To clean or not to clean

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Forum topic by canadianchips posted 03-13-2010 02:08 AM 1240 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2600 posts in 2960 days

03-13-2010 02:08 AM

I collect OLD hand tools. Started with hand planes, then moved on to other hand tools. I get the same “FLAK” from the self appointed antique collectors ! You have ruined that tool buy removing the PATINA. Yes, I have cleaned the RUST and GREASE from that hand tool. I use my tools ! I want the screws to turn, I want my blades to be sharpened with NO rust pitting close to edge. I do not need shiny to use it. I want functional. To me the word “Patina” reallt means NEGLECT, an excuse for dealers to do NOTHING and still make a profit. I do enjoy finding an old piece that is a challenge to restore.

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

8 replies so far

View noknot's profile


548 posts in 3405 days

#1 posted 03-13-2010 06:33 AM

I agree, they say it takes away from the value money isnt all its about when I take an old tool and clean sand repaint it, I feel thats what the man that used it 40 years ago would have done so were just carrying on there legacy in my humble opinion. Tell the collectors If they were paying $120,000 for a 69 camaro would they want it in patina condition or pristine condition.


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548 posts in 3405 days

#2 posted 03-13-2010 06:34 AM

And welcome to lumberjocks


View ackychris's profile


103 posts in 2976 days

#3 posted 03-13-2010 07:52 AM

I definitely agree. Part of the joy of restoring an old tool is connecting with its history; letting an old plane sit on a shelf and collect rust and dust and patina is a pretty terrible way to connect with it, but caring for it and USING it like it was meant to be used, is really something special. I found my bench plane in my family’s garage. It must have belonged to my granddad, and it was really great to restore it and begin using it just as my granddad must have, 30, 40, maybe 50 years ago. I’m gonna start looking in antique stores for more neglected tools—I feel like I should save them from “collectors” and get them into proud, usable, fighting fit shape. If I’m reborn as an old handplane, I hope someone will do the same for me. Pretty please?

-- I hate finishing. I never manage to quit while I'm ahead. --Chris

View JohnnyW's profile


83 posts in 2994 days

#4 posted 03-13-2010 10:12 AM

Rust, grime, pitting and old grease are just evidence of the worst time in the tool’s life when it was left in a box to rot and decay; I don’t understand why would anyone value this. I’d get rid of it and let the the real patina come through – the small nicks and bruises on the wood where the tool was stored in the owners toolbox, a scratch here and there on the metal where the guy slipped when tightening something, the polish on the adjustment lever from years of use. That’s the valuable stuff.

Art collectors have the grime stripped off valuable pictures, archaeologists clean the mud of valuable artefacts, classic car owners polish restore and polish their vehicles – they all do it so that they can enjoy the object as it was intended. I don’t see any reason not to do the same with a tool.

-- John

View knotscott's profile


7980 posts in 3339 days

#5 posted 03-13-2010 12:02 PM

I typically treat the old tools how I want them to be for my enjoyment before I consider resale or collectors value, which usually means a good cleaning. It seems to be of the few that I’ve sold, that I make out better with clean hand planes than dirty ones in the same condition as received.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 3489 days

#6 posted 03-13-2010 03:27 PM

I like to make the antique tools my own by making new handles and totes, then clean them and tune them better then they have ever been before. IF it was going on a shelf to look at and not be used, then fine leave it looking old I guess. But what fun is it looking at a tool when you can be using it and really connect with it. I like to think about all the other hands that have used the tools as I work with them.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3072 days

#7 posted 03-13-2010 03:38 PM

Like anything else, it has to do with the use of the item in question. The conflict between woodworkers and collectors arise from the fact that neither one understands the other. A natural patina for a collector is important because the piece can only obtain that by age. Clean it up and you just threw away decades of natural aging. Dealers can’t sell it for much because the collector wants the patina. If you plan on using it, then cleaning is the best option. You can’t work with a tool that has decades of rust on it.

When I get old tools, I don’t think of selling them. If I did, I wouldn’t touch them but hold on to them. Since I want to use them, out comes the naval jelly. The price you can get from most antique tools is what a new tool would cost. Good tools were widely manufactured and do not get much value for rarity. The “rare” tools are actually ones that were unsuccessful, for whatever reason, and were made in small quantities. So I never really look at the old tools as anything but an item that needs to be put back to use and the best tribute to them would be to clean them up and put them back to work.


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

View WayneC's profile


13753 posts in 4060 days

#8 posted 03-13-2010 04:30 PM

I try to be aware of the potental rareity. If I come across something that is truely rare, I would not touch it. It would promptly go up for sale and a quaility tool obtained to replace it. Most of the old tools we come across are fairly common and they deserve to be put to use.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

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