For some of us, vintage tools are impossible to resist. The
mere sight of them incites an overwhelming compulsion to buy,
regardless of need.
Skip Brack, proprietor of the Jonesport Wood Co., understands.
His three stores — Hulls Cove Tool Barn, Captain
Tinkham's Emporium, and Liberty Tool Co., all in Maine —
contain a vast selection of antique tools. A walk along their
aisles invites massive sensory overload: Shelves creak beneath
the weight of every kind of old woodworking and machining
device imaginable. Musty-smelling drawers overflow with ancient
drill bits, saw blades, and files, weathered by time and use.
Cracked mason jars brim with rusty fasteners.
From planes to saw blades, if it's vintage and cool, Brack
probably has at least 100 on hand.
His route into the vintage-tool business was circuitous. Back
in the '70s, he launched a driftwood salvage and sculpture shop
that also carried a few old tools. Fairly quickly, he says, he
realized that "the driftwood sculptures didn't sell, but the
tools sure did." Once he began expanding his stock of antique
tools, business picked up considerably — so much so he
had to move to a larger building (the Liberty site, shown
here). Eventually he expanded to the other two locations; today
the three stores carry a total of 200,000 tools. —