Jackie’s Joinery: Early American Woodworking Tools

The Richard W. Pencek Collection of the Centre County Historical Society

In colonial America, most people built for themselves everything that they needed.  There were no hardware stores or department stores.  Homes, and the furniture in them, were custom made by skilled workers and artisans.  Even the tools used to achieve all of this were handmade.  These tools were designed to accomplish a specific task.  They were handmade by man to fit human needs.  Because each tool fulfilled a specific function, it reflects the lifestyle of early American settlers and the challenges they faced.  Through this exhibit, you will be able to see the importance of tools in early America as they were used to build and decorate homes.

The early 20th century outbuildings at the Centre Furnace Mansion add charm, color and interest to the grounds, but they also serve a vital purpose.  The lower building provides critical storage for our garden tools and other supplies.  Named for our emerita CCHS Board President, Jackie Melander, this upper “Jackie’s Joinery” shed contains the Richard W. Pencek Collection of carpentry and wood working tools donated by Dick Pencek.

Jackie’s Joinery has been a living exhibition since 2003 that feature featuring these tools for working wood.  Dick Pencek led a student group to restore both outbuildings through a hands-on educational tool in his Penn State American Studies class to teach the old ways of approaching building techniques repairing the buildings. Jackie’s Joinery has continued to provide educational opportunities through CCHS programs and Penn State Integrative Arts.

Tools increase and vary power; they economize human time, and they convert raw substances into valuable and useful products. — Eric Sloane

The most recent project was a past due roof replacement for Jackie’s Joinery. Jim Belko led this project with Dick’s guidance and donation of materials through his emeritus teaching fund at Penn State. Jim generously contributed his knowledge, initiative and passion for history to the project and for this we owe him a debt of gratitude for his contribution.

Jackie’s Joinery Restoration Photos

Many special thanks go to Jim and Dick for their time and talent in this effort, and to Chenzie Grignano for his dedication and willingness to step in. and to Jackie Melander for lending her name to and supporting the project.

Also thank you for the contributions of Alan Popovich, Steve and Carol Gentry, Katie O’Toole, Floyd Todd, Lou Mayer, Johanna Sedgwick, Peter Sorensen, Marshall and Jim Garrett for their help!  This permanent tool exhibition is available during tour hours Sun, Wed, Fri 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. or by appointment by calling 814-234-4779.