Tool Musings - Thoughts about tools and working with them. #3: Thoughts of the Tool Orphanage.

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Blog entry by David Kirtley posted 07-03-2010 08:40 AM 1458 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Organizational Discipline Part 3 of Tool Musings - Thoughts about tools and working with them. series Part 4: Oddball tools to love and hate. »

Cleaning tools is a very thoughtful time. It doesn’t take any brain power. If your mind wanders, you don’t lose a finger. It can be a very restful state. You look at what you have and see what needs attention. You take stock of what you have to work with. As I go through things, I see what picked up in the past. What I rescued. I used to be on the hunt all the time looking for tools. Specifically old hand tools. There were some I kept and some I passed along. Then there are the orphans.

The first orphan is an old Stanley 45. One of the old pretty ones with the filigree castings. I finally broke down and took a look to see if it was salvageable. It was in pretty sad shape when I got it. I don’t even know why I took it in. It wasn’t complete. I already had complete one with all the cutters. It doesn’t really even have any parts to salvage. It is a basket case. I took one more stab at it and went for the Evapo-Rust. Well, the verdict is in. It’s a goner. Maybe it I will keep it around just for decoration. I hate to get rid of it.

The next orphans are siblings. Sometime in the past I picked up some pretty diverse Starrett measuring tools. The big one I love but I would never consider buying a new one. It is one of the big folding 24in builder’s squares. You know the one. Built in protractor head, 2” wide blade. Way too expensive. Well, I hate to say what I paid for it. Someone might call the police. That one is a bit hard to read but it is so nice that I will make do. It is actually my go to ruler. The first one I reach for. The questionable ones are the 12 in with the square head and the center finding head. The smaller 9 in with just the protractor head and one of the baby 4 in adjustable squares. Well, all the little ones finally got the cleanup. They can be used for straight edges and squares but the blades are probably never going to be legible no matter how much cleaning I do. So, I have some of these little squares that you really can’t even read the markings. Will I get rid of them? Hardly. I kind of think of it as the island for broken toys on Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer. They were once expensive precision tools. They deserve more respect than that.

Finally, there are the orphan chisels. No, not the good set or one of the partial sets. Those are easy to explain. I picked them up one at a time in mind of building a user set and one upon a time I used to use them to fund my tool habit. The ones I am talking about are the oddballs. The ones that I have no idea what, if anything, I will ever do with them. Come on, what on earth does anyone do with a 2” wide gouge Clean out wagon hubs? Or a 2” cranked neck paring chisel that someone put a ferrule on it but never sharpened? Why would someone put a ferrule on a crank neck paring chisel? How about the 16 inch long socket chisels. No, this is un-handled length. With handles they would be at least 22 inches long. There is a 1- 1/8” gouge, 7/8” gouge and a 7/8” chisel. NOS that has never been sharpened. Minty fresh. They are gorgeous, but what on earth will I ever do with them? Who knows, maybe someday I will build a timber frame house….. Oh, and one last puzzle. What about the 16 inch long 1/4” mortise chisel. What on earth would anyone do with one that long and narrow? Woodshop defense? Jousting? 9 inch deep mortises in 3/4 material? Seriously,If you were doing big stuff, you would cut wider mortises to match the stock and not little 1/4” wide mortises. What would anyone use one for? Why did I get it? (Besides the obvious answer that it was cheap.)

Well, you made it to the end. I admire your persistence following along with my rambling. I was just sitting here and it was bothering me so I figured I would purge it out of my system. Next time I might try to figure out why I have 9 block planes and 8 spokeshaves.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

2 comments so far

View canadianchips's profile


2602 posts in 3022 days

#1 posted 07-03-2010 02:10 PM

Hmmm, when I read what you have , it makes ME look really bad. I also collect old tools, everything and anything (why I do not know, I just do). My goal is to have a PILE large enough that when I die, my nephews and niece will open the door to storage and just blurt out ” HOLY CRAP” (Not that I will know, cause I’m gone).
I really enjoy buying a rusty, missing parts piece and see how long it takes to bring it back to life ! (Sometimes never, although “NEVER” is not in my vocabulary). If I were to put a cost to do some of these, OH OH. I explain it this way to my wife. If I were to go to BARS or CASINO (which I don’t) that money would be spent and next day I would have NOTHING, my way I have a piece of iron or cast ! So the next time you are wondering why you have 9 block planes and 8 spokeshaves, ask yourself WHY does that guy have 104 hammers, 85 block planes, 40 some # 45 planes, 100+ screw drivers, 50+ chisels, ETC,ETC,etc. I DO IT BECAUSE it makes me happy !!!!!!! woot woot

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3023 days

#2 posted 07-03-2010 05:07 PM

Nah, I had seen your planes post and thought that they were cool. Extra points for having them in formation. Makes a statement. That is also an accumulation that will supply another generation some time in the future. Just make sure that your wife knows how to move them once you have passed on. Won’t that be a big surprise to her when she finds out what that “rusty old crap” is worth? ;) You should have seen the look on the wife of a friend of mine when when he had his “stupid comic book” collection appraised. He used it as collateral for a business loan.

I wasn’t complaining about the good stuff that I have. No excuses or apologies for that. I was just questioning the stuff that I keep that is beyond redemption.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

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