January 13, 2011


My Grandpa Reggie was a great man on this earth.  A machinist at a tool and die factory in Chicago for most of his life.  An immigrant.  A hard working American.  A man who could truely be called a follower of Jesus, not only in word, but most resoundingly, in deed.  More so than I could go on about any machine or movie, I could go on and on about my Grandpa Reggie.

On October 12th of 2008, early in the morning, my Grandpa went home to be with the God he had followed for so long during his hard life.  Let those who view Christianity as a sham hold their judgement.  If you knew my grandpa, you would have seen something real in him which you could not explain by the material alone.  There was the Holy Spirit in him, and it was undeniable.  I wish you could have met him.

Last week, my cousin Tim and I went into the city to visit my grandma and go through my grandpa's old tools.  It was, in short, amazing.  Bits, reamers, v-blocks, micrometers, files, rasps, saws, blades, strange steel implements in small wooden boxes that Tim and I could only educatedly guess at the purpose of.  It all had to go due to space constraints, and we had no problem preserving these priceless and useful artifacts.

A whole lot-a wonderful.  Thanks for letting me borrow the carro mom.

I will say this: they either don't make tools like they used to, or all the crappy ones broke and got tossed, leaving only the good ones behind.  I suspect the latter.

What's this?! No plastic dipped handles? No comfort contour? No foam insert, plush covered grips with shock-absorbing patented polymer Wus-Gard technology?

While I do not yet know what I will use half of the tools for, I am just giddy thinking about what I might think about using them on...if that makes any sense...which it does not.  Perhaps it could best be summed up by saying that I am swept away by the fragrant winds of potential.  I'm pretty much sold on the idea that I will posess a machine lathe at some point in my life.  And also maybe an end mill...Yet even in the tight grasp of material want, one thing that surprised me was how little my grandpa owned as far as tools to get the job done.  It all fit in a space half the size of my garage, which is pretty small once the car is parked in it

 My shop: Inside...

...And out

Every item my grandpa owned was quality, some were even custom made, and he had just enough to get by.  How that goes against the typical American mindset of acquisition (I file myself under that mindset as well, shamefully).

But this is a builders blog, so how am I going to tie this into the world of sparks, metal, and busted knuckles?  By saying this:

There are countless TV shows and websites out there telling you what you can do if you only have________ (usually an english wheel).  I am here to take a stand, to dissagree (disrespectfully).  Whether you're forging a motorbike, or making knives, or planting flowers or whatever, you can make anything you want, by making do.  The dollar solves quickly and stupidly what some time and a bit of brainwork does for (almost) free.  Take this gas tank I fabbed up:

Mordor, meet Mad Max

This tank is rough, people ask me how I'm going to smooth it out (I'm not, because it's AWESOME!) and what color I'm going to paint it (ditto the above parenthetical statement).  How was it made?  With a cheap MIG welder (well, as cheap as they get off craigslist), $20 worth of sheet metal I bought off a dude in an industrial shop, a bit of steel I found on the ground, and an old CB550 gas tank I cut the bottom off of (and almost blew myself up in the process).  It took me almost a year to make, but it was an adventure, and I loved it (when I wasn't hating it).  I also learned a lot about welding, metal forming, and the vital importance of outgassing before hot work.

The bung, by the way, is a vented brass one from bungking.com.  It was the most expensive part on the tank, at $45.

All this to say that you can do it, right now if you're willing to shut down that computer/leave work early/lose some sleep.  You can make things yourself.  Set aside your programmed visions of factory made fodder.  Get rough.  Get ready.  Forget "Pretty" and go for something Breathtaking.

1 comment:

WML said...

Everyone should have known Gramps, and I know he would have loved your gas tank, that you value his tools, and most importantly, that you want to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.