Portable Fly Tying Station

An old family relic given a new shot at life.
     Recently I've had a change of heart in regards to fly tying.  Don't get me wrong I'm still a big proponent of "Don't Tie What You Can Buy."  Though I have fallen hard for tying patterns that I can't get readily in stores.  Add to that the fact that I'm teaching a couple of entry level tying classes and will be speaking at numerous fly fishing shows this season and I guess this recent chapter in my life could be considered inevitable.
A place for everything.
     So lately my fly fishing tools and supplies have begun to multiply.  This has led me to the realization that a ziploc bag and the kitchen table are no longer adequate.  I needed a place to tie that could be moved around the house, would organize my tools, and could take a beating.  This brings me to the tray you see in the photos.  If you look carefully at the photos you'll notice the letters PMT.  This stands for Precision Mold and Tool.  It was a machine shop owned by my fathers family since the 1940's in Muncie, IN.  In it's heyday it was a busy shop full of hardworking men and women.  I remember as a kid going on vacation to visit the family and being so impressed with the scale of operations going on inside those buildings.   My fathers stories of growing up and working inside the shop make me long for the old days when an honest days work for honest pay was a way of life.  Sadly, last year due to economic struggles, cheaper labor overseas, and some inter-family struggles, those doors closed forever.  For me this tray and a handful of memories are all that's left.
     My father built this tray by hand over 40 years ago.  The shop needed trays that could safely move around precision parts and tools and as it turns out wood is pretty good at protecting milled metals without scratching them.  My mother saved the tray on one of their last trips out and gave it to me since I'm the kind of person that attaches memories to objects.
     After securing permission, I started to make the modifications required to give this old shop tray a new life.  I drilled out some holes to hold my bobbins, scissors, and tools.  Then I not so carefully cut and glued in some wooden dowels to keep my spools of thread in place.  Finally, I drilled through a spare vise base I had in a drawer and screwed it down to the old wood frame.  A couple of felt slider feet on the bottom keep it surface friendly and ready to work.
     It was a nice project for a cold Sunday morning.  So far it's performing splendidly as a portable unit.  Only time will tell if it ends up being an heirloom within my own my family.  I hope that when my kids hear the stories it will become valued as part of my own legacy.  Until then you'll see it on these pages and at fishing expos.  I can still smell the machine shop in the wood.  Forever reminding me to keep those childhood memories close to my heart.
     Tight Lines.

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