Making Herb Sticks

Last weekend my wife and I were cleaning up our booth in the antique mall when she decided to take things out that weren’t selling. One of the items was a bag of silver plated spoons that had been in the booth for six months, when I mentioned I could make herb sticks with them. I remember us talking about making herb sticks from old spoons several years ago but it was one of those little projects that never got done. So, I grabbed the bag and took them home to see if I could figure out how to do it.

Making herb sticks from old silver plated spoons is not my idea as I’m sure I’ve seen it done somewhere else, I just can’t remember where I saw it. The idea is pretty simple. Take an old spoon, flatten it out and stamp words on it.

The first thing I did was stick the spoon in my bench vise and squeeze the hell out of it. It flattened the face but there was still a bubble in the middle.

I then took it over to my blacksmith vise and squeezed it again. You can see in the picture that the spoon is actually tapered to the front so simply squeezing it in the vise will never get it perfectly flat.

I brought the spoons outside and smashed them on my anvil. I’ve owned this anvil for several years hoping that one day I would start making my own hardware and tools but it hasn’t happened yet. Actually, my wife wants me to sell my blacksmithing tools but I’ve been dragging my feet for months. I really don’t want to give up my dreams of having my own blacksmith shop even though we need the money.

After I pounded the hell out of the spoon, I taped it to my bench anvil and punched words onto the face. The tape does two things. First, it holds the spoon to the anvil so I can work with both hands. Second, it acts as a guide to line up the punches so that the letters will look somewhat even. I bought the punches at Harbor Freight for about $10.00 so they are nothing fancy.

Once I punched a bunch of words onto them like, lavender, sage, thyme, basil, etc. I painted over the lettering with black paint. Then, I rubbed over the face of the spoon with steel wool to make the paint stand out inside the lettering.

After a couple hours of work, I was left with a couple dozen herb sticks. We’ll take these to an antique design show in the spring to see how they sell. I’m not sure what I’ll charge for them. Maybe $4.00 – $6.00. If they sell well, I’ll make more. If they are dogs and no one wants them, I’ve learned not to waste my time repurposing old silver plated spoons.

I posted these pictures onto my Instagram Story last weekend and a few people gave me positive feedback telling me it was a really cool idea. Hopefully, I’ll have an excuse to use my anvil a lot more and my wife won’t make me sell it.

The Workshops of Biltmore

Last week, my wife and I went to the Biltmore Estate again for the fourth or fifth time. If you’ve never been there, there’s a little village on the estate where you can visit a farm, workshops and the ever important winery. Every other time we’ve been to Biltmore, we spent too much time at the house and the winery that by the time we arrived at the village, the workshops were closed. This year we decided to see the village before we headed inside the winery.

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I took some quick shots of the blacksmith shop and the tools they use. After I took these pictures, the blacksmith came back and showed us how he made coat hooks with a rose on the top (sorry, no pic). It was late in the day, so all the anvil work was done, he was simply polishing them up on a wire wheel. Biltmore sells these coat hooks in their gift shop for $42.00 each, but they sell as soon as he’s done making them.

 

If you’ve never used a blacksmith vise, you need to get one. I use on in my workshop and they are far superior than a table top machinist vise.

 

Not sure of the weight, but it looks like a 300 lb anvil. He had a smaller one in his shop right next to this one.

 

The overall working space of his shop was about 10′ x 15′

 

Right next door to the blacksmith shop was the woodworking shop.

 

Inside was a bunch of tools I’ve seen before except for this cool little foot powered mortise machine.

 

The woodworker wasn’t around so I don’t know what his responsibilities are for Biltmore. He could just make things for the gift shop, or he may do some repair work around the estate.

 

The majority of the tools were old, but he did use electricity. I couldn’t really see what was inside the tool chest on the right.

 

By the looks of these planes, I question whether or not he uses them, or if they are there just for show. A little too much dust and cobwebs on them for my taste.

 

A newer lathe sat in front of the older one. He spent his day making these turn of the century ball in the cup toys.

 

 

If you ever get a chance to go to the Biltmore Estate, make sure you give yourself enough time to visit the village before you head into the winery and get drunk like we did. haha

The World’s Longest Yard Sale 2014

My wife and I got back from The World’s Longest Yard Sale today which runs down US 127 from Michigan to Alabama. We left Wednesday morning before it officially began and drove down US 127 looking for bargains stopping at dealers who sat up early. We ended up in Chattanooga, TN for a couple of nights.

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When we woke up in Chattanooga, we headed south toward Alabama because last year we had heard that that’s where all the good deals are. Going below Tennessee on the yard sale can be tricky because US 127 ends in Chattanooga. The yard sale continues on the Lookout Mountain Parkway which takes all different routes as it changes onto different state roads.

Once we got into Alabama we didn’t necessarily see a lot of good deals, just a bunch of dealers selling antiques. I did spot tons of anvils for sale. I could have bought 20 anvils if I was in the market for one, but I still have an anvil I bought two years ago sitting in the garage waiting for me to make a stand for it.

After we got back to the hotel we stayed for another night then headed up Tennessee in the morning. Tennessee had a bunch of professional dealers as well. My wife and I were buying a few things here and there, but the prices people wanted weren’t “yard sale” prices.

Everything was going fine until somewhere in the boon docks of Tennessee I got stung by a damn bee. What made the situation worse is that I just got stung in my lip by a bee a couple of weeks ago when I was doing mulch in my yard which made my lip swell up three times its normal size.  Now another son of a bitch comes right toward my face and stings my eyelid. I’ve never been an anti-bee person, but I think I’m going to start pissing on my wife’s flowers so the little bastards can inject my urine into their bodies.

We drove to the nearest pharmacy 20 miles away and picked up some Benadryl and ice to prevent the sting from swelling up. I put ice on it all day, but sure enough when I woke up in Lexington, KY the next morning, my eye was swelled shut. We considered calling the trip and just head home, but I told Anita that I was fine and it’s best for us to just keep moving along.

Photo: I got stung again!!!!! Twice in three weeks. This is bullshit!

Kentucky had the most tools. However, a lot of dealers were around selling their tools at retail. There’s nothing wrong with selling retail, I’m just a picker so it needs to be a good deal for me to buy it. I found the best places to buy tools were the little road side sales with only a couple of yard sales. Not these big tent cities where there are 150-200 vendors in one spot.

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We got back home last night and headed out this morning to check out Ohio. Ohio had the best deals on items. They were true yard sales with “yard sale” prices with very few dealers. When we were all done this afternoon I got a few tools. Nothing major considering we did it for nearly five straight days.

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Out of all the tools I bought, the neatest was a panel raising plane I bought in Tennessee. It appears to be of German descent so it’s quite possible that a German immigrant made the plane when he came to America. There is no makers name on it so it’s definitely an owner made plane.

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The guy who sold it to me told me that it was from the 1700’s, but I highly doubt that. I would guess anywhere in 1800’s. One of the clues that could determine its age is the bore hole made by whatever drilled it. If I can figure out what kind of drill bit that bore that hole, I could estimate the plane’s overall age.

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Another nice find was this Disston stair case saw. I believe these little guys are somewhat rare so I was happy to pick him up at an extreme bargain.

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The yard sale is a lot of fun and you should definitely do it if it’s ever been on your bucket list. I’m not sure if we’ll go all the way down to Alabama next year, but we are already planning our next trip.