Miter Boxes

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Sharp. Stones


Layout and Measuring Tool and their Makers


I think I found something...  by Andrew Seaman

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What is it about metalhead tools that I find so appealing?  Bear with me here and I'll post some pics to illustrate.

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 to find:

Oh goody!  A craftsman made drafting set.  From top to bottom:

  • Divider with removable leg

  • Pen that doesn't belong to this set

  • Divider

  • Short divider leg

  • Compass (missing thumb screw)

  • Dotted line pen

  • Pen

  • Extension leg

  • 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 drafting set.

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."

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