Wooden boxes handmade by my grandfather.
This weekend I was in Maryland, helping to clean out my grandfather’s workshop (he passed away in March). My grandfather was a very talented woodworker and builder. If he could build it rather than buy it, then he would. Or if he could repurpose something to suit his needs rather than buying something, then he would do that too. Or if he knew he could improve upon an existing design of whatever then he would. Going through his workshop this weekend made me realize just how true those statements were.
You can bet that my grandfather never heard of The Container Store and would have thought the idea was probably crazy. If he needed a box, he would just build one. The photos above show just a portion of the boxes he made to organize and store various tools or parts he needed and knick-knacks he knew would come in handy at some point. It was easier to build one rather than trying to find one made of plastic or cardboard, and sturdier too. I practically smacked my forehead thinking “Duh!” because the solution is so simple yet so brilliant. I never would have thought to build my own boxes.
My uncle (his son) is a big tea drinker and one time while visiting, he asked him to start saving his tea tins so he could use them for organizing and storing small pieces in his workshop. I love his collection of tea tins because they’re so pretty, but I guarantee you that had nothing to do with his decision to collect them. He saw they were sturdy containers that would hold up well and house smaller items that would otherwise clutter up his workspace. And then of course he had to build shelves for them to sit in.
Any idea what these are? I had NO clue and my dad kind of chuckled when I asked, but he said these are old 35mm film canisters. A child of the 80s, I had only ever seen the plastic ones. These must be from the 50s or 60s and he used them to store tiny brads and nails, washers and even loose chalk for his chalk line reel (like this). Also, his labeling was pretty impeccable. Practically everything was labeled and organized well. Peanut butter jars! Oh my goodness, so many peanut butter jars (this picture doesn’t even show all of them). My grandmother says she would toss one in the recycling bin and the next time she went out there, it would be missing. He made sure to save every single one for years and used them for storage of screws, nails, nuts, bolts, even seeds he planned on planting or wooden parts to toys he planned on building. After he retired, he volunteered extensively with Habitat for Humanity, helping build houses and kitchen cabinets to put in those houses, but also built toys and games for the children that would move in to them. Just for fun, he certainly wasn’t required to build toys in his spare time when he wasn’t building houses. The toys are incredible and I’ll have to do an entire post about them sometime. His volunteer work drove him far away from his home, living for months at a time in a tiny apartment in Americas, GA by himself. He didn’t have my grandmother’s home cooking there and saved all the peanut butter jars he went through during his trips.
My grandfather was always working, always had projects going and built the most beautiful furniture and utilitarian objects. His workshop was where he came up with his best ideas, and then went about making them. Growing up, I always thought that everyone’s grandfather (and father, my dad is a woodworker too) built things out of wood and had a workshop with any tool you could ever need to build anything you could dream up, but now I realize how special it is and how lucky I am.
I think all the containers he kept are so great and makes me want to get a little more organized! Not to mention a little more creative with how I get organized. :)