen that’s now sold with both TDI and petrol engine. This year I was also interested in the Ford redesigned Escape. My friends are used to this but my test for most cars is to bypass the front seats, pop the truck, lay down the seats, then jump inside and lay on my back – your basic mattress test for car. Though the Escape passed well, the only real detraction was I don’t tend to buy new and it’s not available in a stick! Crazy, no? The flat back is one regret I have with the new generation 900 over the early years. They added a hump making it hard to sleep in. Mind you I’ve done it, but these days I normally take the van. Most people recommend the Subaru wagon as a great choice but after 2010 they gained a lot of weight, lost much of its utilitarian ways in favor of being a people hauler and just get bad gas mileage in my opinion. The last stop was to see the selection of early European rally cars from the Simeone Museum, also worth the trip if you’re in the area.

So that about wraps things up for the week. The next adventure was to the M-WTCA cabin fever show held in York, PA.

Joe Federici
Saw Monger and pork sandwich aficionado!

Mike’s amazing house of saws

You can’t really call yourself a “saw guy” or “gal” I suppose without either reading something written by or coming across a reference to Mike Stemple’s collection. Mike would say he’s a relative newcomer and his collection is mostly junk compared to the other Big Dogs, but in reality he’s been happily plugging along refining and honing what he collects. For collectors like Mike, it’s not about the number of saws, it’s about the history. Like music, you get hooked on a band and want to hear or, in this case, collect all they’re offering. Keep in mind that condition is important to reselling, but if your goal is research, then even cut down examples allow you to see changes over a maker’s life. It’s this same depth that makes him an expert on many of the really early makes from Philly and New York.  His collection and research on makers like Cortland Wood, Johnson & Conaway, and Josiah Bakewell, to name a few, has helped the rest of us (myself included) date and understand the saws we find and collect. Although Mike jokes about the lack of condition of some saws, when I think about the totality along with the history, his collection is really something impressive.

But here’s the thing…if the story ended there I wouldn’t be writing this blog post nor have taken the trip to his house. The icing on the cake (don’t tell Mike I said this) is that he’s a hell of a nice guy, a larger than life character that continually gives back to the saw world.

Sharp witted, always quick with a cheeky jab, he’s a perfect fit for the expression, “I’d rather be tried by 12 then carried by 6.” But that’s to be expected from a long time OSU fan living over enemy lines. I think it’s that wit that first made me laugh when reading an article that talked about Mike being the sheriff of saws on eBay. After that a friend forwarded me a link to some online pictures of his collection and I thought, I’ve got to meet this guy. Later I found the other side of the coin, his great willingness to answer questions, as a dedicated member of Mid-West Tool Collectors Association and also his local club, Ohio Tool Collectors Association. He writes for their newsletter “Ohio Tool Box” and I continually reference a dog-eared article on dating early saws he wrote for it and M-WTCA. It’s from researching a saw that I first started emailing with Mike and later formulated plans to go visit.

So you’re saying wow, you’re really pumping a lot sunshine up this guy’s hind-side. Think, as stated, Mike’s got a lot of saws and extracting them is something very few (who left the property) can say. So between you and me consider this butter.

Ok, so back to Mike and “The Amazing House of Saws.” He sent some dates of events in the area and I cross-referenced them with days I could get away. I wanted to make the big M-WTCA show but the date was too close to MJD auction. As fate would have it, his local Ohio tool club was hosting the Area C M-WTCA meet and the planets aligned for a go.

The trip out to Ohio from North Jersey is mostly uneventful and long. You travel 80 from about its starting point through the hills of Pennsylvania to where it connects to the Ohio turnpike. My plan was to head out Friday after work, drive till I was tired. Once underway, I ended up pulling over 100 miles short of Mike’s house. One noteworthy thing was the difference in gas between PA and OH. I paid $3.55 in PA and $2.92 in OH within 25 miles of the state line. Mind you, this was a week before the election and Ohio was a swing state. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Waking up Saturday morning I wasn’t presented with a welcome to the buckeye state. The temperature had dropped 20º overnight and a light rain was falling.  Happily it quickly cleared while I made coffee, then got on the road to Mike’s. The 100 miles passed quickly. Now remember Mike and I had never spoken, but the minute I pulled in the driveway Mike walked out with a friendly greeting, soon followed by his highly tool-lenient wife and COO of saw budget, Sherri.

Like me, Mike has the gift of gab and we share a real love for saws and history behind them. We quickly launched into a lengthy discussion that, although jumped in different tangents as I asked questions, continued day and night till I left on Sunday due to Sandy.

Let me start by saying that Mike’s collection is so vast it’s really hard to nail down a way to go through it. With two saw guys in their element it’s extremely easy to get distracted. Mike strategically placed (read: tucked one behind the other, handle showing so as not to draw attention by the COO of budgeting) a number of his higher end saws in the house and we started off with them. The list of makers reads like the who’s who of early American makers from New York and Philadelphia, many of which are one of a kind or one of very few examples.

After an hour or so going through the highlights of the 100 or so extremely rare and/or unusual saws in the house, it was time to move outside to his shop. I’m sad to write I really didn’t take many pictures of the vast collection of double eagles and other rarities from Sing Sing prison. Mike is one of the leading historians on saws made at Sing Sing and the tale is ready made for TV.  Thinking I would setup my tripod later in the day or Monday we held off on taking things down. As my luck would have it, I ended up heading home early due to impending storm Sandy. This just necessitates a future trip and I’m already making plans for it next year. As stated earlier, Mike’s tight handed with his collection and I’ve got my eye on a nice Woodrough & McParlin and this will give me time to work on him but keep that on the DL.

Once the tour inside was finished we headed outside.  I started with a quick tour of the van. Mike owned a bread loaf model when he was stationed overseas and agreed there’s nothing like them on 4 wheels. The progression from smaller campers to the land yachts with pop-out sides is so big that Americans’ vacations are spent inside them rather than enjoying the area they raced to, but don’t get me started.

Mike gave me a quick tour of the homestead and nice orchard shop side with a few peach, apple and pear trees. The pear tree was still quite full and I snacked on a few as well as picked some for the trip home. Nothing quite like freshly picked foods.

Back on track after a quick tour of the property, let’s get into the shop. Back in my neck of the woods, space is hard to come by and I make do with a converted single car garage. Mike’s shop however is about 8 times that with saws nicely displayed on sheets of plywood fastened to the walls.

The collection is broken down by makers and also types and styles. Now let me say I did my best to take pictures but I didn’t have a wide enough angle lens to do justice to the collection.

Although 90% of it is US makers he does have some really nice UK panel and backsaws.  From there we moved to one of my favorite makers, Harvey Peace followed by an extensive collection of all types of key-hole and table saws.  This led into the remains, still over 75 of Disston. A few years back Mike sold off many of his D-8’s to Pete Taran  for his site. We paused here while Mike went over some of the many highlights of his collection including multiple examples of early double eagles and some really nice and rare No 9, 10 and 14, as well as some hard to find thumb hole models, like D100 Acme 120.

Once done oohing and aahing over the Disston’s, we moved on to the many examples from Monhagen Saw Works, aka Wheeler, Madden & Bakewell, or Clemson, Madden & Clemson, or a few other combos of names, as the company went through a lot of hands and, as Mike’s research has brought to light, a number of significant patents.  The highlight for me was seeing all three examples of the Joseph Holden patent handle. Next was a large collection of hardware and secondary makers like Simonds, Atkins, and Bishop to name a few. Who doesn’t enjoy checking out an interesting etching and I find hardware store saws had some of the best.

At around this point Mark Eastlick, a collector from western PA who fancies wooden planes from the same area and vice president of M-WTCA, joined us.  Mark was also staying with Mike for the meet the following day. Mark’s been collecting for a good many years; although saws aren’t his first love, he brought some nice examples as well as a selection of tools for the tailgate at the show.

After introductions were finished the adults talked while I ran around and dug through the various piles and trashcans. Mike has saws stored just about everywhere along with the many other things he collects, like vices, axes, plumbs, saw vises, and calipers. At some point I grabbed a ladder so I could get a little closer to many on the walls. I continued to investigate and yell out questions while wine was poured; the conversation eventually steered inside and continued through dinner.

At this point Sherri and Mark were both done with the saw talk and it was decided a movie might distant Mike and me. It worked right up till the end and we started up again as Mike outlined the crossing paths from WMC. That continued to around 11pm which was good as we had an early start the following morning. Footnote to Mike, you really need to outline a tree of makes.

The morning came quickly; after an impassioned plea for coffee we hit the road for the meet. Sporting his OSU colors, Mike gathered up his saws for his display and off we went. Deer in their parts are always an issue, so with eyes peeled we made good time and arrived early to help set up tables and get things in order.

Mike brought his award winning display including a commemorative saw made by Taylor Brothers that was put out in 1884. It’s made to highlight the awards they won at eight world fairs between 1851 and 1882 and uses the famous Willow china pattern etched on it, easily one of the most elaborate etchings made. This also illustrates Mike’s abilities to research; along with the display Mike had some history and the plates the etching was based on. Roy Ebersole, aka the combo saw guy, brought an impressive collection of them for all to see. As a footnote, I’m working out a trifecta next summer and hopefully will see Roy, Carl Bilderback, and Mike, then take in the MWTCA tool meet.

With tables down and displays from the local members set up, it was time to meet and greet while eyeing up dealers’ tools hidden under the tables till the official start. Mike said turnout was low but I was impressed with over a dozen or so dealers set up, even a few faces I recognized. Once dealers got the ok, I deferred to Mike on any of the split nut saws but did pick up a nice 26” P26 and 12” No4 backsaw.

Once everyone had time to shop and mill about it was time for a short awards presentation followed by a nice lunch. Lars Larson as I found out was one of the legends in MWTCA and was presented with the Distinguished Service Award. Lars is one of the original research gurus and published the definitive book on spoke shaves. He’s also helped many others with their books and is listed in the credits of several of the landmark tool books.

Afterwards Dave Jeffers, long time Mid-West member and host of the meet, invited everyone back to see what I’d call one of the premier tool collections in the US. Really, words can’t describe the size of it, containing absolutely top shelf stuff from ebony center wheel plough planes to every type of tool there ever was. He started way back with draw knives which he easily had over 200 and then moved to plow and metal planes. His super rare Disston model #14, which has a walnut handle and chip carved triple eagle stamped blade, is by far the best 14 I’ve ever seen. The 14 was never in the Disston catalogues or advertised so it’s hard to say how many are out there but the number is very low. David was also more than happy to allow pictures and handling of any of them, which was nice as one of the best parts of hand tools is the feeling in hand. When you get right down to it, that’s what differentiates the best tools. What large collection would be without a Panther head saw and Dave’s didn’t disappoint. As time goes on I’ve had the luxury of seeing quite a few, and like most of the tools in his collection it’s about perfect.

My interests being in saws I really can’t do justice in listing all the highlights; I’ll just include a few pictures and say, thank you to Dave for collecting and sharing; it was impressive to take in.

By this time it was getting later in the day and coverage of Storm Sandy even in OH was ramping up. With that in mind I decided to cut the visit short and head home Sunday rather than Monday, the day Sandy was predicted to hit the homeland.

Once back at Mike’s I settled up on a few nice users from the collection allowing him to make room for new additions, which I’m sure has already taken place by the time this is posted. Sherri, aka the better half, put together some food for the trip and I headed out for the long trip home.

The return trip turned out to be quite a slog but uneventful. The wind picked for most of the drive and route 80 through PA, aka “the route of perpetual construction,” was quite backed up due accidents and construction despite the late hours on a Sunday night. I for one would rather pay a fee like the OH or NJ turnpike than deal with a 5 to 10 year reconstruction plan that gains and loses funding each year yielding very little results. Luckily I don’t often travel through the State College northern tier region of PA. But the few times a year I do, I’m dumbstruck sitting in a backup in such a remote area of the state due to road closers that haven’t seen a worker in months. That said, citizens’ band to the rescue, cuz when you’ll traveling the “Big Slab” at night remember to put the “ears on.” In this case it helped me avoid a 2 hour back up in the middle of no-wheresville. I linked up with a convoy that jumped off the exit before and we traveled the back roads till past it. All and all as previously stated, it was a slog, getting me home at 3am Monday morning that luckily turned out I had off.  This allowed me to get some wash done and a little shopping before losing power for the next week. Hindsight, maybe I should had done another load and bought some extra batteries.

Joe Federici
wishes everyone a happy Thanksgiving!

3+ days of Peace, Love, and Tools

I’m happy to report my 5 day vacation, tool auction, and vee dub trip turned out be another great adventure with good memories and a few good saws. I know for many the idea of sleeping in a van for 5 days and traveling over 1000 miles may not sound like fun, but done correctly, it’s a blast. Sadly, I’m not sure for how many more years road tips will be viable as petrol rises daily, but thankfully the memories last a lifetime.

This like all my trips started by loosely planning the route weeks before and packing the van with food supplies in the day leading up. The day of the trip as always was a struggle at work. Like many, I’m just a cog in the wheel till vacation day, and then magically I’m the center of the universe. Lucky for me I’m used to this and the misguided guilt is easily shrugged off as I headed out the door for my commute home.

Once there I did a mental last minute rundown, grabbed some last minute items, and was out the door.  The excitement helped push through the always frustration and congestion of the route through New England. I arrived around 10:30 into the quiet parking lot just outside downtown Nashua, New Hampshire.  Since bed is in my backseat I quickly got situated, set my alarm, and was down for the night.

I’ve been going to tool auctions for a little over a year but the idea of buying just one thing really seems to stick in people’s minds and I’ve quickly become known as “the saw guy.”. . . As in, “Hey, you’re the saw guy, right?” or just “Hey, saw guy!” However what I really like to hear is, “Next show I’ll put the saws aside for you; come find me and I’ll give you first look.”

Now for those of you new to the world of tailgate sales, or for the UK readers, “boot sales,” they take place the day before or morning of the main auction.  Setup can be as simple as selling from a truck to elaborate trailers and tents.  I liken them to the parking lot before a Dead show. It’s a prelude to the main event but also a micro event in and of itself.

The right of first pick I’m sure harkens back to the Middle Ages, but I’ll leave that idea for now and get back to my point— it has some real advantages. You get the cream of the crop, an expression that I’m sure predates the 1969 album by Diana Ross & the Supremes. Either way, you’re getting the best stuff and hopefully building ties for future deals.

The downside is you forfeit your right to haggle; plus, remember my reference to the Dead show, the wolves are at your heels. It’s not the easiest time to make a deal and often you rush in checking things. I try heeding the guide, “The smart man buys what he knows and passes on the rest.”

That said, I was honored to have first pick from three of the sellers I’ve bought from in the past and yielded 3 nice saws. One gabby handed picker tried to pull a fast one by pulling one out of my pile but the seller and I quickly had words with him and finished up. I’ll add that although at times it seems like the Wild, Wild West, provided you’re over the age of 8, you’re expected to know right from wrong.

Sellers come in waves. This is especially true on weekdays due to job restrictions and travel. You have the early birds getting there before sunrise, then thing slow down as sellers show up slowly the remainder of the day.  Having some experience, once things settled I walked back to the van with my haul, made some coffee and nosh, and made room for the saws; experience has taught me that sleeping next to saws leaves marks.  . . .Coffee in hand, I took some time to shake hands and catch up with buyers and sellers  Most of the big names were in attendance and it’s always interesting to see what others are buying and selling.

By this time Josh Clark, whom you may remember from my Avoca adventure, was setting out to sell a treasure trove of tools and other goodies collected from various box lots and other finds throughout the year. His display system consisted of blue tarps and bins upended while people scurried around making piles. The sound of popping lids draws in the buyers like moths to a flame.  Not wanting to get trampled in the frenzy I socialized on the fringe with Freddy Roman, fellow tool lover and all around craftsman aficionado. Freddy was also nice enough to help with Josh’s organized madness. Later we all went to the local brew-pub that’s become a pre-preview ritual to the Friday auction.

Once back at the hotel we gathered our things and started checking the Friday auction lots of interest. The word “lot” can be a little vague; they use low-sided boxes like the ones used for a case of soda cans and the item or items are placed inside. On the outside there is a label with item number, picture, and short description. In the event the item is too large, a placeholder in the form of a laminated card is used. These larger items are generally placed out of the way and all together. Lucky for me just being interested in the saws, I quickly looked through the 20 or so lots I was interested in. Once done I followed along with Josh and Freddy, trying not to annoy them while still getting answers to the dozens of tools I had no idea what they do. They were both good sports about it and by 10PM I was dead on my feet and retired back to the van for the night.

Friday I set the alarm for 6AM and decided to sleep in, then poked around the tailgate just to see any new vendors. In general as the weekend wears on, the quality drops as things are picked over. That said, I still found some very nice saws; then with my coffers about full, I made a quick trip to the auction. There were a few lots that interested me. As it would turn out I bought one that contained a really nice D100.

Saws in hand, I whispered my goodbye to Josh and friends inside the auction, walked over to settle up, then made a quick trip through the vendors to shake hands and say more goodbyes.

The highlights for me are always seeing the cool tools and the conversations I have with other buyers and sellers. I don’t have a local club so I welcome the opportunity to talk shop with other like-minded people. I met Don Rosebrook,  the author of American Levels and Their Makers, in the parking lot and found out that he is also a closet collector of saws. He had brought some perfect examples that were a real treat to see and take a few pictures of.  Among them were 2 Disston eagle-head saws and many other rare low production models, including 3 different types of star saws. Although not quite in the class of an eagle-head saw, I did pick up really nice examples of a new 16 and 120. There was also one of the nicest No 12’s I’ve ever seen.

I should point out that the following day, Saturday, is the main day at the auction when most of the higher end items are listed. My interest in saws tends to center around usable examples over the collector; so, although I enjoy looking and watching, it’s not the best use of my time.

The drive to Watkins Glen was far but mostly highway and uneventful. However not content with the simplicity, I complicated things by leaving my laptop plugged in back at the auction; so a 1.5 hour detour was added. The additional time got me into the campground after dark but I was sharing a site with friends so I passed the gate and parked.

Getting in around 10 made for a long day but I figured I walk the loop and briefly stop by some of the fires to say my hello’s to the Westies at Watkins. It’s normally one of the largest gatherings I make these days and it can exceed over 100.  Joel, who tirelessly organizes it, does a great job of blending some structure but at the same time leaving people to do their own thing. The gathering over the years has also become a popular event for our Canadian friends. I, for one, love seeing many of the models never sold in the US, like the Westfalia Joker High-top Campervan and transporter doka.

Saturday mornings are always reserved for the communal breakfast burritos. Everyone brings something to share and it doubles as a meet and greet.  Not being much of a breakfast person I slept in, then made coffee in bed! Something I LOVE to do! Then I chilled out while checking emails and organizing things in the van. Living in a van for 5 days with over 40 saws can get a little sticky if you don’t organize! The rest of Saturday was spent visiting with friends and seeing some sights in the area. Saturday night was a potluck, 50/50, and raffle. Joel does a great job of getting donations and insuring there are enough for everyone.

With the sun setting I met up with my homies at fireside to catch up on their summer adventures. I seriously think the world’s troubles could be solved around a campfire. Night rolled into day and Sunday everyone was packing up for their trips home.

A few of us were staying through Sunday and decided to go hike the gorge trail, which is a nice hike from the campground. Afterwards I met up with my college roommate who lives in the area. Mind you, it’s been 20 years since we last shook hands so it was great seeing him. Facebook is great for the kids but I like meeting up, old school. Living locally and having a rental property he invited us to stay there, just outside Naples Valley.  As the name suggests the area contains a number of wineries and vineyards. Driving through the town I saw everyone was busy getting ready for the annual grape festival the following week.

The next day we packed up. My friend Bob Mac, newly retired, was making his way home via the back roads, so we decided to forget the oatmeal and head into town for a proper breakfast. First step start the vans. Oh wait, key in, turn, nothing. Grabbed a hammer, tapped the starter and she turned right over. Note to self…time for a new starter.

After breakfast we both headed in different directions. My heading westerly turned out to be one long Kodak moment and made up for lack of views traveling into the area on Friday night from the auction. The views of the Finger Lakes in the fall are some of the best NY has to offer. What looked like miles of vineyard led into beautiful views of the lakes. As I headed closer to Rochester the farms gave way to a small town and I knew once I passed under Interstate 90 I was close. The town of Williamson was established in 1802; driving through many of the farms and buildings, downtown looked to be original, just the type of place to find some great saws, plus fresh apples from the many roadside stands.

My van kind of stuck but as I pulled in, David met me in front of his shop with his chow mix in tow. Like many of the collectors and sellers I meet, he walked me over to a table of saws and said, “Start here.” Happily I looked through what I would call an eclectic selection of the very old, mixed with off beat makers. I didn’t find a lot of good users but did find a few interesting early saws, possibly American but more likely English. Once settled up, we exchanged info and I was itching to get started on the long trip home. It was only possible for me to swing a few days off so the following day it was back to work.

The trip home was largely uneventful. The starter in the van remained working and I’ve since had it replaced. Once home I left the van packed, gathered clothes, and cleaned out the fridge in the van. I couldn’t resist taking a few saws to my apartment to get a better look at the etchings.

The rest of the week turned out quite busy at my day job so it wasn’t until the following week I found the time to empty the van properly and find storage. As I’m sure you can imagine it’s almost impossible not to get distracted as things catch your eye.  In the end I was quite happy with the new additions to the restoration pile, as well as a few for my collections.

In the next week I’m heading out to meet the sheriff of saws on eBay and heavy collector and historian of early American saw makers, Mike Stimple.

Thanks for visiting

Joe Federici
Consigliere of Sawtown

Measure Of Success

Success is all too often associated with money, and we all need it. But my goal when starting Second Chance Saw Works was enjoyment in what I’m doing, with hopes that it would lead to a better product and a market would follow.

With that in mind the show was a big success and I want to thank all the people who took the time to stop by. As ANYONE who knows me, I enjoy talking and tend to be passionate about things I enjoy, like saws. Being the new guy and latecomer to the event, my location originally was outside. But thanks to a little arm-twisting from Allen and Mario (boys in blue seen below) of Philadelphia Furniture Workshop, I got a location tucked inside which was nice due to the forecasted rain.

The show was both Friday and Saturday and I was told the turnout Friday was quite big with over 500 people. Saturday started off strong with lots of people interested in seeing the mill operate. I spent most of my time by my area so I didn’t get to check out all the offerings. Most people seemed to gravitate to tools; the selection offered by Lie-Nielsen is second to none.

At some point I struck up a conversation with Johnny, whose last name was “Apple” (per his nametag) which sounds a little suspicious. He works at Hearne Hardwoods. I watched him throughout the day demonstrating just how strong the new Festool light was by throwing it up about 15 feet in the air and watching it bounce off the concrete floor. I witnessed this at least 25-30 times and was struck by the thought that his own moxie might win out over the engineer’s design. I can happily report that when I left the light was still working. He also went over the use of their board rules (seen below) with number gauges to figure out size, something I’ve read a little about but never had the chance to use.

Due to the short notice I didn’t have a lot of time to gather things but did bring a few saws and my filing gear. One bonus for me was getting great ideas for future blogs; I’m always looking, so feel free to ask. Also exciting was getting invited to speak at one of the future meeting of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers. Who knows, I may even try my hand at teaching. As they say, more TK. . . .

Joe Federici
Saw Monger-at-Large

Saw Monger in Motion

So just a note to say: YES I missed my update that I normally do on Sunday’s or Monday. Well we vandwellers can’t be help to a schedule as most of us don’t own a watch. That said I had a great trip. Looked at and bought lots of saws, meet up with friends and enjoyed myself on the road. More to come shortly.


Joe Federici
Saw Monger in Motion

Road trip’en with a vandweller

One of the things I really enjoy about saws is the journey and people you meet along the way.
Enter Dean a tool reseller and collector from NH.  I struck up a conversation while attending a MJD show this spring in Nashua NH. Two minutes into the conversation Dean declares with a smile, “Daddy has a saw problem.” I laughed as we continued to talk shop, how the tool market goes up and down, why we both enjoy it and so on. Later after shaking hands over an 8” H. Peace dovetail saw (I just can’t seem to part with), a plan was hatched to see his stockpile of saws as well as his collection of unique tools he’s been collecting since the 70’s.
With the price of gas and lack of vacation days I formulated a plan parlaying vacation with a summer Friday. I started the trip camping in Clarksburg State Forest with friends camping and kayaking the Dryway section of the Deerfield River in Monroe, Mass. The Deerfield has regular releases throughout the summer and this weekend coincided with the river festival so it was nice running into friends from other parts of  New England and Canada.

Another plus this time of the year is the weather. It was highs in the 80’s dropping into the 50’s at night. A lifetime away from the 100+ temps called for in the tri-state area. Combine that with the cooler water on the river and it’s about as perfect as one could ask for in the summer.

Come Sunday it was time to switch gears and head north to the promise of saws. Having time to kill and a love for driving back roads beckoned and I followed.
Once you cross into VT Sugar Shacks are dotted along the road and it jogged my memory that I needed maple sugar (great alternative to cane sugar). The next shack had a sign for sugar on snow, a perfect snack for what passes for a heat wave in their part.

Sugar on snow is normally offered in the spring when syrup is made and snow is still on the ground. In talking with the shop owner, he rented a shaved ice machine this spring due to poor snow fall and expected school trips. It turned out to be such a hit he bought his own and started offering it year round. The snow cools the syrup producing a gooey taffy. A pickle is traditionally served on the side to cut the sweetness.

Next roadside stop was to picked up some veggies for dinner and couldn’t resist fresh strawberries that were just in season here. With shopping done it was time to start thinking about camping for the night. Normally when traveling by myself I pride myself on finding picturesque “questionable camping” but looking at the VT Gazetteer I found a local state campground and being Sunday it was empty. Plus the gods to reaffirm my decision left wood or maybe it was campers; either way a fire was in order along with dinner and a quick shower.


The next day I meet up with Dean who already had a table full of saws ready. YES!

I’ll save my evaluation process for another time but simply put, I check the plates first then handle and try and rate it 1-5 for resale. In this case I was looking at 100+ saws so I made piles: collector, user, parts. The important part is don’t get ahead of yourself and skip checking them over just because it’s a brand. As a self respecting Monger I can’t help to get excited when find a Richardson or Harvey Peace but the name alone doesn’t make a sale or cut wood.

The process continued for the better part of the day with Dean bringing more saws from his barn and me looking them over. When the pile outside was sorted I moved into the barn and went through more. Dean really has collected a wonderland for all tool lovers; moving things around and finding hidden treasure.

With the day winding down it was time to put pen to paper and get down to brass tacks. Dean pulled out the saws he felt were premium value, we discussed, and an offer was made. Cash is king, followed by a handshake. Business done we loaded up the van, I got

a quick rundown of future shows, and I headed home.
The trip back although long was uneventfully. I travel to the Berkshires a few times a year and the trip home is always a little somber.

The green mountains give way to green fields as I cross the Connecticut River and as the miles pile up so does the asphalt heading back to suburbia.

Once home in Gollum fashion I sorted and ogled over my new collection. The “My precious” of the bunch is a Harvey Peace P-47 “Perfection” Back Saw.  It’s made for a right handed sawyer, which I’m not, but till a left one comes along (I’m told they were made) this will do fine.

Joe Federici
Saw Ogler and Vandweller