“I love the history,” Craig Guy said while sitting next to the wood-burning stove that keeps his workshop nice and cozy.
The stove is surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands, of tools. And these are not just your normal, everyday tools. Some can be traced to just after the American Revolution. Many date to the Civil War.
Hundreds of hand planes, saws and hammers are in their slots on his wall.
There is space, but Guy keeps buying … and selling … and trading.
It’s a passion the retired GM autoworker began dozens of years ago.
“I don’t hunt or fish or play golf,” he said, adding that he needed a hobby and loves history. So, he found his niche in the collection of old tools.
From on anvil, that dates to the 1790s, to a couple of work tables that are circa 1900, Guy has a little bit of everything … including handmade tools called “travelers” that were used to measure the diameter of wooden wagon wheels.
“My favorite tools are not necessarily the most valuable or the oldest,” Guy said.
He said one of his favorite tools is a carpenter’s brace (drill) that he found in the loft of an 1850s barn in Ohio near his hometown. The brace appears to have been heavily used, and was broken and repaired at some point. But, even today, the brace still could be used.
“To me that’s just part of the American heritage of find a way, to get it done, to keep working. We live in such a throw-away society today. He (the owner) never once thought of discarding that tool. To me, it has his fingerprints on it, it has his signature on it because of what he did,” Guy said.
He has several tools that were made from something else — an historic version of repurposing.
“Those are my favorite tools because they have a history with them,” he said.
Guy said his first tool was a folding measuring tool.
Meanwhile, Guy said that historic tools are valuable not only because of their history, but today often are used for decoration. He recently sold several tools to someone who came in looking for a “working” tool.
He found his tool, but his wife purchased other items for decorations.
“There is a natural beauty to the old tools. They have a natural patina and the craftsmanship. That’s what gets me most of excited about tool collecting,” Guy said.
His love for the historic tools was one he stumbled into at a flea market.
Guy said he met someone who was selling old tools, they began talking and he was pointed to a tool collecting club.
The club helped Guy learn about the tools.
“It is so easy if you don’t know, to buy a tool that looks OK, but it’s got a little damage or it’s missing a part,” he said.
He said that friendship sparked an interest in tools and in the Southwest Tool Collectors Association, which hosts a meeting once a year that draws tools collectors from across the nation.
That meeting is set for Jan. 12 at Yukon’s Dale Robertson Center.
At that meeting, members will buy, sell and trade tools. There also will be appraisers available for people who might have come across an old tool for which they don’t know the value.
Guy, who hosts the meeting, said in the early days, he was all about collecting tools.
“I never sold anything in the early years, at all. It was all about collecting and preserving that American history,” Guy said.
Today, with such a large collection, Guy said he is in the process of whittling down his tools.
“I’d like to get it down by about 70 percent,” he said.
Guy plans to have at least a portion of the collection at the Jan. 12 meeting.
The event opens to the public at 10 a.m., but usually is finished before 2 p.m.
Guy said anyone interested should plan on arriving early.
There is no admission fee.