Hello and welcome to my blog. What I'm doing here is documenting my personal expression of "hands-on history" from a craftsman's perspective. I've been on this path for a large part of my life and it's taken me to some interesting and challenging places. I hope to share the processes and the historically inspired objects I've crafted along this journey into our past. This adventure has deepened my appreciation for past craftsmanship and the intelligence of common place things in Early America. Besides, now I have all this cool stuff to play (teach) with.

Jim Miller

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

More 19th Century Angling or Tackling Obscure Tackle

     I lucked out recently and won a piece of early 19th century tackle known as a Clearing Ring, on an online auction. I recognized it from the illustration in T. F. Salter's 1823 "The Angler's Guide".  It's a simple device designed to unsnag your line when it's caught on some underwater obstacle. Apparently snagged lines have been plaguing anglers since there's been anglers.

Original Illustration from T.F. Salter's "The Angler's Guide"
Note the Clearing Ring on the right
and the Disgorger

     The way it works is pretty straight forward. Once your line has snagged, you pop-up the latch on the top of the ring and open it up. With your rod at an angle, you place the ring over it and close the latch. By dipping the rod down and letting out the ring's tether cord, the ring descends off the rod and over your line. By its weight, it will continue to slide on down to the snag and hopefully, with a couple of tugs on the tether, free the snag.

My Original Clearing Ring
photos by author

     From my research, it appears that most of the original Clearing Rings were made of brass. Salter even called it a brass Clearing Ring. I was determined to make a replica for my own use but having a foundry cast the parts in brass was beyond my budget. Instead, I opted for a bi-metal version that would still function and look the part. Over the years, I've had pretty good luck casting linotype metal in a plaster mold and having the orignal Ring to mold from, made it almost easy. For the latch mechanism though, I decided to go with brass for its toughness.

My Replica Clearing Ring and Thumb Winder

    Along with the Ring, I needed to secure the tether line to some sort of spool. The original Clearing Ring I purchased, used an old float for a winder. As cool as that was I decided to make what Salter called a Thumb Winder. Basically, it's a wooden spool that spins on your thumb. Is that fun or what ? I turned my Winder out of a piece of birch that I had laying around. After it came off the lathe, I carefully drilled the hole through, big enough for my fat thumb. A little stain and some burnishing and it was ready for service. For the tether, I chose a strong hemp cord.

An Original Bone Disgorger
Online source unknown

   Just before I launched into the Clearing Ring project, I carved a bone disgorger ala Salter from an 8" bone folder that I purchased online. So there you go, a couple of fun projects and more period gear in my cluttered creel.
My Bone Disgorger ala Salter