Old Tools


Using ‘tools’ in the broadest sense – maybe anything that extends your hands/body to get something done more easily – what is the age of your oldest tools, specifically the ones that have been in fairly constant use?

This is an interesting question for me, and brings an awareness about my life I haven’t had before. There are tools that I use in my life that are almost as old or older than I am. My Mother’s garlic press is still in use, and the pin that holds it together still slips out if you’re not careful. I have some kitchen spoons that have been stirring things since before I was born – both wooden and metal. I have a pottery bread rising bowl that has three little legs and used to have a bail handle. It was used in the warm ashes to raise bread and I still use it. And my Mother’s pastry blender with a handle that my Dad manufactured when the first handle broke. All still in use.

Outside I still use the asparagus knife, the long handled weeder with the steel digger, forked at the end – that I used as a kid on the farm, digging up burdock! I need to fill the handle and reseat the cap – other than that it is an amazing garden tool. I have been working for my daughter in her landscaping company, using this tool at least two days a week for 7 hours a day for almost three years. It’s still going strong when all the new ones have broken or bent.

I have loppers bought in the late forty’s, a brace and bit and the bits to go with it. And some really fine knives.

There’s a little green stool in the bathroom under the sink. My Dad made it when my older brother needed a stool (1942?). It was used by all of us kids, by my Mom in the kitchen, by my Grandma Armstrong to get in and out of the VW Van and now by my grandchildren. It’s not a thing of beauty, it’s a thing of function. It connects me to my whole life – theĀ  little, beat-up, dark green stool.

I even have a willow laundry basket I bought in Vermont in 1966 and I sure wish I’d bought two.

I am totally convinced that buying quality is the best investment you can have. For those things that are used all the time, and will be used by all, get tools that are forever instead of disposable. Your hand and body gets to know a tool and then the good use of it really begins. It’s such a pleasure to use a tool that has been well taken care of and cherished.

I know, some things go obsolete almost before you turn around. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the basic tools that only need elbow grease or skill to have them work. I love having that sense of certainty. I know I am an expert with these tools; I’ve had more than 5000 hours with every one of them.

Leave a Comment