Old School Tools

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Every time I go to a hardware store, I like to visit the section displaying the latest version of toolboxes. Full of beautifully organized wrenches, screwdrivers, hammers, etc., they make me think that there must be an engineering brain behind those designs just to make all the pieces fit so perfectly. Of course every tool has a specific purpose, and in the hands of a handy person or a true professional, it is amazing what some tools can do. But this phenomenon of having available to most of us such a variety of specific and advanced tools didn’t exist that long ago, and people had to build and make things they needed, including other tools. And of course they needed tools to repair even scythe blades!

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In my village most of the old houses have outside a rain catcher, made out of either limestone or some kind of sand stone. They are about 30 inches high, 30 inches across, the walls are about three inches thick at the top and they weight about 500 pounds. These stone vessels served a secondary purpose: a “tool” that people used to fix the bevels of damaged blades and hoes, and to sharpen axes, sickles and kitchen knifes.

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Many of them present very visible grooves from years of use, where one put the blade, then ran it back and forth in the notch. The motion is the same as if you were cutting a piece of wood with a hand saw.

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Needless to say, not all types of blade or edge damage were fixed that way. Serious cracks, for example, needed careful filing, and treatment with hammer and anvil. But damages such as burr, bended bevel, small cracks or chips can perfectly be fixed with a rain catcher!!!

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a large bee, working along pointy and sharp edges

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