Friday, November 21, 2008

A woodworker's dream

Got jolted out of bed by the six a.m. wake up call on Friday morning, had a cup of coffee at the restaurant in the lower level of the hotel and set off for Moeller.
After dropping off Gabe and one passenger, I was off to pursue my mission for the day.
You see, a few months back, I decided to look into the exact location of a company that makes a particular wooden hand plane (amoung other things) called E.C. Emmerich.
I currently own a couple examples of these really fabulous hand planes, one of which I bought from Lee Valley Tools, while the other one was a gift from my sister that she purchased from Garrett-Wade.
Suffice to say, I'm certainly willing and interested in adding to the collection, even though I wasn't all that sure that the "factory" would also have a retail site.
Just the same, I left Bonn for the 50 or so km trip up to Remsheid.
Got there probably around nine or so....raining like crazy the whole time.
Stupid GPS couldn't actually find the address, and the nearest I could come was a Post Code, so I asked a postal employee where the street was, and did manage to get a little closer, but ended up getting directions from a customer at a gas station who looked to be right around my age.

In other words, an older gentleman.

It was still a few kilometers away, but he gave good directions....

...and found it with no trouble.

Now, the reason I say "factory", is because there's really not that much to the place. On the left is the original house in which Herr Emmerich started making hand planes 150 years ago.

That's Hans-Jörg Emmerich there on the right. He's the fifth generation of Emmerich's, and the current owner.
Let me just say....a very nice fellow who, even though he didn't know me from a hole in the wall, gave me the complete tour, which he suggested after first inviting me in to his office.
(I mean, I was prepared to be on my way and really didn't have the gall to ask to be shown around.)

If you look up above his head, there's a picture of his Dad, who is now gone.
Oh, and I met his Mom, although I didn't get a pic of her. She had brought in the mail, and we struck up a brief conversation.
I was left to sit in his office for a few minutes in awe of the tools that were out on display...

You don't have to be a woodworker to appreciate the beauty of these things.

I can't quite make out the inscription on this trophy, but it looks like a commemoration of their 150 years in business.

Here we are in the main area of production. Hans is holding a blank from which the "gent's plane" (I think) is made.

Cool huh?

The soles of these things are made of lignum vitae, which is the hardest wood you can find. They have stacks of it.
This was actually up in the drying room....

They also stack the blanks of pearwood, rosewood ("very expensive" sez Hans...."no sh*t", sez I )

That's the dark stuff in the middle there.

He also took me up to the aforementioned drying room, which is not a true kiln in the "let's get this stuff dry as quickly as possible" sense, but just felt comfortable. They leave this stuff in there for as long as it takes.
Often over a year.
Which explains why these wooden products never crack or check....

Pretty sure he said the lighter stuff was ash, which they use for a mallet that they make. Not all that exotic I realise....but pretty neat just the same.

In hindsight perhaps I should have taken more pictures of the machinery, but then there would no longer be a mystery about these tools anymore, now would there? Plus, now that I think on it, I'm sure there are some proprietary reasons for not being too intrusive.

All in all, not a very large operation, with only a couple office staff, his wife was sorting out a couple issues in shipping, and I only saw one other employee the whole time I was there.

So I left over an hour later a very happy fellow, complete with a new catalogue (which you can see online anyway, but still) along with the name of a supplier up in Nordhorn, just inside the German border, which is only about a twenty minute drive from here in Delden.

My heart rate did get back to normal after a little while.

The rest of the day was pretty much a let down by comparison.
The temperature dropped substantially, and we did get a few snow squalls...

I tried to capture the sense of dread that I tend to get when the snow comes down in big gobs like that....but with mixed results.

Went off to fetch Gabe at around five I guess it was, to be met by complete gridlock. Since the cab hadn't arrived yet to take some folks to the airport, I was pressed into service. Hey, I don't mind except that stupid GPS took me back through Bonn to avoid some aparent traffic problem.


Of course I don't know the area well enough to second guess the wretched thing, so we didn't make it there until after the cab got there. That's the same cab that had been stuck in traffic earlier.
In the car ride everyone had called and made alternate flight arangements, so they were all able to get back to the UK with little problem.
I think there was a bit of a learning experience involved there, and the "friday afternoon" program might be taken into consideration for future visits to Bonn, or certainly any time there are flights involved.

Next day.....Köln.

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Well, I've been getting too many spam comments showing up. Just a drag, so we'll go another route and hope that helps. So, we won't be hearing anything more from Mr. Nony Moose.
I guess I'll just have to do without that Gucci purse.