Category: featured

Masters of Cottage Industry: Blue Ox Millworks

For forty-six years, Eric Hollenbeck of Blue Ox Millworks has been a champion in the craftman’s revolution.

Word of the Day: Hori Hori

Nisaku hori hori gardening tool

The hori hori is a gardening tool, a kind of short knife with a double-edged blade serrated on one side, with a semi-sharp point.  It originated in Japan, and most commercial hori hori for sale are still made there, for example by the Japanese…

Word of the Day: Strake

Old wagon wheels with strakes.

A strake is a section of iron laid around the rim of a wooden cart of wagon wheel.  The purpose of the strake is to protect the wooden rim from damage.  The manufacture of the strake is the domain of the blacksmith, where the…

Word of the Day: Collier

Charcoal seller from 1960's on Mauritius

A collier is a person whose occupation is to procure or sell coal.  Formerly, the term applied to a person who made and traded in charcoal.  For centuries, charcoal was fuel of choice for many cottage industries.  Charcoal is mostly pure carbon, made from…

Word of the Day: Coppice

Coppice in a field of colza

A coppice (also known as a copse) is a thicket of small trees and shrubs, typically those whose slender trunks and branches (or withies) are cut periodically for a variety of uses.  The word also refers to a tree’s ability to regrow shoots from…

Word of the Day: Bloomery

A bloomery in Bloomery, West Virginia

A bloomery is the earliest form of furnace used to smelt iron from its ore.  The bloomery produces a spongy mass of mixed iron and slag called a “bloom,” which is then repeatedly reheated and hammered to get rid of the slag and produce…

Word of the Day: Yingzao Fashi

Yingzao Fashi palace type building

Yingzao Fashi is the romanization of the Chinese term meaning roughly “State Building Standards.”  It is the title of a landmark work in the history of Chinese architecture, first  published in 1103 AD by Emperor Huizong of the Song Dynasty. It had been compiled…

Word of the Day: Yelm

Thatched roof cottage, Germany

“Yelming” is part of the thatcher’s trade: to yelm is to prepare the gathered straw, sorting it by size, laying it out flat, and in some techniques, dampening it with water. According to James Arnold in his amazing book The Shell Book of Country…

Word of the Day: Propolis

Propolis at the edge of a beehive

Propolis, also called bee glue, is an aromatic reddish substance collected by honeybees from tree buds and bark, consisting of a mixture of tree resins, balsams, and waxes which are altered by the bees’ own secretions, esp. saliva and beeswax, and used by them…

Word of the Day: Ashlar

Ashlar stonework Palazzo Rucellai Florence Italy

An ashlar is a large stone hewn to square sides, for use in building or laying pavement. It also refers to the particular method of stone masonry called ashlar or ashlar-work, which makes use of hewn stones, often made to a specific proportion, as…

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