It's Not Just A Tool, It's An Heirloom

Discussion in 'The Village Square' started by Sjoerd, Feb 13, 2013.

  1. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Yesterday was so lovely, and today is so awful. It is no exaggeration when I tell you that it has rained, snowed and sleeted off and on the entire day up until now. There has been a quite strong northwestern wind roaring and whistling throughout, making this day one of the most unpleasant of the past month.

    It is a good time to do a bit of chatting on here. Yesterday the weather was sunny and cold...with my old friend, the northwestern wind, whipping the branches and grass continuously.
    It was sunny, and I wanted to get outside. There are a few things blooming here at the moment, and wonder above wonders-- there are bees on the wing. Here are some Galanthus nivalis with a bee on it.
    [​IMG]

    I could not capture it on film, but there were loads of bees all over the blooming flowers. This is great news.
    There are also some Eranthus hyemalis blooming and the honeybees have found them as well.
    [​IMG]

    ...Right then, so much for the chit-chat, now to get on with object of this posting: A trip to a hand-made toolmaker here. I recall mentioning that I wanted to go and visit a couple of years ago, but the appointments never made it through. Sometimes they were too busy, and sometimes I was. Now however, the family owned toolmaker has been in business for 100 years. It has gone from a small, locally owned business to a small, locally owned local business that exports internationally.

    This milestone having been reached, they applied for Royal recognition and the right to be called, " hofleverancier ", or purveyer to the Royal household. Accompanying this honour is the right to display the Royal coat of arms of our country.
    This is a great honour for the little company and we here in West-Friesland share a tiny bit of the pride along with the Sneeboer firm.
    Their "factory" is just up the road from us in the village of Bovenkarspel.
    If you want to see their website and look at the tools, visit this link:
    http://www.sneeboer.com/
    In the upper left hand corner of the homepage you have the choice of "English" or "Netherlands" (Dutch).

    Anyway, these guys were having an open day for the general public, after a few days of other celebrations...so, I thought--this is my chance. We hopped in the auto and drove to Bovenkarspel, it took 18 minutes.

    It was cold and drizzling ice-rain and so we thought that there wouldn't be many visitors....WRONNNNG! Gad, there were so many folks that they had to take us through in small groups. The groups moved through continuously until 16.30, the closing time. It made it a little difficult to ask many questions and taking foto's was a challenge because one had his elbows and shoulders frequently jostled.

    Never mind--the tour begins. This wall displays all the dies of the various metal parts needed to assemble their tools.
    [​IMG]

    They told us that they have another set stored safely away, should something happen to these examples. There are more than 200 dies that they make here, they said

    The first demonstration that they had was where they cut the steel. This is now done with the use of a computer and a laser. The metal plate is placed under a very shallow layer of water to keep the heat down and the form is selected and the begin button pushed. The laser moves in the pre-designed pattern, cutting the forms that one wants.

    Next, the die is pounded out here, the old-fashioned way.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Some tools, like spades for instance, have three parts-- the blade and the fitting. These two are welded together to form one piece that will be fitted with a handle.
    Here you see different die sorts that will become the fitting portion of the spade.
    [​IMG]

    They are hand-fitted into place.
    [​IMG]

    The forming head drops down...
    [​IMG]

    ....and presses the steel form into the desired shape.
    [​IMG]

    This is the old machine (made in the 1950's, I believe)
    [​IMG]

    ...and this is a stack of the shaped parts, the name already stamped in.
    [​IMG]

    Now we move over to the area where the three pieces (spade blade and fitting) are joined together.
    [​IMG]

    The parts are welded together either by the conventional method or with a laser.
    [​IMG]

    A laser weld looks pretty flash with its peacock hues;
    [​IMG]

    however, this has to be ground off, giving a nice, smooth finished appearance.
    [​IMG]

    The spade moves on to the area where the handle is pressed into the form. Here one can see the empty handles waiting to be joined.
    [​IMG]

    The handles looked interesting, stored tightly beside each other.
    [​IMG]

    The heads are stored near-by.
    [​IMG]

    The man showed us how he fits the handle into the neck of the metal tool head, using glue. In some tools, he also further secures it with a screw or rivet. He demonstrated on an edging tool and it looked as if he only fitted the wooden handle into the metal cuff and I did not understand that they used screws or the like for this.

    Orders are also filled in this area.
    [​IMG]

    Upstairs one could see the tools displayed on the wall. There is also a
    "Ladies Line" now for women gardeners. I wonder if this came into existence because of British requests.
    [​IMG]

    Well, it was such an interesting day. I quite enjoyed seeing how these mostly handmade tools were made and assembled for the market. Visitors could also have their names burnt into the handle with a laser that they used to burn their logos with. Of course, I had to do that as well.
    It didn't end there, I had my schoffel (push hoe) along to let then adjust the angle of the blade. They not only did that, but also sharpened the tool as well.

    I thanked the chap and he asked if I had other Sneeboer tools and I said, "a couple, but that they are way too expensive to get all my tools there".
    He said, "Expensive? It's not just a tool, y'know...it's an erfstuk (heirloom).

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. toni

    toni Mistress of Garden Junque Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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    How interesting to see things still being made by hand and congratulations to them on receiving such a high honor. Thanks for the tour.

    We have wasps out already but I have yet to see a bee...or maybe I'm just not out there often enough to find them.

    Oh and by the way, Eranthis hyemalis (Winter Aconite) could use your photo if you wouldn't mind uploading it there. ;)
     
  4. dooley

    dooley Super Garden Turtle

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    Brian was very interested in this post. He did a lot of process engineering in the automotive field. Anytime he sees something new he looks it over to see how it was built and compares it to how he might have done it. This looks like a very efficient and very well thought out shop. He thanks you for the tour.

    dooley
     
  5. Frank

    Frank GardenStew Founder Staff Member Administrator

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    "Not just a tool, but an heirloom", what a great tagline! They do look like some well-built tools, are they much more expensive than tools at say an average hardware store?
    It's a pity they have to remove that rainbow effect. Thanks for this post Sjoerd.
     



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  6. eileen

    eileen Resident Taxonomist Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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    I love to see how tools are made and your tour was excellent in showing us exactly how things are done. I have a feeling those tools will last a lifetime.
     
  7. Jerry Sullivan

    Jerry Sullivan Garden Experimenter Plants Contributor

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    Nice tools, nice price. I'm sure my present cultivator and the one buried somewhere in the yard would be very jealous. Excellent craftsmanship. 40 years ago I may have considered them. However, I will continue to scratch and dig with the present tools. If they join the lost cultivator the loss would be bearable.

    Each spring brings the hope of hearing a 'clank' when I dig into an old flowerbed. I suspect some flower roots are securely wrapped around the lost tool knowing it can never dig them up again. 'Nevermore' they say, 'nevermore.'

    Jerry
     
  8. Jewell

    Jewell Incorrigible Gardener Plants Contributor

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    What a lovely selection of tools. It would be too hard to decide on one or two.

    I am after I am not a very tidy gardener. Jerry some of my tools are hiding like yours. I set them down to dump, pick-up or rearrange and I'd swear they run away. Bright fluorescent handles in pink has helped some. Sneeboer tools are so beautiful I might be tempted to frame and hang them.

    Loved seeing the flowers with bees.
     
  9. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Hiya TONI--Glad that you liked the posting. I uploaded the image. I hope that it works alright. I can send it larger if you like.

    Hi DOOLEY--Glad that your man liked the posting. They are such good tools.

    FRANK--that IS a good tag line, isn't it. Ja, what could I answer to that. :)
    I loked that rainbow effect as well. Very cool, that.

    Thanks for those nice words, EILEEN--They are indeed excellent tools and do last a lifetime and the lifetime of those who inherit them. They are made so well.

    What a tale about the cultivator that went missing in your garden. I am always finding things in the soil that I have lost in the past...I even find things that have been thrown away a couple of centuries ago. I didn't realize that your tools could quote Poe. ;)

    I know what you mean, JEWELL-- I had to just select the ones that I use almost every day...and one that I do not use often, when when it is needed, there is no better tool. (folks even come and borrow it).
    Oh, but there are several more that I would like...like the drill-maker.
    I am glad that you liked the flowers and bees. They gave me hope that spring is near.
     
  10. cherylad

    cherylad Countess of Cute-ification Plants Contributor

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    I enjoyed the tour too. :wave:
     
  11. carolyn

    carolyn Strong Ash

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    Great tour Sjoerd! Thanks for taking us along. Interesting to see the pieces become a very nice tool. I do agree that there is nothing better than a well made tool to work with. Heirloom? I've never inherited an heirloom tool, though. I take that back, I have my grandpas hatchet, but I don't think it is really of good enough quality to call it an heirloom.

    S, What is a stone scratcher tool for?
     
  12. KK Ng

    KK Ng Hardy Maple

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    Great tour and excellent tools!!!
     
  13. bunkie

    bunkie Young Pine

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    awesome tour and post sjoerd! i so love seeing traditions carried on and people making things by hand still. also the fact that these will probably last a lifetime! good for them!
     
  14. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Thanks, CHERYL.

    C-BABY-- What he wanted to convey with the "heirloom" remark was that the tools are so well made that they will last on into the next generation, not wear out and have to be thrown-away.

    The "stone scratching" tool is what we use to scratch in-between paving tiles to remove moss or grass. If the scratching tool also has a "blade on it" then the tool can be rotated 190­° in your hands and then used as a hoe.

    Glad that you liked the tour, KK--I recall that when I mentioned taking the tour and writing about it that you showed interest.

    BUNKIE-- Thanks for the nice words.
     
  15. carolyn

    carolyn Strong Ash

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    The heirloom thought was exactly what I was thinking. My hatchet is not a great tool, but it works, if I am careful. I just need to watch that the head doesn't fly off as I am swinging :rolleyes: it. I really need to fix it.This is why I don't consider it an heirloom. I don't know if I could pass it on to another generation.

    Thanks for explaining the stone scratcher. I have no stones or pavers to scratch between, so I wasn't thinking of it in that concept. I just have stones in the garden and I was scratching my head trying to figure out how that would be an effective use of my energy to move them or pick them up etc. Mostly I use a shovel a bucket and a wheel loader for that job. Last year down in the field we picked up a Wheel Loader bucket full of rocks.... :headscratch: ...This wheel loader to be exact. I am as tall as the bottom of the door.
    [​IMG]
    3rd load today ( photo / image / picture from carolyn keiper's Garden )
     
  16. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Wow!
    You always make me so jealous when you show your large equipment. :)
    If you only come to the bottom of the door, you must be a little taller than 5 feet, right?
    This pic also shows how much you've been working. Chapeau!

    Glad that you could under the use of that scratching tool. It is typically something for a Dutch person to have...for Dutch people (generally speaking) have a sort of "thing" about neatness and cleanliness.
    Of course then, I have one of those scratchers.

    I used to use it more frequently, but I did not find that they worked well enough for me, so now when I boil water for tea, I pour the extra in the seams of the paving tiles and that scalds the grass and other weeds to death.--A lot less work.

    I had to chuckle about your heirloom hatchet. Gad--that sounds unpredictable and dangerous. haha.
    Do you use it to chop many things there, or perhaps to prepare a chook for the pan?
     

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