Why I like Vintage Tools #1: Power Tools

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Blog entry by brianinpa posted 09-18-2008 03:48 AM 29904 reads 2 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Why I like Vintage Tools series Part 2: Surfacing tools »

Through the years I have amassed a collection of vintage woodworking power tools.

The most expensive tool that I have bought is a Rockwell/Delta 11-100 bench top drill press:

It cost me $25.00. I didn’t need it as I already had one; a newer Craftsman 9 inch. After starting up the Rockwell the first time, I decided to never use the Craftsman again. In fact, I took the chuck off of the Craftsman and use it as a light weight press for small projects.

My table saw is my work horse! A 1960’s Craftsman 10” table saw model # 113-29991:

This is a contractor type saw with a big motor – 1hp. I can cut wood that is 4” think and the motor doesn’t even think about slowing down. The cost for this saw, so far, has been 22 years – I got it from my father-in-law. I have used Powermatic’s and Unisaw’s, but for me, this one is more than enough.

My radial arm saw is a 1960 DeWalt Powershop 925:

I got this as a hand-me down from my dad. I am a radial arm saw type of woodworker: I don’t like miter saws! I grew up using radial arm saws at home, in school and every shop I have worked in and I treat them with the utmost of respect. I like the versatility that I have with this saw: dados, ripping, crosscutting, miters, molding, etc…

I have a 1962 Powr-Kraft TPF-2020A 36” lathe:

I had to pay $1.00 for at a local auction. The next week I bought a set of 8 lathe chisels for $25.00. Does that say anything about the woodworker when lathe chisels costs more than the lathe? One of the reasons the lathe went so cheap is because there wasn’t a motor: I had a vintage 2-speed ½ hp motor sitting in the shop waiting for it. I am a relative novice when it comes to turning, so this lathe is more than enough for me at this time.

My jointer is a 1950’s Craftsman 4”:

I paid $10.00 for at the same auction house that I have bought all of my tools at: for me the place is a Gold Mine! This one came with a motor ¾ hp and I guess a big motor on a small jointer is better than a small motor on a big jointer. I can surface plane 4” white oak with ease.

My band saw is a 10” Rockwell:

I paid $15.00 at: yeah – the auction house. This is the only tool that I have refinished, and this was out of necessity. It was a God awful yellow color that was really hard on the eyes in the sunlight. I want to move up to a Delta 14”, but the right deal hasn’t come along yet, but when it does, it will have to be a 1950’s model.

In addition to wanting the bigger band saw, the final power tool I am trying to acquire is a vintage Craftsman planer. These are commonly referred to as a “Gnome Planer” because they look like a yard gnome or the alien in the Alien movies. That will complete my shop’s power tools.

I like using the older power tools: they are stronger and more reliable than tools made today. They were made in a time when steel was steel and not aluminum. These tools I have will be working long after I am finished using them because they were made to last a lifetime. In the case of these tools, they will last several lifetimes.

In addition to the superior construction of vintage power tools, I also like the cost of them: I have outfitted my shop for less than $100.00. Most people pass older tools up thinking they are less than desirable and this is where a woodworker can capitalize. My advise for beginning woodworkers, don’t drop thousands of $$$ for new tools right away: spend a few bucks on vintage tools and learn how to use them, then if you want to drop the big bucks when you know your capabilities.

I am only a hobbyist woodworker so I don’t need more than what I have. I enjoy woodworking because for me it is relaxing and it is a way to take my mind off of the everyday worries. In addition, I gain a great deal of satisfaction when I finish a project on tools that are older than I am. It isn’t just the woodworking, but also the HOW behind the woodworking. Since my power tools collection/assortment is almost complete, my new focus is on hand tools and what type do you think I am looking for? Vintage!

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

26 comments so far

View kevinw's profile


195 posts in 3766 days

#1 posted 09-18-2008 04:24 AM

Man, where is that auction house? I want to go? I love old tools also.

-- Kevin, Blue Springs, MO

View Darell's profile


434 posts in 3621 days

#2 posted 09-18-2008 05:01 AM

Makes me ashamed of what I’ve spent over the years on tools. I just looked at your projects and not only do you have wonderful old tools, you have the skills to make them sing. I am truly humbled.

-- Darell, Norman, Ok.

View lew's profile


12102 posts in 3782 days

#3 posted 09-18-2008 05:34 AM

OK, Brian- you know the unwritten, unpublished LJ’s rules on shop photos- You can’t clean the shop before you take the pictures- that’s not fair to the rest of us! ;^)

Nice scores on the tools! You do wear a mask when you pick them up, right?


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View cmaeda's profile


205 posts in 3581 days

#4 posted 09-18-2008 06:59 AM

I’m also a big fan of older machines and especially hand tools. I have 3 tablesaws and my oldest tablesaw, a 70s, early 80s Craftsman 113.298 has by far, the heaviest cast iron top. The trunion is also beefier. The only thing you miss with the older tools are some convenience factors. For example, there’s no arbor lock on the tablesaw and the fence is tightened by twisting the handle, rather than by pushing the handle down.

View Bill Akins's profile

Bill Akins

425 posts in 3725 days

#5 posted 09-18-2008 12:24 PM

I enjoyed your tour of old tools. Them oldies are goodies. You do have a goldmine in that auction house.

-- Bill from Lithia Springs, GA I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.

View Lip's profile


158 posts in 4077 days

#6 posted 09-18-2008 12:55 PM

Hahahaha … damn, and I thought I was the only person that still had an old Craftsman 4” jointer in my shop!

Still have/use:
Delta 8” Baby Unisaw (I don’t have any pictures but will get some when I head back home in Dec) – $50
Craftsman 4” Joiner (103.23340) – came with table saw below
Craftsman RAS (113-23100) – $5 auction (took about $30 to fully restore)
Craftsman band saw - $25
Unknown bench top drill press – freebee
Craftsman disc sander – $20 @ auction

Have been replaced:
Sprunger Brothers table saw (less than 8”) – $10 Habitat ReStore
Craftsman 8" table saw (103.23833) - $50
auction (came with the jointer above)

You’ll have to let me know if you ever get that planer … I’ve seen them and have been interested but never found one for the right price …

-- Lip's Dysfuncational Firewood Farm, South Bend, IN

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 3750 days

#7 posted 09-18-2008 02:53 PM

Auction houses seem to be the same all over, but this one is in the city of Lebanon. I have started going to another, and the prices for old tools seem to be universal: cheap.

Thank you bery much.

If you could only see my shop now! These are older pictures.

You are correct about the rip fence. It was for this reason (and that I dropped the riginal) that I built my own that offers the features you mention. No need to twist a know, now I lift the lever and slid the fence like a Biesemeyer.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View Mario's profile


902 posts in 4078 days

#8 posted 09-18-2008 05:20 PM

That is the coolest looking table saw that I have ever seen. It has an art deco look to it.

-- Hope Never fails

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4222 days

#9 posted 09-18-2008 06:08 PM

What a great shop. I agree with your concept of tool buying & use. They were built to outlast all of us, and other than an occasional set of new bearings and a bit of lube, never seem to need anything.
My power tools consist of my dad’s original early 1950’s Shopsmith (cost $0), a second Shopsmith of the same vintage, (cost $200 including a bandsaw and hard to find mount bracket) an a third to keep at my lake place for projects there. (cost $27) I have the accessories to convert them to around 12 different tools, which makes the price per tool pretty cheap.
Like you, I get a great deal of satisfaction using them to do my projects. Also, I too have become interested in vintage hand tools. I get a real feeling of serenity doing things with hand saws, planes, etc.
Good luck with your search for them, but remember to keep saying over & over…”I am not a tool collector, I am not a tool collector…I simply need all of them to use. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3901 days

#10 posted 09-18-2008 06:44 PM

I love it, I love it, I LOVE IT! You’re preaching to the choir, dude. I may be young but my tools are OLD. I am always looking for the old US made stuff to fill my shop. I work in a used tool store and I have seen one of each of those come through our store. And I own that same DeWalt RAS and Love it. Check THIS out, as well as this…
Click for details

-- Happy woodworking!

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 3750 days

#11 posted 09-18-2008 06:57 PM

Blake it was your posting of your RAS that brought me to LJ’s. One day I was surfing the web looking for additions to my PowerShop and I saw your posting about your restoration. It took me about 10 minutes of browsing before I created an account.

By the way, how do you keep you vaccum hose from interferring with your work?

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View Big_Bob's profile


173 posts in 3736 days

#12 posted 09-18-2008 08:28 PM

You are a man after my own hart! I to like vintage tools. My Oliver lathe was made in 1961 it replaced a Delta lathe that was made in 1956. My Delta Unisaw was made in 1978 and a have a Delta stationary sander that was made out of parts that I got given to me and I think some of the parts are older than I am.

As for your statement that the “lathe tools cost more than your lathe”. I think anyone that has been afflicted with the Woodturning Virus can say that no matter what your lathe cost you will always spend more money on the tools.

-- Bob Clark, Tool Collector and Sawdust Maker

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 3750 days

#13 posted 09-18-2008 08:34 PM

You are so right. I was at Woodcraft looking at thier turning chisles and was amazed how how expensive chisles can be. When I bought my set my wife was saying that I was paying too much. When we were at the store she commented that I did good paying $25.00 for 8.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View Daren Nelson's profile

Daren Nelson

767 posts in 3932 days

#14 posted 09-18-2008 11:56 PM

I have that same model saw and love it. This is what it looked like when it was given to me (dragged out of a guys barn for free) But I could see potential because it ran smooth and the fence was good.

I infilled the extension wings with white oak. I lost a fingernail to a kickback years ago on an open extension table.

I built a wood base and removable extra extension. It has since been hooked up to dust collection. The face plate where the blade tilt indicator is from another newer saw. The old 113-29991 was pretty beat up.

The only money I spent was a link belt.

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 3750 days

#15 posted 09-19-2008 01:37 AM

Darren, I really like the look of filling in the extensions with wood. Not only does it serve a safety purpose, it just looks good!

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

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