I have a fascination with old tools, regardless their origin; I know other people love them, too. And I especially love tools that are part of what is called Americana, in particular. At the top of my (personal) list of places to visit to see old tools is the Sloane-Stanley museum in Kent, Connecticut. Acknowledgment: I publish the photos in this article, and in all the other articles about the tools in the museum, with the permission of Ms. Barbara Russ, Museum Assistant.
Although I can relate only the fret saw directly to woodworking, I include three other pieces of Americana because they are of interest to our family: two knitting swifts, and one thread bobbin holder, likely used to dress a weaving loom. I also include them because they are skillfully and precisely crafted of wood. In theory, I should be able to make a knitting swift, for example; I might try my hand at it, but I cannot make any guarantees… The reason these are of interest to our family is that our daughter spins her own yarn; four of her six daughters have even learned to dye the wool themselves! Lastly, Sandy weaves on her Orco 2-harness loom.
One of the (very sharp) followers of the blog spied a small fret saw in one of the photos of an old lathe; his comments suggested to me he would love to see some additional details of the little saw. Here is one view:
Some additional detail is visible from a little different angle, especially the blade attachment to the arm:
Totally unexpected, this umbrella-style knitting swift attached to one of the beams caught my eye; this is a very nice, and also a very old, clamp-on swift:
Another surprise, not far from the first, was this free-standing knitting swift; I have no idea how its use different from the umbrella model:
This bobbin stand caught my attention, and the attention of one of the readers. I consulted with our daughter, trying to pin down the possible use of this bobbin rack. She mentioned it is likely used in dressing a weaving loom; “dressing” involves wrapping long threads on the spool rack (the thread feed side of the loom). The thread is then run from the spool rack through the reed (the “needle-looking” metal pieces that hold the threads apart on the loom) to the carpet roll on the uptake side. To hold a lot of thread requires large bobbins; this also helps to keep knots to a minimum:
Our daughter uses an Ashford Traveller double drive spinning wheel (it is made in New Zealand). I selected the following photo from the Ashford web site – this wheel literally comes apart; she carries it easily to workshops and spin-ins, or brings it to our living room:
It is amazing how personal and family interests can lead us to different things in our travels. Initially interested in woodworking tools, we stopped at the museum for a short visit. And we got involved with much more than early American tools! I would love to hear from you regarding interesting finds in your travels:
- Do you and/or your family have similar, special interests in knitting or weaving, in addition to woodworking?
- If you do, what are some of the special treasures you have found in your travels?
I look forward to your feedback!
— Al Navas