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John Walcott, Where are you?

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Blog entry by reedwood posted 474 days ago 1346 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

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I was checking out vintage tools on E Bay the other day when I came across this rosewood marking gauge.
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It was obviously handmade and had a brass name plate on it:

Handcrafted by John Walcott, Benbrook Texas”


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The tool had six days to go before the final auction so I put it on the watch list.

There was something about this tool that got my attention. It didn’t have fancy brass inlays or parts made from ebony. There were no engravings or elaborate scrollwork. Heck, it wasn’t even an antique.

And yet, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I already have a nice Crown marking gauge and a few vintage Stanleys. I admit, I hardly ever use them but they’re part of my collection and they look nice nestled between the vintage tools I have displayed on a shelf in my office.

As the days counted down until the auction, I looked at the pictures of the gauge and re-read the description:

Raven’s Way is pleased to offer a hand made rosewood and brass mortising and marking gauge which appears to be 10 – 15 years old. A plate on one side indicates the piece was “Handcrafted by / John Walcott / Benbrook, Texas”. Marked “S/N 0014.”

The piece is rather elaborate with round knurled brass thumb screws with round brass plates; one is to lock the fence and one to lock the mortising gauge, which is hand adjustable.

The round brass extensions on the face plate can be used for flat or circular scribing. The wood on the fence is 1 ½” x 2 ¾”; the height is 2 3/16” x 8”. An excellent working gauge collectible. Starting bid – 30.00

I thought about the effort it took to make this. Did he buy or make the brass knobs and the threaded plates?
Did he make the little finial on the brass slide? How did he make those tiny points and the half round brass rods?

The tiny brass screws were installed with care and sat perfectly in their countersunk holes.

The rosewood slide’s edges were eased as if done by a machinist. The brass end piece had little allen head screws to hold the two marking points.

Simple details, but I noticed.

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I really wanted to know more about the maker, John Walcott so I researched his name to see if he was still making them but I only found another gauge listed on a tool auction numbered #0003, starting bid – 65.00.

I imagined what his shop must look like, the tools he must have. Is he just a woodworker, like me in a garage shop making small stuff or does he have a full size shop with several employees? Who is this guy?

The day of the auction finally arrived and I was surprised to see no one has bid on it yet.

I’ve bought a few things on E Bay (buy it now) but this is the first time I’ve been in an auction. I was told to wait until the last minute and bid what I think it’s worth.

Five minutes to go.

I looked at the gauge as I waited. It’s hard to believe someone could make such a piece by hand and also make a profit. So, it seems the “payment” must be in the actual work of making it, the satisfaction and pride you feel when it’s done.

It reminded me of something my grandfather would’ve made.

Maybe that’s the attraction…. I have to have it.

2 minutes, 32 seconds….A bidder – $32.00. Just wait, tick …. tick …
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2 minutes, 15 seconds….And ANOTHER BIDDER! 36.00!

MORE BIDDERS!! – $39,43,56, $61.03.
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30 seconds,......15 seconds….. Man, my heart is racing!
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10, 9,... HOLD. 8, 7…... HOLD! 6, 5 ….....NOW! – 100.00!.... no,..... 68.00!
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CONFIRM, CONFIRM!!!!
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I never win anything…..what?
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Congratulations Mark! You have won this auction! – 62. 03

Damn, That was fun!... Ha!

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In Conclusion, I wish I could send a note:

Mr. John Walcott from Benbrook Texas, I am honored to own one of your tools.

Your hard work and attention to detail are very much appreciated. Thank you.

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Now if you don’t mind, I’m off to the hospital to have a pace maker installed so I can buy more stuff on E bay!

-- mark



10 comments so far

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

15404 posts in 1464 days


#1 posted 474 days ago

It is definitely a beautiful tool and well you should be proud of it. Congratulations.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View Ken90712's profile

Ken90712

14821 posts in 1786 days


#2 posted 474 days ago

What a tool and great story…. Well done keep us informed if you find more informationout about this tol or craftsman.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

3776 posts in 977 days


#3 posted 473 days ago

Crazy cheap, nice find.

-- |Statistics show that 100% of people bitten by a snake were close to it.|

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10539 posts in 1287 days


#4 posted 473 days ago

A great score on a beautifully crafted tool. I don’t think you could buy the materiels to make that for what you paid!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

#5 posted 473 days ago

I found this.
Maybe it will help you find him?

Julia L Walcott, 87
Known also Julia S Walcott
Lived in Benbrook, TX
Related to John Walcott, 91

-- Will trade wife's yarn for tools.

View JoeinGa's profile

JoeinGa

3088 posts in 604 days


#6 posted 473 days ago

I was sliding forward in my seat as I read the end of your Ebay saga :-)
I know just how you feel, having bought many things from Ebay, watching and refreshing the page as the last few minutes click away, waiting for the final outcome.

Nice gage too!

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View mafe's profile

mafe

9435 posts in 1686 days


#7 posted 470 days ago

Beautiful!
Best thoughts,
Mads

-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View reedwood's profile

reedwood

858 posts in 1273 days


#8 posted 470 days ago

Thanks everyone for the comments.

For those that asked me – what is it?
It was used along time ago, also known as a scratch gauge, is used to mark out lines for cutting by scribing (scratching) a line parallel to the edge. It is mostly used in joinery and sheetmetal operations.

A mortise gauge, like this one has two pins that can be adjusted relative to each other at the end of the beam. This gauge is used to scribe two lines simultaneously and is most commonly used to layout for mortise and tenon joinery. If nothing else, it’s just a cool looking tool that a lot of Grand fathers had in their toolbox.

Don, I found that name too but I would have to pay a service fee to get more info. Felt like stalking at that point.

It would be neat if somehow he found this message. Hopefully, someone lives nearby or knows him and can let him know. What if that is him? If he’s still with us, he’s 91 yrs old now.

I’m sure he would like to hear someone show a little respect and appreciation for his hard work. I know I would.

-- mark

#9 posted 470 days ago

Considering his age, it may be that he is not now living.
Perhaps that’s why the tool was sold.

D

-- Will trade wife's yarn for tools.

View maplerock's profile

maplerock

399 posts in 397 days


#10 posted 362 days ago

I think he may be living. I found a phone number, but perhaps he’s not in Benbrook anymore. Go to:
anywho.com type in John Walcott Texas. You’ll get 2 possibilities. One matches the age description. Good luck!

-- Jerry... making sawdust in the Knobs of Southern Indiana

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