Monsieur Pot de Vis, What Have You Done For Me?
Like the beeswax I picked up for almost nothing last month, I snagged a jar of old screws about a year ago when I was at an estate sale because it seemed a deal too good to pass up. I had no immediate use for the screws, but I knew they were old, and old is better when you’re talking woodworking screws – older screws often used stronger steel and stronger steel means fewer broken screws and cammed-out heads.
Last month, I was trying to clean up the clutter-bench (relic of the previous owner; it isn’t useful for anything besides putting stuff on, so that’s what will happen until I tear it down and remove it) and I spotted the jar. I picked it up and stared at it for a minute, wondering if it was something I really needed to keep or if I’d wasted a dollar. I put it back down, thinking I’d hold on to it a bit longer.
Now we have to go back in time, about six months, to pick up the thread for the rest of the story.
One day early this summer, I was looking through the inventory of a store on my most frequented on-line auction site. I’d picked up some antique hardware from them in the past and I wanted to see if something there might strike my fancy for a future project I had in mind. I came across just the thing I wanted – an old, cast iron coat hook with some nice detail work. It even came with mounting screws! They only had one listed, so I bought it.
The next week, the seller listed one exactly like it. Dang; wish I’d known that before! I contacted them to find out if they had any additional ones, but they said no. For some reason, though, I didn’t immediately buy the second one. I saved the listing and sat on it, thinking. I do that sometimes and, after a few months or a year, I might delete the listing or suddenly buy it because I finally have it figured out in my head as to whether or not I’ll use it. That’s just how I work.
Now, once again, we move forward in time…
This second coat rack sat in my Saved Listings box until last week, when I had some extra funds handy and I’d finally decided to go ahead with the project and bought it. When the package showed up, I pulled the coat hook out to give it a better look. It was just like the other one – old, cast iron, exact same casting, with remnants of a bronze wash on parts of it – so much so, that it is easy to assume they were together in their previous home, as well.
Almost like a cartoon or a bad comedy, I squeezed open the manila envelope it came in and turned it upside down to get the mounting screws. And nothing came out. I couldn’t stop myself from looking inside to confirm it was empty. Indeed, it was. No screws. Dang.
I pulled out the first coat hook and screws and laid them out next to the second one and pondered them for a bit, as I’m wont to do in such situations. And then I remembered the old French’s Mustard jar of screws I’d considered getting rid of just the week before. I grabbed it off of the clutter-bench, poured the screws out onto my sharpening counter, and sorted through them. And then cackled in glee as I found SIX (6) screws that exactly match the other four! Mine took a bath in Evaporust after I got them, so they have a nicer matte grey look to them, but…
Congratulations, Mr. Jar of Screws, today you have earned your place in my shop.
Post Script Edit: The coat hook project is something for my own shop. I want to do something that is MORE than just a board with some hooks screwed to it. I have an idea forming, but if anyone ELSE has any ideas they’d like to put forth, I’m all ears!