“Memories of a Sheffield Tool Maker” by Ashley Iles

I just read "Memories of a Sheffield Tool Maker" by Ashley Iles on the recommendation of Chris Schwatz on his "Woodworking Magazine" blog.  Great book.

It is only available from the Tools for Working Wood website as it is now out of print.

I love history, woodworking and tools and this book weaves all three together into a fascinating portrait of life in Sheffield England in the first half of the twentieth-century.  Ashley Iles started his tool business in what was the cradle of the tool world at that time, and the names of his associates and competitors have become legendary tool-makers and companies that you will still recognize today.  As a Pittsburgher I have seen this city in the U.S. lose its steel-working industry much as Sheffield lost the majority of its tool making industry as the century moved on. 

The environment in Pittsburgh may be cleaner, but we have also lost a lot of skill and knowledge as a society that these people knew better than could ever be preserved in print.

We need more books like this one to keep this history of the skilled trades alive.


About mattsanf

Matt Sanfilippo is the Chief Partnership Officer (CPO) for the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Co-Director of its Engineering Research Accelerator. In this role, Matt coordinates and enables strategic and sponsored research opportunities across the college, and stewards the development of proposals for major research opportunities along strategic themes. Additionally, he enables collaboration among the college's research institute/center executive directors, and industrial and government relations personnel in the pursuit of opportunities with industry, federal and state governments. Before becoming CPO for the College, Matt was the Senior Executive Director for Research Initiatives, the Executive Director of CMU's SII (Smart Infrastructure Institute) and ICES (Institute for Complex Engineered Systems), and Associate Director of PITA (Pennsylvania Infrastructure Technology Alliance) and RAMP (Research for Advanced Manufacturing in Pennsylvania). Before CMU, Matt was Managing Director of Applied Technology for Michael Baker Corporation, an engineering and energy services firm. Matt managed Baker's technology division including Geographic Information System (GIS), software and web development, multimedia, virtual reality, visualization, Global Positioning System (GPS), mapping and surveying services. Before joining Baker, Matt was an Innovation Director for Redleaf Group, a Venture Capital/Operating Company focused on information security, supply chain and mobility solutions. While at Redleaf, Matt managed technical due diligence for seed-stage investments and coordinated relationships between Redleaf and their partner companies. Prior to Redleaf, Matt was CIO of GZA GeoEnvironmental Technologies, an infrastructure engineering firm, and operations manager for their Internet start-up that focused on web-technologies for health and safety and manufacturing metrics. Matt is on the board of Larson Design Group (LDG), past Chairman of the Board for the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, current board member of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation (PHLF), current Vice President of the Sewickley Heights Gun Club (SHGC) and former member of the Information Sciences and Technology Advisory Board for the Pennsylvania State University Beaver. Matt is also former Vice President of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Association of Internet Professionals and former Vice President of the Board of Trustees for Baker Combined Charity of Pennsylvania.

Posted on December 2, 2005, in Books and Magazines, Weblogs, Woodworking. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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