Vintage Hand Tools #1: The Slippery Slope

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Blog entry by Brandon posted 11-23-2011 02:55 PM 1639 reads 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Vintage Hand Tools series Part 2: The Keen Kutter K5 Plane »

I have been on this website for about a year and a half now and posted many projects and forum topics, but I’ve yet to write a single blog post. So here it goes. :-)

Over the past year or so I’ve been incorporating more and more hand tools into my arsenal. Lumberjocks is likely at fault, at least in part! I’m by no means a purist or one that despises power tools, but I’ve found a certain enjoyment from the traditional methods. My own renaissance seems to coincide with a broader trend in woodworking that is returning to the technology of yesteryear. Let’s admit it, there’s a certain fulfillment one gets from surfacing a board with their hand planes. Granted, I still use my Dewalt planer if I have a lot of stock to plane, but it’s certainly much louder and less fun (though quicker and less of a workout). I have yet to drink all of the Chris Schwarz Koolaid—I still see my table saw as central to my workshop and the router table isn’t going anywhere—but when I daydream about tools, I’m thinking of Lie-Nielsen, not Powermatic. When I think about which tools will be passed down to future generations, it’s the Stanley planes or chisels, and not the Delta oscillating spindle sander. ;-)

For me, restoring and using old tools is very fulfilling and almost as much fun as building things out of wood. I know a number of people on this site would agree with me—just see the “Handplanes of your Dreams” thread that’s 5500 posts long. I’ve titled this post “The Slippery Slope” since this phrase is oft used with respect to purchasing/using hand tools. Once you get a nice shaving out of your newly cleaned-up Bailey plane or cut your first dovetail by hand, you’ve set yourself on a new trajectory from which it is difficult to stray. I figure this will be a good place for posts about my experiences with some of the hand tools I’ve cleaned up and have been using, starting with my Keen Kutter plane.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

8 comments so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

17882 posts in 1992 days

#1 posted 11-23-2011 03:11 PM

well said. I look forward to reading more.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


13576 posts in 2042 days

#2 posted 11-23-2011 06:41 PM

Brandon – Sounds like a plan!

Regarding hand tool use as a trend, my oldest son is a HS Senior and is taking Woodshop. He asked me to help him pick out his ‘big project’ and, long story short, we have worked on it together (at home, in my shop) through various stages. Well, when I showed him how to joint edges of long board for glueing (jointer plane, small squares, spring joints, etc) he asked when we’d get out the biscuit jointer. When we flattened the panels (cambered jack, jointer and smoother) he said they’d use the sander at school. And last night, as we were pulling beadboard off the rack for re-use as the back of his pewter cupboard school project, I cut them to rough length with a hand saw. This time he didn’t say anything.

Needless to say it, perhaps, but I think he’s getting a broader picture of the various options for woodworking and I love it.

Enjoy your journey, I’m looking forward to more installments!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View ShaneA's profile


6430 posts in 2022 days

#3 posted 11-23-2011 07:13 PM

Well said Brandon, I look forward to future installments. I understand completely what you have said. When I now think about tools, it is hand tools. I would not have guessed that finding beat up old handtools and getting them cleaned and back in service would be so rewarding. However, like you, the DW 735 and the TS are not jealous, because they know they are not going anywhere anytime soon. The only thing is, there is only so much shop time available, and restore jobs do bite into saw dust/production time. Thanks for posting.

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 2465 days

#4 posted 11-23-2011 07:30 PM

Cheers !!! Now for some Pictures !!! Lets see your travels

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View Brit's profile


6587 posts in 2267 days

#5 posted 11-23-2011 09:05 PM

I couldn’t agree more Brandon. We all appreciate what machinery can do, but the enjoyment and fullfillment afforded by using hand tools to accomplish a task is difficult to match with anything that has a plug.

-- Andy -- Old Chinese proverb say: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Brandon's profile


4151 posts in 2376 days

#6 posted 11-23-2011 09:55 PM

Thanks for the comments, guys! Smitty, I really appreciated the story. Daddyz, I’ll get some pictures up soon, I promise.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View mafe's profile


11061 posts in 2513 days

#7 posted 11-24-2011 01:56 PM

Brandon we are many on that road, as in life no fanatism, wonderful take a walk, no reson to walk when we need to go far away when there is a car in the driveway.
The hand tools bring us calmness and bring us closer to the essence for non profit or high guality – the wood.
Bst thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View lysdexic's profile


5078 posts in 2047 days

#8 posted 12-21-2011 08:17 PM

Brandon – I am with ya

The thing that I find interesting is: When pondering the projects that I want to build, I manipulate the pieces and try to resolve the joinery. I solve the problems with hand tool techniques. I really don’t think in the terms of machining the wood.

-- I love Jeeps

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