Professional Services Now Offered by Virginia Toolworks!

VA Toolworks Condensed Logo - LetterheadI am pleased to announce that Virginia Toolworks is now offering professional restoration, identification, and valuation services at very competitive prices!  While the primary focus is, and has always been, on vintage hand tools, I also offer restoration of faded and damaged photographs, as well as cosmetic restoration of firearms.


Tools – Adhering to the archival principles of restoration that have always been the foundation of Virginia Toolworks, we now offer archival cleaning and rust removal, and tuning and sharpening (if desired), with starting prices as low as $25.  For more information please see the Services Page.

Photographs – With 35 years of experience as a photography enthusiast, including considerable darkroom exposure (see what I did there?) before transitioning exclusively to digital approximately 16 years ago, I offer digital restoration of old damaged and faded photographs with prices starting at $50.  Examples of my work can be viewed on the Photo Restoration page.

Firearms – As most followers of this blog have seen, I occasionally do restoration work on firearms.  This work is primarily cosmetic – I am not a gunsmith. I offer cleaning of the action, restoration of wood, and light (cold blue) refresh of metal surfaces.  I can also help with missing parts.  However, to verify or ensure safe functionality before firing, you should see a qualified gunsmith for a safety inspection.


Virginia Toolworks now provides simple assistance identifying tools for a nominal charge of $10 per tool.  For more information please see the Identification Page

Valuations (Appraisals) & Research

Virginia Toolworks now provides written valuations (retail value) and historical research at a rate of $50 per hour with a one hour minimum.  For more information on Valuations, please see the Valuations/Appraisals page.

For more detailed information on these and other services provided by Virginia Toolworks, please see the Services Offered page.



When a 2×4 is No Longer a 2×4 – Living Life by the Lowest Common Denominator


There was a small news story recently that went largely unnoticed across the country.  Home improvement retailer Lowes lost a $1.6 million lawsuit in Kalifornia (see what I did there?) for its the labeling of building products, specifically, dimensional lumber.

A Superior Court judge laid out terms by which the retailer must advertise its 2x4s and other dimensional materials in response to a civil “consumer protection” action. Judge Paul M. Haakenson, handed down the order in response to a case involving claims by the Marin County, Calif., district attorney’s office that the retailer “unlawfully advertised structural dimensional building products for sale.” His finding lists three main rules for the retailer to follow going forward:

  • “Common descriptions” must be followed by actual dimensions and labeled as such. For instance, a 2×4 must be followed with a disclaimer that the wood is actually 1.5-inches by 3.5-inches and include a phrase equal or similar to “actual dimensions.”
  • “Popular or common product description,” like the word 2×4, must be “clearly described as ‘popular name,’ ‘popular description,’ or ‘commonly called.’”
  • Dimension descriptions are required to use the “inch-pound unit,” meaning they must include abbreviations such as “in., ft., or yd.,” and can’t use symbols like ‘ or ” to denote measurements.

According to a 1964 publication by the U. S. Department of Agriculture titled History of Yard Lumber Size Standards, the national standard for lumber dimensions was established in 1924, with several revisions made over the years since. How is it, then, after 90 years of national, government affirmed standardization, the “consumers” of Kalifornia are so bewildered that one company can be singled out and levied such an exorbitant fine for “unlawfully” labeling it’s product?


The real underlying issue, the greater concern if you will, has nothing to do with lumber dimensions.  This case is a mere symptom of a much deeper problem. There’s an increasing ideological divide in this country in which the courts and our government continually impose laws and rules that pander to the lowest common denominator. I believe the birth of this mindset originated with the McDonalds hot coffee lawsuit in 1992, which paved the way for these frivolous progressive “consumer protection” actions.  Common sense and personal responsibility have long since given way to this “nanny state” mentality, through which we all must be protected from our own stupidity and negligence.  After all, anything that threatens (reveals) our intelligence, or lack thereof, must be dangerous and offensive, yes?

Clearly not everyone thinks this way, hence the ideological divide. And make no mistake, the divide is real and gets wider every day as a result of the cultural and social dependencies nurtured by actions such as this lawsuit. I have no doubt that a significant proportion of the population is cheering this as a legal and moral victory. For every one of us who is outraged at the frivolous absurdity of this Lowes finding, there’s no doubt at least one counterpart in America who celebrates this as a victory against capitalistic dominance and discriminatory business practices.

We are a nation completely obsessed with taking offense. It dominates our news, our daily conversations, our social media, and shapes our political alignment.  Somebody please tell me, where is it written that anyone anywhere has a “right” to live without offense? Just because you’re offended, uninformed, underprivileged, or blatantly stupid, doesn’t mean you’re being discriminated against. And just because you’re inconvenienced certainly doesn’t mean you’re entitled to compensation.  Or at least it didn’t used to.

Everyone and his brother is fixated on one label or another, and any word, term, phrase, color, pattern, sign, or whatever that might cause someone hurt feelings is suddenly deemed insensitive if not discriminatory. Even our own US flag is under attack by those who worry it might be viewed as offensive. Imagine that!  Offensive!? Offensive to whom? And who cares?  This is America, and this is our flag, is it not?  But I digress.

We are becoming a nation of helpless entitled pathetic crybabies, more interested in reality television, selfies, and a government provided free ride than in learning and earning our way in this world. And God forbid, anything that offends any one of us, the lowest common denominator, might be socially and politically unacceptable. Perhaps all adjectives should be banned and we should all wear homogenous pattern-less uniforms of beige or some other benign color. While we’re at it, we can do away with nouns and names and just assign everyone a serial number. Equal income, equal distribution of wealth, equal opportunity regardless of effort or intelligence.  Socialism, Marxism, Communism…?  Where does it end?

You know what’s really scary?  There are plenty of “Americans” who think that’s a great idea.  How’s that for offensive?

I’ll tell you one thing, bub… if you don’t know that a 2×4 isn’t actually 2 inches thick and 4 inches wide, do us all a favor – instead of getting sawdust in your mangingo and lawyering up, put down the hammer, go buy yourself a box of tampons and a Midol, wash it down with that skinny soy milk double latte frappawhatever, and hire someone who knows what the hell he or she is doing.


Off Topic – Kestrel Holster Review


Kestrel IWB Belt Clip Holster

I’ve been looking all summer for an easy on and off IWB holster for my 1911. My criteria was pretty simple – a kydex holster with a 1-1/2″ belt clip, full body shield, and adjustable retention (most of the holsters I found used non-adjustable rivets). I looked at Blade Tech and some others, but their prices were much higher than I wanted to spend for a plain kydex holster. After considerable research and due diligence, I found a seller on eBay who offered what I was looking for – Kestrel Holsters. Kestrel also has a website at with the full selection of colors and models, including both IWB and OWB.  If you don’t see your gun listed, contact them for availability.

Kestrel sells two flavors of IWB holsters, both for $30, shipping included. One has the standard thumb belt clip at a 10 degree cant, the other comes with a tuckable strut belt clip. They offer a variety of colors, and I went with the Olive Drab and thumb clip. Kestrel appears to make their holsters to order, but the lead time was less than 2 weeks. I received an email with the tracking number when it shipped, a nice touch. The holster showed up a couple of days later. 


Replaced holster with safety on

I was immediately impressed with the workmanship of the holster, but soon realized the mold was made with the safety in the off position instead of on. In my experience, 1911s are designed to be carried with the hammer cocked with the safety on. There was no provision on the order form one way or the other, and it never occurred to me to ask or specify. I contacted Sean at Kestrel with the problem, and he responded within an hour with instructions to return the holster in exchange for a new one. He also paid my return shipping. The shipping was refunded immediately, I returned the first holster, and the replacement arrived 4 days later. 

The solution is always more memorable than the problem. Score one for service excellence!


Super slim profile for minimal bulge

Had I ordered one of these holsters for a specific manufacturer and model, I would have expected it to be a perfect fit right out of the package. But ordering a holster for a 1911 in the generic sense necessitates a little flexibility in the expectations. I expected to have to do a little fine tuning for my specific gun, so was neither surprised nor disappointed when the holster didn’t “fit like a glove.” For one thing, the front slide serrations and sharp edges on my Colt are problematic with every holster I’ve tried. So, I did a little filing and smoothing here and there, and after 15 minutes or so, my gun was in and out without a dusting of olive drab shavings coming with it. Retention is extremely good – the gun is held very securely yet draws without hanging. Because it provides such a thin profile, it’s also surprisingly comfortable! I can easily wear this all day.

Overall, I am very impressed with this holster and even more so with the service I received from this small company. For $30, you’re not going to find a better kydex solution. Is it a perfect fit for my particular 1911? No, but it’s close enough. Would a $75 dollar holster from Blade Tech fit better?  Perhaps, I don’t know.  The 1911 platform has so many different variations, a one-size-fits-all holster is going to come with some small compromises. I honestly don’t think this would even be a thought with most other handguns. Nevertheless, at $30 each I will have no hesitation ordering more holsters from Kestrel for a couple of my other pistols. Sean confirmed they have holsters for more models coming.

To sum it up, if you’re looking for a simple kydex IWB belt clip holster, give Kestrel a close look. It might just be the best $30 holster you’ll ever buy!


Shown with t-shirt tucked in. Easily conceals with shirt out.


Restoring Tools and Furniture – The Recipe by John Kramer

Restoring Tools and Furniture – The Recipe by John Kramer.via Restoring Tools and Furniture – The Recipe by John Kramer.

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