by Bob Roemer, Aug. 20, 2023
For the 3rd year EAIA has been a significant woodworking presence at the Bolton Fair at the Bolton Fairgrounds in Lancaster, MA. Bob Roemer has managed a group of blacksmith and farrier demonstrators at the Fair for 10 years but felt that introducing hand tool woodworking was an important complementary addition and of great interest to kids and parents alike.
As in the past years EAIA members have completed a project and simultaneously engaged with a large number of visitors. This year, Tim Fiehler, Bob Roemer and Don Cole manned the woodworking venue to demonstrate a number of basic hand tools and supervise kids and parents trying their hands at hand tool woodworking. The working exhibition included bench planes, spill planes, saws, drills and, new this year, a restored treadle lathe which was used to turn handles for this year’s projects, reproductions of 19th Century agricultural trowels. The metal parts of the trowels were forged by blacksmiths from the New England Blacksmiths adjacent to the woodworking venue.
Also new this year was a 2-handled beam drill which had been used earlier to build a timberframe structure at Historic Eastfield Village. The spill plane is used to make helically coiled shavings which were the predecessor to matches in lighting candles and lamps from fire on the hearth. The spill planes (and the many spills produced) and the beam drill were huge attractions and many of the younger kids were able to operate both. Curiously, adults were much less interested in the beam drill; getting down and sitting on the drill may have dissuaded them!
The Fair lasts for 3 days and requires another day or more to set up and dismantle the venue. However, the increased awareness of hand tools and history is more than worth the effort and EAIA made its mark. We left tired but very satisfied that we had accomplished our objectives and the mission of EAIA.
A video of the event can be seen here: https://www.ganjing.com/s/qX89nrEA8B