Caleb James, a planemaker and chairmaker in Greenville, S.C., built a very cool knockdown Nicholson workbench earlier this year that inspired me to design a version for myself.
His breaks down into fewer pieces than mine, but what is most interesting about Caleb’s design is his face vise that is powered by holdfasts. While I am sure this has been done before, I can’t recall seeing this on any workbench, old or new.
It’s definitely worth checking out all the details on Caleb’s blog.
My typical response was, “I have no way to know if any particular Poole Piano was built by Studley.” Studley’s job was to build the “actions” or complex mechanism of levers, pivots, rods and hammers that connect the keys to the strings of the piano (along with all their adjusting devices). Depending on the size of the piano factory, anywhere from two to 50 men, perhaps more, could have this job. That would make every piano essentially anonymous, bearing only the company logo.
Or so I thought until today. While spending a very productive afternoon with Tom Shaw and Randolph Byrd at Charlottesville Piano I learned something that will someday redound to the benefit of my research. According to these fellows it was something of a tradition for “action men” like Studley to sign the side of the first key of the keyboard!
So, if you ever encounter the keyboard from a Poole Piano, check the side of the first key. And if you see the name “Henry O. Studley” emblazoned thereon, please drop me a note.
By the way, Tom’s grandfather was a piano teacher and technician in Boston from 1907 on, so he was a contemporary of Studley, who worked for Poole until 1919.