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Tool Stories

  A Modest Gloat and a Quick Escape by Gary K.


I have to drive up and down Ridge Road in northwest New York State, more often than I would like.  There is a barn that I've gone by innumerable times, that has a pile of antique and salvaged materials outside.  Today, on the way out, I noticed a large sign posted saying, "Barn Sale" and the doors were open.  But at 100kph, I didn't see much.

On the way home, however, it was a different story.  I noticed the barn from a distance, and as I got close, the traffic miraculously parted, allowing me to bring the car to a gentle stop, at a safe distance from the road.  Taking this as a sign from on high that my mission was blessed, I climbed out and ambled about the lawn.  While there were a lot of items worth a glance, none outside were worth a second glance.  But, since the prices varied from a high of 'in your dreams!' to a low of 'do you really know what you have?' I thought the barn was worth a look too.

I poked my head inside, first noticing that although the roof was sound, most of the ambient light leaked through gaps in the vertical siding - a sure sign to stay away from the outside wall, especially on the windward, western side.  As my eyes adapted and I could see detail again (as best as I ever can - darned bifocals!!).

I looked around and noted that the interior was carpeted with glass and ceramic figures.  A further look confirmed my fear: the chief acquisition agent for their stock was clearly interested in kitchen knick-knacks.  But a few well-worn wooden items and the faint miasma of old iron led me on a further search. Finally, I spotted my quarry: a shelf and a table holding tools!

But, alas, most of them were machine tools from the automotive era.  A careful search turned up a plane with a tapered Butcher iron, but it was overpriced.  Of chisels, usually a reliable stock in trade, there was not a single one to be found.  Then I spotted a green trash can off in a corner with $1 scrawled on the outside.  Hoping against hope, I peered inside.

Phooey. There were all of about 1, 2, 3 . . . uh . . 5 saws in it.  The first one had a plastic handle.  I looked around to see if there was a saw painter handy to give that one too.  No luck.  The second had a commendable 5 nuts on it, but the handle was new and (removing glasses and holding it an inch from my nose) was made by people named Warren and Ted...  ;-).

Of course it was the last saw.  Underneath the last leprous discard was a dark-patina rip saw... my 5 TPI guess proven wrong by the 6 stamped on the heel, slightly uneven. Horns are good, and aha!! 

Three split nuts, all there and undisturbed, with the uneven slot that whispers 'old.'   A few minutes later and a dollar lighter, I blinked back into the sunshine, to meditate on my way home.

For those of you who've seen my basement, and met my loving and longsuffering wife, you know what comes next - *sigh*.  And any attempt to slip in the back just ensures that I'm met with an immediate "What did you buy?"  DAMHIKT. 

Carefully reviewing statements like 'It was only a dollar.' and 'Do you know how much split-nut saws can go for on eBay?'  I made my way home, when fortune smiled upon me again!  I parked the car, and nonchalantly ambled up to the door, stepped inside, and called, "Hi" to be met with a distant greeting from the upstairs back.  Slipping my saw on the floor just under the planter inside the door.  I went upstairs to help.  Later when we got downstairs, I was swept into the dinner routine, all the while thinking that there was a piper to pay soon.  And sure enough, she spotted it!

What followed was pure serendipity.  Sue looked at me and asked, in the tone used when identifying an infraction, "Are you throwing out your saw?" I said, "No - of course not!" (*cringe, here it comes!!*).  She handed me the saw and said, "Then keep it away from the recycling.  Or better yet, put it where it belongs!  How many times have I told you not to leave your tools out, and what were you doing with it there?"  Thinking fast I said (not quite truthfully, but with some truth in it) "I was looking at the sawnuts: you can see them best in the sunlight."   She grumbled, "OK, but this time put it where it belongs when you're done with it."   I was happy to comply.

The saw has a clean, simple design to the handle.  It is grungy, but it's not heavily pitted and I believe it will clean up nicely.  The one flaw is a chip on one of the horns.  Not a bad find, and it doubles the number of complete split nut saws that I have.  The other came from a visit to Nesquehoning PA.

A nice end to the day...

Gary K.
Close to Buffalo NY, USA

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