I must admit that when my wife Joanne and I acquired her family heritage property after the passing of her father, Elias Oldford of Musgravetown, Newfoundland back in 2001, I was overwhelmed by all the "stuff" cluttering up his workbench in the house and throughout his workshop (the shed).
Through this process I gained a lot of respect for his ingenuity and the patience it must have taken to create such items with whatever he had on hand. I think his philosophy must have been, “If you can make it, don’t buy it.”
A piece of leather was nailed on to increase the size of a shoe pattern, while a hand-carved handle attached to a piece of galvanized eaves trough became a dustpan. A reel for winding up wire or rope was made from plywood, and wood strips I’m sure came off Elias’ own table saw. He even rigged up an oil can by cutting out half the top of a soup can, soldering on a handle, and punching a hole in one side where a piece of copper tubing - cut at just the right angle - served as a spout. And the list of handmade items goes on and on.
The one piece of equipment I came across that was obviously purchased is one that I’m sure some folks today wouldn’t even recognize: a can sealer to crimp the lids on cans. Elias and his wife Lizzie canned their own fresh-caught rabbit, duck and moose. Sure it’s done with mason jars today - but the canner speaks to the work they did to ensure an adequate food supply to get them through the winter. No preservatives in them, I’m sure.
Perhaps taking a lesson from Elias’ wisdom, I used a case of new cans I found for sorting nails. And when my wife spotted those cans, in true family fashion, she requested, “Keep some for me; I can make candle holders out of them.”