What is the Oldest Thing You Made That You Still Use?

Bottom half of a sheet metal tool box I made in shop class.

A few days ago I wondered, what is the oldest thing I made that I still use? After digging through a lot of stuff, I think it is this sheet metal tool box that I made in high school shop class in 1981.

At that time, it was one of the standard projects in metal shop. I still use the skills I learned when I made this: how to layout and bend thin metal, how to follow a two dimensional pattern to make a three dimensional object, how to join sheet metal, and the value and economy of using off the shelf parts in conjunction with handmade ones. I didn’t have enough time to paint it, so it remains with the layout blue exposed.

I still use the toolbox for storage, even though the spot-welded, piano-hinged lid failed a long time ago and is lost. The bottom part of the box is currently holds over 15 pounds of scraps, and is totally solid.

It is comforting to have had this tool box for the past 38 years, and still use it, even though it is damaged. Like an old friend, it is easier to overlook its faults. It is satisfying knowing this toolbox will outlast me — like most of the tools I make and use, and the books I work on —  a persistent reminder we are not so important.


6 Replies to “What is the Oldest Thing You Made That You Still Use?”

  1. This is a very interesting topic, looking forward to what other binders might have to share.

    For me it must be my wooden nipping press. Still use it from time to time. It can be seen in these two pictures:

    (not me in the second one!)

    I made it 12 years ago when I was learning bookbinding. Couldn’t afford a cast iron one and couldn’t do with using stacks of encyclopedias for pressing. Made it for 50 bucks.
    It looks awful, and kinda is, but -impressively- it has never failed me and has pressed hundreds of books by now. I trust the old lady.

    It is unlikely she’ll outlast me though!

    For the tools or equipment I own that will however, it does indeed put things into perspective as you wrote.
    I don’t really have a lot of stuff that were used by other craftsmen in the past, however for those few that have been I would love to know their story or their owners’.

    Would it be considered vanity if we could imbue our tools with some kind of memory about us? Not so much for the sake of being remembered but more to show the next owners this tool was appreciated and used by many, and therefor well made, useful and worthy of care.
    We have been its “parents” in a manner.

    If I recall correctly there’s a traditional cultural belief (Japanese I think?) according to which tools or objects that fulfill their purpose for many users eventually form a soul.

  2. Like Dimitri, a press I built (along with a basic sewing frame) right after my 1984 internship in Nuremberg. Several months after completing it I moved to Germany for my apprenticeship and had a friend of the family bring it over for me on trip. Then back to the US again and many more moves. Still use it today, and it served as the model for the QuikNip.

  3. The original quiknip! Cool. I made a standing press out of a scaffold jack and 2 x 4s when I started getting into binding in 1989.

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