Friday, 18 May 2012
I was moved to remember old Enoch while hollowing this piece of elm for something I'm making. (I hesitate to name the something in case it doesn't work, in which case it will become something else..) Before iron replaced timber, elm was used for water pumps because it resists decay when wet.
Walter Rose recalled when old Enoch and his mate Johnnie would spend an entire week with an auger boring a hole through elm logs which, when assembled, would make a pump reaching to the bottom of a well up to 20 feet deep.
It also fell to old Enoch to be lowered into the narrow confines of the well to assemble the crucial joint between lower and upper parts of the pump. As Rose says, 'It needed to be absolutely air-tight, otherwise the pump would not hold water.' This was achieved by old Enoch carefully sandwiching a fat-soaked cloth between the parts.
'There, poised on an almost upright ladder, in the gloom of the well, the rude steening of which was dank and irregular, old Enoch, with a cauldron of hot fat hanging on a string at his side, and with the ponderous pump suspended by ropes and pulleys above him, executed the important work of sealing the joint.'
Next time I'm bemoaning the difficulty of some unnecessary task undertaken in safe, homely surroundings, I'll think instead of old Enoch and his ilk 'who, throughout their lives, without thought of complaint undertake and perform difficult and dangerous tasks for the convenience and comfort of their fellow-men.'
Quotations in italics are from The Village Carpenter by Walter Rose, first published in 1937 by Cambridge University Press.
Monday, 7 May 2012
But I have to admit I'm not good at keeping the place spick and span. Edge tools, heavy or delicate things are stowed carefully out of harm's way but a modicum of wood, shavings and sawdust lying about the bench spells contentment for me.
Although it might not look like it, I use these old Record clamps a lot - even the two with their little ball-joint feet missing, as I've got custom wooden feet to fit them. And while theses are written on the pros and cons of this or that vice and bench, it keeps things in perspective to know that if you just want to get on with the job there's not much you can't hold solidly with an old G-clamp or two.