Old Master Craftsmen

Dateline: 21 August 2013

John Forshee

I have an idea for a new product I want to make for gardeners. It will involve working with tin or galvanized steel. So I went to the internet looking for some how-to information. In so doing I found my way to a wonderful ten minute You-Tube movie about a third generation tinsmith.

John Forshee was 89 years old when the movie was made. He lived his whole life in Cincinnatus, New York, which is a small town not far from where I'm located. It appears that he worked in his dark basement, using tools a hundred years old, crafting objects of utility and beauty, with tin and skills that are mostly lost. I am attracted to the stories of old craftsman like Mr. Forshee.

He passed away a year after the film was made. He took the knowledge of his craft with him. I can't help but wonder what became of his tools and patterns.

If you appreciate old crafts and old craftsmen, you will like this little film clip. Here is the link: Tinker: John Forshee

Harvey Ward

One thing leads to another when looking around the internet and after finding the John Forshee film, I came upon another ten-minute clip about 87-year-old Harvey Ward who learned how to make wooden scoop shovels from his father when he was a boy, and was still making them in 1974, when the film was produced.

Though I don't have any personal interest in making a wooden scoop shovel, I found this film absolutely fascinating. At 87, Mr. Ward wielded a double-bitted axe with remarkable skill. He uses four hand tools to hew shovels out of sections of tree, and he does it in short time.

Here's the link: The Last Shovel Maker


Cyndi Lewis said...

Awesome links. When I think of all the knowledge being lost because current generations would rather sit in front of a screen and let a factory in China make their goods... it makes me very sad indeed.

Sunnybrook Farm said...

I am starting to make or repair things as it isn't worth driving to town to buy Chinese junk. I often wonder if the Chinese have to use their inferior products or do they get to have the good ones.

Stephen said...

Two wonderful pieces. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I use a tin dipper just like the first man made. I use it to scoop tomatoes into my Victorio strainer when I make juice. It was made in 1896.Used it today so I was so pleased to watch the video showing how they were made. Thanks Herrick for posting the videos. I'll have to show them to my husband this evening. Nancy

Anonymous said...

Wow, thanks for sharing the videos. Was amazed to watch the gentleman carve the shovels by hand at 87 years old. I found some additional info on his shovelmaking techniques:


Gorges Smythe said...

Bless you for posting these. We need to do all we can to preserve the old ways.

Herrick Kimball said...

I'm glad that y'all appreciated these links.

And thanks baldwinmk for the link to more information about Harvey Ward. I've bookmarked it to check out later.

master craftsman said...

NOT many master craftsmen now days, but the greatest master craftsman is Jesus