Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Grandpa's Tools

Last August -- nearly a year ago -- I was in Seattle, helping to go through my paternal grandfather’s house: he had decided to move into an assisted-living place.

He did a lot of woodworking -- it was a core part of his self-identity -- so he had a lifetime’s accumulation of woodworking equipment (and a lifetime’s accumulation of wood -- largely offcuts). Although he was more of a power tool guy, he was of the generation that pre-dated economical power tools, so he had a decent stash of hand tools as well.

The clamps, handplanes, and handsaws were pretty much picked over by Grandpa’s kids -- which is fair enough, as he’s their dad. None the less, I got a lot of tools that no one else wanted -- or at least, had taken what they **truly** wanted, and were leaving for the grandkids to have a go.

It's good to know that about half of my hand tools (maybe 2/3?) are from my grandpa. Good heritage stuff.

As I said, most of the hand saws were already claimed by my dad and his siblings. But, there were a few left over. One or two Disstons, and a saw from a little kid-type of ''Junior Carpenter'' kit. The bucksaw (with the black inner tube wrapped around the blade) came via my dad, who'd had it hanging up in the garage for years, but never used it. Anyhow, this nearly doubles my stash of hand saws (yeah, I know some of you have more than this -- but I'm still new at all this...). :)

I was the only one in the family who had any use for the sawsets (except maybe my brother), the two jointers, and the sawblade clamp. Pretty sure I was the only one who knew what they were (again, except for my brother). A zillion years ago, before I became interested in woodworkikng hand tools, my grandpa showed me how to use all this stuff. Not that I remember the specifics that he showed me -- but I do remember him showing me.

Here're a few hammers. Well, the crowbar on the left isn't a hammer -- but I figured it kinda fit among the claw hammers. Just to the right of the crowbar is a hand pickeroon (probably has a specific name), for whacking in to things to drag them closer to ya. Far bottom right is some sort of gem-hunter's hammer.

Again, doubling my hammer supply.

Here's four mallets that my grandpa made. Prior to this, I just had one mallet (a rubber-headed one). There were a few other mallets spread around Grandpa's house, after his kids went through his tools but before the grandkids went through. I gathered them up, and all the grandkids that wanted one got at least one. I took these four, since they represent different styles. I think there may have been one or two more ''barrel style'' mallets left, but I didn't need **all** of them. My dad or one of the other sibs probably picked up the remaining ones.

Three handplanes. Curiously, I had a number of smoothers, and two wooden jointer planes, but no jack planes. Now I have one.

Some wrenches and pliers. He also had a **ton** of box-end and crescent wrenches -- but I already have a few sets, and didn't need more. I like the ''reversable'' one on the bottom right.

Three sets of whetstones. Two are in boxes (which he made himself). The other one was always out on one of his workbenches, between his two lathes, wedged into position so it'd stay put. I presume he used it for touching up his lathe tools.

Speaking of lathe work: them woodturners sure like their callipers....

Some sledge hammers and axes. As I recall, there were four or five sledge hammers left over. I figured I didn't need **all** of them, so I hefted them, and took the heaviest one, and the lightest one. The one in the middle I took because I was intrigued by its shape (any insights?).

In hindsight, the axes would've photographed better if I'd removed the protective paper/cardboard covering. Anyhow, a double-bitted, and two regulars.

I own two hatchets, but -- until now -- no axes. Or sledges.

Similarly, I only owned two splitting wedges. Now I own, ummm... seven? Yeah.

Maybe silly to pay ocean freight for these chunks o' metal. But, they were my grandfather's. And they seem hard to find in modern-day Brisbane, Australia.

A tap and die set, for making wooden threads. Or rather, the die; not sure where the tap is. (I **think** I have the terminology the right way around; I could always look it up....)

A few shovels, plus a pickaxe (with the yellow collar), and I think a hay fork. The far right shovel is a trenching shovel; the two on the left are some sort of spade -- although actually the one to the right might be some sort of manure shovel? Dunno. (Comments welcome.)

AU quarantine didn't give me the grief over these that I thought they might.

A shoe last. No one else wanted it. Not sure when I'll actually **use** it -- but if I need one, I gots one.

Punches and awls to the left; on the left of the ''knives'' section is one o' them things used to pry the strands of a rope apart, for when you're doing back-splices or eye-splices (thx to my brother for pointing that out!). I do a surprising amount of splicing, so this should come in handy. Next is a knife, maybe a marking knife (certainly, I could use it as such). The silver knife to the right is a very dangerous, pre-retractable box knife; I got it just for the sheer danger of it.

At the bottom right is two glass cutters. One of 'em is green, so...

Some miscellania. Not **all** the misc. -- just some of the high points: hearing protectors, some clamps, some rope with my grandpa's eye-splicing...

I'll need to file these under ''files''. Curiously, very few rasps. Handles turned by my grandpa, of course.

And finally, a small grinding wheel, with a belt with which to drive it. I might hook it up to a foot treadle, or some-such. It intrigued me, and no one else wanted it.

And the mechanic's/metalworking vice that my grandpa lined with wood to use it to hold wooden pieces. It was only much later that he got an actual woodworker's face vice. He'd used that vice as long as I can remember. And, since he did most of his wood processing with machines, I guess this vice suited his needs better than a face vice (e.g. he wouldn't be hand-planing the edges of boards). And it **does** hold the work higher up than a face vice would.

I have an idea of how to use this in the bench I build. But it'll be at least half a year before I build that bench -- too much other stuff to do first (including setting up a workshop!!!).

No chisels or lathe tools. My uncle took all the chisels and lathe tools, to sort. He keeps meaning to look through the chisels and let me have some, but when I mentioned it during my recent visit, he said he hasn’t thought to go through them, and at this point the box is behind other stuff in his garage. As far as the lathe tools, he says I can have one of the sets when I actually get a wood lathe.

Grandpa had (IIRC) three or four circular saws, and five or six corded power drills. Everyone (his kids and grandkids) who lives locally already had one, but a few people took an extra one as a backup.

Anyhow, because my brother and I were the only ones without a workshop already set up and stocked (except for my sister, and she's not really interested) -- and because I was in the process of moving to a house (whereas my brother is still in a small-ish apartment), I ended up with a **lot** of my Grandpa's tools. I'm bummed that he's not using them anymore; but pleased that I have them, and can hand them down to my own kids and grandkids (as relevant -- we'll see ends up interested in woodworking!).


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At September 02, 2007 8:40 AM, Blogger slag said...

You should hang a lot of those tools on your walls. They look cool (shape-wise, anyway)! Tools and guitars. And books. And figurines. Ok, you have too much stuff. But some of it could go up pretty easily.

(PS now you can't scold me anymore for not using a blogger identity)

At September 02, 2007 11:20 AM, Blogger messiah said...

some really great stuff. it's easy to tell how much it means to you, and how much you treasure it already.

i was young when my grandparents passed away - i have very little to remember him by. probably the coolest (and only) thing i have is his photography course. he took it by mail order, and i have the entire manual, plus all of his assignments and tests in the original course package.

since photography was my major, it was pretty cool to me.

At September 03, 2007 4:02 AM, Anonymous yorkshireman said...

A couple of items.
the 'gem hammer' is a common brick hammer. geological hammers are quite different. your manure fork is probably correctly identified, ( my memory is of life on my uncles's farm back in the late 50s. it could also be a number of other things. Like any tool, the same item is known by different names according to its use. So
'bring the manure fork' results in the same item as
'bring the hay fork' and so on.

Having just come back indoors after going through my tool chest with a couple of genereations in it, I know why yo paid the freight. It was the right thing to do.

Richard Wilson
Yorkshireman Galoot

At September 04, 2007 4:35 PM, Anonymous bierhoernchen said...

Thankee - It's neat seeing all those tools again 1 year later. I always liked looking at them whenever I'd go into grandpa's basement. By the way, who got the brush-hook and peavey?

At September 05, 2007 12:23 AM, Blogger Gye Greene said...

Guitar Cousin got the peavey, pickeroon, and the Swede hook (log tongs with the wooden two-person carrying handle). Makes sense, as his trees blow down more often than mine.

He actually offered me either the Swede hook or the pickeroon (I forget which), as he hasn't used it yet. But he says he uses the peavey a fair bit.



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