Daylight Savings Time

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Sunrise has galloped to 6:08AM while sunset drops to a milestone, 8:00pm straight.  Squeezed from both directions, the “Fall Back” date of November 4th will find my home well stocked with teas, crackers, and fine hardback novels.  Peaceful nighttime activities, reading early in bed, will come an hour sooner, thanks to Benny F.

While Benjamin floated the idea via a witty “letter” to the Journal of Paris in 1784, it had been around far far longer.  My ancestors were whipped into the fields as the first mistle thrush and woodlark began their songs (about 4am, barely time for a cup of ale and a crust).  Even the Egyptians knew the best time for dragging 30 ton stone blocks were the hours before the sun was a cubit above the Bolbitinic.

We’re having a cool morning.  Seasonal sunlight changes have increased my appetite, as Mo’Nature suggests I bank carbs and fats.  I shall be mindful over the next four months not to take her message too closely to heart *munch munch burp*

Why do the changes not follow autumnal & vernal equinoctes?  The Naval Observatory sets the dates.  Something to do with a vigorous party schedule?  The Veep’, our “man of letters” and regular contributor to ATB, will know.  His residence is on the Navel Observatory grounds, and he knows everybody.  Stay tuned for an update!

Bowers Tool Company

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Waking up to a beautiful 71˚ but 93% humidity, the chances of writing a coherent review today are slim.  In a flash it will be both 93˚F and 93% humidity.  Welcome to The Philadelphia Summer.

All is not lost.  Little thought is required.  The perfect article for AmericanToolbox literally fell into our drafts folder.  In my search for a light machinist hammer, I discovered the Carrollton Texas company of Nelson Bowers.  Mr Bowers has a great philosophy.  Save Time and Money: Buy it Once, Buy it Right.  Everything he sells is quality.  We have built partnerships with 21+ domestic manufactures bringing together a wide array of tools from Automotive to Gunsmithing, HVAC, Aviation and more.  Bowers Tool

Carrollton Texas, the heartland.  Not too far from some of my favorite camping spots.  Home of the famous graphic artist Kadin Betts, God rest his soul.  We’ve added a stop on our next road trip.  Coming soon, on American Toolbox.

Cutting Tools – Pliers – Sockets & Socket Sets – Automotive – Punches & Chisels – Screwdrivers & Nutdrivers – Hex Key – L Wrenches – Hex & Torx Fastener Tools – Levels & Measuring Tools – Rethreading Tools: Files, Taps, Dies – Drill Bits & Accessories – Abrasives – Hammers & Hatchets – Tool Organization – HVAC: Heating, Ventilation, & AC – Wrenches – Gunsmith Tools – Cutting Tools, Snips – Pry Bars – Farrier Tools – Hardware – Air Tools & Accessories

Lakeside Manufacturing

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Lakeside 311 Utility Cart

The backbone of any professional practice is accessibility. Your tools within easy reach.  American Toolbox auxiliaries have discovered firsthand how important organization and mobility can be.  Rolling in and out of performing arts schools across the nation, we triage, dismantle, repair, and restore stringed instruments – and the occasional desk chair.  Scheduled maintenance, emergency service, vanity buff-ups.  You name it, we’ve been asked to do it.

The job gets done.  It will now be a little easier.  A near-vintage stainless steel utility cart has been donated to the cause!  🙂  Manufactured in the 1970s by the venerable Milwaukee Wisconsin firm Lakeside Manufacturing, our new cart still functions perfectly!  Casters solid, roller bearings smoothly turning all four wheels any direction we require.  We’ll be the Poster Luthiers at the next Orchestral Directors Bongo Banquet!

Lakeside has been producing durable products for over 70 years.  Now that you know the name, you’ll recognize the distinctive “L” on their products.  Found in all of the better practices and corporate parks across America.

How did we clean this basement rescue?  Powerful water hose across all surfaces.  Air dry 90%, old towel on the remainder.  Silicone spray into the caster directional bearings, spin, wipe excess.  Light wipe of all surfaces with silicone spray-dampened towel.  Ready for John’s plectrum banjo.  A bushing job on a 99-year-old banjo.  Trimmed with a new chisel from Lie-Nielsen.  And another story on American Toolbox.

katrina piechnik • saggar pottery

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Our local library entrance begins with a long upward-slanting sterile hallway.  Terrazzo, stone, and plaster.  All white. Glass-fronted recesses, locked against the well-heeled vandal and thief.

Two years ago we visited garden-themed mosaics displayed in this same hall.  Today, the spotlight falls back to pottery.  Americans love their crafts.  So important in colonial America, the tradition of turning clay and glaze into objects of beauty and utility remains vibrant.

Katrina Piechnik is a local instructor, practicing a centuries-old skill of saggar pottery.  Packing materials against pottery as it is fired to produce color and texture. From her creativity another generation of artisans are born, thrive, and continue.  She opens our imagination.

Borrowed from UpInSmokePottery.com, a partial list of colorants:
Copper Carbonate – greens, blues, maroons, reds
Copper Sulfate – greens, blues, maroons, reds
Cobalt Carbonate – blues
Ferric Chloride – reds, yellows, oranges
Steel wool – blues, grays, pinks
Banana peels – greens, grays
Copper wire – can be red, black, blue, green, whites, depending on wire, thickness, and temperature of the fire
Sawdust – black, gray, blue-gray,
Cow pies – depends on what it ate; blacks, yellows, greens, grays, browns
Bacon Grease – brown/greens
Sodium Chloride – Orange, yellows, salmon, peach, gold
Coffee Grounds – browns, greens, blues
Nails – Neat blue/gray dots with halos
Leaves – brown/greens
Grass clippings – brown/greens
Red Iron Oxide – browns, maroons, rust

Juzek Bridge Jig

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With a bridge firmly grasped in my hand and a small rectangle of 220 grit scratch cloth carefully laid on the supine violin, I move a delicate piece of carved maple upon the paper, sanding the feet into the curved shape of the violin top.  Sometimes one foot wants a little more off than the other.  I compensate.  Tradition says the rear is to be 90˚ to the top.  The front appears pitched, as it is cut to 87˚.  Christmas Day we worked upon a beautiful mid-1960s German violin set up by a Reading shop.  Their luthier’s trademark?  He set up the right angled side forward.  A second bridge in the case from the same shop was identically cut.  Further reading indicates bridge orientation has no bearing on sound though tradition (and superstition) reign.

We work in fractions of a millimeter.  Fairly precise work.  Five seconds, about one distracted thought away from disaster.  No speakerphone calls, please.  Cello bridges, there is more room for error.  But getting the bridge shaped to sit plumb on the cello top?  A bit more work.

After doing a few by eye, I lust for an edge.  A third hand.  A bridge jig.  When the right job came in, we turned, naturally, to Juzek, the American manufacturer of fine luthier tools.  Off to the Performing Arts high school for summer session with a dozen cellos.  Juzek again turns out a valedictorian performance.  Our cello bridge feet come out square and plumb.  Quite the time saver!

That other tool?  A leg spreader.  Not used with violin bridges but for the cello bridge, quite necessary.  The leg spreader simulates what happens to the cello bridge when the pressure of the strings are upon it.

Manual Woodworkers & Weavers

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SINCE 1932, if you can visualize it, they can make it.  When the Frank Lloyd Wright organization wanted to reproduce their Waterlilies Art Glass as a tapestry throw, they turned to MWW, Inc.  You’d think custom woven would be expensive?  This is what MWW does, they do it efficiently, beautifully, and the product ends up priced to be bought, not languish on bookstore shelves.  From Hendersonville, North Carolina, MWW brings textile, home decor, and gift solutions throughout America and across the globe!


Vintage Surefire Flashlight

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It does not take much to become ‘vintage’.  Happened to me, in fact.  🙂  But my flashlight is only a decade old, I nearly react!

When purchased, it was the latest & greatest; LED was just coming out.  Dozens of batteries later, my E2E is now on its third lamp assembly.  An “outdated” incandescent bulb.  No, there is no LED we can retrofit into your Executive E2E flashlight.  But when it comes to indestructible, Surefire got it right.  This flashlight is first in, last out, in drenching, freezing, and steaming conditions.  Vibration, drops, dust, nothing stops it from extricating me from the really fine mess I’m invariably in.

Its two CR123 batteries provide decent runtime.  I often prefer intermittent light via its tail cap switch, stretching battery life (at the expense of bulb life?).  This flashlight compliments my LED headlamp.  And a backup LED lamp, the Titan, on a lanyard.  All Surefire.  Because when crawling into the unknown, you must have reliability and ruggedness.  Tools you can count on.  Surefire.