Seeing with different eyes

   When I was around 10 years old, my dad’s parents sold their house –their first, which my grandfather had built.  In their new home they had, as long as I can remember, a lamp made of tools.  I used to think, “Uuff!  How awful!  That’s ugly.”

Over time, and many visits, I kept looking at the lamp, staring at it.  I eventually realized I was studying it, the tools on it, thinking about how they were once used.

Most of these were woodworking tools:  a block plane, drill bit, calipers, clamp, draw knife –these I understood.  I knew why they would have been meaningful to my grandfather; he was a carpenter, and a cabinetmaker by trade.  There was also a kerosene lantern, converted to electric with a small, flickering bulb.  In hindsight, it might have reminded him of his early childhood, and probably of his days with the Civilian Conservation Corps.

One tool stood out as strange: a wooden handle with a thin iron shaft and a tapered block of copper.

Only about 9 years ago did I really begin to understand, and to connect.  That’s the time I started to learn tinsmithing, historic sheet metal work.  The tool in question was a soldering copper, used by sheet metal workers to solder, or join, pieces of sheet metal together.

My grandfather died in 2007.  I’m fortunate to have a few of his woodworking pieces, some of his tools, and this lamp.  Once it was quite unattractive to me.  Now, the lamp is a poignant reminder to me, and in hindsight, it became for me a doorway to a continuing legacy.


About swissarmybill

Duct tape aficionado, habitual Boy Scout, aspiring techie
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