Our tale starts at Mike Ditka’s restaurant in Chicago during a tool show. Someone at our table had just spilled red wine on Bill Krier (editor of WOOD magazine) and the place was swirling with waiters trying pat him down and clean up the mess.
That’s when the guy across the table caught my eye and lowered his voice. “Say, have you ever heard about the tool vault at Stanley?” he asked.
The guy had been a product manager at Stanley several years before and he said that Stanley had a vault where they kept one new-in-the-box item of everything the company had produced. I said he was pulling my leg. He swore it was true.
Imagine, he said, a new No. 1 plane in the box, still fresh from the factory floor. New 750 chisels still in the wrappers. Even the much-hated fiberboard planes had to be worth something if they had never touched fiberboard, right?
During the last 10 years, I’ve made a few inquires at Stanley and sent interns to check out the story. Nobody knew what I was talking about.
Fast-forward to a few years later when our magazine staff is hosting a dinner with some officials from Porter-Cable and Delta Machinery. Somehow the topic came up about how there are all these great woodshops on military bases.
One of the Delta guys said the military was a good customer. In fact, they had bought hundreds of table saws, sealed them up and buried them in the desert. Why? In the event of a nuclear holocaust, there would be functioning table saws that could be used to rebuild the country.
And our last “Tale from the Wood” for the week comes from reader Bill Taggart:
In my previous career, I used to travel a lot all over the continental United States. I was at a Cracker Barrel somewhere out in the Midwest one time and saw a couple of pretty nice tools on the wall. I called the manager over and asked him if I might buy them. He said that they had people ask that once in a while, but they weren’t allowed to sell them because they belonged to the restaurant. Then he said words that, to this day, make me feel more than slightly nauseated.
He said that Cracker Barrel corporate had people whose job it was to seek out and find all the artifacts on display in the restaurants. He said they had a big warehouse in Kentucky with about 10,000 items in it that they used to stock the restaurants.
He did say that some things were reproductions, though. I think those are mostly the advertising signs and such. But you can tell that the tools are mostly the real deal.
Next time I go to a Cracker Barrel I’m taking my Milwaukee impact driver. Think anyone will notice?
– Christopher Schwarz
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