As a kid, I have vivid memories of my grandfather’s garage workshop. It was the most fascinating place you could imagine. That musty smell of sawdust mixed with grease and his coal-fired stove is something I’ll always remember. As a career cabinet maker for the railroad, he had every kind of tool an eight-year-old boy could imagine, ranging from common hand tools to stationary bench-top power tools. It was amazing.
Perhaps the coolest “tool” in his garage workshop wasn’t even a tool. It was a hardware and fastener organizing system that we nicknamed the “hardware spinner.” It was basically an octagonal cylinder spinning on an axle with wooden slats attached to it that held baby food jars full of nuts, bolts, screws and nails … everything he needed to perform his craft. The lid to each jar was screwed to the slats so you could easily unscrew it and to access whatever jar held the fastener you were looking for.
My father, who like myself is an avid DIY’er, inherited this wonderful piece when my grandfather passed away and decided to replicate the design, adding his own creative touches here and there. He even “mass” produced them for a while in his garage workshop and sold them to his local independent home improvement retailer, who would resell them. While I’m sure neither one thought they were going to get rich off of the deal, I think the retailer just wanted to keep my dad coming back into the store on a regular basis for conversation and needed supplies. That’s one of the cool things about being an independent retailer … you can call your own shots and stock what you want to stock. It’s certainly not a business venture my dad could have had with Lowe’s or the Home Depot.
I have inherited two of these hardware spinners made by my father, and I have completely filled them both. I use them whenever I’m working on a project. Just give it a spin and before long you find just what you’re looking for. This organizing system helps me quickly locate that one screw or washer that would otherwise take me a half hour to find if it were in a box stored in a drawer or a cabinet. Plus, it’s something that’s a constant reminder of when I visited my grandfather’s shop as a kid and all the wonder that it inspired.