Why vintage? Why new? Why a special brand? DEBATE.

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by mafe posted 01-15-2011 03:22 PM 3597 reads 0 times favorited 30 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Changed the headline, now we are awake!

I’m entering a minefield, only politics can be more dangerous than this…
I’ll put up some statements and want to see the reactions, to hear outburst, anger, agreements, and disagreements, but please try and argue why you think as you do!

Why do I find this interesting? Because it’s discussions I see again and again on the web and here at LJ, and even find myself getting caught up in from time to time, partly because Napoleon and I have completely different views on this, and like to tease each other with these different passions (here are a example).

Lets go:

Vintage (Stanley, but also in general);
Old crap, for people who can’t afford new / the new are more crappy and the price the same
For people who can’t let go of the past / they are full of charm and patina.
History interested nerds / just a tool like a new.
Collectors with too much time or money / a way to save money to get a good tool at a fair price.
Can’t be used, since it’s too bad a quality / excellent quality fully as good as or better than the newer.

Just Stanley copies made from brass to be expensive / better castings design is not a copy.
For people who want to be exclusive by spending money / a good investment since bronze need no maintaining (bronze models).
People who love the past, but can’t stand it looks old / nothing to do with old or new just the quality.
Collector’s items for hobby woodworkers that used to be IT millionaires / long tome investment for the serious professional woodworkers.
Is not actually better than an old Stanley in same model / the LN are better made than old Stanley’s.

New bees that want to make something simple look fancy / they understood what the task is and made a tool that fit this, careless of the design.
Nothing new, just new design / the design are not important it’s all invention.
For space nerds that watched too many Star Wars movies / are actually very beautiful, just different from Stanley copies.
It’s not better than others, just fancier / they work better due to the improvements in design.
A excuse to collect, to buy the whole series / simply just better made.

Old English chisels
A collector’s wet dream a user’s night mare / the quality are not found the same today.
The handles suck since the shape is too simple / the handles are so simple due to yeas of use, others are too complex and the curves give just blisters.
The need to be sharpened all the time / are easier to sharpen and so you tend to have a sharp chisel more.

New Chisels,
They are impossible to sharpen when the metal is so hard / it’s worth the effort since it stays sharp longer.
They have no life look boring in the drawer / they are beautiful since the parts shine and the friction are less.
The handles can’t be made of plastics / its logic to use new materials on new products.
It’s important to get as hard steel as possible / it’ important to match the steel with your temperament and the task.
New chisels must look new / new chisels can be a copy of old design (Stanley, Marbles).
You can’t be sure of the quality in new handmade tools / the new handmade are better than the machine made.

English – American – European Tools (I know England are EU);
The English could never make the same quality of metal planes as the Americans, except from the older infill’s (Record, Acorn and such). / the English are the same or better.
The English steel was not the same quality as the American / the English steel was better.
The European metal planes that can be used were made by Kunz in Germany, anything else sucks (Darex others). / the European planes were the same standard or better just not as elegant.
The old English chisels are not worth buying, since the quality of even the best toolmakers were so much different that no one can know what they buy / most of the old are better than the new but yes there can be a bad boy in the bunch.
The new English chisels are not worth buying, since they can’t control the metal hardness, so sometimes you get steel sometimes butter / the new English chisels have a quality control that does check this, and so the quality are the same or better.

I do not know what is the truth, I try to explore and make my own judgments always, listen what my heart tells me, and what the shaves looks and feel like, so I try not to color the debate, just thought it could be interesting.

Perhaps this can kick start the debate:

This was what got me started on this blog.
This post because it started me to try and explain what I meant:
This post where there were so much love for the old plane in the comments:

You don’t need to comment on all, just the things that interest you, you know about, or provokes you, I will not judge anyone, but since this is a sensitive subject, I will ask all to keep a nice tone and to respect that there can be different views to the same subject.

Best thoughts from my provo side,

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

30 comments so far

View mafe's profile


11730 posts in 3115 days

#1 posted 01-15-2011 03:24 PM

I wrote this to my friend Napoleon who is a dedicated LN fan:
‘Vintage is for me what you can’t buy for money, to hold a piece of history, a rare beauty, and have the guts to use it. It’s not so easy to explain, since there are no plain logic, it’s a feeling to be lucky I guess, to be the one and only.
It’s the same with handmade, you can get a more precise dovetail by a router, but the handmade one gives me a bigger joy for some reason… Like we spoke about with the tools, some handmade Japanese chisels talk to a lot of people for some reason, the English like Iles only a few even the craftsmanship is superb and the steel excellent, the LN machine made talks to a lot because of the vintage look (Stanley) and the good steel. Where is the logic? I do not see it, and this is the beauty, we are so many that can be happy in different ways, after all you would probably not even want LN if everybody had them, and would buy a LN if all had a Stanley 62.’
This is just as a example, and reprecent my own personal view today.
Best thoughts,

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

View mafe's profile


11730 posts in 3115 days

#2 posted 01-15-2011 03:26 PM

Perhaps I should also have mentioned the new Chinese and the old Anant, but this can be up to someone else perhaps.
The debate are open.

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

View Flemming's profile


417 posts in 2923 days

#3 posted 01-15-2011 03:47 PM

I dont know a lot about tools. all i know is that a saw will saw, whether it’s old or new. how fast it saws depends on how worn it is and how many teeth it has. for me it’s not a question of old vs. new. it’s a question of quality and finding the right tool to do the job (fine cut vs. rough cut). no point trying to start a lumber mill with a rob crosman that has 5000 teeth per inch…

you can find crap tools from now and from history… but i will say that there’s likely not a whole lot of crap left from history, because most of what’s survived has withstood the test of time (for a good reason). i think we all know which of the 5 saws we tested in copenhagen wont stand the test of time… and yet i think our viking forefathers would have pee’d their pants if they had that crappy saw in their hands… not to mention some of the quality tools we have today.

but i like history and i like the stories the old tools tell us, and i like that they still live on after so many years. there’s a reason they still work, and it is a testament to their quality that no one can argue with, because they still perform the same job today that they did, and were designed to do so long ago.

-- Flemming. It's only a mistake if you can't fix it.

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3770 days

#4 posted 01-15-2011 04:28 PM

I have a few vintage planes, but I have upgraded the blades to new replacements. I also have LN and Veritas planes. They both seem about equal. I usually choose one over the other depending on the feel and how well it works compared to the other. I have a newer German compass plane and it test my patience every time I use it. I’ll probably keep it, but will have to upgrade the chip breaker and blade before it works the way it should. I got a set of Narex chisels for Christmas. I usually will try a chisel on soft wood, to check the true sharpness, and I had one of the blades chip first thing. This may be the quality control you’re talking about. I think these come from Eastern Europe somewhere. I do have some Marples that are about 15 years old that have worked well for me.
You left out Japanese tools. I use Japanese saws exclusively. Don’t even know if I can still cut with a push saw. I also have many vintage Japanese chisels, and they perform great.
Overall, I don’t care if the tools are old or new; or what the name is on it. I just want it to do the job that I got it for.

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3135 days

#5 posted 01-15-2011 04:46 PM

Mafe, you think politics are more dangerous? Ha Ha Ha

I think, in the realm of hand tools, much depends on the disposable income of the woodworker in question and their philosophy about how much one should know and understand their tools. Meaning, there are some that want the tool to work, out of the box, end of story. There are some that have as much interest in their tools as they do in their projects.

I would love to own an LN but I don’t feel too disheartened for not owning one. I guess it is kind of like golf clubs to me. When you are starting out, all those ergonomics that are in an expensive set won’t do you much good. I enjoyed buying the older planes and fixing them up. I could afford them, they were higher quality than the cheaper planes manufactured today, and the work taught me a great deal more about planes than if I would have had the money to buy them ready out of the box.

Hope all enjoy the thread Mafe, good one to get the mind working in the morning. Dodge those bullets ;)


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3141 days

#6 posted 01-15-2011 04:52 PM

I can see you forgot to mention the wooden planes was that on purpose :-)
well I ´m not cable of judge about wooden planes compare to metalplanes
other than it feels good to use wood on wood ….lol
I think Larry Williams and others can come with a lot better arguments about than I can
i´m not against metalplanes I think some of the older ones look exceptionel with
all the glamour and bells … know what I meen …......but do they work better
than wooden planes ?

a very interressting blog Mads
I just think you shuold have posted this in the tool forum (will run longer and not disapear in the crowd of blogs)

take care

View canadianchips's profile


2602 posts in 3023 days

#7 posted 01-15-2011 05:59 PM

I like my old hand planes. I can make shavings as thin as Rob Cosman can and I do have some that do not hold their edge as well. Over the 100 years history of those planes I have no idea how they were sharpened previously. Maybe they were overheated at one time. I do not know this, so I cannot jump up and down and say this brand of plane is crap. I buy more than just old stanleys. I have Millers Falls, Sargents, Record,Siegley,Crafstman (I have a craftsman block plane that is fantastic) Gage ,
To Date: I do not own a Lie nielson, Veritas,Holtey, Spiers or Paul Hamler.(Maybe in 75 -100 years I will) lol
Some people need to go grocery shopping in a Cadillac or Rolls Royce and some of us are content to drive our VW’s. At the end of the day we all eat !

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

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3360 days

#8 posted 01-15-2011 06:35 PM

You are a brave man Mads. I guess you have that viking blood. Of course the Vikings used wooden planes.

Any plane that cuts well after tuning is ok for me. I would like a Veritas or LN low angle jack plane though, or any of their other planes for that matter. Having read a lot on the subject, but actually knowing very little I just go where my pocket book takes me. Yes, I have wound up in a lot of dead-end alleys due to that.

I don’t mind sharpening my chisels often, and not being a pro, I have the time, so expensive chisels would be a luxury item for me. I think ‘better’ is defined by your personal needs when it comes to chisels. Some use chisels to open paint cans and use as a screw driver (admit it bud, I know you are out there somewhere). Others do fine work with them, and the rest of us are somewhere in between. Of course some are better and smarter made and more expensive. Mine from Lower Slobovia work just fine for me.

I say that those pro’s who use hand planes a lot and have experience with different quality planes through years of experience know what they are talking about. Most of them endorse LN and Veritas planes as the very best in the “wider market”. Other planes which cost thousands of dollars are in a class by themselves and beyond most folks reach, so they really aren’t worth discussing or arguing about unless you are RICH, which I am not (darn).

I’ve got to stop now. More comments will just bring forth more disrespect. keep it cool Mads and goodbye for now.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Servelan's profile


39 posts in 2807 days

#9 posted 01-15-2011 06:49 PM

The vintage tools I have are my grandfathers’, and I don’t know most of their brands (one bunch is machinist’s tools and the other’s carpentry tools), and the reason I cherish them is because when I use them they connect me to the people that used them. Otherwise, I am not brand-loyal; I just buy what works. If that’s a tool I don’t already have one of that happens to be vintage, it might add some patina but vintage isn’t what I’m after and usability is.

Except for a Stanley #50. There is a picture in The Handplane Book that made me drool…I don’t need one, but oh, do I want one…

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 2864 days

#10 posted 01-15-2011 07:19 PM

I have no tools- therefore I have no opinion. :)

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View lilredweldingrod's profile


2496 posts in 3133 days

#11 posted 01-15-2011 08:40 PM

Mads, I would love to have an opinion on this but I can’t. Ever since I jacked up my back and shoulders, I have very little use for planes. I would love to, just can’t.
BUT When I think of how many centuries woodworkers used wooden planes and the beautiful results that they achieved, it brings me back to my reasoning on any tool.
It is the man and his skill that makes the tool. Not the tool that make the man.

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4032 days

#12 posted 01-15-2011 08:57 PM

My pet peeve is all the tools that come with an LED light attached to it. A dead giveaway it was designed by people who never used tools.

And my other is the overly expensive tools, made out of precious metals with space age precision for people who think woodwork should work in a tolerance of thousanths of an inch even though wood itself unpredictably fluctuates in tenths of inches.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View mafe's profile


11730 posts in 3115 days

#13 posted 01-15-2011 09:23 PM

I’m happy to see that the blog stays a debate.
And I’m especially happy that there are a wide open mind in the posts, that there seem to be a general agree ment that the rule is, that there are no rule. Or perhaps we are just so lucky that the extremist don’t have the nerves to bring their thoughts here…
There are room for all kind of tools and ages here, I just picked the once that i heard so many times.
So Dennis you can talk about wooden planes and tell why you prefare them.
Japanese saws are also a hot subject I think.
Best thoughts,

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

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 2966 days

#14 posted 01-15-2011 11:01 PM

I read the “debate” between you and Napoleon and will position myself in the middle between you two….since I earn my bread with tools, they firstly have to do the job well…so I won’t mind a quality new plane…but I am also a romantic at heart which means a vintage tool makes my heart beat a little faster. LN and Veritas is a theoretical option for me anyway….not only due to cost but also because you can’t buy them here…yeah, I could import one but the red tape headache…and I don’t do the credit card/paypal thing. The closest I have ever been to a LN has been a picture on this screen…they sure look beautiful…maybe a retirement gift to myself one day… I have never bought a new plane in my life…my collection of Stanleys and Records all had previous lives. You know I am also a big fan of wooden planes, many that I made myself. As for chisels, one with a plastic handle just doesn’t sit well in my dusty paw…I do not own a single hand tool with a plastic handle, yuck!

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

View swirt's profile


2785 posts in 2998 days

#15 posted 01-15-2011 11:35 PM

Old tools with family history are tops in my book. Then old tools in good shape… then if I am in a hurry and can’t find them old. I go for new.

I like the affordability of old tools, but I also enjoy cleaning them up and putting them to work….sometimes that is more fun for me than the work they do.

I admire the quality of Lie-Neilsen and I admire the creativity that Veritas shows. I appreciate what both of them have done for the craft. However, for me as a hobbiest, the cost is too high for my budget…can’t afford that much eye rolling from the my wife. ;)

-- Galootish log blog,

showing 1 through 15 of 30 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics