American Heirlooms - February 2020




Trade: A skilled job, typically one requiring primarily manual skills and special training.

Windsor chairs date back to the 16th Century and are characterized as wooden chairs with turned spindles and legs, steam-bent backs, and all the compound angles required for a pretty design.

After I completed school, I enjoyed developing my craftsman skills. My craft was surrounded in Windsor chairs, and the processes included lathe work, drilling, cutting, gluing, and sanding the wood. I spent a lot of time figuring out how different tools and techniques improved the results whether it was designing a balanced chair or learning to sharpen brad-point drill bits, creating chip-out free turnings on manual or automatic lathes, working on the seat “dish” design, or preventing the bowed back from chipping while drilling it.

Pocket hole machines allow a craftsman to drill a hole at a particular angle and join that piece to a second one.

The uses for these materials have undergone a transition from a direct stain and clear varnish technique to a mixture of stains and paints. These elements have since transformed into painting an entire piece with bright beach colors to today’s popular look of distressing the wood for an antique feel. Finally, I watched the change from a traditional spray gun to a high- volume, low-pressure spray gun. This puts the coating under extreme pressure and reduces the amount of spray that floats into the air, away from the wood, and is wasted. Auto-mixing pumps for catalyzed varnishes have also created predictable coating quality and durability. Packaging Originally, customers picked up their pieces when they were complete, but we have been packaging more products for domestic shipments. Recently, we’ve begun shipping internationally, too, such as the cabinet that went to Sweden and the table that went by air to Australia. While the disciplines behind the craft do not really change, the fashion in this world of furniture and cabinets shapes the way we construct our pieces. Even if today’s consumer often prefers chairs that are “square frame” to the Windsor, our craftsmanship still requires the same understanding of wood and tenacity in problem-solving.

As I’ve developed my skills, the trade has continued to grow, too. Here are just a few common examples.

China Cabinets China cabinet boxes were originally constructed out of solid wood panels, designed to allow for the expanding and contracting of wood through the seasons. Depending on the customer’s preferences, veneers over plywood are sometimes used today. The shift from wood-on-wood drawer slides to ball-bearing slides and eventually the current, self-closing, under-mount slides has dramatically changed usability on the drawers. Then came the consumer’s change of preference from china cabinets to buffets. As the formal dining room has gone away, so has the "Sunday China" and thus the need for the china cabinet. Tables The extension table has changed the least. We still use solid wood tops and dovetailed wooden slides. However, three inventions changed the way tables are made. These include the pocket hole machine for fastening aprons to the tabletop, the leaf drilling machine’s perfection and flattening capabilities, and the CNC, which allows for a cleaner more precise cut than handheld tools. The legs are also now bolted to the aprons with two hanger bolts instead of one. Finishing There have been many changes to the techniques, design, and materials used in the varnishing process. To start, the materials have transitioned from lacquer to precatalyzed lacquers to catalyzed lacquers to varnishes. Today, some pieces are finished with polyurethane.

–Ethan Zimmerman

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We’ve all heard the silly statement before: “The moon is made of cheese!” Although we may not fall for it as adults, when we were children, our eyes twinkled with possibility as we gazed up at the full moon and wondered if it really could be made of cheese. While science says no, it’s still an entertaining phrase that holds a valuable lesson for adults and children alike.

listened, and he was attacked by the humans. The wolf escaped, and in his fury, he attempted to kill the fox. To save himself, the fox promised the wolf that he’d show him the location of an abundant food supply. That night, under the light of a full moon, the fox led the wolf to a well and pointed to the reflection of the full moon on the water’s surface deep in the well, claiming it was cheese. The hungry wolf jumped into the well to eat the cheese, forever trapping himself. Thus, the fox successfully escaped the wolf’s wrath.

The motif first appeared in folklore during the High Middle Ages as a proverb invented by a French rabbi. The full phrase is actually “The moon is made of green cheese,” and serves to warn against the dangers of credulity, or the willingness to believe in things that aren’t based on reasonable proof or knowledge.

As with any ancient proverb, variations of the story have developed over time, but its message has remained the same: Don’t believe everything you’re told. In today’s world of oversaturated information and advice, this is a valuable tip to follow, no matter what age you are.

The simplest version of the phrase’s origin tells of a cunning fox that advised a starving wolf to search for food among humans. The wolf

By this point in winter, you may believe you’re a seasoned professional when it comes to driving in the snow and slush. But regardless of what Punxsutawney Phil has to say, winter storms are still frequent throughout February and March. Before you hit the winter road, freshen up on these safe driving tips. Because of the unpredictability of winter weather, it is vital that you ensure your vehicle is running as smoothly as possible. Prepare for the possibility of severe winter weather by frequently monitoring your vehicle’s fluid levels, brake capacity, and tire grip and pressure. As you prepare, pack extra blankets, warm clothes, cellphone battery packs, a map, water, food, and other essentials in case you’re stranded. Prepare

vital that you drive at a decelerated pace. Your tires will struggle to grip the road this winter, and as your speed climbs, your grip will wane. This puts you at risk for collision or running off the road. In addition, it’s important to brake and accelerate slowly. Give yourself plenty of time to come to a complete stop while also allowing your tires to gain traction after a period of stopping. It might seem counterintuitive to general safe driving rules, but you should limit the number of times you stop while driving in winter weather. The inertia that is propelling your vehicle forward is even more necessary in the winter as the force needed to push you forward at a complete stop is much higher and more difficult to overcome. This also applies to driving uphill and approaching intersections. If you can or if you are at a green light, slowly roll or power through these sections of the road. Don’t Stop

Take It Slow

We may be in the home stretch of our East Coast winter, but that doesn’t make the need for continued winter driving vigilance any less important. Learn more at

Slow and steady wins the winter race, and in the season of slush, snow, and ice, it is


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Woodworking has a long, storied history and plays a significant role in many cultures. The ancient Egyptians and Chinese are just two of the cultures credited with developing this craft’s utility and aesthetics. Ancient Egyptian homes and kingdoms were often furnished with wooden tables, chairs, bed frames, stools, and storage containers. Wood became so popular among the Egyptians that the country required regular imports from other regions to satisfy their demand. Historians know this after studying ancient drawings and burial sites. This research also led to the discovery that the Egyptians used wood to line the inside of coffins. But what the Egyptians used their woodworking talents on isn’t nearly as interesting as how they used them. The

Egyptians are credited with inventing veneers and finishes to seal and complete their wooden pieces. While the composition of these materials is unknown, this contribution to woodworking was powerful. Across the globe, the ancient Chinese were also making waves in woodworking. The most well-known craftspeople in Chinese culture are the husband and wife duo Lu Ban and Lady Yun. Lu Ban, born in 507 B.C., became a well-regarded carpenter in the Zhou Dynasty. Among his many accomplishments, Lu Ban is credited with bringing planning and chalking to Chinese carpentry. Others credit him with inventing the saw, grappling hooks, and various forms of ladders. Lu Ban recorded his expertise in “Lu Ban Jing” (manuscript of Lu Ban), within which descriptions and dimensions for many of his works are detailed.

Whether it’s the innovative work of Lu Ban or the everyday application of woodworking by the ancient Egyptians, the ripples of these worlds can still be felt in woodworking today. It’s a significant craft that continues to push us forward.

Is it Spring yet?

Inspired by Food Network

INGREDIENTS • 1 lb Brussels sprouts, halved • 2 gala apples, cut into wedges • 1 red onion, cut into wedges • 2 sprigs rosemary •

• • • • • •

Salt and pepper to taste 4 boneless chicken breasts 1 tsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped 2 tbsp butter, divided 2/3 cup apple cider 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS 1. Heat oven to 450 F. 2. On a baking sheet, toss Brussels sprouts, apples, onion, and rosemary sprigs in olive oil, salt, and pepper. 3. Roast vegetable and fruit mixture until tender, about 25–30 minutes, flipping halfway. 4. Season chicken with salt, pepper, and chopped rosemary. 5. In an ovenproof skillet, heat 1 tbsp butter. Add chicken and cook 6 minutes on one side. Flip and cook 2 more minutes. 6. Pour cider onto chicken. Roast in the oven for 12 minutes. Remove chicken from skillet and let it rest on cutting board. 7. Return skillet to stove on medium-high and simmer sauce until reduced by half. 8. Swirl remaining 1 tbsp of butter with vinegar, salt, and pepper. Slice chicken and divide among plates with roasted vegetables and serve.

Yellow-shafted Flicker Copyright Nature Friend Magazine Used By Permission

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Brought to you by KCS Builders of American Heirlooms and Penns Creek Furniture The Swiss Craftsman


P.O. Box 280 • Kenton, DE 19955 • Phone: (302) 653-2411

Inside this Issue

The Changing Craft Page 1

A Cheesy Myth About the Moon

Safe Winter Driving Tips Page 2

Woodworking in Ancient Times

Apple Cider Chicken and Brussels Sprouts Page 3 Famous Tongue Twisters and Their Origins Page 4

Tongue twisters are a highlight of many people’s childhoods and are also highly entertaining for many adults. Having the ability to say “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers” without stumbling or stuttering can earn you several impressed stares. However, as fun as they are to say, not very many people know the history behind our favorite tongue twisters. THE LITTLE-KNOWN ORIGINS OF COMMON TONGUE TWISTERS

Peter Piper: Pierre Poivre, Gardener

of the ichthyosaur, the plesiosaur, and the pterosaur. Though her constant scouring of the shores inspired Terry Sullivan’s “She Sells Sea Shells” song, Mary’s more prominent fossil discoveries went mostly unrecognized.

Although it is not known for sure, Peter Piper and his pickled peppers are speculated to be inspired by a French horticulturist, Pierre Poivre. Throughout the 18th century, it’s said that Pierre would smuggle cloves out of the Dutch East India Company-controlled Spice Islands. He then grew them on his own, which then led to freeing the market for future cloves.

How Much Wood: Fay Templeton, Performer

Of the many tongue twisters in the world, “How Much Wood Could a Woodchuck Chuck” is a real favorite. This rhyme was introduced to the public through the musical “The Runaways” in a song performed by Fay Templeton in 1903. Most people pay little attention to the origin of the tongue twister and instead spend more time trying to answer it. In the 20th century, a New York fish and wildlife technician named Richard Thomas put some thought into it and declared the answer is 700 pounds.

She Sells Seashells: Mary Anning, Fossil Discoverer

The popular beach-themed tongue twister, “She sells seashells by the seashore,” was inspired by groundbreaking discoverer Mary Anning. Mary was a woman living in the 19th century who collected rocks, seashells, and even fossils on the rocky shores near her home. To support her family, Mary sold her finds to people, including the fossils


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