Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Portland works- Andy Cole.

I have known of Sheffield' Portland Works for sometime but a few months ago I decided to head down and check the place out for myself.

The heritage of this place is impressive, being the main building associated with original conception and implementation of stainless steel.

The premises is also unique as it is the only property of it's type still standing in its original use as a site of metalworking and cutlery. all others having been demolished or converted.

This time, I came to meet with  tool maker who occupies the original 19thC smithy in the centre of the courtyard- Andrew Cole.

Andy first started working at this forge in 1978, first under Wigful Tools and later his own company.
Whilst I was there we discussed the kind of work he had on at that time, which included forging several hundred socketed wood carving chisels.

I took some footage of him working that shows his well rehearsed and impressive "spinning" technique that means the work is put into "closed dies" that are each one half of the final form you are making. By keeping the work turning evenly you create a smooth finish on the work.

Loud video


I had some real envy over some of Andy's gear, particularly his larger Paterson mech hammer but his more unusual equipment included his old fashioned saddle grinder.

These large wheel stone grinders used to be common around Sheffield and other blade making centres around Europe but have now largely disappeared. Its always impressive to see them running...  and to think that there used to be many, very much lager stone wheel in use.

Andy's knowledge and breadth of experience is impressive and his workshop is pretty much an ideal set up for forging tools.

Im a little jealous....