When I started my label I knew nothing more than I couldn’t be in the same room with others, despite the Witcomb USA years being full of fun. I cherish the memories and experiences just as I do my time at Witcomb Lightweight Cycles in London where all this began as some twisted way to avoid college and get back at The Ski Rack for not hiring me.
By the time my name was on a bicycle the word precision was something I could spell yet wasn’t part of my daily conversation. My routine mirrored what I saw others do. And I expanded on it if for no other reason than I didn’t want to be caught out as a fraud. I made frames. They stayed together. People paid me. All of this happened though I never prayed.
At some point I looked around my studio space. And at the tools I gathered. And probably spent too much time staring at my work in progress. And felt like I was on a fast track to standing still. Essentially a self-taught maker, I needed an injection of affirmation to make me think I had a fighting chance of keeping up with whatever aura I was trying to land in.
The Smith & Bishel Hardware Company in nearby Middletown kept a small display case containing highbrow measuring tools that I drooled over. Not knowing a dial indicator from a height gauge from a vernier caliper, I’d stare through the glass and fixate on the lot, all the time fantasizing over what these devices could add to my repertoire.
I bought this protractor because it was the only thing I could afford without taking a mortgage. It was spendy even still. But it was stamped Starrett. And I knew the brand made inspection grade measuring equipment that had no peers. To own it would (could) mean I’d have a fighting chance at taking a precise measurement.
Over time, and I mean decades not years, I realized that making is about the maker not the tools he swings. My intuition and hand eye coordination helped me so much more than any single device I ever spent money on or obsessed over. Yeah. The alignment tables and fixtures looks swell in the photos. But they don’t make the bicycles. I make them.
All This By Hand