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Tool Collecting

Tools thrive with loving use and perish under thoughtless abuse.

Roy Underhill, The Woodwright's Shop, 1981

I started collecting vintage tools when I did't make much money.


I know that sounds strange, but when you think you are always strapped for cash you want things around you to make you feel wealthy. Vintage tools were cheap and readily available twenty years ago when I started, now I notice it is hard to find good, inexpensive quality tools in flea markets and antique stores in Colorado. It seems like collecting good user tools is "the thing to do" because they are less expensive than new quality hand tools that are on the market. Or is it "the thing to do" because many woodworking magazines and internet forums say it is?

I use hand tools by choice, they are quiet and allow me to do excellent work. When I was a framing/finish carpenter I used power tools because the job/work demanded speed and not quite so much excellence, "good enough" sometimes was too high of a goal.


Collecting tools doesn't appeal to me anymore, collecting seems a little silly now, maybe because I know that I need to make classical guitars and I have all the tools to make them. I also know that having having three or four tool chests full of tools doesn't make you a carpenter or a wealthy carpenter at that, it means you have tool chests full of tools.

Those are some reasons why I am selling off my tool collection, the best reason is I just don't need all that stuff anymore.

When my maternal grandfather was a carpenter back in early to mid 1900's, he either bought new tools or traded for second hand tools that were fairly new, none of the tools he used were considered "vintage" at the time. Why can't I buy new quality hand tools?


Right now my goal is to eventually replace most of the vintage tools I use on a regular basis with new ones, such as the rip and crosscut panel saws I purchased from Lie-Nielsen. Most of my Stanley planes will be replaced by Lie-Nielsen planes, I am supplementing my set of chisels with new chisels from LMII. By the way, those are excellent chisels. I will keep my Ohio Tool Company drawknife, it is the best one I have ever used, the Stanley No.45 plane, and a few others.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I will "blend" the old with the new and have quality tools that will help me work more efficiently.

What was that James Krenov said in The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking?

Balancing your environment in a way that gives you harmony is all-important.



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