Wastelands of Suburbia

A place where the cast-off ephemera of the last four generations comes to rest, and is discussed fondly....Like junk, or the injection-molded minutiae of history? Welcome home...Junkyards, yard sales, roadside oddities, thrift stores and more-your memories are deep inside the box, so keep shaking.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Vintage Craftiness at Flea Market Prices.


(I can see some middle-aged guy, pipe clenched in teeth, Borkum Riff tobacco clouds around him, carefully fitting this thing together in his basement shop, circa 1967.)

Found this neat little score for $10 at the flea market last week-a handmade hobby/tool box. The vendor had two, one with a set of repurposed aluminum folding legs and vintage R/C aircraft decals on it, and this one. While the one with the legs was cool, I had some ideas of my own as to what I wanted to do, so I got the plain Jane instead.

There was a time, when we were far more resourceful (and consequently less wasteful) than we are now. Using plans from Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated or similar publications, a person needing a case would custom-build something like this to his own specs, resulting in a purpose-built, one-off design. Someone spent a fair amount of time putting this together, and while it's not dovetailed or possessing any other hallmarks of a master builder, its utility is what attracted me to it.

I thought about the thousands of cases, perhaps, built in the 1950s and 60s, maybe even into as far as the early 80s, like this. At some point, the cheapness of cases from power tools, etc. in that time period (due, likely, to the low cost of blow-molding, injection molding, etc., not to mention the cheap tools found within) made it easy to score a tool case from the dumpster at work and repurpose it for your needs. I personally have probably a dozen of these sitting around bearing the name DeWalt, Rigid, Milwaukee, Ruger, SigArms, etc. The electric motor repair shop up the street from my house leaves them out with their used pallets for the taking on a regular basis. I could at any time use one of these, but I just thought this thing was so damned cool.

(Dividers are removable, handle swings over to allow lids to open.)

So, to customize. What to do? I don't want to paint it-even thought the wood is basically Luan and nothing fancy. What has crossed my mind is a few water slide decals-you know, the ones that used to adorn the rear windows of station wagons trumpeting the states the family within had been to, the beaches, the tourist traps. Or the windows of hot rods and schlock rods, advertising the products deep within the engine's bowels (or sometimes not).

I'm thinking perhaps a few vintage Rat Fink decals, along with the "Powered by Chevy" vintage tire decal, maybe some flowers, checkered flags, that kind of thing. Something a kid would have done. A sailfish would be the ultimate. Maybe my name in those slanted, gold-toned mailbox letters. Or perhaps some monogramming with a vintage woodburning set, or some of the old-school DYMO label tape I still have laying around in three or four colors.

(This guy has EXACTLY the idea I'm talking about! Note Dymo labels on top, "Powered by Money" tire (heh), and the Stars and Bars. This one holds slot cars-one of the things I forgot about that made the 60's rock. I like the idea of the corners too.)

What's funny is vintage water slide decals will easily cost me more than the box did, but I don't care. These are the recognizable things that will all be there to make my transition to Heaven or the next dimension easier to bear. Stay Tuned.

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