In End Grain

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Back in the early 1920’s, my grandfather, John Rudzki, built wooden truck bodies in Pittsburgh, PA.

Customers would order the chassis for a refrigerated truck, a moving van or some other kind of specialty vehicle, and he would build the body behind the cab. The trucks are long gone, but I still have the home-made tool box, and all the tools, that my grandfather used every day.

The box is still remarkably sturdy, and his tools are in perfect working order. Both box and tools are pretty banged up, though. Clearly, they were used hard—like the trucks he made. After WWII, my grandfather used these tools to fulfill a lifelong dream: building his own house in Pittsburgh’s Polish Hill neighborhood.

I understand that intact sets of tools like these aren’t very common. Most are broken up, raided for their valuable tools, and then scattered to the winds. I think they’re an important record of the history of our craft, though. If you come across one, I hope you can keep it together. This one is a snapshot of a brief time when 19th century hand tools were used to build 20th century machines, as well as the legacy of a great man: my grandfather.   –Mark Huminski


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