We visited friends in Wiltshire not long ago and went to a vintage fair at Larmer Tree gardens. (“Vintage” sounds so much better than “old tat”, doesn’t it?) I didn’t know what to expect, partly because when our hosts told us where we were going, I was under the misapprehension that there would be llamas involved. Easy mistake to make, although there were peacocks.
I was also afraid that everyone else would be dressed like a 1940s starlet or GI, but I needn’t have worried. The vast majority of the visitors, and the stallholders too, were in normal attire and there was a decent mix of goods on offer, some genuinely vintage and others merely vintage in style.
Along with china and glassware, which didn’t much interest me, there were old tools, linens and haberdashery, which certainly did. Vintage tools and fabrics are two of my loves, and there aren’t many places where you can find them together.
I managed to avoid coming away with anything from the linen, clothing or haberdashery stalls, mainly because my own collection of fabrics, lace, pearl buttons, Sylko sewing thread on wooden bobbins, ribbons, trimmings, yarn and the like could seriously rival what the vendors were offering. Perhaps that’s the solution if I ever decide I’m serious about de-stashing: take a stall at a vintage fair.
But I was led astray at the tools stall. There were lots of tempting Sheffield steel planes, chisels, saws, hammers and screwdrivers, plus brass-faced hardwood spirit levels, glass cutters and all manner of more obscure items. We already have a lot of tools that would be considered “vintage”, dating from the middle of the last century, because my late father-in-law was trained as a carpenter. While they are lovely to look at, in general I find modern hand tools lighter and easier to use (and modern power tools even easier, it goes without saying). The steel is usually Chinese and they don’t last as long though.
I bought a hand drill with a chest/knee brace. It’s rather lovely, isn’t it?
I justified the purchase to myself because I intend to re-purpose this drill by using it for the ball winder that I’ve been meaning to make for quite some time – ever since I bought 1,000m of mint green, 2-ply silk yarn that is still in the hank. Goodness knows how long it would take to wind it by hand.
Despite the age of this drill and its well-used appearance, its bevel gears are undamaged. They change the axis of rotation through 90º, which is just what’s needed for the ball winder, and should be plenty robust enough for such a project. The winding handle and shaft will also be reused.