Stovepipe Was Made to Order: Early Hardware Stores Custom-Made Stovepipe

It's All Trew


| June 2010



An old-fashioned stove.

An old-fashioned stove.

stock.xchng/photo by plattmunk

How many Farm Collector readers have ever installed a damper in a stovepipe?

How many don’t even know what I’m talking about? The damper adjusts the flow of air going up a stovepipe, thus adjusting how hot your fire is burning below. Like a modern-day thermostat, this non-electronic device can save a lot of fuel when set correctly.

Recently I visited with Robert Adams of the Adams Hardware Store in Shamrock, Texas. The store was established in 1934; the Adams family took over in 1947. Robert has a small but very interesting collection displayed in the store. Be sure to drop in sometime to see it.

Old stovepipe-making equipment is part of the display. In the old days, customers brought in stovepipe measurements and the store owner made the pipe to fit. Why did the pipe have to be made? Because finished pipe took up too much room in shipping. Raw tin was cut to size and shipped flat in a wooden crate.

To fill an order, both edges of the 3-foot piece of tin were cranked through a crimper to make the edges clip together. One end was inserted into another crimper and cranked, sizing one end so it would slip into another joint. A shorter piece of pipe could be cut on a cutter device. Ells, 45-degree ells and tees were stocked separately along with dampers, stove bolts, stove wire, stove blacking and the tin-covered asbestos pad the stove sat on.

There were numerous styles of ash buckets, stove shovels and pokers for sale, along with a coal shuttle where coal could be stored out of sight under lids. Many merchants gave away lid-lifters as a premium, especially to good customers.

Modern handy gadgets were available, like a “warmer oven” that could be installed in the stovepipe to warm food, or a cast iron pyramid trivet that could be set over an open hole on the top of the stove to heat three sad irons when ironing.