My Vintage Tools Database

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Blog entry by Johnny7 posted 02-07-2017 02:53 AM 1278 reads 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have no way of knowing just how many of you can relate to the problem I’m about to discuss, but here goes.
After many years of buying, fixing, restoring and (sometimes) selling vintage, non-power, woodworking tools, one thing slowly became evident—there was no way to keep track of it all.

It was after the passing of a fellow tool user/hoarder/collector that it first occurred to me to inventory all my tools and develop a record for insurance purposes, if nothing else.

I knew it would be a massive undertaking, but I knew the first step, (for me at least), was to create a database.
I did that using Microsoft Access—a more than adequate solution given the project scope.

As of today, I have probably 80-85% of my stuff cataloged. This makes it incredibly easy to see the following attributes of my “collection”, including:

• when did I acquire it?
• how much did I pay for it?
• do I have one of those?
• how many of those do I have?
• what does it look like?
• what other tools did I get in that haul?

The database format lets me search all the records, create reports, and even see photos of each tool.

Anyway, here are some screenshots of the database in use.

This is the default form.

clicking on a category, opens the subcategories list

clicking an entry in the subcategory list yields a list of all matching tools

when one of the tools is selected, the corresponding photos and all related info is filled in

Clicking on the photo opens yet another form with larger images.

7 comments so far

View theoldfart's profile


12756 posts in 3617 days

#1 posted 02-07-2017 01:42 PM

I think I need something like that. My concern is my family dealing with what I have after my demise(woodworker killed in freak post drill accident). Most of what I have was bought very cheaply but is worth multiple times purchase price. If my grandkids are not going to be interested in my hobby then I have a decision to make to either donate them to an aspiring person elsewhere or sell. Seems like this would facilitate that decision.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View Johnny7's profile


655 posts in 2256 days

#2 posted 02-07-2017 03:45 PM

The whole legacy thing was foremost in my mind, as I developed it (it took hundreds of hours, and and it went through several versions)

That is why, among other information, there are multiple photos per tool, along with what I paid originally. Both are to facilitate value after I’ve gone to my eternal reward.

I briefly considered a field for current dollar value (or even a rarity rating scale) but these things are either too dynamic or too subjective.

View theoldfart's profile


12756 posts in 3617 days

#3 posted 02-07-2017 04:42 PM

Johnny, any thoughts on marketing the DBase?

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View magaoitin's profile


249 posts in 2115 days

#4 posted 02-07-2017 04:59 PM

Outstanding work. I wish that I had more proficiency at Access like you. I love the ability to display photos on each page. With my lack of Access knowledge I have resorted to just using an Excel spreadsheet, and keep photos of all my equipment in a separate folder.

I had a long talk with my insurance agent recently on the topic of the structure and contents of my shop (now that I actually have something to protect) and have started to track the power tools I own. He did recommend putting a column in for “current” value, even if it is just a guess at the time I acquired the tool. It is more difficult for the insurance company to refute your claims of value if you have at least made an attempt of tracking it. And it is easier than trying to tack something on during a claim.

The tough part with vintage hand tools is there are no serial numbers or good ways that I would want to mark them for ownership, and the actual replacement value is wildly variable.

-- Jeff ~ Tacoma Wa.

View AandCstyle's profile


3306 posts in 3422 days

#5 posted 02-07-2017 09:58 PM

There are a number of free apps for smart phones that work to store your tool inventory. Search for “home inventory app”. I got mine 85% complete, then we moved and the small items got located to different places, so I lost track of them. Also, I haven’t been good about adding any new items, but my inventory is better than nothing. FWIW

-- Art

View Johnny7's profile


655 posts in 2256 days

#6 posted 02-08-2017 02:10 AM

I had thought about marketing it, but I think I would need to distribute a run-time library with it for those without an Access license. Moreover, I would need to add to the interface to make it completely user-friendly.
I don’t mind poking around in the tables to add the occasional Manufacturer to a drop-down list, but others might be baffled by the inner workings.

Your last point, concerning identification, is why I added photos, along with a form in which multiple, larger photos (as many as you wish to store) can be viewed. At this level, all old tools have characteristics which make them unique.

I am currently working on a web-based (SAS) version which would take care of several problems.
1. You could view your tools database from any device, anywhere. 2. You could keep it private or choose to make it public for viewing. 3. all software compatibility and update nonsense would be eliminated.

I will post all future progress on this front.

View theoldfart's profile


12756 posts in 3617 days

#7 posted 06-14-2020 10:40 PM

Johnny, anything new on this?

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

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