The Amish Wal-Mart
Laugh if you want, but there is a place here in rural southwest Wisconsin that goes by this name. After you've lived here for over a decade or so you hear about it, but only like it's a rumor, dust in the wind. A friend of mine who has lived down in LaFarge WI for the past 12 years has recently located it and he told me "You gotta see this place"
So this past weekend we made some plans and drove down to his house to spend the day and visit "The Amish Wal-Mart." Now I think I should explain that this is not the official name of the store, infact I don't think there is an official name, I believe it gathers the name from the recycled Wal-Mart product shelving they use inside the pole barn. Where gathered inside there is a odd collection of things, One part antique store, one part salvation army, one part overstock store. A lot of tools, farming supplies, kitchen wares, just imagine if a gigantic corporate conglomerate chose to build a store that would be direct market for the Amish niche.This would be it, like a perpetual Amish rummage sale, and it is awesome!
It's kind of mysterious, there's no electricity, so no light other than what's coming in several windows, but that still bathes the dozens of isles of odds and ends in a dim, darkness. Things are gathered into rough groups, but it's kind of a "dig through the piles and find whatever you think is cool" kind of place. If you go looking for something specific and ask for it, if it's there they can help find it. but if you just go to browse, expect to search. And I love to search. Prices are much more reasonable than your typical antique store fare as well.
I was drawn to the place because my friend told me there was "a lot of planes" there, and I have been kind of hoping to find a decent plow plane for a while. What was there didn't impress me, a couple of halfway useable wood planes with W. Butcher irons in them sparked me for a minute until further inspection showed the blades were sharpened to within a quarter inch of their lives. I did find several nice Disston saws that I decided to turn down and some very cool hammers that were tempting. Decisions are difficult but I did eventually find a few little pieces that followed me home.
I did need a different brace, of the two I have one is painted and sports a "Craftsman" emblem on the handle, OK but not great for any type of reencactment woodworking, and my other the handle on the swing slides around when pressure is applied. After picking through the 2 dozen braces they had on the shelf, this is the one I chose. I also picked up this odd little pick axe / adze tool, both ends have been sharpened with a bevel and it intrigued me. I have wanted a bowl or coopers adze for a while, but I always seem to lose the bids on eBay when the chance comes up (not that I'm trying that hard). After getting it home I took a few swings on some scrap pine without touching up the sharpness on the blades at all and it worked very much like an adze, hollowing out a space.
I did also find a kind of cool turning tool, home shaped from an old nicholson file. Shaped to cut beads. I couldn't leaving him sitting there either, so he followed me home too.
The Amish Wal-Mart, not something I need to go check out monthly, but maybe bi-yearly would be pretty cool, we'll see what follows me home next time.
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