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Pre war vs Post War tools

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Forum topic by Johnalan Thomas posted 03-17-2018 04:43 PM 926 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Johnalan Thomas

57 posts in 1035 days


03-17-2018 04:43 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tools war hand tools

Hey Y’all, Been really getting into hand tool woodworking. Specifically antique tools. My question is realistically how big of a difference in quality is there? Has anyone put the two head to head? Any examples given will be appreciated. Thanks

-- John Darlington Sc


15 replies so far

View Jack Lewis's profile

Jack Lewis

326 posts in 1219 days


#1 posted 03-17-2018 05:01 PM

Just think of the advancement in production and quality of the steel!

-- "PLUMBER'S BUTT! Get over it, everybody has one"

View Don W's profile

Don W

18959 posts in 2709 days


#2 posted 03-17-2018 05:03 PM

I can really only speak to hand planes but there is an obvious decline in fit and finish with Vintage planes. What that basically means is it just takes a bit more tuning time. Once tuned you won’t see much difference.

-- http://timetestedtools.net - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

5081 posts in 3385 days


#3 posted 03-17-2018 05:32 PM

As Jack Lewis said, the advancement in production and the quality of steel has made newer tools superior to older tools. That doesn’t mean the newer tools will always be better. It means, for better quality, you will have to pay more for them.

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

483 posts in 1635 days


#4 posted 03-18-2018 06:13 AM

Quality difference?
Pre-war wood working tools used less automation, and more human touch. This typically resulted in higher quality tool, but not always. You could buy low cost mass produced tools from 1930-1940 that were cheap junk, just like you buy cheap junk today. So…
+1 for MrRon >> for better quality, you will have to pay more for them.

+1 with DonW regarding iron hand planes:
Stanley pre-war need less tuning post-war to make them usable. When sharp the act same.
Also:
A well tuned vintage (pre or post) Stanley will cut the same as new Veritas or Lie Nelson plane of same size and type and weight. Although there is an exception to this comparison: newer steel used for blades like A2 or PM11 are far superior to old laminate Stanley blades when it comes to keeping an edge longer, and needing to be sharpen less often. Most consider this to be better quality.

If you focus on chisels:
Quality of wood working chisels is based 99% on quality of steel and mfg process to create the edge. Many of common vintage pre-war US/EU chisels used higher quality steel than common low cost commercial ones sold post war, and a vintage chisel will perform as well as or better than even modern mid-range priced chisels.
That said, chisels using newer steels (A2/M4/PM11) have superior edges and edge retention to most any pre-war chisel.
Japan white steel is actually a pre-war creation, and blue steel or HSS is considered a post war creation. Have used both vintage and new white steel Japanese chisels and they seem about same to me. But my blue steel chisels hold an edge longer. Again, post war steel has better durability, but you have to pay more for privilege to use it.

YMMV

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

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Loren

10477 posts in 3789 days


#5 posted 03-18-2018 06:35 AM

Also, the old Bailey iron planes may have
represented a bigger chunk of income than
the versions sold today. Transitional planes
and even all wood planes were sold alongside
the Bailey iron planes for users who didn’t
want to spend as much.

Some of the old chisels are said to be really
excellent. Witherby, etc. If you don’t mind
your chisels not matching gems can be found
cheap on ebay. You’ll only learn from using
it how long a chisel keeps a keen edge. Most
will take an edge but in newer chisels I’ve
found ones that retain an edge a long time
typically sell for over $50 apiece.

Power tools used to be really expensive too.
The flimsy little lathes and saws and jointers
that used to be available in the 50s for home
shop use have died off as offshore production
brought costs down on more substantial machines.

The last company I know of that produced
those rather lightweight budget-conscious
machines was AMT. Into the 80s I think, which
is about when Taiwan production started taking
off.

View Fresch's profile

Fresch

314 posts in 2062 days


#6 posted 03-18-2018 03:29 PM

Which war?

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Tim

3812 posts in 2103 days


#7 posted 03-19-2018 04:12 PM



Which war?

- Fresch

When the discussion is about woodworking hand tools, it’s World War II. That’s when the changes in the demand for and quality of hand tools really set in.

View Roy Turbett's profile

Roy Turbett

168 posts in 3721 days


#8 posted 04-02-2018 03:37 AM

Prewar doesn’t necessarily equal better quality. I made the mistake of buying a “vintage” depression era Parplus plane that is so poorly made I can’t get it to work. The frog is made of stamped metal as opposed to cast to save on production cost so it could be sold for less money than a Stanley. When it comes to Stanley planes, there isn’t much difference from around 1900 to the 1960’s. Though some will disagree, I also don’t find much difference in performance between a Stanley Bailey and the “premium” Stanley Bedrock line that was discontinued in the 40’s and actually prefer my “Sweetheart” era Bailey over my Bedrocks.

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

5081 posts in 3385 days


#9 posted 04-02-2018 03:44 PM

I don’t believe there is much difference between pre and post war planes. They basically all look the same. It is the steel used in the blade that makes the difference. I would suggest that a quality modern blade in a post war plane of any make would be all one needs to have a sweet cutting plane. Of course there are those who are steeped in tradition and would not think of altering their plane in any way and would rather keep it 100% original.

View pontic's profile

pontic

633 posts in 750 days


#10 posted 04-02-2018 03:56 PM

Post war is better when compared equal level stuff. Prewar electrical motors are many times less heat resistant.
Less welded steel and more cast iron on the old stuff. May not be such a good thing depending on use. Much less carbide used on old bits and blades. When the old stuff used carbide tips the carbide had less tight grain and was not as well soldered.

-- Illigitimii non carburundum sum

View Jack Lewis's profile

Jack Lewis

326 posts in 1219 days


#11 posted 04-02-2018 03:59 PM

The same companies that give us advancements in steel quality here in USA are also the companies that outsource the same production overseas. Their quality control cannot be as rigorous there as it is here. It is demonstrated by the knockoffs that are sold in country and the ones made for export to US. It all comes down to the bottom line and the integrity of the parent company. As usual, we hope to get what we pay for in quality and service.

-- "PLUMBER'S BUTT! Get over it, everybody has one"

View JayT's profile

JayT

5862 posts in 2352 days


#12 posted 04-02-2018 04:04 PM



I can really only speak to hand planes but there is an obvious decline in fit and finish with Vintage planes. What that basically means is it just takes a bit more tuning time. Once tuned you won t see much difference.

- Don W

This has been my experience, as well.

Another factor to take into account is that a higher percentage of quality tools from that era survived, IMO. There were lower quality ones made, but since they didn’t perform as well, people wouldn’t have cared as much about saving them or continue to use them, so they got trashed, lost or broken. As you move up to newer tools, there hasn’t been as much time to weed out the poorer performers, and fewer people who really know how to use them. I have zero evidence to support this theory, but it makes sense. Look at other products from various eras and you will see the same thing—dishes, furniture, cars, etc. The quality stuff has a higher chance of surviving.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View Roy Turbett's profile

Roy Turbett

168 posts in 3721 days


#13 posted 04-02-2018 04:07 PM



I don t believe there is much difference between pre and post war planes. They basically all look the same. It is the steel used in the blade that makes the difference. I would suggest that a quality modern blade in a post war plane of any make would be all one needs to have a sweet cutting plane. Of course there are those who are steeped in tradition and would not think of altering their plane in any way and would rather keep it 100% original.

- MrRon

Keeping a plane 100% original isn’t a primary consideration for me and an out of tune plane will perform equally bad regardless of the iron. For me, its more of a cost vs. benefit thing because you can often find a vintage plane with a good original iron for the same price as modern iron. New irons are made of higher quality steel that generally holds an edge longer, but they can be more difficult to sharpen. They are also thicker which may require widening the mouth on older planes, especially Stanley Bedrocks. I don’t find much difference in performance between new and old irons in a well tuned plane provided that the older iron hasn’t been overheated during sharpening.

View diverlloyd's profile

diverlloyd

3104 posts in 1998 days


#14 posted 04-02-2018 06:58 PM



Prewar doesn t necessarily equal better quality. I made the mistake of buying a “vintage” depression era Parplus plane that is so poorly made I can t get it to work. The frog is made of stamped metal as opposed to cast to save on production cost so it could be sold for less money than a Stanley. When it comes to Stanley planes, there isn t much difference from around 1900 to the 1960 s. Though some will disagree, I also don t find much difference in performance between a Stanley Bailey and the “premium” Stanley Bedrock line that was discontinued in the 40 s and actually prefer my “Sweetheart” era Bailey over my Bedrocks.

- Roy Turbett

You want to sell your bedrocks then?

View Roy Turbett's profile

Roy Turbett

168 posts in 3721 days


#15 posted 04-03-2018 12:46 AM


Prewar doesn t necessarily equal better quality. I made the mistake of buying a “vintage” depression era Parplus plane that is so poorly made I can t get it to work. The frog is made of stamped metal as opposed to cast to save on production cost so it could be sold for less money than a Stanley. When it comes to Stanley planes, there isn t much difference from around 1900 to the 1960 s. Though some will disagree, I also don t find much difference in performance between a Stanley Bailey and the “premium” Stanley Bedrock line that was discontinued in the 40 s and actually prefer my “Sweetheart” era Bailey over my Bedrocks.

- Roy Turbett

You want to sell your bedrocks then?

- diverlloyd

Sure. Send me a PM and we can talk price.

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