Asked and Answered

Collins generation station. The water that once directly powered the mill was used to generate electricity that powered the mill.

In several recent posts, comments included questions and references to information I left out of the post. I thought I’d see if I can answer a few of these without getting too technical, using any math or boring the folks who already read the answers in my reply to the comments. Oh, and I’ll try to be brief – I tossed that in to give the Editor a laugh. Here we go:

Why did I say that Harbor Freight is a good place to buy tools, if you’re not planning to use them professionally? Harbor Freight is a discount tool store. They carry a lot of items at very good prices, and perhaps I should have qualified my answer better. First, I should have mentioned that it’s my opinion and it’s backed up by only the lightest weight of evidence. When I buy tools, I think about how often I will use them. For woodworking tools, tools I plan to use often and tools where easy-to-use features are worth having, I tend to buy the best brand I can afford. Not the best, in most cases, but the best for me. I want those tools to last.

For metal working, a task I enjoy but only venture into three or four times a year, I shop at Harbor Freight. For example, I bought a metal-cutting bandsaw, on sale at Harbor Freight for well under $100. I doubt this tool would hold up to daily usage in a welding shop, but it will likely last me many years, and for $20 I bought a 3-year no-questions-asked warranty. It made short work of cutting the conduit and firewood racks I used for those railings. I also bought an electric hoist to help move items to and from the storage above my garage.

In my post on Saturday, one that was already over my self-imposed word count, I mentioned a Biscuit Jointer. I knew it might bring questions. I got several, and several biscuit related jokes on Facebook. A biscuit jointer is a hand power tool used to cut semi-circular grooves in the mating surfaces of two pieces of wood. Before those pieces of wood are glued together, glue is added into those grooves, and a “biscuit” is inserted. Biscuits, in this case, are oblong compressed wooden disks. They perform two important tasks. First, they work like a spline to keep the pieces of wood aligned as they are clamped together. Second, when the disks absorb the moisture from the glue, they expand. This causes them to hold the two pieces of wood together very well.

A few people were unfamiliar with the term “Transfer Station.” In New England, transfer stations are usually found near the site of a dump/landfill that reached its capacity and has been closed. People still bring their trash there, but it is sorted – perhaps as the people dump it, perhaps by staff – put into trucks and transferred to a working landfill or, in this area, a trash-to-energy plant.

My photos on Thursday included a few shots of an old dam and mill pond. Picturesque, to be sure, but potentially hazardous. An article in our local paper on Saturday focused on three dams in Connecticut, including one I’ve featured here several times, that have been identified as being in a “high hazard” state of deterioration. Apparently, there are 1,700 such dams across the United States, and a dozen or so are in CT. The number is not accurate, as some states (NJ, Texas and Maryland) didn’t report their numbers during the study). The dam I have featured here is in the neighboring town of Enfield. According to the article, a “training wall” ( a wall that guides the flow of water) is in poor condition. This wall is scheduled to be replaced in 2025 at a cost of $450,000. That’s why there are so many dams in bad shape.

Most of these dams were built without permits or even much planning. Many of the dams here in CT are remnants from the days when water wheels powered the mills. As mills electrified, many mill owners, like the Collins Ax company featured above, converted the dams to generate electricity. Dams in other parts of the country were built for irrigation, flood control and to retain farm or mining waste material. The article states that in the past 40 years, there have been about 1,000 dam failures, causing 34 deaths.

A final question, for today, is one that I was very happy to answer. Lois asked if Mission Style furniture is the same as Craftsman style? The answer is mostly yes. During the industrial revolution, furniture and other home items and houses themselves started to become more ornate and elaborate. In response, the was a movement/philosophy called Arts & Crafts that emphasized simpler designs. Frank Lloyd Wright championed this movement. Many people were convinced that simpler lines and more utilitarian forms were desired. A large group of furniture makers adopted this philosophy and launched what came to be known as the Craftsman movement. Gustav Stickley followed the Arts & Crafts and Craftsman movements in his furniture and adapted them in what he termed Mission Style furniture. Quoting an article on this history, Stickley said:

“I felt that badly constructed, over-ornate, meaningless furniture that was turned out in such quantities by the factories was not only bad in itself, but that its presence in the homes of the people was in influence that led directly away from the sound qualities which make an honest man and a good citizen.” The article continues:

“Stickley was concerned about making furniture following the Craftsman philosophy that would provide his American market an aesthetic, functional choice that reflected the best in the American character: plain, practical, honest. Stickley’s furniture, which he later referred to as ‘mission style’, was often made of oak, with clean, simple lines, that was both functional and built to last centuries.”

Maybe we need more furniture like this.

53 thoughts on “Asked and Answered

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  1. Glad you could clear that all up. Being a DIY fan and living in NH, it all made perfect sense to me. :-) Downtown, we have a beautiful mill that has been fully restored to house lofts and businesses, but the associated wall surrounding the dam was in bad repair. So, for most of 2019 and even part of 2018 the repairs were made to the tune of $1M+. Besides the cost, the two lane road through the center of town was down to one lane for all that time. There certainly are a lot of repairs needing to be made, but just finding the money isn’t the whole issue. I’m with Maddie – it rained most of the weekend, gray and dreary. Happy Thanksgiving week, Dan, and you won’t have to hit the road on Wednesday unless you choose to. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Judy. You’re so right, the cost and inconvenience of repairing these dams can be daunting. They tend to be in places like the center of town. We were on the road yesterday in the rain. I don’t think Maddie minded staying in her crate. She’s not a big fan of rain.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wooden biscuits! Thank you for that tutorial, I feel smarter already.
    And I’ve always laughed at New England’s use of transfer station over dump. We’ll transfer our garbage to your site… so much better than mere dumping. Ha!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Omigosh! Someone who explains things that I can understand!! Woohoo! Very informative post Dan. Thank you for taking the time to answer all these questions.
    “Oh, and I’ll try to be brief.” I have no doubt The Editor is still laughing! 😜

    I don’t think MiMi was ready for morning yet. But Maddie sure had the right idea of how to spend a dark, rainy day! Good girl Maddie.

    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I got the printed draft back with a big “HA!” written under that “I’ll be brief.”

      I’m glad you enjoyed the explanations, Ginger.

      Maddie was content to stay inside and dry. She’s so funny when she comes in from the rain, “dry my head – DRY MY HEAD!” She sticks her nose under the towel and flips it up to her head.

      I hope you have a great week.

      Like

  4. In Cheyenne news we have a new business here. No thanks to Connecticut. Not blaming you of course but I wonder if C is trying to rid themselves of that type of business. Gun manufacturer Stag Arms is welcomed here because of “unwavering support for the Second Amendment”.
    Yippee! We already have a gun manufacturer here. I wondered if you heard of any flak about them and why they are relocating besides WY’s obvious love of guns.😳🙄 From New Britain, CN. Curious to know if there’s any “local” news.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The local story was pretty dry. They don’t like the climate here. They also don’t like the cost of doing business. I think they wanted it to be a bigger story than it was. They had announced they were leaving last summer.

      Like

  5. Interesting about the craftsman style of furniture. I always assumed Mission furniture was Shaker but with nails and screws. I’d better get rid of some of the overly ornate furniture pieces I inherited – they’re obviously stunting my spiritual growth. (yeah Jan, blame the dresser!)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Just about the only thing I understood was biscuit. Sadly I am ignorant regarding wood working and metal working. I have other talents however. Re: Dams. It is a shame some private donations couldn’t be made to preserve history. Would that be asking for too much?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Seriously, you did well with the additional/technical information. I was pretty well beside myself when someone whose writing I respect greatly asked for an explanation about the leech barometer in the Delta Pearl. It’s difficult to do “gap filling” and do it well.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I used to watch the Yankee Workshop every weekend so knew what Biscuits were.

    We woke up to it snowing here! The locals called it “corn snow”. It felt weird and was little balls of snow. It took 15 minutes to warm my Pearl up to drive to my watercolor club, so He-Man made room in the garage for my car to today.

    Tomorrow we’re supposed to get 6 inches of snow, so I’ll be like Maddie under my blankie reading or painting, but we have #1 Grandson here right now and he’s chomping at the bit to make a snowman so he’s hoping for a full 6 inches of snow tomorrow! ☺🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Excellent explanations, Dan. From what I’ve seen with Mr. and his Harbor Freight purchases, he does much the same as you do. He even has one of those biscuit tools too. We had a local small dam crash due to heavy downpour of rain. The cost to replace it was too expensive for the small township, so all the people who owned ‘water-front’ property no longer do, and if they want the dam replaced, they’ll charged with donating to the cost or paying higher taxes. I’m a fan of the clean lines of furniture – but own much of the ornate style too. Eclectic fits our style. I appreciated reading your answers to the questions – thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad you liked this Shelley. HF is a great place for DIYers. I bought that metal-cutting bandsaw for less that it would cost to rent it twice.

      I once read an article advocating “an eclectic mix” over any particular style. I like that. Sad fog the folks that had waterfront property, but dams can be hugely expensive to fix/rebuild.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I love Mission Style. Won’t be buying any Stickley, but love it all the same. The best furniture we have is Amish made and bought ‘naked’ as they say. Come to think of it, I’d like to know where the Amish couches are… yeah…

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Hi Dan – was here reading posts yesterday (or day before?) – either way – kept logging me out when I came her e- but today – I am in baby.
    and quick note – my hubs likes Harbor Freight for the same reason you do – for items that do not need to be super durable – like for heavy use. Many a good things from that store

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Love the history lesson on Craftsman and Mission style furniture…..I have a high appreciation for simple well constructed furniture. We actually have mid-century dining room furniture I inherited from my Grandmother. Solid walnut and the construction is incredible….I believe they bought it in the late 40’s or early 50’s.

    On the Frank Lloyd Wright comment….love his architectural designs and style….I’ve been lucky enough to have toured a number of homes he designed. Great post! Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kirt. I’m glad you enjoyed this. I have a deep appreciation for well built furniture, regardless of style. Knowing what it takes/took to do the work right causes me to respect almost anything that’s well made.

      Liked by 1 person

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