• Gabriel Christy

We're Back!

Hello again! Gabe Christy, maintenance assistant and apprentice millwright here.

First and foremost, I’d like to apologize to our readers for our extended hiatus. Unfortunately, other projects took priority over the blog for the past few months, but now those of us in the Millwright Shop want to share the amazing progress we’ve made since we opened in September of 2018.

Here are just some of the staff and volunteers from the Millwright shop with the new wheel in the background.
We dubbed this stage of the process “Millhenge”

One of our first steps was to build a layout table for the wheel. This consisted of a series of white oak frames arranged in a circle around a center post which was fixed to the floor. Across these frames we laid a work surface, initially 1/8” plywood, but then we came to our senses and remade it out of 2 x 12 lumber. This gave us a flat enough surface to scribe out the outer and inner circumference of the wheel, ensuring that the final product isn’t too far out of round.

Tony uses a trammel to lay out the wheel

Once we had our layout table constructed, it was time to start cutting!

In the photo below (left), I’m sawing out the inside radius of a rimboard. The layout lines are just barely visible on the face of the board. Using our frame saw, which is based on illustrations from Joseph Moxon’s Art of Joinery and Denis Diderot’s Encyclopedie, we’ve been able to saw out both sides of the rimboards with a high degree of accuracy. In the photo on the right, the layout lines are much more visible, along with the outline for the half lap saddle joint which will join each piece together.

Once each piece is cut out, it gets planed down to the layout lines on both edges. Then we carefully cut and fit the saddle joints. The saddle joint pictured below is mirrored on the bottom side of the joint. The hypothesis is that the diamond shape will prevent the individual boards from pushing themselves out of alignment as they swell. At this point, we’ve gotten most of the rims cut out, and have started getting the first half joined and set, as the next side of the wheel will be built to the first to make sure we have a symmetrical wheel, and not a whirligig.

There’s about another 6-7 days of joinery work to make sure these are all set, and then we’ll start cutting bucket board slots and get into even more complicated shapes and joinery. But that will have to wait until our next post. While I would normally sign off by inviting everyone to come visit us, the shop is currently closed due to COVID-19. But on the upside, this means I have a lot more time to write these posts, so check back in for updates! Stay safe, and please come visit us when this has all calmed down.

Half of the wheel, ready for joinery

If you’d like to take the next step and get involved in the shop, we’re always looking for volunteers. If interested, please contact us at:

Newlin Grist Mill

219 S. Cheyney Road

Glen Mills, PA 19342

Tel. 610.459.2359


Message to Our Community


In light of current conditions, Newlin Grist Mill continues to be closed as follows:

  • The NGM Visitor Center, Archive, Blacksmith Shop, Millwright Shop, and public restrooms remain closed;

  • All tours, programs and events have been postponed or cancelled during this period;

  • Pond Fishing will remain closed until further notice;

  • Rentals are being cancelled for this period of time;

  • There will be no Volunteer Wednesday Workdays;

  • The trails will remain open, but parking is limited; and we ask that everyone be mindful of social distancing when on the property.

Decisions concerning additional closings will follow based on the developing situation. Please check back for updates.

While the trails at Newlin Grist Mill remain accessible while the site is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we do want to remind everyone of a few things:

  • Continue to observe proper social distancing when you are on the trails. If you are ill or have been around anyone who is ill or has been exposed to the virus, please remain at home. If you arrive and find that the parking lot is crowded, please postpone your visit to another time.  

  • Please remember that all dogs must be on a leash that is held securely by the owner at all times. This is a township law, and it is to protect the health and safety of all park visitors (human and canine) and the wildlife in the park.

  • The park contains unique habitats that are home to sensitive plants and animals, some of which are being monitored through ongoing scientific surveys.  Please stay on the trails to avoid disturbances (wading, dip netting, collecting, rock throwing etc.) that could damage wildlife and vegetation. 

  • Remember that collecting of any kind, including plants and animals, is prohibited in the park.

We appreciate your understanding and support during this challenging time.

Newlin Grist Mill   l  219 South Cheyney Road   l  Glen Mills, PA 19342   l   610.459.2359   l   © Copyright 2014-2015 Newlin Grist Mill. All rights reserved.