A Masters' Hand

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It is a sad day when, if we live long enough it comes time to set aside one's tools.
One day, some time ago, a patient of mine saw something in my office which led to a discussion about woodworking. I'm afraid (looking back with 20/20 hindsight) perhaps it was less discussion than discourse about my hobby.
A while later a board was left at the front desk, 4/4X3.5"x18". it was rosewood, quarter sawn.
Several days ago, he was in again, and said he'd been the one that left it. After thanking him he asked if I'd like some of his old tools, explaining he'd been a string instrument maker and repairman.
I said I was always interested in tools, even just talking about them.
He said he'd given most of his tools to someone that "said he was a violin repairman" but Mr. Kurt Glaesel had an expression on his etched face that made me feel as though he didn't really think so.
He asked too if I would like some little pieces of ebony. only a fool would have said no.
He handed me a box with a variety of many beautifully made tuning pegs for a number of stringed instruments. Most were ebony, some have little ivory beads imbedded in the ends and a few were a lighter (cherry?) wood.
There were a few small pieces of ebony, none square or true. Each had the stirrings of some piece of a musical instrument within them, none would yield much wood. yet all spoke of a Master Craftsman's touch. They were parts in progress, you see.
He asked if I'd like some finger planes, and apologetically commented that they had need of a little care, since they'd been stored for such a time. I replied I probably would not make the same uses of them as he had done, but "certainly I'd love to have them, thank you."
Today I was told (after he had gone) Mr. Glaesel had dropped by and had left "some toys for you".
There were a number of tools that would probably fall into the "Can you identify" threads, two smaller unusual micrometers that are cylindrically shaped and finger planes of several sizes with one or two having a convex sole.
Some were bronze, others cut from small blocks of ebony and one I think of steel.
All the irons (a heavy name for such little blades) had a radius.
Along with the tools was a "repair manual" for stringed instruments, I don't know if Mr. Glaesel wrote it, but at the bottom of the book it said in a nice big font. "Glaesel" and below his name and Coat of Arms was "String Instrument Division" The Selmer Company of Elkhart Indiana.
It turns out his family have a two hundred and fifty year tradition of violin making. He studied, among other places in Mittenwald violin makers' school.
I think I'm gonna gather a few of the stranger tools and invite him to lunch.
I bet there are some things he might share of his life that would be interesting indeed.
Tom
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On Mon, 25 Jul 2005 20:52:38 -0400, "Thomas Bunetta"

Damned fine post, Thomas.
And a reminder of what is still worthwhile about reading the Wreck.
Thank You. Tom Watson - WoodDorker tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet (email) http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1/ (website)
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<snippage>> Damned fine post, Thomas.

No... thank you. All compliments appreciated, yours more than some.
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Thomas Bunetta wrote:

What a great yarn Tom. I reckon a coffee and a chat with this gentleman would be very rewarding, for both. John
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"Thomas Bunetta" wrote in message

Grab a hold of that idea like a terrier with a bone and don't fail to do it.
... and thanks for the lift at the end of a long day.
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 7/23/05
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[snip]

Thanks for posting. And please follow up, after you've had lunch with the guy.
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Doug Miller wrote:

and if you can spare the time, how about some pictures and stories of the tools....
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<snip>

I believe, Tom, that I would, as you will, value the visit far more than the tools.
Thank you for posting this. It is a reminder that I need to call an old friend.
Patriarch
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Wow, sure puts a lump in the throat. He may think he is giving you tools, but he is giving so much more. Thanks for sharing this story and I hope you have a nice long lunch and bring back more stories. . Perhaps you can put together some tales and the tools as some sort of scrapbook or article that will inspire others.
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Share some of the stories you hear when you come back, Okay? Thanks.
--
Sending unsolicited commercial e-mail to this account incurs a fee of
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Please be kind enough to tell the gentleman thank you from all the rest of the woodworkers who have never had the pleasure of meeting this fine example of a human being. To share his love of fine things even at second hand thru your tale it makes my day. Thanks for giving the rest of us a chance to share. Larry

<snip>
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Hell, if he's willing, introduce him to the internet and this newsgroup and so we can hear him first hand.
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On Mon, 25 Jul 2005 20:52:38 -0400, the opaque "Thomas Bunetta"

--megasnippage--
PLEASE post that little chat, too, Tom. Love to hear it!
P.S: Congrats on the tool gloat. You officially Suck!
------------------------------ Gator: The other white meat! ------------------------------ http://www.diversify.com Comprehensive Website Development
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On Mon, 25 Jul 2005 20:52:38 -0400, Thomas Bunetta wrote:

<delicately snipped>

Whew. A melancholy tale made all the more heart-rending when you consider that you are likely getting this unexpected inheritance because he has no one left in his family to pass it to. It must be quite a burden on him to know that he is the last of his line.
Perhaps some effort should be made to get some of these tools into the hands of a gifted instrument maker? Or, even better, a talented, dedicated student of same? But, then, that's easy for me to say, I won't be the one to burn the shoe leather on such an endeavor.
Enjoy your good fortune!
--
-Joe Wells

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I look forward to hearing about that lunch.
Wow. You are blessed.
--
~ Stay Calm... Be Brave... Wait for the Signs ~
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<reluctant snippage>

<Clap! Clap! Clap!> Gracias, Merci' and Thank you!
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On Mon, 25 Jul 2005 20:52:38 -0400, "Thomas Bunetta"

[snip]
Take advantage of that, Tom. All too many of the old and interesting tools in my collection have come to me after the hands that first knew them have been forever stilled. I would treasure an hour talking woodworking with just one of those men.
-- "We need to make a sacrifice to the gods, find me a young virgin... oh, and bring something to kill"
Tim Douglass
http://www.DouglassClan.com
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On Tue, 26 Jul 2005 10:27:48 -0700, Tim Douglass

Agreed- I ran across an old fella in one of those voc. ed. woodworking "classes" (kinda seemed more like a cheap way to rent shop time and socialize, but I did learn a few things) who taught me how to use an old hand plane that was in the basement of a 130 year old house. I had cleaned it up and tried it out, but I couldn't get that sucker to cut anything. This guy had me making wispy thin little curls in a matter of minutes- it was impressive. Now, I like to think I'm a fast learner, but there is no way I have the patience, demeanor or knowledge of human nature needed to teach anyone *anything* that quickly. Another person to put in my "remember and strive to emulate" file... seems like that one is full of nothing but older woodworkers and craftsmen. It's always worth seeking folks like that out.
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Another great story, told well. Thanks.
There are similar stories of an old watch maker, boat builder, still life painter, the list of skills (and gifts) goes on and on, but the commonality is the same - special tools, special hard earned techniques, the eye and hand of a master - and, most important - the absolute love of the doing - just so.
My oldest's step-grandfather was such a man. With little formal education but with an endless sense of curiosity and wonder, he became a master at anything he set his mind to, be it boat building, home building or anything with moving parts. The last home he and his wife built for themselves - from bare dirt up, was a joy to see and explore. He even carved a sea gull head on the ends of the ridge beam.
He died about four years back, but his step grandson is building his mother's new home with the old man's tools AND his values - everything done just so. I stop by the site every few days and we talk about the recent work, the daily "challenges" to solve and the next major phase of the construction. The voice is Tyler's but the approach to the work is The Old Man's. And I wonder if, just before he falls asleep at night, Tyler and Ed go over things that'll get worked on the next day.
Alas, there are fewer and fewer life's work that require both brains AND eye/hand/soul. In The Information Age, one has to wonder what's going to be passed down to future generations - the HP Way or the MicroSoft Way?
Again, thanks for another Keeper.
charlie b
BTW - instrument makers have some slick tools that hollow vessel turners could use. One measures thickness with a magnet inside the instrument and a special spring gauge on the outside.
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charlie b wrote:

...
Unfortunately, the HP way went the way of Agilent... :(

I concur...
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