Motors may be more efficient than human muscle, but there's still plenty we can do better than our electricity-driven replacements—especially with this classic equipment.
 Imperia pasta machine
(Pictured above) This Italian shop found a vast U.S. customer base when its hand-crank pasta machine was introduced in 1932, as Italian immigrants were eager for a taste of their homeland. ($70, williams-sonoma.com)
 Dux adjustable brass pencil sharpener
Dux engineers built this sharpener to hone pencils differently depending on the task at hand. Released in 1953, the three-setting German sharpener is still produced on the original machines. ($20, store.kaufmann-mercantile.com)
 Swing-A-Way can opener
Simplicity is key with Swing-A-Way's model 407, which was invented in 1955 as a smaller alternative to the company's wall-mounted device. The ultra-durable steel opener was used by NASA in the Skylab space station. ($8, acehardware.com)
 El Casco desk stapler
l Casco launched in 1920 as a gun manufacturer. When hit by the Depression, it shifted to office supplies, which could be made on the same equipment. This stapler, a 1934 design, is assembled by hand and bears the initials of the person who made it, adding ease to repairs. ($125, store.kaufmann-mercantile.com)
A version of this article appeared in the June 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.