23 June 2008


Grandpa, originally uploaded by foodchronicles.

This is my grandpa. He was born in Gloucester, England in 1888. He emigrated to this country in 1911. Prior to his coming to America, he apprenticed with a Wood Pattern Maker until he became a journeyman. What is a wood pattern maker? Well, he is someone who when building items, would first make a pattern out of wood to be sure it was exactly what was wanted or needed. Then it would be used as a pattern for metal or different woods for finished projects. Kind of like a old time CAD designer. In order to be able to work steady , he came to America. He eventually made his way to Michigan and worked at the Armory in Flint, MI for many years.

His trade, wood pattern making, was his life's work. He showed us pictures of the tanks he helped design and build along with various other important items for the US government.

As a child I didn't get to spend as much time with him as I would have liked. My mother divorced our father when I was four. My grandpa chose to spend time with my brother, as he needed a good male role model. He assumed we girls would learn what we needed from our grandmother.

My grandpa retired sometime in the 1950s and moved to California. He got bored very quickly and looked for somewhere to do woodworking. He found a good place at the Boys Club in Oceanside. Back in the 60s the Boys Club was just the Boys Club. It has evolved, like all things, to include girls. I am glad it wasn't while grandpa was alive as he would have argued to the death in allowing girls to be part of that organization. Not that there is anything wrong with girls; no not at all, however he believed that there is good reason to be separate in some places and that girls needed to be girls and likewise for boys. He helped them set up a good wood working shop and spent many, many days volunteering and teaching young boys how to work with wood.

He would bring home toys he had made for us along with the amazing inlaid wood work he was known for. My sister has a few items he made, the one I am most jealous of is the tray he made with grandpa and grandma's picture in it. It is beautiful and a gorgeous representation of his work. I cannot spend too much time being jealous though, I have plenty of items I cherish that he made also. A couple of great inlaid wood bracelets, and I have the best remembrance of all.

His tools: A few years after he and my grandmother passed away I was visiting my mom. She was clearing out a lot of "junk" she had around the house, as she put it. I asked her what was in the old suitcase. She said she thought it was her dad's tools and did I want them. I jumped at the chance and squirrled it away.

Wood Pattern Maker's case
This picture was taken last week as I cleaned and rearranged things in my own garage. I took the opportunity to open the case and take a look inside.

As you can see, it did not weather well. However, I do believe this was a custom made case for his tools. He may have made it himself, or had someone make it for him, I do not know for sure.
Wood tools

Inside are layers of shelf boxes. In each layer are different tools.
Trays of tools
The larger box at the bottom has some if his planes that he used along with various other items.
Bottom of case

In each drawer are simple tools and templates. One a few hex pieces for I don't know what.
Just a bit of granpa

Another has his calipers. The large silver ones have his name engraved on it. This must have been used quite a bit at the armory. It would be the only place I know where he would have to have his name on his tools.

All in all a great set of tools. After careful review there are those that need to be taken out and given some TLC. They need to be sanded and oiled to prevent the rust build up starting.

I'll Keep the tools for a long time. Until such a time that I have a member of the family cherish, and possibly use, the tools that mean so much to the family. I could never give them to a random stranger. I am glad to know our family is growing. We may have a good third generation of wood worker out there yet!