Memories #1: My dad's tools

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Blog entry by Sam Yerardi posted 01-17-2008 06:33 PM 1194 reads 0 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Memories series Part 2: Going In Halves On a Lot of Wood »

I remember many a day in my dad’s shop when I was a very young boy. I would help him with anything he would let me do. I couldn’t wait to wake up early on a Saturday morning and see what he & I would get into. I would always have a secret hope that today might be the day when he would use that particular tool up on the shelf I’d never seen used before. My older brothers were away in the military, and I grew very close to my dad. One morning in the shop out of the blue he told me that one day he would be gone and all of his tools would be mine. I knew I wanted him more than that but I didn’t realize at the time that statement would stay with me for the rest of my life. That was over 40 years ago. He’s been gone now about 5 years. I’ve been able to keep some of his tools, and use some of them regularly. I have an old hand-crank grinder that I used to crank for him while he sharpened something. A hand-held Dremel ‘Motosaw’ that to this day I have never seen anywhere else (I’ll try to post a picture of it sometime). I have some tools he made during his time in the CCC camps before WWII. He had a hard life. There are a lot of times when I feel a twinge of sadness but I feel good knowing that I try to create something beautiful and lasting using something he made and gave me. And in a lot of ways it was something more than just the tools themselves. One thing I learned from my dad was he seemed to know a lot about a lot of things. A jack of all trades and a master of a whole bunch of them. Everything from plumbing, carpentry, electrical work to sheet metal work. I tried to learn as much as I could.

Dad made mistakes like everyone else. He taught me what was more important and that was how to fix things when they did break. I guess that’s why I became an engineer. I learned a lot from him when we tore down old houses. There is a place in town that is now a small park. Before it became a park, my dad and I tore down the houses that were there for the material. We later made a barn from what we were able to collect. I think of dad every time I go by that park. I see the little children playing, having no idea what history took place before the swing set they were on was there. And, myself, I have no idea what history took place before we tore the houses down. But I remember that moment in time. I also remember the million or so red clay bricks we carried home. We used them in the floor of the barn we built.

Today, the barn is gone. There are so many times when I wish was little again cranking that grinder for my dad…

-- Sam

18 comments so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4188 days

#1 posted 01-17-2008 06:44 PM

Nice memories, Sam. Your dad sounds a lot like mine. He is still around, and still has the garage full of old tools. But closing in on 80 he doesn’t use them too much these days. Thanks for reminding me to appreciate all the stuff he taught me.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3909 days

#2 posted 01-17-2008 06:48 PM

Great story. It’s good to have some of “Dad’s” things to keep the memories alive.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Splinters's profile


190 posts in 4152 days

#3 posted 01-17-2008 06:51 PM

I wish I had been able to know my dad like that. I lost mine when I was 10 years old and never got the chance. Enjoy your memories…they are precious…

-- Splinters - Living and Loving life in the Rockies - -

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3844 days

#4 posted 01-17-2008 07:49 PM

I had similar experiences with my maternal grandfather. My dad was always too busy with other things. The whole family agreed that I got “first dibs” on the tools when he left us.

View Chris 's profile


1879 posts in 3961 days

#5 posted 01-17-2008 07:50 PM

Thanks Sam…

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4269 days

#6 posted 01-17-2008 08:21 PM

Thanks Sam, a very touching story.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3791 days

#7 posted 01-17-2008 09:07 PM

Thanks for the story Sam. I can relate to it. Dad was a third generation carpenter. He was much better at rough carpentry than finish work but he did try to show me some woodworking techniques when I was younger. But, at the time, I really didn’t make the time for it or have the desire to learn what he was trying to teach me. Now that I am heavily involved in woodworking I wish I had the opportunity to get his opinion and share his knowledge.

Thanks for sharing.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4023 posts in 4033 days

#8 posted 01-17-2008 09:58 PM

Sam, I have similar memories of my Father. I still have and use his tools and some of his shop fixtures though he has been gone since ‘84. Every time I’m in the shop I think how much I wish he was still around to see my progress, or so I could pick his brain on how to do something. Those old hands got more done with less, and it is a testament to their skill and determination. All the more reason for Father’s with our woodworking affliction to share with their children while there is time. Thanks for sharing.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Grumpy's profile


23841 posts in 3820 days

#9 posted 01-17-2008 10:06 PM

A nice piece of history Sam. Thanks for the insight.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6851 posts in 3949 days

#10 posted 01-18-2008 05:34 AM

Great post Sam.

Brings back a lot of memories for me as well. Funny how at times when we’re young we would rather be doing anything else but working with our fathers. As time goes by, there’s nothing else we’d rather do.

When I was fifteen, he decided it was time for me to quit school and go to work for his plumbing business. I spent a lot of time with him, and learned many things, from mechanical items, to life lessons. He was a perfectionist, and demanded more from me than anyone else working with us. (Sometimes the bosses son isn’t spoiled). He came from a time when fathers couldn’t express there feelings, unless of course it was anger. No problem there! I moved away when I was eighteen, anxious to make my own way.

The first time he came to visit me I was in my early twenties. It was a surprise visit, and I hadn’t talked to him since I moved. I was in the process of finishing a total renovation to a house I bought for myself to live in. He asked who’s house it was, who did all these guys work for, who owned the trucks outside. He was shocked at what I managed to accomplish in just a few years. None of which would have been possible without the things I learned from him.

Some years later I was fortunate enough to have my father working for me just prior to his death. Big difference from when I worked for him. I was a better boss, as I was easy, where he was tough, very tough. (and I paid well too) LOL. Even then he was advising me I was doing everything all wrong!

Around noon I would tell him to go to a museum or gallery which he really enjoyed.

He was very proud of me, but couldn’t tell me that. After his death, my stepmother sent me a copy of a letter he sent her, explaining to her how proud he was of me, and how amazed he was with what I was involved with, and the respect my clients and subcontractors had for me. Again, a direct result of what I learned from him.

That letter means more to me than anything else. It was then I realized to me that nothing else I accomplished in my life would ever be as important to me as that. It was then I came to the conclusion I was successful, regardless of anything else that I did or didn’t succeed at.

I used to want to call him just to thank him for what he taught me. Fortunately, I did do it, and I’m grateful I did. I would forever be troubled had I not told him that.

I miss him very much!


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4370 days

#11 posted 01-18-2008 05:48 AM

Sam, Lee great stories.

I help my dad from a small child. I was the only son and we did things together. Working in his shop to going out with a 22 and shooting cans. I was living half way across the country when he died so I don’t have any of his tools. They all went on the 25 cent table at the garage sale.

I’m sorry for that. He deserved more than that. I miss him a lot also.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3909 days

#12 posted 01-18-2008 01:54 PM

It’s good to hear that you folks got to work with your fathers. I never really got to work with mine much and I’m not really too upset about it. He was an accountant. ;-)

-- Working at Woodworking

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4130 days

#13 posted 01-18-2008 02:35 PM

thanks for sharing your memories. So very special!!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View CaptnA's profile


116 posts in 3783 days

#14 posted 01-18-2008 05:00 PM

Hard to read some of these because they make me remember my dad. He passed away in 1980.
I have many tools that were his. Not one of my siblings ever showed any interest in much that my dad did, which was fine with me. Being the youngest this gave me uninterupted access to him and afforded me a lot of special time and attention with him and from him. Amazes me and distresses me that in spite of the ‘advances’ in materials his tools will probably outlast most of mine. He never spent money foolishly and bought the best quality he could afford. I’ve tried to follow that example – at least the latter part.
He always hated my choice of careers. I didn’t know until after he died that he had been a fireman for a short time. He knew more about what I did and why I suppose than anyone. And I never thought he had a clue…

-- CaptnA - "When someone hurts you, write it in the sand so the winds of forgiveness will scatter the memory... "

View Sam Yerardi's profile

Sam Yerardi

244 posts in 3865 days

#15 posted 01-18-2008 05:24 PM

I appreciate your replies. Some of them brought major tears to my eyes like Lee’s and CaptnA’s. As we can see, regardless of where we are in our present-day lives, there is a bond between all of us that goes beyond woodworking. I feel for those of you who weren’t able to have a lot of time with your fathers. Like CaptnA I was the youngest male (I have three sisters, one is my twin, and two older brothers) so I got to spend more time with dad. Even in his last years I spent as much time with him as I could. Lee’s comments about his dad not being able to express love reminded me of my dad. He was the same way. He was never harsh or cruel, he was just old-world Italian and he grew up being taught by his dad to keep his emotions inside. But he showed his love in other ways. He worried about me a lot, about my job, my marriage, etc. – just as I worry about my daughters now. No major issues – just worry. Circle of life.

-- Sam

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