Friday, October 26, 2007

Hooker Furniture

I drove to Martinsville, VA yesterday to pick up the odds and ends I'd won at an auction of the old Hooker Furniture factory's equipment. Folks have been picking up their goodies for about a month now, so the place was mostly empty. 760,000 square feet of indoor space is a lot of emptiness. I saw many marvels of 20th century manufacturing there including wooden carts with four swiveling feet and a post in the center that ran in a track in the floor like a streetcar. Although I was excited about my loot, it was sobering to think of all the long careers that ended there last March.

The stuff I bought includes a 20 gallon flammable liquids cabinet, a 5,000 lb pallet jack (for moving machines around), an old factory cart with giant iron wheels, an assortment of levels and framing squares, and this beauty:




It's a 72" stainless steel precision straight edge manufactured by Phillipp Zimlich of Aschaffenburg, Germany.  There's a shipping label on the outside of the box indicating that it was supplied to Hooker by Weinig, the leading manufacturers of moulders and other industrial woodworking equipment.  I called Weinig today to get a sense of the replacement cost for this hunk of metal, and...well...I was shocked.  I had kind of an "Antiques Road Show" moment.

Precision straight edges are useful for machine setup in a woodworking shop.  I've found them especially helpful when adjusting jointer outfeed tables.  They can also be used when making full-size shop drawings, but a relatively straight piece of plywood will suffice for that.  For the most part, my interest in this kind of precision measuring and calibration instrument hovers somewhere between the realms of respect for their usefulness and just plain-old fetishism.

Lastly, if anyone reading this ever worked at the Hooker facility in Martinsville, please drop me a note.  I would love to hear your stories.


1 comment:

Anne Boleyn said...

It's a beauty alright! And how much for the graet looking cat? He looks to me to be one of those buddydude marmies.