What is it about metalhead tools that I
find so appealing? Bear with me here and I'll post some pics to
I've made a new friend! It's not easy
to find a fellow 25 year old that lives in the same town as you and
has like interests in old tools. But that's just what I've done. I
ran into this dude at our local junk store about a week ago. He was
checking out the tools, I was checking out the tools, so I kinda
asked him if he was a user or a collector.
Turns out he works at some kind of
colonial restoration outfit in Hartland, VT and is a pure user. I
get the same question and do my very best to answer user as well,
though when you're a hobbyist it's a bit tougher to convince someone
of that. I'm sure y'all know what I mean.
:) But hey, now I gotta share my junk
store with somebody else looking for the same stuff. I guess I can
live with that if I gain a friend, I'll just have to check in for
new stuff more frequently!
Anyway, I stopped in at the junk store
this weekend to do my routine check for new stuff. This is one of
those places that has used books of questionable genre, gaudy
jewelry, pukey ducks, stained mattress pads and old hardware piled
deep in the corners. The owner kinda knows me by now, so he says
"Hey, I got an old machinist toolbox out in the truck if you're
interested..." Now Frank, Wes, calm down! It wasn't a Gerstner, just
a cheapo Kennedy that doesn't go too well with bathroom decor. But
the contents was another story.
The till in the top is always where I
start with these types of boxes. It seems like that's where the prime
morsels are usually found. This chest was no exception. Oh, lookie
what we have here:
I wiped the dust off of this box, my
sweaty palms smearing it around in the process. I see what looks
like rosewood, nay cocobolo, nay some sort of Dalbergia. The
brass plaque on the lid is completely blank, though I can't tell if
it's always been blank or was worn smooth.
I open the clasp and swing the lid up
Oh goody! A craftsman made
drafting set. From top to bottom:
Divider with removable leg
Pen that doesn't belong to this set
Short divider leg
Compass (missing thumb screw)
Dotted line pen
Pen with detachable handle (busted)
I immediately snapped the box shut,
putting the thought of purchasing it out of my head. I knew
the shop owner knew a thing or two about machine tools and figured
he'd ask for the moon for this set. So I pawed through the
rest of the chest, found a pair of nice Starrett dividers that I set
aside, a one inch square Norton India stone and a Union Tool Co.
marking gage. I took this lot and the drafting set up to the
counter and presented my finds for him to price. Mind you, I
know I have exactly $45 in cash on me, so at this point I'm thinking
I'll get everything but the drafting set. So the shop owner
picks up the dividers and mutters under his breath, "hmmm, Starrett."
Uh oh, we got brand recognition, that
can't be good!
Then he slides the stone over by the dividers,
mentioning that that stone will serve me well.
He picks up the marking gage, looks at
it, says to me, "I've got no idea what this is, so we'll throw it in
with these." Score! Now I'm pretty certain that I'll get this
first lot of stuff for not too much. Then he comes to the
He picks it up. He cracks the lid.
He says, "Gosh, you don't see these everyday. Looks complete,
too. How about $500?". "Yeah right," I say.
"Now how much, really?" He
studies the set for a minute. Aw crap, I just know he's gonna
ask for the moon. He looks at me as if trying to decide how
much he can soak me for without asking too much. That shrewd
old bastard, why won't he just give me a number so I can buy the
first lot and be on my way? He sets the case down and says, "I
think it'll be ten for these (dividers, stone, marking gage) and
twenty for the drafting set."