Park Tool – St. Paul, MN

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sunset over schuylkill philadelphiaIt is always the last place you look!  A perfect complement to our 97˚F / 82% humidity would be a sunset bicycle ride along historic Kelly Drive.  The Art Museum Loop, we call it.  As the day before, hitting a trail of somewhat smooth asphalt as Rush Hour hits its finest knuckle-whitening tension.

Yesterday everything was perfect.  Pedal, sweat, hydrate.  Using my E.U.-Approved water, I did not resolve my dehydration, but satisfied my thirst  (no wonder the Brits Brexited).  My 1980s Technium had performed like a champ.

park tool SW-20.2But today?  Its front wheel sounded like my back after cutting out three tons of boiler pipe.  Once again, the spokes want service.  Our local bike shop would have suggested -again- new rims, but until the wheel completely collapses,  I’ll use the original Rigida wheels Raleigh installed three decades ago in Kent, Washington.

After searching everywhere, the Park Tool spoke wrench I’ve used for years is found.  In, naturally, my Executive Tool Bag.  An hour of tranquil “tuning” of my spokes returns the rim to true.   The clatter is no more.

BisonDesigns Coyote Pattern Belt

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Purchasing decision has been made.
30mm - Millennium™ Black Buckle - $19.75
Pattern: Coyote (COY)

bisondesign coyote weave 3My nephew turned 13 today.  That is a tough age for which to buy, now that kids speak a different language than my generation.  Fortunately, good looks never go out of style.  Who cannot use a nice belt?  One strong enough to save their lives, if need be?

We turned, last Monday, to our favorite designer of nylon belts, Brian Kelleghan.  Pictorial weaving with nylon?  Brian was the first.  When his suppliers said it could not be done, Brian figured it out.  The results?  Pages and pages of designs, enough to find something a 13-year-old will think is cool.  We chose, the belt was made to order, shipped, and arrived in time for the party. Yipeee!

Additional information was requested and answered:


Have you recollections into how the design came up?  What you were thinking when choosing the colors?   How about the “Millennium” buckle?  Was that a Y2K idea, and the name stuck?

The Coyote pattern is filled with colors chosen from all of the “Docker” style pant manufacturers. That is an easy call. Weaving the colors into an attractive pattern is always the big challenge.

The buckle pattern is an echo of a popular climbing harness design from the 80’s. It communicates that the wearer is an active outdoors enthusiast. – Brian

Estwing Leather Grip Hammer

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estwing-e12sAn opportunity to present a housewarming gift came up.  It turned into a bit of a head scratcher, though.  Casserole dish?  Toaster?  Bath towels?  Not really.  What do you give someone who has everything they need?

Something I’d love to have myself, naturally.  New house means new picture hooks to install.  Paint cans to tap shut.  Shelves to knock together, perhaps.  Estwing has the perfect gift.  A 12 ounce hammer with leather grip. The same hammer we pictured in our Executive Tool Bag.  

She’ll have this hammer for forty years.  Her daughter’s daughter will have it a lifetime as well.  Assuming none of the kids loses it at college or a camping trip.

estwing banner 600 x 109

Trader Joe’s Coffee Filters

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trader joe coffee filters

BLINDED BY SUMMER SUNRISE, I move with half-closed eyes, by feel, to the Technivorm.  With luck the night before I’ve set up the coffee maker with filter, grounds, and water.  Joe’s Dark Roast is my usual.

Trader Joe’s is a relatively new event in my life. We go back a decade or so.  I’ve noticed some products are fair rather than good.  Packaging can be insubstantial.

Trader Joe’s is where I get fresh dairy. Coffee. Hummus.  Bread.  Maybe salmon jerky.  Staples, like baked beans, Saltine Crackers, ammonia, coffee filters, these are usually purchased from the regular grocers.  But one day I threw TJ filters into the basket.  For two bucks, I’d give them a try.

Several years later, I’m still a believer.  Price, quality, and consistency.  After noticing a competitor’s filter coming apart when wet – certainly makes a mess when dumping out, I didn’t bother with any more market research.  When something works, why look for anything better?

trader joe coffee with filters

Belhen Hide Glue

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measuring hide glue by weightThousands of years ago Neanderthals used animal glues in their paints to guard their works from moisture.    As pyramids rose from northern Africa, craftsmen used animal glue in casket assembly for their Egyptian Pharaohs.  Since the 16th century, hide glue has been used in construction of violins.

Why so popular?   Can’t speak for all.  For luthiers, exceptional sheer vs. tensile vs. brittle strength make hide glue perfect for exacting requirements.  Modern technology has not synthesized an improvement.  Baring government mandate, what is not broken will hopefully not be fixed.

Shortly after instruments appeared on my front stoop, it became apparent the small jar of hide glue gifted by a violin technician would soon empty.  Every instrument, nearly, had some top separation.  Were they all faulty?  No.  A violin top is glued as close to failure as possible.  Humidity and temperature alter the shape of a violin.  You want a top to detach from ribs (sides) rather than remain firmly glued, which would lead to a cracked top.

Behlen has a proven track record with ATB with their stringed instrument lacquer.  Research shows Behlen hide glue the most popular and trusted.  We ordered the gold standard of granular hide glues.  Following directions on the can,  failure became familiarity.  Success followed.  Advice from David brought it all together.  The Goldilocks Principle.  Not too thick, not too thin.  Just right.  Temperature has a lot to do with it.  A digital thermometer is most helpful, in lieu of an actual “glue pot”.

Special thanks to David Michie Violins, 1714 Locust St, Philadelphia, for their donation of older-style cello clamps pictured below.

Charlotte Pipe

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charlotte pipeSome things change.  Others stay the same.  Our local plumbing supply is a bit of both.  Old-school methods and materials tested over generations, some unchanged since Roman times.  New ideas to save time and expense now, some destined to fail yet introduced to a hungry public.  The spawn of change?  Entire developments of luxury homes with Tinker-Toy waste pipes, flexible water lines secured with hose clamps, already springing leaks not one lustrum after completion.

All that new stuff, proven in manufacturers labs but unproven in the final test, Time.  Not for me.  Copper and cast iron is what I learned and how I stay.  Lead and oakum, a centuries old method of pipe connection, or the “new” method of No-Hub® cast iron pipe attachment – now decades old and proven durable.

pallet charlotte cast iron pipeWhen the call for multi-generational durability goes out, I head to the same supply house patronized as an apprentice.  To the same stack of cast iron pipe I drew from as a lad.  The same brand, Charlotte  (or Tyler.  This is almost a “Skippy or Jif” comparison).

When the builder asks, “Plastic or iron?”, they are talking about the horizontal waste pipes dropping through your home.  Perhaps your dining room or den walls.  Nothing beats the quiet serenity of cast iron pipe.

Chapman Manufacturing Co

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Chapman To The RescueLast weekend I acquired several special chairs at auction. One has a cracked frame and looks beyond salvage – a wintertime project?.  The others will be recalled to life with deep cleaning, some frame tightening, and a donated seatback from the fractured chair.  

Mid 1950s ScrewheadWhile performing this nostalgic refurbishment – these mid-1950s chairs recall earliest memories –  three flathead screws were in need of removal.  My new Chapman Master Set was ideal for this task.  Previously I have never NOT had a flathead slip upon a tight wood screw.  Chapman’s squared edge precision flat screw-bit fit the screw head perfectly, transferring full torque.  Definitely the right tool for the job!
chapman master set
Some Mid Century Goodness for your viewing pleasure: