Above is the only "before" picture I have of the carriage house. To the right shows the damage to the roof caused by decades of neglect.
The next spring I was able to tackle the roof, which proved much more challenging than expected. At the time I was unaware of the damage the ant colonies had really caused, and it was only when I started peeling away the layers of tar shingles and cedar shakes that the true destruction was exposed. The entire summer was spent removing, replacing, and disposing of the roof, right down to replacing over half the rafters.
This is how the carriage house looks today. A well insulated and sturdy workshop secured against Maine's harsh winters. But lest someone erroneously think Maine is always cold and snowy, at right I've included a lovely springtime shot of Salvage Maine.
t was during the restoration of
of my carriage house that I came up with the idea of Salvage Maine. I was already reusing a lot of lumber I had "gathered" from area dumpsters, and it came to me that continuing the practice once the carriage house was completed only made sense. Plus, I already had an extensive collection of salvaged tools that not only fit perfectly with the decor of the interior, they were in excellent working condition. So I sunk an anvil stand about two feet into the ground beneath the floor and placed a salvaged, 225 pound farrier's anvil atop. Salvage Maine was born.
I found a 19th century, hand cranked drill press way up in northern Maine, laying in a pile of discarded clothes in a second hand shop. The owner was getting ready for a dump run. Imagine that. So I asked him how much he wanted for it. "That thing?" he asked. "Gee, I dunno..."
I got it for twenty bucks, and he helped me get it accross an icy parking lot into my van. Other than some light cleaning and re-oiling of any moving parts, this beauty worked perfectly. A quick modification allowed me to install a Jacob's chuck, and it was ready ro go.
The beauty of a tool like this is it allows you to hear the drill cutting, and it gently, automatically, feeds the drill bit into the work peice. Plus, I get to hear the huge flywheel whipping around!
A woman came into the studio years ago and asked if I wanted an old farm tool. I went to her house and there in the gararge was this perfect grinding wheel, complete with tractor seat and pedals. Even the bearings were in perfect condition. If I rolled the stone wheel. it just kept on going. I was told if I could get it in my van on my own, I could have it. No problem there!
I rarely use the stone's surface for grinding. I have other wheels for that. A stone like this would be nearly impossible to replace today. Instead, I have glued a coarse sandpaper belt to the stone and use that for sanding wood and iron. It is very efficient, and the up-down motion of the pedals is nearly effortless to keep the stone spinning.
This is a specially geared hand-cranked grinder I found at a yard sale for five bucks. One rotation of the handle rotates the wheel six times! A convenient oil port on top keeps the bearings moving prefectly. All it needed was a new stone, available at any hardware store. I added a rope and foot pedal for when I need to keep both hands on a part being grinded.
The 25 pound block of steel is actually a printing plate. There is an advertisement for a furniture company barely visible on the bottom, printed backwards as was standard for the time. I found this walking through an abandoned industrial yard out at the eastern end of South Portland.
The hammer was found in Hinkley Park in SoPo. It is an AT&T Bell Systems service hammer some pole jockey lost decades ago. Lucky me.
Another old tool sharpener found at the dump. Granted, its legs were somewhat rotted from sitting out as a lawn ornament for years, but after just a few moments of woodworking it was standing as strong as the day it was made. The bearings, steel rollers really, were badly rusted, but I put them on a slow lathe and polished them back to perfection.
A modification to this tool involved adding a large, salvaged sewing machine pulley to the stone's axle, which was then belted to a step-down pulley connected to a modern stone wheel. This allows for varying speeds for sharpening different typed of blades. This way, the original stone maintains its weight and acts as a flywheel to run the smaller stone. A foot pedal easily keeps things spinning along.
n 2001 I began the restoration of a dilapitated carraige house located on the edge of my property. This 100+ year old building was neglected for decades, and because of its location right on the property line, the city said if it falls down, it stays down. So I humanely evicted a family of skunks from the rafters, convinced a woodchuck to seek shelter elswhere with the use of strategically placed vegetables, and dealt with a colony of ants that were eating the building bit by bit. I then had to remove soil that had been allowed to pile up against the building for more than fifty years, exposing rotted sills and walls. Fortunately the stones the building sat on were still as true as the day they were layed, so I was able to knock out sections of rotted materials and re-build right on the original foundation. As long as the roof stayed up, I was golden. The front was missing a foundation, and a whole new wall with entryway was planned, so I dug down to the granite below and poured a new foundation for that. This took up the first summer of work.
alvage Maine is an idea over thirty years in the making. After witnessing the extraordinarily huge volume of waste being tossed aside all over the planet, I felt it was time to take action and turn at least some of that waste back into usable products. I was already an old hand at repurposing tens of thousands of light fixtures, so why not broaden my horizons and start creating original works from trash. Scouring beaches, parks, transfer stations, swap shops, and even doing some shameless dumpster-diving, I started finding perfectly useable media to morph into unique, functional, and decorative products for the home. It all began back at the turn of the century...