Do you know how a hammer works? Yes, probably, you do — it hasn’t changed much in millennia, and even less in the last 70 years. So this video, a promotional effort by Disney and General Motors from 1945, feels at first like an occasionally delightful, occasionally cringe-worthy (the only character is “Primitive Pete”) trip to retro city.

There are some basics to learn here, though, subtleties that you might take for granted if you know them, but probably never thought about if you don’t. (Who knew I was using crescent wrenches wrong? Just call me “Neanderthal Nate.”)

Although the tips and lessons in the video are pretty basic, the intro — which focuses on craftsmanship — almost sounds like a modern manifesto referencing artisan handiwork. It’s an interesting circle back to a bygone era, but it’s also a thought exercise on how tools have changed (and not changed). Give us some examples in the comments: What tools would a modern equivalent include, and how would they be presented?

Nathan Hurst

Nathan Hurst

Nathan Hurst is an editor at Make. He loves anything having to do with science or bicycling. He tweets as @nathanbhurst.

  • Caleb Kraft

    I think seeing a video done in this style about using a 3d printer would be quite amusing.

  • Bruce Richardson

    How about the difference between Pozi and Phillips screws and drivers.

  • Phlamingo

    Using the side of a grinding wheel (as shown in the segment on repairing a screwdriver) is the kind of thing you can get away with most of the time, but the grinder bearings are not designed for that load, and neither is the abrasive wheel.

    But it’s a fun video to watch.

  • kiltmark

    We actually watched these in shop class back in the early ’80s.