Around the shop plus
We are no longer building saddle trees. We have two saddle fit videos available on our westernsaddlefit.com website. Western Saddle Fit - The Basics, aimed at riders, is available either on DVD or streaming on Vimeo while the six hour series Well Beyond the Basics, aimed more for professionals but understandable by anyone, is available by streaming on Vimeo. (We left this website up because we have had many requests to keep the information available.)
Since I haven’t posted a lot of pictures of trees lately, I figured I would just take a few of what has been around the shop this past couple of weeks.
Here are four trees we shipped out over a week ago. Three Wades and a Modified Association. All the Wades are 8” fork widths, while the Association is 13” wide. All four of these headed south across the 49th parallel.
On the varnishing bench are a newly built 9” wide Wade with just one coat of varnish, and a special request tree. The special request is from the saddle maker’s customer who ordered an 11” wide 3B. This causes some problems with semantics and history. You see, a 3B is, by definition, a slick fork. (A slick fork widens out from the top down so the bottom of the fork is the widest point.) The issue is that 11” is wider than the bottom of the fork, so something that wide “swells out” and then has to come back in at the bottom – making it a swell fork.
So what does this customer really want, a swell fork or a slick fork? Fortunately, they sent some pictures of the saddle she loves which she wants copied. So we made something that looked the same and 11” wide. We call it a (insert customer name here) Special, but she can call it whatever she wants. It’s her tree!!
Here’s Rod shaping the gullet on yet another Wade fork. This is the most popular style we make, and sometimes it seems I can’t keep up with gluing up the fork blocks for Wades. And then there are other weeks where we get anything but a Wade.
Under the bench are four trees midway through drying. From right to left, they are an 8” Wade, a 3B, a 9” Wade and a 12” Louellen.
This 3B has only a 3 ½” stock thickness, which is what the original Visalia 3Bs had. It can make for a nice, old timey looking saddle, depending on how it is finished. Of course, you can't see the stock thickness from the back, and I didn't take a picture from the side, so you'll have to trust me on this one...
The Louellen has a 4” tall Hamley (or #6, depending on the horn maker) horn on it with only a 2” cap. It sure looks tall and skinny without the leather of the saddle on it. When finished, it won’t look quite so dramatic.
Two of these trees are headed to the US, one to Europe and the last will stay right here in Alberta. It’s nice to keep some of them closer to home!!
We have been having beautiful weather this fall. Here’s the thermometer from the October 21st where it was 10 C, about 50 F. On the 24th it was almost 20 C, or almost 70 F. Rod was outside working without a jacket again. That is pretty much unheard of for late October in northern Alberta, so we aren’t complaining!
It means we can still vent the dust system outside and not have to use our nice clean filters. Why does the temperature determine this? Because to vent outside, we need to pull in make up air from outside, which means we have to leave a window or door open to replace the volume of air in that is being extracted by the cyclone system we have. At 50 F, that is OK. At freezing, it gets rather chilly in the shop… So then we switch to the filters and recirculating the air in the shop.
Here Rod is making the fork cut on the bars. The jig holds the bars at the correct angle so the forks fit tightly on the bars and the bars are set at the proper angle for the fit we are building into that tree.
For fun, here are a couple of comparison pictures for you of another sort. Here’s Rae and Bella on September 2nd.
And here they are on October 15th. Bella is growing!!! And since this is a daily ritual with the two of them, Rae is continuing to gain strength…