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Comfort Tools, not really OT

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  • Comfort Tools, not really OT

    Okay, Here is my idea of comfort tools, and why.

    1. An elderly Starrett 0-1" mic. Got it from a elderly stranger, nicest guy you'll ever meet. Told my daughter to put it in my pocket when she buries me. I guess why it means so much to me is that it is old, ugly, but still capable of good work after all the years. Ya gotta like a tough survivor.

    2. Late 40's 10" Craftsman table saw. It was Dad's, he passed away in 1967, when I was just 14. I remember him, every time i flip the switch. I rebuilt it for it's 50th birthday.

    3. My milling machine, it's A Bridgeport, and pretty nice. And, there's lots like it or better, but I got it 12-14 years ago from my best friend. Now he has health issues, and his time is too short. Every time I make chips, I think about the good times we've shared over the years.

    I could continue, but you get the idea, no? Lets hear about the things that mean something to
    I cut it off twice; it's still too short
    Oregon, USA

  • #2
    Tim - this is bound to turn into a good thread and I enjoyed reading your short stories,,,

    I have some hand me downs and one of my pride possessions is from my Dad also - when he passed my Mom told us to take something of his that we wanted, I never even gave it a thought so ended up just going through his tools and ended up with his little 1/4" drive cornwell ratchet, of all my tools in my box that's the one i value the most and sometimes maybe even too busy to think about him when I grab it to use each time, but most of the time im not and it really is something special...


    • #3
      I'm glad that I'm not the only one that has a special place in their hearts from the memories that tools invoke upon a person due to their prior owners.

      Yeah for me too it was my father's tools. He was for most of his life an automotive mechanic and also did a fair amount of marine work having been trained by Mercury Marine when the automotive work lost it's glamor for him.
      I was given not only all of his tools, which I still use to this day, but I also inherited a lot of his wisdom and knowledge over the years.
      He was proud of the fact that I took a deep interest in what he did to put bread and butter on the table at the time. With his guidance he had me doing brake jobs by the time I was 8 and automatic transmissions shortly after I turned 10.

      The same tools we used together back in the late 50's and early 60's are still being used by me today and I swear a special feeling comes over me each and every time I reach into that old roll-away Snapon tool cabinet. Lots a specialized tooling he collected over the years and I still get comments and questions about their use and history anytime someone takes a look inside that cabinet. He also earned some some very special presentation tool sets for being enrolled in the Chrysler Master Tech training courses, those and some of the other awards he earned from Ford and GM are of course in the house and not in the shop.

      Hard to define the feeling I get when using his tools but my best answer would be pride.
      Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
      Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

      Location: British Columbia


      • #4
        I've got a couple of tools kind of like that. I don't use them much but there's no way I'll get rid of them. The first is a Millers Falls Jig Saw. It was the first power tool my dad ever bought. Probably dates to to the mid to late 50's. The insulation on the cord is all split and cracked but I get it out once in awhile just to make sure it still runs. I could replace the cord but it's all original. The other is a wood Lufkin folding ruler that he had, brass hinges and ends. I don't have a use for it but it was his so I hang on to it.


        • #5
          There's not a tool I own that I am 100% satisfied with, except maybe my Hakko soldering iron and hot air rework station. Each was 99$, proving cost isn't a factor.

          Sent from my SM-G950U1 using Tapatalk


          • #6
            I have a ratcheting screwdriver that I bought back in the 70s. I think it's a "Screwball". As the name implies, the big yellow and red handle is sized and shaped about like a handball to fit well an the palm of your hand. It was my first tool that was not a cheap no frills design. I still use it from time to time.

            At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and extra parts.

            Location: SF East Bay.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Willy View Post
              He was proud of the fact that I took a deep interest in what he did to put bread and butter on the table at the time. With his guidance he had me doing brake jobs by the time I was 8 and automatic transmissions shortly after I turned 10.

              Hard to define the feeling I get when using his tools but my best answer would be pride.

              No wonder you turned out to be such a wizz-kid Willy,,, auto-tranny's at the age of 10?, you got me beat by a long shot... Chip off the old block as they would say... kudos.

              Edit; Fact is - is it really does not have to be something they used much or that you can relate too much, when my Mom passed away there really is not much stuff relatable as in tools, but I was asked to pick something out and found her calculator, just a little cheap solar powered battery back up plus my own one shot craps so when I seen it that's what I grabbed...

              it's the same deal, I treasure it, it does make me think of her and that's all that matters...
              Last edited by A.K. Boomer; 07-06-2019, 09:06 AM.


              • #8
                I think most of my stuff is "comfort tools" even the ones I bought myself. Some general mechanical items were my Dad's, others I bought along the way for one job or another. Dad had the old (1963) Craftsman "V" ratchets with the "flying vee" shifters. And all the sockets and combination wrenches. I bought the very antique Greenfield 2-piece adjustable dies, dated 1880. And the Brown&Sharpe mics, made in Providence RI. The Federal "Miracle Movement" indicators. The list goes on and on and on.... a real nice 1940's Craftsman machinist box from my neighbor, she claimed it was her Dad's during the War. The list could go on for pages tho, so I'll stop typing now. I think they are *all* comfort tools.


                • #9
                  I have a combination square.
                  It has the 12" ruler blade and the square part
                  is made from die cast zinc or aluminum, not sure.
                  Anyhow, it is a Millers Falls brand. Not too precision
                  anymore from years of use, but not bad. It came in
                  a box of tools from my grandfather on my mothers side.
                  I have used as a kid when I made my first go-cart and
                  mini-bike projects. I have grown to know the tool, and
                  just how to set the head to get the measurement that I
                  wanted when scribing a cut line or layout line. For
                  fabrication work it is perfect. I would not want to use my
                  satin chrome Starrett combination square for fab work,
                  or my pretty Lufkin square. I like this one because it is
                  accurate enough and in good enough condition to be a
                  viable tool, but not so pretty that I am afraid to use it.
                  I would be very upset if I broke it or lost it. For me, it is
                  the perfect tool for fabrication projects. That being said,
                  I would really like the LaGesse Products LAsquare. It is
                  a wide combination square. I have found where this
                  would be very handy when working with structural steel
                  pieces. But for now, I will still use my favorite M-F
                  combination square.



                  • #10

                    Perhaps I'm maybe more than a bit of an "Old Tiffy". But tools to me are simply a means to an end. There is nothing romantic or enjoyable about them - one is as good as another. And I have tools that I've owned for decades and used nearly everyday to make a living with.

                    I still own a 0-1" Sherr-Tumico micrometer, (purchased right at the factory), that was my first real "machinist tool" back when I went to school to be a tool and die maker. I seldom use it these days as a digital mic has replaced it because it's faster and easier for me to read.
                    If you think you understand what is going on, you haven't been paying attention.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by dalee100 View Post
                      ... But tools to me are simply a means to an end. There is nothing romantic or enjoyable about them - one is as good as another....
                      Try buying a NEW tool that is the same quality as an OLD tool.
                      Maybe then you will have some respect for what old tools really are.



                      • #12
                        Yep the square. Thanks, Doozer!
                        Out of the entire company, I was the only one who up and spent a weeks pay on a Starrett combination set. Back when I was starting out, I was working in a boiler shop (welder/fab). My job was to put on the flanges before they were machined. The head machinist explained to me that I had to have the dimensions within 1/32 or he would personally come back here and beat me. The starrett square set is accurate enough for me to get finished parts within 1/32 after it has cooled off. All the other guys were using stuff from Home Depot, and they were having a hard time. Nowdays I'm trying to move into the machining instead of fab, for the last 5 yrs.


                        • #13
                          My comfort tool is a machining vise I got from a very old retired machinist. The vise was his masters project. He made the entire vise. When I answered the add for the vise I think he said he would take 85Euros for it. I went by his house to pick up the vise and he showed me his Masters Diploma and told me the story of the vise. His children wern't interested in his tools. The price was 85Euros and I gave him 500Euros. I asked him to come by and maybe teach me some and his eyes lit up and he was happy that someone appreciated him. Every time I clamp something in the vise I feel good about it. The vise is as smooth as silk and clamps really well.
                          Location: The Black Forest in Germany

                          How to become a millionaire: Start out with 10 million and take up machining as a hobby!


                          • #14
                            LONG STORY: I went to tech school on a co-op program which allowed me to go to a technical school starting my second year of high school till graduation as a senior. I could go for a half day every day for three years and the city paid for the transportation - didn't cost me anything. My dad worked in a machine shop but he wasn't a machinist. He was very proud of what I was doing especially after I showed him the first few projects I had made. One night he came home from work with a very old but very accurate Starrett mic which he bought from a machinist at work for $7. It was dead-on-balls accurate but all it had was the ratchet. Knowing how hard it was for my dad to part with $7 (he went through the Depression and all) I was, believe it or not, overwhelmed that he would spend $7 for something he didn't know how to use himself. Seven bucks was still a lot of money back in those days.

                            LONG STORY LONGER: During the evening I worked at the same school I went to during the day as a teacher's helper. All of the students were grown men. The night my dad gave me the mic I showed it around the shop. There was one guy who was a bit of a jerk who had a Mitutoyo 1" mic which had the ratchet, carbide faces, tenths vernier, spindle lock, decimal equivalents and was finished in satin chrome but it was off by 3 1/2 thou. He offered to trade me even for the old mic because it was so accurate. Well, I knew I could reset the Mitutoyo [EDIT] I reset it before I went home [END EDIT] so I traded him. I wouldn't have taken advantage of him if he was a nice guy, but as I said he was a pompous jerk.

                            EPILOGUE: I have always been a rather sentimental guy and it wasn't till the ride home on the bus that it occurred to me what I had done. This was a gift that my dad had given me and I had callously bartered it away. I had to fess up and I did. I explained all the features of the new mic to him and it looked brand new. Like I said before, my dad had lived a very hard life and that hard life had kicked all the sentimentality out of him. He was always wheeling and dealing but he told me that never in his life had he traded up to such a profit in so short a time as the few hours of time that I had owned the mic, and that he had never known anyone else to do so in so short a time either. He told me that he was very proud of me - and I could tell by his expression he wasn't kidding.

                            That 1" mic served me through my entire half-century career as my principal 1" mic. and over the course of my working life I have told this story often. In all probability, now that I am retired, this will be the last time.

                            Last edited by DATo; 07-06-2019, 12:53 PM.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Doozer View Post
                              Try buying a NEW tool that is the same quality as an OLD tool.
                              Maybe then you will have some respect for what old tools really are.


                              Is that old Sherr-Tumico or Starret of mine better than a new digital Mitutoyo? An old B&D cast aluminum corded drill better than a new Milwaukee cordless? An old Craftsman tool box better than a new HF General? Heck, I'm as happy with a HF combo wrench in my hand as I am with a SnapOn.

                              As long as the tool is fit for purpose and does the job correctly anything else is meaningless. Tools are meant to be bent to my purpose to achieve my goals and not idolized. Anthropomorphising an inanimate object is trying to turn a tool into Disney's Mickie Mouse. And just as silly.
                              If you think you understand what is going on, you haven't been paying attention.