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Grandpa Jar

We’ve all been there: halfway through a major (or not so major) project when you realize you desperately need a random screw, nut, bolt, nail or washer, and nothing on Earth could convince you to ride, drive, or walk to Home Depot for the third time in a single day. That’s when it hits you: you need to dig into the Grandpa Jar.

I got my Grandpa Jar right around the time I bought my first place. The 3 bedroom Cincinnati fixer-upper that I bought when I secured my first “real” job right out of college. A tenant in my grandmother’s condo building had passed away, and my uncle had purchased the majority of the estate. In exchange for my assistance in schlepping the goods from one place to another, I was granted free reign over all the things that were destined for donation.

Along with some awesome antique tools and hardware items, the most invaulable item that I brought home was this magical jar of metal.


My dear ol’ dad has several jars, bins and containers full of random fasteners in his tool kit, many of which came into his hands after his tough-as-nails Hungarian grandfather passed away. Hence the name: “Grandpa Jar.” Some of the stuff on my dad’s workbench probably dates back to first generation immigrants from Europe, and my brothers and I all learned long ago to never throw any of that stuff away. Our jar now contains everything from tetanus filled pre-WWII nuts and bolts, to those weird little dowels that seem to hold together everything you’ve ever bought from IKEA.

The fact of the matter is, when you want to wrap up the last bit of that project you’ve been meaning to finish for a month, nothing can take the wind out of your sails like having to make another run to the hardware store. That’s when any homeowner or creative renter worth their salt will bust out the jar and finish up the deed using the stuff you’ve been saving your entire life. Simply find a fastener that fits and wrap it up.


Bonus points if your container is more than 30 years old and contained condiments at one point. Even more bonus points if your container has passed through more than one generation, especially if verbal instruction came along with the passing of the Grandpa Jar torch. Now dump that jar out on the kitchen counter and get to work.

Oh, one more thing: I’m Scott, the manpower behind the YBH. Any project involving power tools usually defaults to me. Keep your eyes peeled for handy instructions on how to do fun and exciting man-jobs like mounting a flat screen TV, hanging bicycles from your ceiling and wiring an entertainment center. I’m looking forward to it.

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  • That’s a great idea– not only useful, but pretty darn cool looking as well.ReplyCancel

    • Scott8.12.09 - 12:57 PM

      Thanks Kasey! That thing has saved my butt more times than I can count!ReplyCancel

  • Dave8.16.09 - 5:25 AM

    Great post! You learned well. Tell Kim about “The Hotel”. A two ton version of a Grandpa Jar.
    Love, DadReplyCancel

  • Jess4.29.12 - 11:20 AM

    YAY man-jobs! Just started this blog and oh man am I hoping for that tv tutorial! :DReplyCancel

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Kim and Scott

We’re Kim + Scott, Chicago based content creators behind the Home + Lifestyle brand Yellow Brick Home.

Join us as we renovate and nurture vintage homes across Chicago + SW Michigan!

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