No.7 - Delta Library


I recently attended an estate sale that felt like walking into a museum for Delta tools - I ended up purchasing a few tools and accessories that I've been trying to track down for a while. Although I try not to collect tools for the sake of collecting, my "library" of tool reference catalogues seems to be headed in that direction. 

Personally, I find these old publications fascinating - for someone interested in the history of design and manufacturing, these books really do feel like taking a peek into the past. Besides the fact that the U.S. made an incredible amount of machinery that was regarded as some of the finest in the entire world - it's more so the culture (and by that I'm referring to the do-it-yourself spirit of these books) that I find most interesting. 

These books were obviously used as promotion for Delta tools at the time of publication, but they are absolutely incredible sources of technical information as well. It's curious to me - and some might argue the contrary - that it took something like the internet to reignite this DIY or "Maker" (or whatever you want to call it) movement in a meaningful way. Of course there are many long-running publications dedicated toward expanding skills and technical knowledge in various trades, but it seems that this era between the 1930's-1960's was a bit different. I'm sure it had to do with wartime production and the types of careers (which influenced hobbies) many people had, lack of technological distractions, etc., - a complex topic perhaps for a later date.

Regardless, I'm glad to see a renewed interest in making actual things.

Oddly, I've never identified as a DIY kind of person, despite the fact that I'm primarily self-taught. My opinion has always been that there is a proper way (or limited ways) to build or design any given thing; more specifically, that there is a reason that form exists. Technical knowledge, a point of view and many trials & errors are in my opinion the recipes for interesting work. In contrast, my opinion is that the DIY aesthetic (and DIY movement at large) prioritizes speed and efficiency over form and technique; if it works, it works. And to put it most boldly, the "D" in DIY often does not stand for design - again, in my opinion.

I feel this is a point worth mentioning in the context of these older books as there does seem to be a consideration of design in many of the projects found therein. And of course some goofy stuff, too.