Favorite Woodworking Planes, Part Renewed Stanley 25

Everything Old is New Again

My old decrepit Stanley 25 smoothing plane might as well have been thrown into the parts bin, as worn out as it was. In particular, the body was so roached out to the point that it was essentially unusable. I even went far enough to find a nice piece of hop hornbeam to resole it. That was several years ago.

Then, a near mint body appears on flea bay for much less than the price of a decent used plane (these haven’t been made in about eighty years). I added my four parts from the old plane, and this rebuild is back in action, even with the original lacquer finish.The 8″ length makes this a great grab it and get it done plane.

Partners in Smoothing

Both the 25 and 35 (above) have the same 2″ wide blade, and these two even have the same patent applied for date of 1892 stamped on them, so I assume they are of a similar vintage. These will never do work as fine as a Gage plane, but there are thousands of them floating around, which means they offer great value for the dollar. And then there is the legendary Stanley 34 jointer, known as the big one, which is a full 30″ long. No. 34, meet No. 25, aka mini-me.

Brick Oven Rebuild, Part Two–Fire and a Brick Arch

Phoenix

The Romans still rule when it comes to arts, crafts, and architecture, and I include cooking and rhetoric as arts-sorry, Plato and Socrates. The Greeks did bring the idea of brick ovens to the area that is now known as Naples in Italy, but the Neapolitans perfected it, as is apparent from the 33 brick ovens unearthed in Pompeii. I’m just happy to have one back in functional condition.

Speaking of Roman specialties, they were absolute masters at building arches, like the parts of the aqueducts that are still standing. They are amazing examples of engineering and strength, and the door to the domed part of the oven would have been an arch as well in a Roman oven. The angle iron holding up the flat slanted front of this dome is easier, and less expensive as well.

It’s on to building the chimney, re-insulating the dome, and one last addition-

Walls!

The entire enclosure is to be walled in with brick on all four sides, brought about by our 900+ leftover bricks. To use that many bricks on this oven would require a 34′ high chimney like the one on our house, and I am not that tall. Melanie, who has a Degree in Ancient and Medieval History, as well as a minor in Latin, wants this oven to be named Phoenix. I believe the phoenix myth could easily have come from the role of cooking in human evolution, with fire and the resulting heat being the mechanism that creates cooked, and therefore more easily digestible food (see the work of Harvard anthropologist Richard Wrangham in Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human). I won’t even talk about how good the wood fired pizza is.

Book Banning Season is Open for All to Enjoy

A Book in a Fur-in Language? Gott in Himmel!

The positive part of book bans is often overlooked, as a significant part of the population only thinks about books when they hear that some have been banned. I even taught a World Literature survey class once where everything on the syllabus was available in the erotica section of a large bookstore in Montgomery. Every work had been banned at one time or context or another, and some are still banned by the holier than thou. Interest in the class increased greatly when I informed the students of these facts.

The list of my top five to be recommended for censorship was not easy to compile, but I started and ended with Southern writers, as the South has been around the block a few times on this issue.

5) The Thomas Jefferson Bible

If King James could have his own special version of the Bible, why couldn’t Mr. Jefferson? The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth was his second attempt at distilling the Bible down to its essence. That it is only 84 pages long says all you need to know. My personal bible would include both the stories about Judith and Holofernes (see the famous painting by Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith Beheading Holofernes), and most importantly, the one where Jesus stretched too short wood to the proper length in Joseph’s workshop. No one would read that one either.

4) Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

What’s not to love about two giants wreaking havoc all over France and Europe? The Church didn’t think this first bestseller of fiction was very funny, and Rabelais needed the protection of the Queen of Navarre to avoid execution, on the basis of his assertion that giants can be born through their mother’s ears. Of course the priest named Friar John of the Funnels, who was always drunk, didn’t strike them as humorous either. Always a favorite in my World Lit class, but don’t teach this in Floriduh.

3) Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself

Slavery and American history? Sounds all woke to me. That Douglass was criticized for writing that religious slave owners were the worst ones, says all you need to know about pre-civil war America. People, please go back to sleep, and don’t tell this to Florida man if you ever wake up.

2) The Sorrows of Young Werther, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

This masterpiece of Sturm and Drang (storm and stress) is all about love, and suicide at a young age. Banned by Italy and Denmark as a bad influence on the young, the city of Leipzig in the German part of the Holy Roman Empire also banned the style of clothes that the fictional Werther wore. Now that’s a real ban, German style.

1) To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Yikes! A young girl who wears boy’s clothes and goes by the name of Scout. Named by NPR as America’s favorite novel, it has racism, profanity, and gender confusion, all under an oak tree in south Alabama. Remember when Scout said to “pass the damn ham” at the family dinner table? Hardly a flattering depiction of Southern girl-hood. Also, don’t forget that scary Boo Radley. I am the proud owner of the first printing of this book, which is in the picture above.

After all that thinking, which may well be illegal soon enough, I am going to relax and read a comforting banned book.

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