Containers

7Grandpa's WorkshopWooden boxes handmade by my grandfather.

8Grandpa's WorkshopThis 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.1Grandpa's Workshop

2Grandpa's WorkshopMy 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.
5Grandpa's Workshop
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.  6Grandpa's WorkshopPeanut 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.  :)

8 Responses to “Containers”

  1. Andrea

    I love the idea of reuse when it comes to storage. I’m so glad to know others on this planet use peanut butter jars, too. Great post.

    Reply
    • Katy

      Thanks Andrea! Peanut butter jars are excellent storage containers, it turns out! If you figured this out on your own, give yourself a pat on the back :)

      Reply
  2. Susan Atwood

    What a wonderful way to remember a remarkable man. I love this insight into your grandfather and what treasures for you to remember him by.

    Reply
    • Katy

      Thanks Susan! I sure wish I had been blogging when Mimi passed away.

      Reply
  3. Greta Bramer

    Your grandfather you talk about so beautifully was my uncle. Just as he always made me smile, so has your blog. Thanks for the memories.

    Reply
    • Katy

      Aww, thanks Greta!! What a sweet comment, thanks so much for stopping by! :)

      Reply
  4. Luke Martin

    Thanks for sharing. I bought a house from Habitat recently that I helped build. I came across your article when searching for ways to organize my basement workshop. I too use peanut butter jars and save them from the recycling every chance I get. My wife thinks its a quirk too.

    Reply
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