He wasn't wrong. Jeff and I arrived late morning and were shown down to Caleb's basement workshop by Caleb's wife Tracy. No dark undercroft here though. It's a light filled timber lined long room looking out to the greenery beyond. It's quite an inviting space.
As with a fair few other American chair makers I've met, it was interesting to see where our paths had crossed, both with Curtis and Pete. But it seems to be a familiar trait in this field with people I've met recently and has been the case as far as I know back to the early 1980's and no doubt prior. Whether that original contact was someone like Drew Langsner, Dave Sawyer or another pioneering worker of wood, it's amazing to see what a definitive effect it has on an individual's life and not just their career. It's a great thing.
What did surprise me in a way was that despite Caleb's obvious natural talent for making chairs, it appears that he is going to focus primarily on making hand planes. Well to be a little more precise, it surprised me until I looked into his tool chest and saw this.
A few moments later after asking if I could try a little coffin shaped smoother, it was clearly obvious why Caleb should concentrate on planes. They're awesome. Comfortable in the hand and beautifully detailed and proportioned. So good in fact that the smoother came home with me.
Here it is today being used to tidy up the spindle deck of a Windsor chair I'm making
There's evidence of a good deal of forward planning too, as neatly stacked piles of beech abound in the workshop,
Most destined for the sets of moulding planes that Caleb is rapidly becoming well known for.
Caleb also spoke of his thoughts of potentially running classes in his workshop in future, teaching the making of Danish styled furniture and of course planes. A no brainer in my book. To spend a few days learning what Caleb knows would be good value for money in anyones language. We finished our visit with a culinary highlight of the trip, a mexican lunch prepared by Tracy, which was that good I would have taken a picture of that too, if it were not for good manners!
I also learnt that Caleb and Tracy have relatives in Australia. I hope they drop in and visit next time they're in my neck of the woods.