Ruminations, Philosophy, and Workshop Antics.......... #22: Don't clean up those old tools, you are removing their value! It's all about...PATINA!

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Blog entry by Jim Bertelson posted 02-15-2011 05:41 PM 4287 reads 0 times favorited 28 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 21: The LumberJock Syndrome, also known as the Dick Cain Syndrome Part 22 of Ruminations, Philosophy, and Workshop Antics.......... series Part 23: House without a soul. …or how I brought purpose, and creativity to a lifeless home. »

Making a comment on one of nbeener’s posts, I got to thinking about my tools. Many of them are, well, veritable antiques. And I bought them new! That is not possible, unless you are an antique….....and unfortunately I qualify.

One of the most important things about antiques is the patina. Refinishing removes much of the value. I learned that…, not at a Holiday Inn Express…....I learned that on Antiques Roadshow!

So just to help you understand the concept, I will give you an example from my shop. I guarantee that my radial arm saw has LOTS of patina, I put it there…...........(-:

I bought that shining brute at Sears, 41 years ago, and finally it has gained value. It is now an antique. Can’t remove the patina….......that’s a no, no.

Little rust here, little paint there, scratches, replaced switch:

.........there it is….......

...........PATINA in technicolor..........note the fine, ingenious, replacement switch….........(-:

Yup, just a surface mount switch, like for a barn, you know. I am sure it is rated for motors and inductive loads….........wouldn’t it be?

You know I might be tempted to do an upgrade, but gee whiz…......even that switch has become part of the patina. Besides, I can find that switch easily, and it has a great clicking action….......(-:

........and for you electrical engineers out there….....I put that switch there over 30 years ago. It may not be rated….....but is sure does the job.

I love the patina my tools have acquired over time….............just like an antique…....I am sure removing the patina would compromise the value…............(-:

I bet there are other LJ’s out there that have tools with…........a LOTTA PATINA…..........(-:

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

28 comments so far

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3168 days

#1 posted 02-15-2011 05:44 PM

So THAT’s what’s been happening.

Every now and again, my garage door simply goes up … and goes down … and without US doing ANYTHING.

Now I get it. YOU’RE turning your RAS on and off :-)

-- -- Neil

View Bertha's profile


13525 posts in 2687 days

#2 posted 02-15-2011 05:46 PM

Ha! That radial arm saw certainly has patina. Plus, the art deco-ish stylings will probably earn it some value, as well. I haven’t been working on this long enough to establish my own patina, but I admire yours.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View lew's profile


12052 posts in 3749 days

#3 posted 02-15-2011 05:47 PM

So true, Jim..

I have a lot of tools gathering patina as we speak.


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

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4170 posts in 3158 days

#4 posted 02-15-2011 05:50 PM

I’ll get right on tracing the circuit from my house to yours….........then we can measure the frequency of the inductive impulse from my saw, and install an appropriate filter somewhere in the circuit. I learned that in ham radio…........

......but gotta do a few things first, you know… of these days might have to replace that switch…...

Wonder what the filter would cost….......think it would cost less than a new switch?..............(-:

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4170 posts in 3158 days

#5 posted 02-15-2011 05:52 PM

Just remember, don’t clean those tools, then they will become valuable some day, just like mine!

I was betting you could find even better examples than I could…........(-:

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4170 posts in 3158 days

#6 posted 02-15-2011 05:54 PM to work for a bit….....will check back later…..........

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2850 days

#7 posted 02-15-2011 06:24 PM

for folks with no patience

Instant Patina

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3328 days

#8 posted 02-15-2011 06:43 PM

The only tool I have with patina is my brain. Is that worth anything Jim? Ok, I’m not selling it anyway as I only have one replacement left (the wife’s brain) and I’m already using that at almost full capacity!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View dbhost's profile


5708 posts in 3226 days

#9 posted 02-15-2011 07:09 PM

The oldest tool I have that I personally bought new that I still have that is, is my Skil Saw. It’s a basic 13 amp model that I bought a the hardware store I worked in back in the mid 90’s while I was in college. The box was beat up, sun faded, and overall in very poor shape, and I suspect that it actually was built in the mid to late 1980s. (The serial # tag actually says made in U.S.A.). Now every last bit of “patina” on that saw I, or friends of mine, put there, including the 2nd replacement power cord because I got stupid not once, but twice and cut through the cord… This one at least is easy to get, and easy to replace… Skil customer service, at least back then has been good to deal with… I haven’t had to replace a cord on that for at least 10 years now…

Now hand tools is another story… But my Stanley Proto combination wrenches still look like the day I took them out of the plastic wrap…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4189 days

#10 posted 02-15-2011 09:41 PM

Wow, all this time I thought those spots I’m getting on my hands were age spots…now I realize they’re just patina. I feel much better now.
Here’s a question, though. I just picked up this Shopsmith to re-do. Should I leave the patina on it?

Just wondering. -SST

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

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4170 posts in 3158 days

#11 posted 02-15-2011 09:54 PM

Alas, the holy grail for antique collectors, you can have brand new antiques!

Wonder if belly button lint counts as patina….......(-:

I used my Skil saw, built around 1980, just two days ago. I suspect it will outlast me, partly because of the infrequency of use. I have some old double end socket wrenchs, a metric set I bought in Taiwan about 1969, and another set by Thorsen built in the early 70’s. They show no sign of wear, although especially the Thorsen have had some heavy use.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4170 posts in 3158 days

#12 posted 02-15-2011 10:04 PM

Well it wouldn’t make any difference, because if you take it off, then you can use some of Jamie’s special effects wax to put it back on! Actually, I have cleaned up my radial arm saw and table saw from time to time, but it isn’t long before they get their “patina” back again. I don’t try to make them look mint or anything, just remove any rust grime, etc. That Shopsmith looks like someone was going to do something to it and never quite got there. I remember a Shopsmith when I was perhaps 14 years old or so, about 55 years ago, that belonged to my friend’s father. Those things have been around awhile. He must have had one of the original models.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3109 days

#13 posted 02-15-2011 10:20 PM

Jim if you chance that switch you better get one in crome with build in disco-laserlight and follow spot
you know the newest of the new in the store

take care

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3168 days

#14 posted 02-15-2011 10:30 PM

Hey, Tom:

Are you sure you put that thing together correctly ?

Something … just doesn’t look quite right ;-)

-- -- Neil

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 2934 days

#15 posted 02-15-2011 10:37 PM

I guess there might be a few of us that has personal patina as well. If the tools, why not us too?

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

showing 1 through 15 of 28 comments

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