Last meeting of Sheraton Mirror Master Class

Sheraton Mirror Master Class The Sheraton Mirror Master Class got together last weekend to complete their projects, in their last session. Things went smoothly as students laid out the various parts in preparation for a tedious and challenging assembly.  In order to keep the work moving, I performed the more mundane milling of moldings and cap pieces for the students before they arrived for the weekend workshop. Even with that out of the way, there was still lots to do.

The mirror cornice pieces cut and in place.

Adam cleans up the joints before attaching the split turned columns to the mirror frame.

Doreen completed 2 mirrors during the workshop.

The Federal period mirrors of this type had an architectural character, with cornice moldings, projecting columns, and plinths; so there were a lot of parts to create, arrange and keep track of. For the woodworking student, the appeal of this project is that it requires a range of skills. There was a little carving, a little veneering, and a little turning, all kept to a manageable level.  But the most eye-catching thing about the design was the split-turned sections and rope carvings that flank the mirror. The frame is capped with a lively cornice that is punctuated with a number of miters.

Frank carefully pins a cornice return into place.

Once the students completed the frame assembly, Alan and I cut their back panels from thin plywood and distributed the mirror glass. As the students gathered up their tools and packed to leave, We looked over their efforts. I was impressed with their clean and precise craftsmanship.

Dave even managed to install his mirror panels. Nice work.


Horst heads home.

Congratulations to everyone. Mario

In the old days. . . .

Does anyone remember the old hardware store? You know, the neighborhood shop that sold nails by the pound, chain by the foot, and provided solid advice for almost any home repair problem that was stalling out your renovation project. On any given Saturday morning, these neighborhood hubs were buzzing with local traffic.  The stores often had old, creaking wooden floors and pressed tin ceilings, and sometimes even hosted a woodburning stove in the corner; walls were lined, from floor to ceiling, with rows of drawers, bins, and cubbies, containing everything from washers and finish brads to screws, bolts, and even iron strap hinges.  And there was barely room to move down an aisle. A store clerk once told me that if a shopper had to move something out of their way, there was a better chance they might buy it.

Every square inch of floor and wall space is covered. If you can't find it here, it probably hasn't been made in the last 100 years.

The “perfume” of sawdust, paint thinner, and paste wax greeted you at the door, along with the whine of the key cutting machine, or the distinct snap of plate glass being cut.  These were places where you caught up on local news; made new friends, met up with old ones; perused the community bulletin board or grabbed a copy of the local paper.  Customers wandered the aisles, poking around, browsing through bins; lingering much longer than necessary to pick up the item they came in for.  And whether it was a homeowner picking up just 2 sheets of 150 grit sandpaper or a contractor buying paint for a whole house, everyone got special treatment; everyone was treated with respect and courtesy.

Overhead is a rack of galvanized wash tubs. I've only come across these at flea markets- going for a lot more.

Many of these places have been replaced by the big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes.  The new stores, slick and shiny, often stress price over quality and staff their stores with “personal” greeters instead knowledgeable, experienced clerks.

Rags sold by the pound. No roll of paper towels will ever replace a tough 100% cotton rag.

At the neighborhood hardware store, they knew you couldn’t produce quality work with inferior tools and materials. To that end, they stocked the best they could find- then sold it at a fair price. The neighborhood dealer also believed in building relationships with his suppliers- and his customers; because good materials were essential to good, lasting work. And if he did right by his customers, they would return. Where else could you go for an 8” stove pipe elbow, plaster washers, or a radiator key. I once found a store that stocked the old TV “rabbet ears” antennae- and that was only a few years ago.

They've got the perfect brush whether you're using shellac, varnish, tung oil, paint, or stain.

Some of these stores are still around in places like Kansas, West Virginia, & Vermont. And I have found a couple in NJ and one in Philadelphia.  They stay open because the proprietors enjoy their work; consider it a big and important part of their lives. They like the pace, the nature of the work, and their customers. One store owner said,”It’s a good feeling when someone comes in looking for a old-fashioned window sash pulley and you can help them out”. But the economics of the business make it hard to keep the doors open much longer. There are no 40 hours work weeks in this business.

Alan dumps a fist full of screws into the bin to be weighed. Here they still sell fasteners by the pound.

At PFW we lament the disappearance of the neighborhood hardware store; the experience, knowledge, and selection they provided won’t ever be matched by any big box outlet- or any online catalog. So if you happen to come across an independent neighborhood hardware store, stop in, say hello- and buy something because they’re disappearing fast. Mario