A purchase in honor of a friend....

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Forum topic by Quoheleth posted 04-07-2013 02:26 AM 1460 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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22 posts in 2431 days

04-07-2013 02:26 AM

I’m a Lutheran pastor. One of my church members died Thursday. He was supposed to be married today.

Over the past couple years, I’ve gotten to know him very well – in large part because he’s been sick and I spent a lot of time with him in his hospital rooms where we would talk about all sorts of stuff. He’s always been encouraging, both professionally as his pastor, and in my woodworking hobby. Every time I put something up for a for sale item at a church fund-raiser, he would bid on it and, frequently, wind up buying it.

Today, I went to see the grieving fiancee at his house. Above his chair was a cross I had made and he bought. She brought out a small, hand-held cross he bought at another event and said she wanted it to be in his casket at the funeral in a few days.

Before I left she gave me a gift he had already prepared for what should have been a joyous celebration today. She had given the others in the wedding party the gifts he purchased for them (groomsmen, etc.) and wanted me, also, to have his gift. I was stunned that it was $300.

I’m asking for some help in deciding what I might get with his gift as something that would be reasonably durable, be useful in my shop, and something I could say with reasonable pride, “I bought this in honor of…” I could buy some very nice pieces of wood and make something, too, as a tribute. But, I like the idea of tools. Specifically, I know I want to purchase hand tools, not power tools. Not only am I lacking in quality hand tools, but the romantic in me says hand tools would be more memorable than a power tool.

My current hand tools are cheap. I have a $20 set of Stanley chisels and a $25 Stanley “standard” plane. I have two older Craftsman planes, I’m guessing one is a #5, the other about the size of a #7. I have two I have two hand saws, one is a nice sharp antique given me by a friend; the other a $20 Ace Hardware-brand. As to my skills, I’m an experienced amateur who does lots of small “crafty” stuff and is just getting into larger, furniture-sized pieces.

I’m open to suggestions. I want good quality, but it doesn’t have to be ultra-top end (read: Veritas). I’m thinking Woodriver seems a good compromise of price and quality in most of their stuff.

Some ideas:
Woodriver 3-piece plane set: $360 (I can cover the $60)

Or, any of the above planes individually.

WR Shoulder plane: $150

WR Chisels: $84

Or I could buy one very, very nice Verital/Lee River as a once-in-a-lifetime purchase. But the cheap German in me says spend less, get more pieces.

I’m open to other ideas, suggestions, and thoughts.

Thanks, guys.

-- "We're always ready to circumcize a few 2x4s," - Uncle Bill

22 replies so far

View derosa's profile


1577 posts in 3033 days

#1 posted 04-07-2013 02:47 AM

What about something like the stanley shoulder plane which is cheaper then the woodriver if you get it on amazon, and I believe better quality, and having it engraved with something as a memorializing piece. Doesn’t have to be dedicated to him but say a dove ascending on the sides. Should still fit under the 300, be a unique piece and fully functional as a hand tool.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View DIYaholic's profile


19704 posts in 2872 days

#2 posted 04-07-2013 02:47 AM

Sorry you lost a friend.

I say go for the “high end” tool and some exotic wood. You can then build a fitting tribute to your friend, utilizing both of his gifts. Your new tool is a gift and should be something you would not normally buy for yourself. He would probably want you to have an heirloom tool. You’ll be able to put his gift to use on nearly every “gift” you make, there by extending his gift onto others. Just my opinion.

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Dusty56's profile


11822 posts in 3885 days

#3 posted 04-07-2013 03:13 AM

Well , Padre’ , after reading your signature , perhaps a nice set of sharpening stones is in order : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Marcus's profile


1163 posts in 2217 days

#4 posted 04-07-2013 03:32 AM

Lie-Nielsen no. 4 in bronze. It’s a beautiful plane and stands out in a group. You will think of your friend every time you see it.

View Kickback's profile


127 posts in 2833 days

#5 posted 04-07-2013 03:36 AM

Get one of the super duper nice planes from LIE-NIELSEN HAND TOOLS those planes are more than worthy of honoring your friend. My condolences to you for the loss of a cherished friend.

-- "I work so I can fish"!

View richardwootton's profile


1701 posts in 2153 days

#6 posted 04-07-2013 04:44 AM

I would be in agreement on the purchase of a nice heirloom tool. Like the LN smoother. That’s definitely something that you could pass on to your offspring, close friend, or parishioner(sp), in the future. I’d shoot for the number 4 smoother in beautiful brass. I’m sorry for your loss and I dread when that day comes for me, or for my friends. Create something beautiful with something beautiful.

-- Richard, Hot Springs, Ar -- Galoot In Training

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8548 posts in 2526 days

#7 posted 04-07-2013 05:12 AM

Sorry for your loss Q… I don’t know how pastors do it, as you are always the go-to guys when trajedy strikes.

My suggestion is that you buy a nice plane that doesn’t make your existing #5 or #7 redundant. Maybe a LN low angle plane or a shoulder plane. Bronze would be nice. Then take it to Things Remembered in the mall and have it engraved “in memory of my friend __” and you’ll think of him every time you see it.

Take what’s left and buy some nice wood to make a stash of gift crosses, and make sure you use the memorial plane on each one. Then when you give them to others, you’re friend will be indirectly participating in the gift…. which will make both of you smile.


-- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View DocBailey's profile


584 posts in 2557 days

#8 posted 04-07-2013 05:20 AM

Padre – with the sort of money you’re talking about, I highly suggest a backsaw from one of the boutique makers—Bad Axe, Wenzloff, etc.

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3774 days

#9 posted 04-07-2013 05:39 AM

What a sad and touching story me God bless his family and friends to remember the good times and hold your dear friend in your and their hearts and memorys . I’m sure you will select the right tool in his honor.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View jgoeden's profile


23 posts in 2092 days

#10 posted 04-07-2013 10:02 AM

Before I even got halfway through your post, before you listed your ideas, I was thinking a really nice plane, so your old buddy can help you smooth out your projects. Such a nice gesture from the both of you!

-- Never use a Lancelot woodcarver on an angle grinder. Pictures upon request.

View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

597 posts in 3515 days

#11 posted 04-07-2013 11:01 AM

Q, thank you for your ministry to this fellow and for your service to the Lord.

There’s the high-end, LN approach to this. But I have German in me, as well, and can appreciate that influence on your thinking. I would only suggest that a “rehab” project can be a rich source of satisfaction and can result in an item/tool that represents more than anything purchased new.

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

View Quoheleth's profile


22 posts in 2431 days

#12 posted 04-07-2013 11:04 AM

Let me add an addendum to the initial post: while an experienced amateur with woodworking and power tools, I am an amateur of amateurs when it comes to hand tools. If my life depended on cutting a straight and true cut with a handsaw, I wouldn’t have to worry about this morning’s sermon :-) I have used my cheap plane to smooth boards for rough work but not detail work. Ditto my chisels. No hand-cut mortices and tenons have come from my shop! So, whatever tools I buy I will be learning as I go.

I understand the “buy the best you can afford” premise as well as the “buy well, buy once” approach. But perhaps there’s also something to the Davy Crockett mentality – “Be sure you’re right and then go ahead” – as well.

Just some more thoughts.


-- "We're always ready to circumcize a few 2x4s," - Uncle Bill

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3048 days

#13 posted 04-07-2013 03:18 PM

Many years ago I bought two dauntingly expensive (and numbered!) Bridge City tools and tucked them away, informing my two sons that they were theirs as soon as they pushed me out to the middle of the lake in a flaming boat.

Perhaps they (the tools, not the sons) will be worth somewhat more then than they are now. Will they keep them as reminders? I doubt it. But I suspect both would keep some tool that I used, that had my thumbprints on it, that had the marks of time and effort engraved in it.

What I’m getting circuitously to is, Q, think downstream not about what the tool will do, but about your relationship to the tool in 10, 20, 30 years. You have enough shop experience to know what I’m alluding to. I think this exercise will lead you meaningfully to your choice.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Tim's profile


3812 posts in 2159 days

#14 posted 04-07-2013 05:17 PM

Very sorry for your loss. I think whatever you pick will be the right thing. Be aware though that the Woodriver planes are made in China as copies of Lie-Nielsen planes. As in they literally cast copies of them and took the work that LN put in to improve them.

I’m usually like you too in that I want to get more things for my money, but in this case I think I’d go for an heirloom quality tool. If you think your friend would have liked you to have an old tool, then consider getting a very nice old Stanley bedrock or Bailey and learn how to restore it. You will get a high quality tool and the time with it restoring it. You could also buy some nicer chisels, but a nice smoothing plane would be good. Buying a vintage tool would leave enough money left over to take some woodworking classes too. If you think your friend would like you to have a new heirloom quality then a Lie-Nielsen or Veritas smoother would be a great choice. They aren’t really ultra high end, just well made. You can spend thousands on a single plane if you want to.

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 3556 days

#15 posted 04-07-2013 05:39 PM

Sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. I would also recommend that you buy a very good tool that will last you forever. The Lie Nielsen planes will do just that. Get yourself the #4 or 4 1/2 smoother and you’ll smile every time you use it and thank your friend. You’ll find using hand tools isn’t really that daunting, especially if you have good tools.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

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