At work and play, it’s all in the hands

BARBARA HOOKS reports on a surgeon who swaps scalpels for spokeshaves in his leisure time. WASN’T he afraid of hurting his hands?, I asked Frank Ham, plastic surgeon and secretary of the Hand Tools Preservation Association of Australia? “Quite the reverse, that’s why I’m interested in hand tools. As soon as we’re through here, I’ve got to operate on a man who chopped off half his fingers in miter saw this afternoon. Power tools don’t stop when you put your hands in them. Hand tools are much more controllable.

Closeup of mature man sawing lumber with sliding compound miter saw outdoors.


The only power tool I own is a drill. Much as I would love to have all the machinery, I spend my time repairing people who do. Frank Ham began collecting hand tools 14 years ago when he inherited his grandfather’s tool chest, via his uncle. Both were tradesmen who taught him how to use most of the basic tools as a boy. In fact, his grandfather taught at the Working Men’s College, later RMIT. One of Frank Ham’s finest planes, acquired coincidentally, was presented to a prize-winning student at the college in 1891.

The Hand Tools Preservation Association was formed 10 years ago. Today, its 93 members come from a range of occupations and are interested primarily in preserving wood-working tools (timber was the cheapest and easiest material to work with at home). But as their library attests, they are also interested in the tools of many tradespeople, including basket makers, thatchers, mill wrights, glass workers, saddlers, printers, cobblers, clog makers, coopers, wheelwrights, coach builders and textile workers. Members meet six times a year, publish a regular newsletter, and mount displays in conjunction with the National Trust, the Science Museum and various craft groups.

They also hold an annual tool sale (open to the public) where there is a lively trade in tools with names that might have been invented by Lewis Carroll: sash fillisters, trammels, spoke shaves, draw knives, pole lathes, froes, claves and crozes. The names may sound unfamiliar to the lay ear, but even to the lay eye many have a beauty of form that transcends function, with their brass attachments, handles in mellow beech and boxwood, old English stamped lettering, and decorative embellishments of grape-vines, wreaths, and scrolls. Frank Ham has so many planes (some 200 years old) and measures (for just about everything _ paper, rubber, buttons, rope, shoes, iron) he has lost count. But among his more unusual or treasured pieces are an ebony and brass brace, violin-maker’s planes as small as a thumb pad, a folding ivory rule that would have been given to a foreman to check workers’ measurements or as a presentation on retirement (like a gold watch), and an architect’s folding rule with bevelled calibrations for accuracy. He also has an ironmonger’s rule inscribed with weight-by- length tables, a wrench from the tool kit of a Tarrant, one of the first cars built in Victoria, and how’s this for macabre _ a coffin- maker’s ratchet screwdriver with one-way action only! As tools tend to be passed down rather than discarded, Frank Ham finds most of his collection in antique shops, second-hand tool shops, garage sales, and farm clearances.

At one trash and treasure market, he picked up a timber scribe with the few dollars he had left in his pocket. On closer inspection at home, he found that the name John was spelt with an “I”, which put its manufacture in the 18th Century. It was an amazing bargain in light of current prices. At a large international tool auction in London recently, a 100-year-old brace sold for $10,000 while planes sold for $4000-$6000 each. In Australia, quality braces are selling for $600 while the tiny Stanley No 1. plane, of which there are only three known in Melbourne, is worth $1000 in perfect order. Frank Ham also has 200 books on tools and tool collecting and can identify most tools. But he and fellow association members still come across some tools whose purpose and operation have been long forgotten. So how do you know if the back shed harbors a secret fortune? In age, pre-World War II is the cut-off point for tools. And they must be in good condition; no rust or borer. A skilled operator, Frank Ham says, can make a hand tool do a better job than a power tool. “But most people haven’t got the time or the knowledge these days. The association would welcome new members with either at its next meeting on 20July at 7.30pm, at the Meat Market. (Contact: PO Box 1163 Carlton, 3053). If you have an unusual collection you would like to share with readers, contact Barbara Hooks on 601 2494.

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Revenue Canada amends its information circular 74-6R2: “Each employee will be required to file, with their income tax return, a statement setting out in detail the actual cost of operating a miter saw.” Receipts and vouchers “must be kept on file for later examination if requested.”

Kurds: some history

The Kurdish rebellion in Iraq, which began after the Persian Gulf war, is fizzling out. Tens of thousands of Kurds are trying to escape to Turkey, and various newspaper reports say some of them are damning U.S. President George Bush for not finishing off Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Some notes about the people: The Kurds are former nomads who speak a language related to Persian. They now live as fragmented and persecuted minorities in Iraq, Iran and Turkey, with smaller enclaves in Syria and the Soviet Union. Estimates of their number range from 15 million to 25 million – which would make them four times as numerous as Palestinians. Census counts are thought to be fudged for political purposes. (In Turkey, for example, Kurds were once designated as “Mountain Turks.”) They make up 25 per cent of the populations of Turkey and Iraq. They have a reputation for military prowess. The best-known Kurd is Saladin, the 12th-century Muslim hero and arch enemy of the Crusaders. Nationalism arose in this century, as Kurds acquired the concept of private property and the Turkish empire was dismembered. In 1920, a pact between the victorious Allies of the First World War and the Ottoman Turks provided for an autonomous Kurdistan, but it was never ratified. Britain and France grabbed oil-rich territories by backing the creation of Iraq and Syria. When Kurds rebelled, the Royal Air Force bombed them. In Turkey, Kurds have lived for 46 years under martial law. Their crimes have included speaking or writing Kurdish or owning cassettes of Kurdish music. In Iraq, Kurds have been behind every coup. In 1988, Saddam Hussein used poison gas against them in Halabja, a city of 75,000. Five months later, troops returned to the city to dynamite every building and burn the orchards. Iraq has destroyed 4,000 Kurdish villages. There is an old Kurdish proverb: “The Kurds have no friends.” Sources: The Encyclopedia Britannica, The Observer, The Wall Street Journal.

sawdust flies as a construction worker uses a sliding miter saw
sawdust flies as a construction worker uses a sliding miter saw

Equality, fraternity

Paris transport authorities have decided to abolish first-class carriages on the Metro. They say higher prices for first-class tickets are no longer justified since subway cars in both classes are now identical. A generation ago, first class had padded seats and second class had wooden ones. Source: Reuter.

Ketchup correction

Top-quality ketchup would take at least 75 years to flow across Canada. An incorrect figure was given yesterday, owing to an error in the thinking process.

Where the sheep are

New Zealand’s best known statistic – its ratio of sheep to people – fell again in the year to last June, the country’s Statistics Department says. Sheep now outnumber New Zealanders by a mere 17.5 to one, down from 18.3 to one in 1989 and more than 21 to one in 1982. Droughts and tough economic times on farms cut the sheep population to 57.9 million last year from 60.6 million the year before. New Zealand, a farming-based country of 3.3 million people, saw its sheep numbers peak at 70.2 million in 1982. Source: Reuter.

Give that goat smelling salts

A special breed of goats that keel over when they are frightened are prized by the American Tennessee Fainting Goat Association. The jittery creatures, first noticed in the 1800s, are near extinction. The association ranks each animal on a scale of 1 to 6, with “6 being the highest, meaning they lock up most of the time and fall over,” said founder Kathy Majewski. Good fainters can sell for up to $1,000 (U.S.). A drawback is that as the goats become accustomed to their owners, it is harder to scare them.

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FORMER Test rugby union coach Daryl Haberecht has shrugged off what he describes as “a miter saw down the chest” in a triple by-pass heart operation and hopes to be reappointed NSW Country coach for a third year again next season.

detail of fixed circular buzz miter saw blade and table
detail of fixed circular buzz miter saw blade and table

“I feel fantastic. I don’t have an ulcer problem from work or from rugby. I’d like to carry on,” Haberecht said. Haberecht had his triple by-pass on August 12 last year in the first season of his comeback as Country coach. The former Scots College product and son of a Wagga cordial maker is not satisfied he has completed his mission with Country. He describes with quiet pride the comradeship developing in his football”family”.

“I’m pleased we have come this far together as a group, and obviously we have to develop as a unit still further,” he says. “The blokes looked at me when I first used the term ‘family’ for us. But we are developing a commitment to one another, a spirit which is essential if we are to be successful. “It is the hallmark of all good teams and clubs. “Every game we have played better. I have seen progress in every match. “Sometimes it has not been as marked as I would have liked, but there is a growing awareness among the players that if they want recognition and success then they have to work for it.” Haberecht pointed to the Test selection of Quirindi backrower David Carter and Orange three-quarter James Grant as “a deserving reward to two of the hardest trainers in Australian rugby.

“David Carter realised after the knee injury earlier in his career that he had to become faster. He made that his great commitment. “Now he’s as fast as some of our backs. He does not talk about it. He simply worked at it.” Country will play a NSW Suburban clubs XV in a curtain-raiser to NSW’s representative game against the Englishmen at Concord Oval beginning at noon today, which provides no joy for Haberecht. “That’s the sort of thing we have to put up with until we get better. We can’t change the world overnight,” he said. “The team must get better until people have no alternative but to recognise us.”

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JIM and Alice Rockwell hardly know how they found time to work. Retired life is keeping them busy with a wide range of activities. Mr Rockwell, 62, spends a good deal of time in his workshop under the house where he “plays with wood”, according to his wife. But the new miter saw and other fancy machinery make it look more than just a hobby.

At 56 years old, Mrs Rockwell is keen on “getting fit and healthy” and spent last weekend at a yoga camp. But the right to enjoy this new way of life has been earned through hard work and sensible financial planning. Mr Rockwell retired more than a year ago after working as a chemist at NSW University for more than 35 years. He paid into his employer’s super fund during his working life.

On retirement, he received one-third of his

Closeup of mature man sawing lumber with sliding compound miter saw outdoors sawdust flying around
Closeup of mature man sawing lumber with sliding compound miter saw outdoors sawdust flying around

super payout in the form of a pension and the rest as a lump sum. He held on to the money until his wife retired shortly after. Mrs Rockwell retired at 55 after working at Sydney University’s law library for more than 12 years. She also paid into an employer-sponsored super fund on the assumption that she would retire at 60. “The contributions would have been too high otherwise,” she said. But she retired at 55 instead – and was sorry to miss out on some of the extras she would have received if she had waited until 60. The Rockwells had been to seminars at the Superannuation Board. “They didn’t actually tell you what to do with your money but they let you know how to go about finding out,” said Mrs Rockwell.

The couple then made visits to a number of investment advisers at insurance companies, building societies and banks. But they were “very discriminating”in making their choice and kept on searching until they found someone they were completely happy with. Enter Mr Terry Farrell, a representative from Tricentac Securities Limited. One of Mr Rockwell’s good friends recommended Mr Farrell as an investment adviser to be trusted. That was good enough for them – so they gave him a try The Rockwells got in touch with Mr Farrell more than a year ago and have been more than impressed with his keen interest in planning their retirement finances. Rolling over the lump sums was seen as the best option for the couple.

Mr Rockwell has his money invested in three different funds and Mrs Rockwell has hers in two. The funds include BT, Australian Eagle and Associated National. “We went for security,” said Mr Rockwell. “We are happy to be in financial plan which is a lawful way of minimising tax.” Although the Rockwells left their retirement planning late in life, they think “it is a good idea to go along to an adviser as soon as possible”. “When I was 40 there wasn’t the same information available as there is today,” Mr Rockwell said. Mrs Rockwell thinks that in retirement you should be aiming to “maintain your lifestyle, keep ahead of inflation and afford some of the things you always wanted”. The Rockwells treated themselves to a trip around Australia and hope to do a bit more travelling in the future. That is if they can find time in between going to the theatre and the movies, dining out, reading, gardening, yoga, and woodwork. Their daughter, who still lives at home, must find it hard to keep up with them.

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De Havilland speeds design of aircraft with a saw

BY KEN ROMAIN The Globe and Mail Next July, engineers at De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd. will take a miter saw and begin cutting up a Dash 8 aircraft into three pieces.

Mitre Saw in White Background Blade Teeth in Focus
Mitre Saw in White Background Blade Teeth in Focus

There will be a front section, a centre piece with the wing, and the rear. Then the parts will be rejoined by two fuselage plugs – one 72 inches wide in front of the wing section, and one 63 inches wide behind it.

And voila – a new prototype test aircraft for the stretched, 50- passenger Dash 8 Series 300 aircraft that de Havilland hopes to have ready for the market by mid-1988.

The twin-engined stretched version will then join the standard 36- passenger Dash 8 Series 100 now entering commuter airline service, the four-engined 50-passenger Dash 7 short-take off and landing airplane, and the 19-passenger Twin Otter.

The new addition to the de Havilland family will be 11 feet 3 inches longer, 6,600 pounds heavier, have a longer range (780 nautical miles, compared with 550), and will carry 14 more passengers than the standard Dash 8.

But before that happens, a myriad changes have to be made – in addition to adding plugs – for the stretched Dash 8 prototype, an aircraft that was built for the standard Dash 8 flight test program. The prototype will never see airline service, but will be used as a flying test bed. “We will fly it very gently, of course, because it is not a production airplane, and only on calm days,” said Mike Davy, de Havilland’s vice- president of engineering.

Before the cutting begins next summer, a 21-foot quarter-scale model of the airplane will have undergone three months of wind tunnel testing at the National Research Council’s wind tunnel in Ottawa. “This will confirm what we have already decided to do, and if we have loused up someplace, it gives a chance to back off and avoid it,” Mr. Davy said.

Building an airplane is a series of compromises, trading off between weight, drag, payload and range, between what engineering can do and what marketing wants. “But the key to a successful stretch is the engine,” Mr. Davy said. The Dash 8 has the new PW120 turboprop engine built by Pratt & Whitney Aircraft of Canada Ltd. in Montreal, producing 2,000 horsepower. Pratt & Whitney has promised to take it up to 2,400 horsepower. With greater power, carrying 14 more passengers in the stretch craft appears to be largely a matter of providing more room in the cabin, and of strengthening the wing.

But when an aircraft maker alters an already-successful plane, it is tampering with a finely balanced package. Every change has to be made with caution. The aircraft is “flown” many times on paper before any metal is cut or parts ordered.

The aircraft engineer has two options, Mr. Davey said. He can derive a new design based loosely on the existing aircraft or he can extend the present design by more modest modification, using the existing tooling and fixtures.

The first option gives the designer more freedom, but is more expensive. Simply stretching an existing design minimizes construction costs and leads to a less costly development program, because much of the expensive ground and flight testing needed for certification has already been done and still applies.

More frequently, Mr. Davy said, the intelligent business decision is to take the second option and exploit the airframe that already exists.

The decision to design a stretched version of the Dash 8 was made before Ottawa announced the proposed sale of the company to the Boeing Co. of Seattle. The most optimistic estimate of the cost the of 2 1/2-year development program is $75-million to $100-million. The most pessimistic is $200-million.

Flight testing of the new airplane still will make up one of the highest portions of the cost. The prototype will fly for a year during 1987, proving the concept. In early 1988, there will be another six months of test flying by the first production aircraft and any problems that turn up will have to go all the way back to the production line for change. It is a dicey game, because a multitude of secondary problems can be created. “But it can be done, if you keep a cool head,” Mr. Davy said. “If we had put all of the stretch behind the wing, there was the possibility that you would scrape the tail on the runway when the aircraft rotates for takeoff. “You could make the landing gear taller, but that means a new landing gear. You could put all the stretch in front of the wing, but the airplane may then want to fishtail (swing from side to side) or porpoise (move up and down). So you compromise, and put a plug in front of the wing and a plug behind it. “And because the airplane is going to be heavier, you now have to reinforce the wing to support the extra weight, and you have to reinforce the landing gear, because the airplane is heavier and on some occasions it is going to smack down hard on landing.” Of the 6,600 pounds in added weight, 2,800 pounds will be the extra 14 passengers, plus their baggage, at 200 pounds each; another 900 pounds will be additional structural weight. “We will probably fiddle away another 800 pounds on other things. That leaves an extra 2,100 pounds which can be used for additional fuel, or still more passengers. But we also get an airplane for half the cost of building a new one, and we will have it 18 months sooner,” Mr. Davy said.

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