Amazing Old Woodworking Tool: Adventures With My Father

This story comes from our E-commerce Facilitator, Leslie.

My dad and I used to go junking almost every weekend in the summer.  I recently learned that junking isn’t a term that everyone uses, but my father and I used it as a blanket term for picking through antique stores, flea markets, garage sales, and estate sales.  I was taught to bargain and haggle before I learned to write in cursive.

Unfortunately I grew up and moved around the country, but my dad and I still love to go junking whenever I’m home.  More often than not we don’t even buy anything.  It’s more like a comforting ritual or daddy-daughter bonding time.  It’s also more about being amazed at the things we see – old books and tools, clothes and jewelry, bowls, plates, and toys which were once an intricate part of someone’s life, and now seem curious and fascinating.

A few years ago I was home for Christmas and we were wandering around a new antique store, mostly grateful to be inside instead of out in the bitter Midwestern ice storms.  My father, a few stalls back, called for me to come look at something.  I assumed it was another spaghetti ware kitten doing the can-can, but it wasn’t.  In fact it was so plain I had walked right past it without noticing.

It took us a few minutes to figure out what it was or how it worked.  Finally my father gave it a twist and the end spun rapidly.  “It’s a drill!” He exclaimed.  Not all men can do giddy, but my father wears it well.

Basically it is a hand operated power drill.  You pull the handle downward while the string is wrapped tightly.  It doesn’t take very much force at all.  This turns the bit at the end at a surprisingly high speed.  You can see it actually drilling into a piece of wood in the pictures.  The drilling motion naturally re-wraps the string. Rinse. Repeat.

It is interesting to think of why someone would need to create such a tool, but there’s no question about its genius.  The tag labeled it as African, and the dark wood does match some well known African woods, but both could be speculation.

My father’s theory is that it was created on a mission trip to Africa, used to build where there was unreliable power, and then brought back out of fondness.  That is most definitely speculation.

We didn’t buy it, but my father talked about it all year.  He seemed proud of it, as if the very existence of this feat of human engineering reflected well on him.  So, the next year my family and I went looking for it and gave it to him for Christmas.  Once again – giddy.

He now displays it proudly and gives demonstrations.  I’m glad I got the chance to share it with all of you.  It really is a fantastic tool.

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