NJBA Cold Spring Village Meet June 2001

Report on the June meeting at Cold Spring Village

by Bruce Freeman
Saturday, June 16, I loaded my 1835 costume and, some tools and iron into the car. Bruce Hay and Larry Brown showed up at my door at about 7:40 am, and we loaded their stuff into the car and headed down the Parkway to Historical Cold Spring Village ("CSV"). After a couple hour's drive, in which Larry regaled us with stories of the bad old days, we arrived at CSV a little before 10 am. Stopping at the front parking lot, I went in to find where we should go, and immediately ran into Jerry Goldman, the blacksmith at CSV. He directed us around to the back road. When we got back to where the action was, we found two trucks and the NJBA trailer. The trucks were those of Mike Mills and Tim Suter, both of whom had brought forges and other equipment. (Tim had generously brought two forges, at least two anvils, a leg vise and slack tubs.) David Macauley had towed the trailer down the night before. Out front was a table with a few examples of peoples' work, and with our NJBA sign (made and donated by Greg Phillips) hung on the front, looking quite spiffy. David also put out some NJBA brochures.

David, Mike, along with his son Mike, all in period costume, already busy at the forges when we got there. Bill Futer was there in his NJBA T-shirt with the most jury-rigged forge I've ever seen. It was a shallow square tin pan atop a hibachi atop a riveter's forge blower all mounted to a collapsible saw horse -- wobbly but effective. It just shows you how simple a forge can be.

I quickly changed into period costume and fired up one of Tim's forges. We've been remiss assembling tools for the trailer, so I had to borrow a poker from Bill to get my fire going. I got a piece of rebar from the stock in the trailer to use to make a poker, but Luke stepped in to do the job for me. Luke turned out a lovely poker with flat, pointed, re-curved tip and a lovely loop handle. It was typical of the quality work Luke (whose mentor was Frank Turley) displays. He donated it to the trailer tool kit.

By this time the fire was going fine in my forge. I returned to a project I'd started another time a spoon, based upon Marshall's demo (written up a few issues ago in this newsletter). Marshall has put together a dandy board showing each step in the process of making this spoon. Both Bill and Jerry took photos of this board. I've already had success at this project twice before, so felt fairly confident. I had already completed the round flat that is later dished to become the bowl, so I cut the blank off the rest of the bar in preparation for drawing out the handle. (Lacking a hardy, I did this against the sharp edge of the anvil worked just fine.)

Finding my tongs too loose to grip the flat of the spoon, I took a tip from David and tightened up the tongs to fit the project. Then I drew out the handle of the spoon, leaving a lump toward the end for the embellishment, as in the example done by Marshall. After completing the handle to my satisfaction, except for fine details, I flipped the spoon around and dished the bowl against a stump, kindly provided by Jerry a trick that impressed the audience. Although my progress was slow, before the end of the day I'd finished this spoon and had started another project. During the course of this work, a reporter from the Cape May Herald shot a lot of pictures of me and some of the others -- always good publicity.

David, meanwhile, was making tongs for the trailer. Bill seemed to be making a keychain. I missed completely what the others were working on. (It's hard to demonstrate and observe at the same time.) (Editors note, Larry Brown made a punch and a chisel for the NJBA trailer out of some S-7 he donated and Mike Mills and son were making curved BBQ skewers for a customer).

At noon I called the business portion of the meeting to order. In addition to the members listed above Mitch Swirsky and Dan Cruzan were present. The only item of business was the election. Doug Learn, who is now the ABANA president, had previously told me that he would be dropping off the NJBA board for lack of time. Therefore the directors up for reelection were Marshall Bienstock, Larry Brown, Jon Folk, Joshua Kavett, Jeff Morelli, Nate Pettengill, Steven W. Rhoades and Bruce Ringier. I called for self-nominations. After some hesitation, Bruce Hay put in his name. This slate of nine candidates was elected unanimously. (The "Bruce's" now number three on the board, which should make the minutes of the board meetings even more interesting.)

After the election we adjorned for lunch. CSV had provided lunch tickets for the demonstrators, so most of us headed over to the booth and were provided a small but satisfying meal. After lunch I wandered around the village to see what I could see. I saw a great little collection of tools, including some clever pipe wrenches, and a collection of farm and kitchen apparatus, the former being a particular interest of mine. (I have a couple of the cherry pitters they showed there.) There was a collection of miniature tractors on a table, as well as a collection of tractors rather too large for the tabletop. I bought some chances on a John Deere. (Why not?) I met Shirley Stefanovicz, the CSV Program Coordinator, who said we were welcome back on a weekend in September to October, after their regular season ends. I also met Dick Newkirk, contact person for the "19th Annual South Jersey Gas Engine Show" at Cowtown on Oct. 6-7, who said we were welcome to demonstrate there. The NJBA board will discuss these and other ideas for upcoming meetings.

Around 4 pm, I changed back into my civvies. Then, while munching on one of the large soft pretzel thoughtfully provided in quantity to the blacksmiths by some young lady, I said my goodbyes to Jerry and the others, gathered up Bruce and Larry, and headed home. A most satisfactory day.

Bruce Freeman at the forge


Mike Mills and son (Mike Mills)


Tim Suter sitting back, taking it all in!


Larry Brown keeping track of the hammer,
with no hands.

Pictures provided by Bill Futer

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