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Restoring old tools (except hand planes) as users?

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Forum topic by Brett posted 03-24-2011 08:13 PM 3703 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Brett

660 posts in 2145 days


03-24-2011 08:13 PM

I’ve become interested in restoring a few old Stanley hand planes as a cheaper alternative to buying some of the new, pricier hand planes.

Are there other tools that can be purchased and restored as users, as a way to acquire good quality tools at a lower price than buying newl? What about hand saws, molding planes, braces, chisels, etc.?

-- More tools, fewer machines.


23 replies so far

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

4997 posts in 3125 days


#1 posted 03-24-2011 08:18 PM

Sure … you can pick up some decent deals on used tools at garage sales, estate sales, flea markets, etc. Just be patient … you may have to pick through a lot of junk to find a few gems.

—Gerry

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

7143 posts in 2376 days


#2 posted 03-24-2011 08:42 PM

Essentially ALL used woodworking tools can be refurbished/restored, even table saws, band saws, etc. There is NO limit on this.

No limit I say, that is, unless you actually believe the crap about untouched collectible woodworking tools. You know what I mean,... never cleaned of rust, never repaired when broken/scratched/chipped-paint etc. and in ALL ORIGINAL cruddy condition. You know, just like we ALL keep ALL of our woodworking tools in our shops, LOL!

And when you get one of these untouched collectible woodworking tools make sure you DO NOT USE this woodworking tool and destroy its value! ;-)

But really the bottom line is that you can buy some really good woodworking tools that need restoration and a new working life in your shop. Go for it! Here is a hand plane restoration project that I used to have posted under PROJECTS, until LJs removed it last weekend, but you can still see it on my website (but without the write-up or numerous comments) here.

Good luck!

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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canadianchips

2347 posts in 2459 days


#3 posted 03-24-2011 08:47 PM

Some of these are always fun to clean up and have hangin around.

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

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

7143 posts in 2376 days


#4 posted 03-24-2011 08:53 PM

Dang Chips! Not sure I’d feel safe walking around in your shop without steel-toed boots and hardhat with all those axes hanging so high! LOL!

*Psst…I do see all the restraints.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Dave Pearce's profile

Dave Pearce

108 posts in 3134 days


#5 posted 03-24-2011 08:54 PM

Thanks for the reminder. I have a loooong diatribe on this topic exactly, I should probably post as a blog entry…

As others mentioned, all old tools can be restored and used for the most part. Only those suffering from too much rust, or too much damage might cause you to look the other way and find a more suitable item.

-- http://www.pearcewoodworking.com

View Brett's profile

Brett

660 posts in 2145 days


#6 posted 03-24-2011 08:58 PM

Thanks.

I think I need to rephrase my question.

Let’s say I have $40 to spend on a hand plane. Most people probably would say that for that price, it’s better to buy an old Stanley hand plane and fix it up, than to spend $40 on a new CheapoBrand hand plane.

What about if I have $30 to spend on a hand saw? Is it better to buy a modern $30 hand saw from LowDepot, or to find an old Disston saw and fix it up?

What about other tools? Are old restored chisels typically better than new chisels that I could buy for the same price? Is that true for screwdrivers? Hammers? Pliers?

I guess what I’m looking for is some guidance like: If you want to buy a hand plane, saw, tool A, tool B, or tool C, you’re better off buying an old one and fixing it up. If you want to buy a hammer, pliers, chisel, tool X, tool Y, or Tool Z, it’s better to buy a new one.

-- More tools, fewer machines.

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

7143 posts in 2376 days


#7 posted 03-24-2011 09:14 PM

SmilenNod,
To be honest with you, EACH of those questions really deserve their own THREAD/post. Folks all have varying interests and varying expertise gathered from pursuing/collecting each of those interests/items. And by splitting those questions up, it will make it easier to “search LJs” (function) for others as well. My 2-cents…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Dave Pearce's profile

Dave Pearce

108 posts in 3134 days


#8 posted 03-24-2011 09:21 PM

Ok, here’s my diatribe. I covered a few of the tools I struggled with in the beginning as I was searching antique malls, flea markets and woodworking catalogs. Hope it helps.

http://lumberjocks.com/DaveP/blog/22184

-- http://www.pearcewoodworking.com

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

16241 posts in 3680 days


#9 posted 03-24-2011 09:31 PM

To answer your question in a general way…. it depends. :-)

In all the tools you mentioned, I’m sure there are cases where a good quality old one that can be refurbished will be better than a new one purchased for the same price. The problem is in knowing if the old one you’re looking at is a good old one or just a cheap old one.

Old Stanley planes are easily recognizable, and everybody knows they can be fixed up to perform better than a new plane of the same price. But it becomes much more difficult when you’re talking about chisels or hand saws or screwdrivers, because there is not as much widespread knowledge out there as to which ones are worth spending time fixing up, and which are really no more than old junk.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

13003 posts in 2155 days


#10 posted 03-24-2011 09:35 PM

Oh man, are you kidding?! I restore any old tool that I can get my hands on. In particular, I like bit braces, squares, levels, inclinometers, hammers, chisels, screwdrivers, aw you get the idea.

I’ve probably restored 100 chisels by now. Do you own a lathe? If so, buy some socket chisels and make some fine tools.

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

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wb8nbs

162 posts in 2154 days


#11 posted 03-24-2011 09:43 PM

I’ve restored several hand saws, Disston and otherwise. Generally pay $10 or less at a garage or estate sale. I always carry a magnifying glass to look closely at the logo badge on the handle.

I remove rust from the blades by electrolysis. Made a shallow saw blade length wooden tray which I line with a garbage bag. Sheet metal electrodes at the bottom, couple layers of plastic grid above that cut from a milk crate, then the saw blade on top. Add electrolyte to cover, connect old battery charger for half an hour. Scrub, rinse, repeat. When satisfied with the cleaned blade, I buff a little on a wheel, then couple coats of paste wax, sharpen and reinstall the handle.

Also restored chisels, bevel gauge, a number of auger bits, same technique.

-- The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.

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canadianchips

2347 posts in 2459 days


#12 posted 03-24-2011 10:43 PM

SmilenNod,
A good way to learn the quality of cutting tools is to learn how to sharpen them. Avoid tools that have deep pit marks on the cutting edge. Chisels, hatchets, hand saws and planes. Some old poor quality hand saws have brittle teeth, these will break off when you try to set them. You can still cut with a missing tooth, it just works better when they are all there ! Old chisels are a tough one, you never know how they were sharpened, overheated or whatever ! Even a good brand name will loose its quality when someone overheated it. They can be re-tempered (thats a story for another day). Old auger bits can also be resharpened. I have several of these and have only drilled 1 hole with each one after I restored them. (Just to see how they work. TOO much work for me to drill with those, BUT I like to see them hanging on a carpenters wall.)
Once again the best way to learn is get in there and DO IT.

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

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

13003 posts in 2155 days


#13 posted 03-24-2011 10:47 PM

Hey Chips, maybe in another thread sometime, could you provide the nuts & bolts of sharpening an auger bit? I, for one, am very interested in this, as I own several braces ( as I suspect Smile & Nod will shortly). I get a tremendous amount of pleasure using restored vintage tools, from a utility knife to an expensive plane. Other than shop made, there’s nothing better for me at any price.

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

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2460 days


#14 posted 03-25-2011 03:54 AM

The definitive and final real answer:

Yes and No. :)

There are some old tools that are no longer made and some new ones nowhere near the quality of the old ones. The economy of scale has been lost and they are priced out of the general hardware stores and only found with boutique suppliers. Some are just as good as the old ones. A few are actually better than the originals. Read reviews and see what people have to say about them. I have a new brace that other than the aesthetics of the plastic handle and pad, it is superior to just about any of the old ones. The 4 jaw chuck is a definite improvement when using round shanked bits. It really even holds the tanged bits more nicely. Put the 1/4 in hex bit adapter in it and I will take it any day over my cordless screwdriver.

The choice of finding suitable vintage tools can be easy. Most of them are pretty good and if treated well, will for the most part, last indefinitely. The hard part: Finding them. You can go cheap and take the risk and buy something on ebay from a vendor you don’t know and with whom you have no relationship. You can go to one of the specialist vendors and trust their judgement and skip the whole frog kissing problem. One of my favorites is Patrick Leach. If nothing else, you should sign up for his list just to read the descriptions. One of the most entertaining things ever to hit my inbox. There are others I would trust equally. They don’t give tools away but I can say without reservation that you will get what is advertised. They have a long and hard won reputation and they make their money on return business rather than some anonymous one time sale. There may be some good guys on ebay, but I have ever bothered to sort through them to know which are good.

The other way is to put on your clean panties and hit the flea markets and antique stores. When you buy old tools this way, you have to educate yourself on what is a good tool waiting to be put to use and what is better suited to hang on the wall of a trendy restaurant. I guarantee that until you earn your rust stripes, mistakes will be made. Don’t forget to factor in the mileage, wear and tear, and your time. You can also come across some serious bargains.

To put this all in perspective, I have finally rebuilt my own tool set after a hiatus of nearly 20 years. I have a mixture of old and new. I can’t honestly say that I have that much preference either way. A good tool is good whether new or old. It has been a lot cheaper this time because I didn’t have sift through as much. I already knew what I wanted.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2460 days


#15 posted 03-25-2011 04:16 AM

Al:

They are easy to sharpen. You can get a special auger file or (my choice) just use some needle files. I like the diamond ones.

Never touch the outer perimeter. The holes will be the wrong size if you do.

Sharpen the inside faces of the spurs with a round file just following the contour. Then you have one or two chisel faces (depending on single or double flute bits). Smooth the bottom just like flattening the back of a chisel but it will not be perfectly horizontal on the bottom. There will be a bit of relief of 3 to 5 degrees or so. Some a bit more but it’s not that critical.

Finally hone the cutting edge which is the upper side.

Gently chase the threads if they are worn and you are done.

It is easier to do it fairly frequently with a fine grit than to let them get dull. Kind of like a razor. If they ever start tearing instead of cutting, stop and fix it quickly. Feel the bit after drilling a hole, if it is getting hot, it is probably time to sharpen it. A sharp one will barely get warm.

Pay attention to the threads on the bit. There are generally two types. The fine threaded bits are for hardwoods and the coarser for soft woods.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/

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