Guys used to have tool benches with rows of jars hanging over them. The jar lids would be fastened to the underside of a shelf, each jar containing a different type of screw, nut, or nail. These were often labeled, and it had a certain appeal: here was a guy who was serious, organised about doing work around the house. The jars usually signed that everything else would be similarly well-organised. Saws of various sizes and teeth per inch hung from rafters. Dowels, lengths of wood (divided into pine and hardwood), screwdrivers, drill bits, sandpaper - each had their own area and placed in descending order even within that area. You could count on these guys to have a table saw, probably a drill press and a router, too. Most of the tools, even the power tools, were old - heavy, basic, hand-adjusted items they somehow had had the foresight (and money, even in hard times) to acquire 40 years ago when they first moved into the house.
I suppose if you know you're going to live in a house for fifty years, bringing in oak worktables with two dozen drawers, or a hundred-pound band saw, didn't seem inconvenient. Certainly if you thought you were going to move every ten years you'd hesitate.
They never seemed to buy tools. They had tools. If they went to the hardware store, it was to buy a replacement wooden handle for something. Maybe they inherited them from fathers, grandfathers, uncles. Or from old guys next door who died, and the widow didn't want the stuff around anymore.
My stepfather was one of those guys. I remember digging around old tree roots with an ancient mattock that may have come over with The Conqueror. Does anyone still use a mattock anymore? Or a folding rule, or a two-man saw? Ken was a financial analyst, but his father had been fine-tool maker for Winchester firearms in New Haven. Or maybe it was his grandfather.
My father-in-law was less like this, though he built scientific labs and might be expected to have more of that stuff. Unless he had everything he needed at his company, and could just bring it home if needed.
My biological father, who sold tools (though automotive), for pity's sake, less still. He had the back half of the garage - a separate room in that 30-ft building - that had the heavy benches and table saw, but they were covered with dust and other stuff acquired later, such as boxes with old yearbooks and magazines. The rows of jars were up, but a third of them were missing, and another third empty or nearly so. Of course, he never built things for fun or repaired them unless he had to. He had grown up on a farm and was glad to escape it. Sort of like my Romanian sons having no interest in vegetable gardening, even though they complain that store vegetables have less flavor. I don't think either of them will grow so much as a carrot after their early peasant lives in Derna. Might slaughter an animal given the chance, though.
This wasn't what I was going to write about. I am not one of those guys, my tools and stray bits of construction debris are scattered throughout the basement, the garage, and even a few nooks outdoors. I figure this winter would be a good time to throw away a lot of stuff that I saved but haven't used ten years later, and wondered if anyone had advice. I'm not sure I want advice from someone who is basically one of these old guys who have survived into the 21st C, though. I pretty much know what they're going to say and pretty sure I'm not ever going to do it.