Eric Callahan

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since Aug 21, 2012
Greetings. I like tools and growing vegetables that I wouldnt normally eat.
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Recent posts by Eric Callahan

Annie Collins wrote:Hi Eric,

Just responding to say that I hope you are keeping some type of journal of all your adventures. You clearly have the gift of written words (among others); someday you may want to put them into a book format!
Best of luck to you! (I am in a happy union and not the right age anyway, but wanted to remark on your talent(s).)

Thank you! I do keep something resembling a journal, although I'm not sure anyone else would recognize it as one!

I'm 26, looking to connect primarily via writing (for now) and make friends and connections, especially regionally across the more northern parts of NE.  

I don't feel particularly inclined to post relationship dictums/deal breakers. Not that that's not on my radar (it is), but before all else I would simply like to make individual connections and seek further as an extension of that, as intuition might allow. My feet for relationship aren't cold, per se, but a bit tepid.

I was "unschooled" (I prefer the less loaded descriptor "spared formal education"), have lived on various off grid farms/ projects for periods ranging from 10 days to a year and a half. I deeply desired to set root as early in life as I could but haven't quite achieved that yet (probably for the best). Currently in an exploratory phase trying to figure out where I want to be in (most likely) NE. Learning to appreciate no debt or substantial weighing-down factors.

I developed connections with a lot of "old guard" hippies around Maine and New Brunswick and for the longest time eschewed the younger crowd out of reclusive habits and lack of social energy. Now I kind of want to interact with less grumpy old bastard sorts. Drawn more to the earnest and unaffected, ideologically ambiguous, and those skeptical of cliques, sub-cultures and group think. 

Interests begin with hand tool labor and green woodworking which I have found engrossing for some 14 years on a "full time" basis. Axes, scythes, and especially self made handles for each are long standing interests. I love old elegant hay rakes and forks and have very pleasant memories being involved in by-hand hay production. Human powered earth working tools are fun. I am a dilettante crosscut saw filer/interceptor from the waste stream. I lived in Aroostook county for about a year and a half and heated/cooked with wood and have never used a chainsaw, so I can make hand saws "go". I also converted my hosts to crosscut saws and they haven't used a chainsaw since, as far as I know. I would view being eventually settling into a life where I can use these tools to produce most of my more "material" sustenance both as a great privilege and pleasure.

I also make spoons to pass time and for gifts/pocket money, enjoy (at least sometimes) tinkering with small engines (mostly small tillers and old European mopeds), riding said mopeds (stock and slow: takes longer and you have more fun ), like to dabble in gardening and permaculture systems, scratch cooking, a bit of music and lo-fi recording. I think Ringo is the best Beatle. 

I am a very friendly and jovial cynic, with no depressive tendencies but plenty of neurotic/creative force and angst, interpersonal dynamics are an interesting muse to me and I have lived in and reflected upon many very dysfunctional living arrangements. Politically/ideologically/socialogically scrambled, so I've learned to exist in "at-odds-ness" with people and (mostly) enjoy it. Earnest and, at times, awkward and prone to social exhaustion. I possess a sense of humor that the excessively formal may find "affronting", that is very dear to me. I try to sneak it into things like vegetables into picky kids' foods.  

Anyway, I'd be happy to connect, so send me a message sometime. Prone to the written form of verbal diarrhea so I will pinch this one off here.
With larger items (tillers, vehicles, mopeds, chainsaws, wood stoves, etc) I try to keep tabs in my social circle in who needs it might need access to a good deal more than I do. Sometimes it helps assuage your FOMO to know that someone who really (and not hypothetically) needs something to put the use can get it, when it works out that way.
3 weeks ago
"like minded" doesn't really describe the search for a facsimile of the idiosyncratic landscapes of one's mind to me. I think in most cases it simply means, "looking for someone who has similar muses", as a vague starting point to be further refined via "vibing" -- since most people don't really know what they mean or want most of the tube. Of course differences can be more polarizing depending on the subject. Politics or philosophy as muses might require more similar thinking in order to get along well, or else a very adroit ability to interact with ideas foreign or opposite without hostility. Whereas if two people enjoy cooking wildly different cuisine but are culinary adventurous otherwise, that could be seen as very positive. Probably both trouble examples but whatever.

I tend to be drawn towards *how* people possess their ideas as much as the ideas themselves, and communication style is extremely important to me. Most people probably want a mix of commonality and difference, so that they feel some solidarity but also some novelty and challenge at the same time.

2 months ago
Hi! I sent you a "purple mooseage" DM. Don't know what the notification system on this site is like so I thought I'd comment too.

Hope we can have a chat!
2 months ago
I'm currently in southern Maine. I've spent the last decade+ keeping a smoldering interest (mostly devoid of any commercial possibility) in hand tools and green woodworking. In particular, (in some chronological order) axes and their use (and traditional handle making), crosscut saw filing and general reclamation (and systems of firewood processing by hand, more broadly), and scythes (American and European/continental style) -- though I carry an interest in any tool I'd estimate to be a tool of the "subsistence craftsman" family; various sundries like spokeshaves, good vintage shovels, draw knives, peaveys, chisels and gouges, etc. I think of what I do as "improvisational woodworking" so anything to that end I have an especially keen interest in. See / for a peak into a bit more background and a few pictures (and some of that commercial non-viability -- in person took natural precedent over internet presence). I owe a lot of gratefulness to my friend Benjamin Bouchard of Baryonyx Knife co. and the late Peter Vido in my journey particularly with regards to axes and scythes.

I'm looking into relocating somewhere in the Northeast. Maybe as far south/east as WV. My "head" comes up with various logistics, but my "heart" has no real clue where to begin, other than to try to solicit talks with people on the ground. I've been part of the under 35 hippy/intentional community/beaten path alt-culture for some time and feel a change towards more emphasized rootedness and a different and more individual style of connection is very necessary for me.

I've looked (only a) bit into resources like simply as a way to offer up low key/osmosis residency style workshops on various hand tools' use in exchange for a place to stay in areas I may be interested in exploring settling potential. I would be thrilled to skip that entirely and find individuals/partners/families with extra quarters and an interest applying hand tools on their own properties -- because at any rate, these are the connections that would be perhaps my primary consideration in vetting an area for the kind of extensive community I want. In my experiences with intentional communities, whether well formed or prospective, I didn't find the social/interpersonal dynamics very congruent with my social energy levels or style of interacting. (Not a dig at IC's, just not where I am at currently)

If anyone has either any ideas on additional outlets to solicit, or more direct leads on possibilities, I would be very grateful. I tried to keep this fairly terse to combat my tendency to at ties over-write, but I would be happy to discuss more at length and share more of my story and what I can share to help the co-vetting process move along.

Thanks to all.

4 months ago

Lawrence London wrote:

Eric Callahan wrote:Yes, a good axe is probably the most important tool for sustaining life, in context with itself and a person who knows how to use it.

I prefer Maine or Northeastern manufactured axes (Snow & Nealley, Emerson Stevens, Rixford, Walters, etc). the ones below fit that criteria, hung on sugar maple handles.

Also Kelly axes, particularly the Kelly Perfect, a felling axe. I have one. It is recommended for hand hewing logs for building a log cabin alongside a broadaxe and a foot adze.

I'll post pix of my axe collection in another post here soon.

Kelly, Plumb, Collins, and all the hardware companies that had axes made for them by those big companies are great. I don't prefer them over my north eastern axes though.
7 years ago

tel jetson wrote:

Eric Callahan wrote:
I prefer Maine or Northeastern manufactured axes (Snow & Nealley, Emerson Stevens, Rixford, Walters, etc). the ones below fit that criteria, hung on sugar maple handles.

I'm glad to learn those names. I really enjoy the GB axe I have, but I'm always looking for quality from closer to home.

on the handle material: do you use sugar maple because it makes the best handles, or because it's available to you? no sugar maple around here, but I'm growing some ash in the woodlot.

Both. Sugar Maple is a great material, and has made itself available a lot the past couple of years. Ash is great, Hickory is great too. If all you can get is Birch, that will work (especially for smaller axes). Oak (white and red), Black Locust, Osage, Hornbeam, Yellow Birch all reportedly make good handles as well. Learn to make use of what is available to you.
7 years ago
Yes, a good axe is probably the most important tool for sustaining life, in context with itself and a person who knows how to use it.

I am fairly outspoken about Gransfors design flaws. I don't like a lot of things about them, and I think its a lot of fluff about their products. Some of their axes are nicer than others, but at the price point, I don't think is necessarily the wisest buy. Most old axes can be had for 0-10 dollars, and a couple hours with a file will make it cut better than a GB ever could due to its lack of material on the bit, cheek, face etc. I make my own handles for the sake of conviviality and frugality.

I prefer Maine or Northeastern manufactured axes (Snow & Nealley, Emerson Stevens, Rixford, Walters, etc). the ones below fit that criteria, hung on sugar maple handles.

Part of the reason I am so partial to Maine axes in particular, is that they are very well shaped by my standards-- GB falls in line with the "Thin=chopping Thick=splitting" mantra (Which is, at the very least, a vehement over simplification, or perhaps better put, a load of crap). A lot of people think these are splitting axes, but they are not per se. Although, cutting plates out of a 12" wide axe cut does require quite a bit of splitting action (More splitting than severing fibers by a large degree).

In lieu of much substance beyond this, my recommendation would probably be to get a lot of examples of old axes, learn to make your own handles know rather than down the road, and spend the extra money you have saved on other "essential" hand tools like scythes, hand saws, draw knives, etc.
7 years ago

Thomas Alexander wrote:I'm still having problems with my axe head slipping up when trying to make firewood,but it seems to be pretty strong wood, however there is a bit of the handle next to the head that already presents a longitudinal crack, about an inch long, maybe that's because i tried making firewood while the handle is still so green? That's cool that wedges can be homemade!! Any info on how to make the wedge? I tried using silver acacia for the wedge too, using little longitudinal splits and shaping them a bit like a wedge, but they would only go into the other wood a little bit and then the top would break, even when using a wooden mallet...i guess that's because both the handle and the wedge are still green?

Ive used my handles green before without having them split or shear or anything like that. I might attribute that to the use of a round piece instead of rivened though. Does the split seem to be like delamination of the grain structure? Making wedges is also very easy. I use 1 piece most of the time, although there is nothing wrong with using 2 or 3 pieces to fill a weird shaped eye. The wedge kerf should run between 2/3 and 3/4 of the depth of the eye, and the wedge must fill as much of that lengthwise, as well as in regards to the wedging action, as possible. you need to hammer the crap out of it to get a good fit, which I learned from time after time of the axe coming a little bit lose.
8 years ago