While in Maine earlier this month, I was looking forward to lobster and a trip to Liberty Tool in Liberty, Maine. I wasn’t interested in buying tools at Liberty – I’ve got enough of those. Mostly I wanted to raid the store’s mason jars.
The store is chock-a-block with bits of hardware – old screws, nails, pulls, locks and the like.
I was going to drive up to Liberty Tool last Sunday, but then I found out that furniture maker Freddy Roman had beat me to it and ransacked the place.
Sigh. While I’m not much of a wood hoarder (until tomorrow, perhaps), I do pick up bits of hardware whenever I stumble on them. Good blacksmith-made chest handles can cost less than $10. A crab lock, like the one shown above, runs about $80.
While I try to give blacksmith Peter Ross all the business I can (he’s actually making a crab lock for a tool chest for me), I cannot always afford custom work. So buying old stuff stretches my hardware budget without having to buy from Home Depot.
Your best bet is to shop for the stuff in person. While you can find cut nails, hinges and locks on eBay, the prices are high. One guy was asking $7 for a nail. A bent one. Other woodworkers I know have had good luck with Robinson Antiques, especially for chest lifts and locks.
Again, you pay for the convenience. The best prices are in the scrounge market. And scrounging takes time.
I you are wondering what the heck a crab lock is, check out the video below. It’s a surface-mount chest lock that can automatically lock the lid when you close it. Of course, this is a fantastic way to accidentally lock your key in your chest. So be wary of the crab’s claws. They bite.
— Christopher Schwarz