First featured in the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876, enamelware was touted to combine “all the advantages of glass with the strength of metal”. Since then enamel tin and steel have long been favored by outdoorsmen and cowboys because it is light, durable and easy to clean. Our bowls are dishwasher safe and can even be brandished over an open fire.
We set out to design the best made steel toolbox, and along the way we made a breakthrough: in order to access the bottom hold of any standard toolbox, you have to unlatch and open the lid, and then remove the top tray, and in the heat of the moment setting a heavy tray of tools aside, let alone finding a clear spot to put it down, is a pain. So working closely with a legendary American metal fabricator we designed a toolbox that would do away with this extra step: with the front loading door you can access all your tools without having to grapple with the top tray.
This week marks the opening of our new Headquarters, Shop, and Workshop Space on White Street in New York City (more on that very soon) and we are kicking it off in true Best Made fashion with two workshops to celebrate the new space:
Join Robert Gorski, MD for an afternoon covering the principles of what do to do when bad things happen in the outdoors. This workshop will include a streamlined approach to field wound closure based on Dr. Gorksi’s experience repairing thousands of lacerations and fractures, including a live demonstration of suturing (on pig’s hooves!).
From Minnesota, to Chicago, to Belfast, and on down to Texas, our famous axe restoration workshop has been around the world, and now we’re excited to bring it all back home. With our resident axe expert Nick Zdon at the helm, this workshop is guaranteed to be the most immersive we’ve offered: in 3 hours you’ll learn to sharpen, hang, and fully restore an axe with total fluency and grace. Participants just need to bring their wits and an old axe (the rustier the better). We will provide the materials, tools, know-how, and of course the whiskey.
The lost tunnels of the Southern Pacific Railroad, by Jeremy Blakeslee
Wrights Station, 100 year comparison
Nestled amid the Santa Cruz Mountains, a stones throw from Silicon Valley but well-hidden by the redwood forests, you can find the remains of a historic rail corridor, built by the Southern Pacific Railroad in the 1880s. I set out to see what remained of these historic towns and the forgotten infrastructure that once connected them.
The Ransome Tree Feller
Tales from the Cabin Fever Expo by Mike Piersa
Every spring, model engineers across America emerge from their basement workshops and show off their latest creations at the Cabin Fever Expo in York, PA. Home machinists, backyard foundrymen, and industrial artisans display miniature engines and machinery that often required hundreds of hours to create. The most enthralling models are those that recreate the long lost and legendary machines of the Victorian era. Jerry Pontius, of Deadwood, South Dakota, exhibited his operating model of the steam powered Ransome Tree Feller. In the 1870s, half a century before the modern chainsaw, this British built reciprocating saw was used around the world.
The machine and a crew of four men did the work of thirty axe wielding lumberjacks. It could fell a tree three feet in diameter in less than five minutes, cutting it almost at ground level and thus preserving large chunks of tree that otherwise “would be cut into chips if felled by the axe.” The saw ran off of steam supplied by a three horsepower boiler which must have burned scrap wood from the timbering operation. If not for this model, which could almost fit on the head of an axe, this once remarkable machine would have been forgotten, lost in time beyond the living memory of both the lumberman and engineer.
Project & Photos by Mike Piersa, Historian, National Museum of Industrial History, Bethlehem, PA.
Bio: Mike Piersa is an industrial historian whose vast knowledge base and hands-on philosophy has enabled him and his volunteer crews to preserve over 250 tons of steam-era machinery from mining, transportation, and manufacturing facilities across the northeast. Mike looks forward to every day, which could find him researching papers discovered in dusty attics, interviewing retired engineers, restoring century old machines, or being immersed in a cloud of steam from one of the many stationary engines he works with.