My Grandfather’s Tool Chest
Growing up, I always remember down in the basement an old wooden tool chest from the early 1900’s covered with decades of dirt and grime sitting next to my dad’s workbench. It was my grandfather’s tool chest that my father had inherited. The outside was covered with emblems collected over the years, including many from companies that had become extinct by the middle of the 20th century. It was filled with an assortment of hand tools from the late 19th century and early 20th century. To my dad, I suppose having it next to his work bench was a reminder of the skill and knowledge his dad had passed on to him, along with the tools in that chest.
My grandfather passed away many years before I was born, so to me the tool chest had a different meaning. I had never seen my grandfather open it and work with the tools. Instead, it sat among my father’s tools, and even though it was rarely opened, but it served as a tangible representation of the many skills that are handed from generation to generation. Knowing it was my grandfather’s, it also became my tangible connection to him. I remember when I was young and not old enough to use most power tools, I would dig around the chest and use many of the tools.
As I grew, my appreciation of those hand tools grew as well. When I used them, I would think about the stories they could tell and what my grandfather could teach me about using them. When my parents retired and downsized, my father gave me my grandfather’s tool chest. It now sits near my workbench. It continues to inspire a deeper appreciation for handwork, craftsmanship and what we learn from those that have come before and reminds me that as we learn, we must share that knowledge as well. In memory of the knowledge of our grandparents, this site is intended to share those skills from those that came before.
Jim and his family live in Williamsburg, Virginia. He currently works as a lawyer, but his passion lies with the study of history, traditional woodworking, and antiques. Even though he prefers traditional woodworking with hand tools, he is now old enough to use power tools and uses them now and again. He makes no claim of being a purist or an expert. Instead, he enjoys woodworking and continues to build confidence in his skills one project at a time. As he learns new traditional skills, he wants to share that knowledge with others who have the same passion so it can stay alive for generations to come.
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