over the hills and through the woods

LakNox_10I’ve only been a member of the Mid-West tool collectors association for about a year and in time, although I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many members, making a gathering has been elusive. So when I found that the Area P chapter of the MWTCA would be holding a single day “cabin fever tool show” in conjugation with Browns tool auction, I quickly put it on the calendar. I soon realized it was the same weekend as a group rental at Lake Nockamixon, but what’s life without a little conflict, and figured it would sort it’s self out with time.

As the date got closer, it was looking like many of saw guys planned to attend. Mike Stemple and Dave Jeffers were driving out from OH. Mike also said Carl Bilderback, who I’ve been wanting to meet, would be coming with a display as well as some saws to sell. In addition to the Mid-West guys, locally David Latouche and his wife made the trip from Jersey as well. David’s always a good sport in helping find good users. We collect from different ends of the saw spectrum and often divide and conquer, dragging one another across the room to point out a good find!

As luck, or maybe traditional for this gathering would have it, a storm blew in the day before angrily bringing with it a deep freeze, and threat of snow and black ice. The change in weather and heavy salt changed any thoughts on driving the van out Friday and sadly decided to leave the house around 3:45 am in my Saab, Black Swan— a swan song in many ways. Last year of 900, last year 2 door SE, last year of the black/black exterior/interior, and last designed Saab before GM took ownership. That last one is a real Saab story for those of us who love them!

Now I’m an early-to-rise type of guy but pre 5 am is just crazy. Yet here I type it. The temps that morning when I plopped into the Saab read 14º! Thank God for seat heaters as I think it took the old girl a good 50 miles to get up to temperature. Once moving, however, the drive was mostly uneventful thanks in large part to the crazy amounts of sodium chloride on the roads these days, 20 million plus tons.

I also noted, ironically, I’m waking up to Echoes with host John Diliberto, something 10 years ago I routinely heard before going to bed. Somehow this fact really highlighted the early hour and my age.

Seeing the sunrise lifted the funk and coldness and my planned arrival worked out well. I’m a latecomer to GPS and still have a hard time relying on it. That said, as I get older reading a map and driving with it on par with texting and the Garman app for the iphone gets two thumbs up from this user. As I pulled into the lot I had time to spare and topped off my coffee, said hi to a few friends while looking at a few tables in the parking lot. Yes even in this crazy cold, it was 15º when I pulled in, and two sellers had table in the parking lot. The difference being they used the honor system for payment rather then standing in the cold.

LakeNox_07The theme I’m finding for most club shows is as follows, everyone huddles around the doors waiting for the ok to enter. At some point you get the ok and in we rush. I think just about everyone would agree the dust settles quickly and I’m normally done buying in the first 30 min. Bottom line is the early bird gets the worm. Jim Bode beat me to a really nice no 12 but I did pick up a few nice backsaws and later model d8 with really clean plate. The selection here was a bit better then the previous weekend that’s for sure.

The sales behind me, I change gears and socialize. Mike had brought me two really nice early saws in need of handle repairs and I also got the chance to meet and talk with Carl Bilderback. You may have read about him on Chris Schwarz or Matt Cianci: the saw blog but if not, he’s also done a few video’s for popular woodworking, this one on ripping. Regardless, he and Ron Herman are both on the short list of saw guys I’d like to meet. Carl, over the years has also become the go to for pantherhead saws including the recently repaired one he had at the show that put his total around 15, I think he said. On a side note, I recently sold a few saw catalogues to Ron and included a note explaining I’d love to learn a little more about the black arts of saw smithing and called me and hopefully I can work something out for the summer! Check and Check.


The author and true saw advocate

Mike, being a good friend, made the introduction after we talked saws. We dove right into all things saws talking about the saws he had brought and some I had just picked up. Carl has a collection of Goodell-Pratt mitre boxes and was interested in seeing the rare No.1625 I was selling. He went on to say the 1625 is quite rare not just for it’s small size, but also it didn’t show up in catalogs. Carl had also brought his perfect example of the Atkins “Demonstrating Saw” for teaching; shows proper and improper filing in different tooth configurations. Carl is also a carpenter and built a rotating display case that was equally as impressive.


Image left: A rare Atkins with adjustable handle. Image right: Carl’s impressive near perfect presentation saw

Afterwards, I walked around wanting to talk with some of the dealers from the Jersey/Philiy area and see how the winters been treating them. I also unexpectedly ran into to Don Rosebrook back from his travels abroad. Don’s better known for levels but really does have an impressive saw collection. I look forward to seeing some it this spring. As I’m sure you can tell, I rather enjoy the small talk. It’s one of the reasons guys like Mike, David, and Carl, are all friends.

Case and point the scratch awe found in many combination saws. Carla had brought a No. 38 to sell and explained that after cutting apart a broken handle, he discovers how the scratch awe was held in place. A thin piece of scrap saw plate was cut about 3/16 and then bent and pushed into the hole. The ends dig in to the wooden handle just enough to prevent it from popping out and the tension agents in the awe prevents it from sliding out. Very cool, no?


By this time the preview for the Browns auction was getting underway. My inventory is still quite good so it was time for me to get back on the road and meet up with my friends at the cabin for a big potluck dinner and fireside moonie council. The drive heading back northeast through PA is a nice one. Although cold, it was clear and sunny. Once in Quakertown, I stopped at two roadside antique stores. Once there, wine was flowing, I caught up with friends and a great time was had by all sharing stories of what we’ve been up to since the fall as well as exchanging camping dates for the spring and summer. I hit the hay 22 hours after I woke, laughing in the thought, Echoes was on.

LakeNox_06Next blog: Nitric Acid—it’s not just for drugs bombs. John Porritt spoke about tool restoration at February’s CRAFT tool meet and it’s uses.

I’ve also gotten a few notes about sharpening turnaround. I’m happy to report they are still running two weeks or less so for those in the need. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Joe Federici
Saw Monger

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