Last month, my grandfather passed away at 88 years old. He was always a hands-on guy; he owned a LOT of tools and was always fixing something. If it could break, he could fix it! He tinkered with everything including televisions, radios, cars, knives, and even musical instruments. He worked at the American Steel and Wire Company steel mill in Donora, PA, though the era of the Donora Smog that defined his generation of Pittsburgh steel workers, until it closed in the mid 1960s. He then went back to school for electronics and became an armature winder at the U.S. Steel Clairton Works until he retired in the mid 1980s.
Not long after he passed, my grandmother asked me to come get his tools. She didn't want them to sit around forever; she wanted them in the hands of someone who would put them to use!
Here he is at the U.S. Steel Clairton Works, circa 1970, posing for a photo with an armature tester.
The whole garage was FILLED with tools. Every little corner was packed with something interesting. He had most of his automotive and around-the-house tools in here, and most of it was pretty well used.
He had a lot of home-made racks and shelves, this one held a bunch of screwdriver and adjustable wrenches just inside the door for easy access.
This looks dangerous. I can confirm it isn't what killed him; but I would imagine there were some close calls!
I loaded up the first truck load - half of which went to my shop, and the other half I took to my Uncle Jeff.
The truck was absolutely packed! Even the cab was full. I can't believe how many tools he owned.
He had at least 4 full sets of Ridgid pipe wrenches.
It's amazing that anybody lived through this era of power tools. Black & Decker 8-1/4" circular saw.
Note the Estwing leather-handled hammer. There will be more of these later..
Uncle Jeff was thrilled with the haul! He doesn't have a truck, so I hauled a lot of stuff to his house so he can use them.
N.O.S. Sears bench plane and air hammer
Craftsman reciprocating saw and DeWalt sander. A lot of his power tools were from the 1987-1994 era. It's clear that he bought a lot of tools just after he retired, and some of them were completely unused!
AEG Hammerdrill. I've never heard of them, but apparently this is a decent European brand.
You don't see these anymore! I don't think it ever turned a bit.
Back at the shop, it took a while to get everything organized. I have hundreds of photos, these are the most interesting.
He had two brand new Milwaukee drills - a 3/8' chuck and a 1/2" chuck.
This was purchased new in 1999, and I plugged it in for the first time last week. The rest is over, I'm going to put this thing to use right away.
He had a large hand-made stainless steel job box filled with electronics tools, taps, and random gimmick-style stuff from Sears. I can't determine if he made the box himself, but it is certainly hand-made. The structural joints are spot welded, and the edges appear to be silver soldered for sealing against moisture.
Note: another Estwing hammer.
I found all of these super cool hand-made specialty tools. They were all engraved with his name, which suggests they were from his working days (he didn't engrave his home-use tools). I spoke to some folks online, and it looks like these were made for specific types of armatures and used during the rewind process.
He had a lot of Bendix branded cutting tools. For the popular sizes, he had a whole pouch! These are all 1/4" drills.
It was also pretty clear that he binged on things he liked. These Estwing hammers for example, I found at least 5 of them! One is clearly used, and the others are for backup haha.
Brown & Sharpe square
LOTS of Channellock and Wiss. We take for granted that the internet has made tool research and purchase so accessible, but his only consistent tool supplier was Sears.
Craftsman trammel points in excellent condition, in the original box with receipt!
Phase II calipers! I have the same pair at work.
Old school hex keys
He had a full set of these old Craftsman Professional ball peen hammers.
Craftsman HSS tap and die sets
Brown & Sharpe non-ferrous sheet metal thickness gauge
I found a whole pile of homemade brass punches and a lot of brass stock he had been saving to make more. I was the only one excited about these in the garage because I could see the potential!
After some time on my lathe, something that Grandpap didn't have access to, I had re-dressed all of the ends and made a pile of useful punches.
I found another smaller hand-made stainless steel box. This is likely 304 stainless, it was all covered in paint and dirt.
After cleanup, it looks great!
I can't wait to start using the rest of his tools. I've already used a handful of them at work, they are just beginning their second lifetime of use!