By Matt Montgomery
Piedmont resident Craig Guy has been collecting antique tools since the mid-1980s and has amassed a collection upwards of 8,000 tools.
Most of Guy’s collection is comprised of Civil War era and pre-Civil War era tools.
He said collecting antique tools which date that far back give him a sense that he is literally holding a piece of history in his hands when he picks one up.
He said area workers from the late 1800s used tools to build the communities they lived in and cherished their tools.
“Piedmont had its own blacksmith shop. And there was another blacksmith shop in Richland, and those were necessary vocations in the community. Today we kind of look at them as a hobby or something that someone does in retirement,” he said.
Guy said a lot of the tools he has are tools that were specially made by the craftsmen of the past for particular jobs.
He said he finds these kinds of tools interesting and also finds tools interesting that were made from another tool like a saw blade or file.
He has just about every type of antique tool imaginable, from anvils to hammers to saw blades. He even has tools that were used to repair buggy axles in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
To Guy, being able to hold on to tools that shaped communities from the past is really important and gives him a purpose of passing on history.
“I feel like sometimes I’m having the opportunity to shake hands with our fore-fathers,” Guy said. “It’s like a step back in time because these were the tools that the men used to support their families, and to build the homes in the community. When I save one of those, I get to share the history of that.”
He said a lot of tools he has have markings on them from the people who used them in their time. Guy added that some of the tools in his collection have several different marks on them which signify that the tool has been used by several generations.
“Grandpa had the tool and he passed it on to his son and to his grandson,” he said. “So there was a sense of ownership and pride in not only the tool and what it could do, but what it produced.”
He said he got serious about tools in the mid-1980s, when his daughters were growing up.
He said he realized that all he did all his life was work, raise a family and support his family.
“I was looking for a hobby and loving history and American history, and work was such a part of our history,” he said. “We made work a social event. We would get together for barn raisings and quilting and neighbors would come together to help neighbors.”
Guy and some of his neighbors get together in his tool shed on Monday nights. He said surprisingly they don’t talk about tools. He said the shed serves as a good meeting place and has a museum quality to it.
“I came to realize after I retired that we live in such a fast-paced society, the tools slow me down,” he said. “I realized that also we don’t know our neighbors.”
Guy and four of his neighbors enjoy time together on Monday nights, with coffee and conversation in his tool shed.
One of the oldest tools Guy has is an ax that is from the late 1700s that he got from an Amish man in Ohio.
Guy has been using tools his entire life, having started on the assembly line at General Motors and rose through the ranks for about 40 years.
“I have an appreciation for the craftsman who had these tools in his hand,” he said.
When he moved to Piedmont 17 years ago, he built a two-story shed and started to move his tool collection into it.
He said he will more than likely continue to collect tools for the rest of his life or as long as he and his wife are able to support his hobby.