An unexpected meeting of a fellow lumberjock.

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Blog entry by Brad posted 12-13-2013 11:19 PM 1408 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Last September, I received the email excerpted below:

“Greetings Brad,
We have a new case study to create. It is with a system builder partner of ours in the UK…”

A fortnight hence, I had finished my work in Leicester, UK, and was traveling the 110 miles south by rail to London with my lady sitting next to me. You see, whenever I go on a business trip somewhere—uh, scratch that. Whenever I go on a business trip somewhere nice (Seattle, San Francisco, the UK) I encourage my girl to go along with me to take a few days extra for a mini-vacation.

After setting up shop in the Thistle hotel, we had an early dinner and crashed early to combat our lingering jet lag.

The next day, our touring began at the Tower of London, where wood-based housing still exists from the time of Henry the VIIIth.

Some of the grounds’ chambers had open walls which I was sure to snap for my woodworking travel collection.

After we finished our tour, we walked back to the hotel, wanting to explore the city on foot and take it in. The thing about modern London is that it has all manner of architecture, ranging from modern skyscrapers to this very old brewery. Copious use of wood trim…

But best of all, London has Andy, aka Brit on Lumberjocks. Turns out that even though he hails from the southern wiles of the UK, he was on assignment in London for an IT project. Better still, he was a 10 minute walk from his hotel to ours.

It would be a woodworking crime to be that close and not meet him. So we emailed, and decided to meet up Thursday evening for some pints and fare. Wouldn’t you know it, we met in our hotel lobby, each bearing a gift for the other (I’ll get to mine below ).

So Andy, being the consummate host, takes Gail and I to an ancient pub called the Flag and Lamb.

The watering hole got its liquor license in 1623 and it sits in the posh Covent Garden district of the city. So with pints of Fuller’s London Pride ale in hand, we settled in and got acquainted. After draining our glasses and enduring a roaming mariachi band’s rendition of When the Saints Come Marching in, we headed to a nice restaurant. There, we talked about travel, woodworking, family, woodworking and all the cool things Andy’s wife has him doing. He was both delightful company and generous to a fault—picking up both tabs that night. When next we meet, I look forward to returning the favor.

A spirit level
At dinner we opened our gifts. I lost my “before” pictures, but it’s a spirit level 10” long by 1 1/8” wide by 1 1/8” high. The brass top plate had that black-gray patina that comes from being decades removed from any polish. I could see writing, but wouldn’t be able to make it out until I got home.

I told Andy I liked it the way it was, but he suggested that I restore it…and I’m glad I did.

Turns out it was made by John Rabone and Sons of Birmingham England.

According to Grace’s guide of industrial history, the “company had its origins in Birmingham, as rule and tool makers in 1784. The business was continued by John Rabone and his grandson, Eric Rabone. It operated under the name of John Rabone and Sons c1784-1953.”

The brass plate is a bit ornate, a manufacturing flair that hints at an older 20th century vintage. It does has steel screws to hold the plate in place. Maybe that would help date the tool, but I’m not versed on the nuances of the use of brass versus steel screws and when.

I think that the wood is mahogany, though from looking at various ones around the Internet, some were made of rosewood.

I love this level, and keep it on my desk to remind me of my trip to the UK and meeting Andy. It amazes me how commerce and affordable jet travel have shrunk the world we live in. So much so that I may get the chance to show him Colorado’s finest brewpubs. I think that he’ll find that while they lack the century’s history that permeates London, they make up for it with an uncompromising passion for the art of brewing.



-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

9 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3544 days

#1 posted 12-13-2013 11:59 PM

Wonderful story and fines gifts too . It seems you all had an enjoyable time.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View blackcherry's profile


3337 posts in 3790 days

#2 posted 12-14-2013 12:37 AM

Another great meeting of the LJ spirit, and what a nifty gift with a wonderful historical past…thanks for sharing with us all. Happy Holidays…BC

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2452 days

#3 posted 12-14-2013 12:37 AM

Fun story and good pictures. I visited the Tower of London in 2008 and had such a blast. History overload. Seeing those pictures took me right back. I remember marveling at the same wooden Tudor era buildings. The White Tower from 1066 or so and the Roman ruins from about 50 BC were pretty cool, too!

-- Brian Timmons -

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2807 days

#4 posted 12-14-2013 12:52 AM

I could not think of two nicer guys getting together.
Wonderful story.
Thank you for sharing.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8513 posts in 1949 days

#5 posted 12-14-2013 02:34 PM

I’m green with envy over here Brad…...going to England, meeting Andy, and another well-written and articulate blog.

Actually, I’m happy for ya. That looked like a pretty cool experience.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3301 days

#6 posted 12-14-2013 03:18 PM

Nice story Brad, and as we all suspected, er know, Andy is a great guy. I’m sure when he comes to visit you in Colorado he will be treated just as well.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View helluvawreck's profile


30765 posts in 2834 days

#7 posted 12-14-2013 04:43 PM

That’s a great story and I’m glad that you and Andy got to meet each other. It certainly sounds like you both enjoyed each others company.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Don W's profile

Don W

18686 posts in 2535 days

#8 posted 12-15-2013 09:28 PM

thanks for the write up. Interesting for sure.

Seattle, nice? Huh? :-)

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Brit's profile


7369 posts in 2810 days

#9 posted 12-16-2013 03:38 PM

Great write up Brad. It was amazing to finally meet you and Gale. I’m still working in London during the week, so I’ll update this thread with photos of the lovely box and awl that you gave me. I love them both.

Hope we get to do it again sometime.

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

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