3 Generations of Tools, Photographed
June 12, 2017 10:11 PM   Subscribe

3 Generations of Tools, Photographed
I'm a third generation stagehand. My father and grandfather were both theatrical carpenters, and my father is also an antique tool collector. Many of the images are literally the drawers out of his roadbox and various tool chests at his home, others are some of my favorite pieces of his. I've been posting them with my recollections of a lifetime with these tools, or with stories from my father or grandfather.
A rather hypnotizing collection of photographs from MeFi's own nevercalm. [via mefi projects]
posted by lalex (20 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
Gorgeous. I enjoyed reading the little write-ups, some very fine details in there.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:29 PM on June 12

Yes, I should have mentioned that the little vignettes that accompany the photos are well worth reading! I honestly find the photos to be mesmerizing.
posted by lalex at 10:38 PM on June 12

"Until his retirement he used way more hand tools than necessary. It's endearing but infuriating."
posted by banal retentive at 3:36 AM on June 13

Metafilter: It's endearing but infuriating.
posted by DigDoug at 4:35 AM on June 13 [4 favorites]

This is amazing. I come from a family of builders and makers and artists and this is just so *home* to me.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:19 AM on June 13 [1 favorite]

Hey cool, thanks for posting this! I was wondering why I woke up to a bunch of notifications this morning.

The stories have been the fun part. My father had heart surgery last year and I finally realized I needed to either be a filmmaker and record him talking about all this stuff or just do what I do, photograph everything and write the stories myself. I spent this weekend up at their house photographing tools and drawers, and even had his 80 year old finger pushing the button on the camera. Suddenly this thing that he's always sort of ignored and had little use for has become a way for us to bond.

If anyone has any questions, I'll gladly answer them.
posted by nevercalm at 7:21 AM on June 13 [1 favorite]

And not to threadsit, the "endearing/infuriating" thing specifically refers to an incident from when I was in HS. We had a giant (3' diameter) tree fall into our yard. I was headed off to the neighbors to borrow their chainsaw when he stopped me.

"A chainsaw doesn't have a brain. We're going to do this with our brains." He handed me a sledgehammer and a wedge. He had a tree saw. It took us half a day to break the goddamned thing apart. Then that same neighbor came over with his chainsaw to cut it into smaller more manageable pieces for his fireplace.

It took me two decades to come up with the right answer. "No shit dad, a hammer doesn't have a brain either. That's your job...you supply the brain."
posted by nevercalm at 7:36 AM on June 13 [6 favorites]

Love the photos! Your dad sounds a lot like my dad, who also liked to tinker around with tools, albeit not professionally. The tree incident definitely sounds like my father, and reminds me of this anecdote.
posted by TedW at 8:02 AM on June 13 [1 favorite]

As an aside, nevercalm's photos of the Daily Show crew are fantastic.
posted by numaner at 8:20 AM on June 13 [1 favorite]

posted by gwint at 8:43 AM on June 13 [1 favorite]

I have never seen (or heard of) a double-ended adjustable wrench before.
posted by jamjam at 8:54 AM on June 13 [1 favorite]

As an aside, nevercalm's photos of the Daily Show crew are fantastic.

Thanks! My day job (well, one of them) is as the set photographer for The Daily Show. I'm almost done with my cast/staff/crew portrait project there as well...three people left out of 100+!

And yeah, I've never seen those double enders either, only in my father's basement. They're unreasonably heavy, easily offsetting the benefit of the time savings of not having to set and reset your one wrench.
posted by nevercalm at 9:26 AM on June 13

Awesome project, nevercalm! Makes me miss my theatrical days. Thanks, lalex, for posting!
posted by ferret branca at 9:28 AM on June 13 [1 favorite]

Spitting tacks, huh? I know all about putting one or two screws between your lips to speed up your work, but a mouthful of sharp pointy things?
posted by clawsoon at 9:52 AM on June 13

"A chainsaw doesn't have a brain. We're going to do this with our brains." He handed me a sledgehammer and a wedge. He had a tree saw.

...And with three expertly struck blows with the hammer, and two swipes of the saw, the tree detached neatly from the stump and rolled next to the woodpile. Onlookers with noisy, polluting power tools were flabbergasted.

It took us half a day to break the goddamned thing apart.

Oh. Yeah, or that.
posted by CaseyB at 12:17 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]

These are gorgeous - both the photography and the subject matter.

One winter storm a huge branch from a 70' tree in our backyard fell onto a residential above-surface power line in our backyard, adjacent to the detached garage. Luckily, it didn't down the lines.

Worried that it would eventually if we didn't do anything about it, my dad and I climbed onto the garage roof with an electric handsaw to bring the thing down (successfully; I know, we should have called the utilities company but we assumed that they'd be swamped).

Managed it in about half an hour; would have taken all night with hand tools.

That said, I have always wanted and *still* want a good manual hand drill. Just haven't been able to find one I like, at a price that makes sense.
posted by porpoise at 7:34 PM on June 13

So awesome!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:12 PM on June 13

where have you been looking, porpoise? I found both of my drills for about $5 apiece at yard sales. It's the bits that will bankrupt you, but the drills are cheap.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 9:38 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]

Porpoise, great story! And you can definitely find manual hand drills at either yard sales or flea markets. They're plentiful and cheap, even the nicer ones.
posted by nevercalm at 9:28 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]

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