Andover’s first settlers were farmers. Those farmers needed tools to tend the land. The number of tools a farm needed during the Colonial Era was large and paying for them could be difficult. Most of the farmers in Andover obtained those tools and used them well.
The conditions of life in New England during the Colonial Era meant that most towns had to be self sufficient to some degree: a sparse population, limited forms of travel, and slow communication. When farmers needed tools made of metal or that had metal parts such as many hoes, scythes, pitchforks, hay saws, and sickles, they had to go to the town blacksmith. This didn’t change until the mid 19th century, when the industrial revolution was in full swing and factories were mass producing metal products at far more attractive prices. Andover, like most other settlements in New England, had its own blacksmith.
Thomas Chandler was the town’s first blacksmith. He built his first smithy when Andover was founded in 1646. Chandler also started Andover’s first iron foundry in 1689. The only blacksmiths in Andover during the 17th century were Chandler and his apprentices. Chandler’s apprentice, Hopestil Tyler, became the southern part of town’s main blacksmith in 1701.
Colonial farmers in Andover had much better time acquiring tools made solely of wood. According to Sarah L. Bailey, 17th century Andover had five woodworkers: Thomas Johnson, Stephen Johnson, Stephen Osgood, Joseph Parker (the younger), and Samuel Wardwell. Tools made entirely or mostly of wood were much cheaper that metal ones. Such tools included but weren’t limited to yokes, feeding troughs, watering troughs, grain flails, crates, and many types of plows.
Wood was so abundant and vital to every person in New England that it was a big industry from the very beginning. In the mid 17th century, most woodworkers in New England bought their wood from tree fellers directly. By the early 18th century, most woodworkers in New England got their wood from numerous saw mills all over the region. The number of wood workers in Andover increased steadily throughout the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century.
Andover farmers got most of their agricultural tools from factory outlets by the mid 19th century. Starting in the early 19th century, the Industrial Revolution mechanized the production of goods at an ever increasing rate. Independent artisans couldn’t compete with the volume or the prices of the factories. The first retail catalog, Montgomery Ward, came out in 1875. As time went on, other catalogues like Sears appeared. With improved transportation technology, big corporations could mail products to anyone anywhere in the country at a low price. Independent artisans no longer had the advantage of being local.
While the industrialization of farm tool manufacture was bad for independent artisans, it was unquestionable good for the farmers. Farming tools were cheaper, easier to obtain, and more easily customized. Factory outlets, department stores and retail catalogues sold every physical tool a farmer could need at a reasonable price. Andover farmers bought almost all their tools that way, just like the rest of the country.
People still get their tools in a similar fashion today. The internet only makes the process of purchasing needed tools faster. Farming has changed a lot in New England since colonial times. The techniques, tools, and the method of obtaining the tools have greatly improved.
 Sarah L. Bailey, Historical Sketches of Andover Massachusetts, (Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1880), 47-50, 598
 Ibid, 47-50, 125, 152
 Ibid, 151