5.21.2012

stories & treasures

Tools are funny things; especially old tools. Looking at, and handling, an old tool tells you a story. Every mark on each tool is part of the (mis)adventure of the tool's - and its owner's - life. Last year I came into possession of some tools from a deceased relative. At the time, they were appreciated as being kept in the family and carefully set aside as 'maybe I can use these one day' items. This year, the wood bug bit hard and I went digging into my past; I am now very glad that I did.

First out of the box was my grandfather's Bailey #4 (casting date 1910). The tote needs to be fixed, but it is otherwise in good condition. I remember him using it to plane down the edge of a sticking door. I can also recall his oilstone with a gouge down the centre that he could never quite get rid of; but he managed to sharpen tools with it anyway. This should make a nice scrub plane, and I can be reminded of him every time I use it.

Next up was a #5 Bailey in great condition. Now I have a pair! These will each get differently ground irons for different jobs. The #5 is long enough to true up the edge of a fairly long board, but it also serves admirably in flattening boards across their width.

Another great find was a Stanley 9-1/2 block plane with adjustable mouth. It needs a little squaring up of the moving part but is otherwise serviceable. I should be able to correct this once I get the machine tools going in the shop.

Six medium sized turning tools; skew, v, parting, and gouges. I don't (yet) own a wood lathe, but I suppose a treadle or spring-pole lathe project would be a fun undertaking :-) .

A large Yankee screwdriver. The twist-lock for the extensible shaft needs to be repaired but otherwise it seems to work just fine. The most common bit (back in the day) was for slot head screws and I simply dislike using this type for all but decorative applications. But, thanks to some retro-futurist, hex-bit adapters are now available to allow the use of any modern, 1/4" shank bit. Hurrah!

A Stanley #151 adjustable spokeshave. I've already cleaned up the sole on this and had a go at one of the many pine scraps. The iron is still sharp and takes a nice, controllable cut thanks to the thoughtfully shaped handle castings.

A Stanley #80 scraper with the 'sweetheart' logo. This has a crusty, rusty sole but is otherwise solid. And I couldn't help but notice that the edge of the blade is still very, very sharp. Very.

** Lee Valley sells replacement blades and irons for many vintage cutting tools **

An 8" throw, Stanley "Victor" #965 drill brace with the 'sweetheart' logo. A little oiling of the moving parts and it now turns just as well as the day it came from the factory.

7 auger bits in a terrible state. It's doubtful that I can save more than 2 of them. Sad, really.

A pair of 10", German made tin snips. I haven't tried cutting anything with these yet, but the 'ess' curves of the forged handles are visually appealing in a way that modern stuff mostly isn't.

A brass-and-wood sliding T-bevel. This needs a good clean-up and testing for straightness of the stock and blade. Nicely made and has a smaller form-factor than my own T-bevel.

All of the tools are nicked, scratched, scuffed, and otherwise show signs of use, wear, and care. Some of them have been around for 100 years, now. Still useful, still appreciated, still capable of doing good work. I'm going to clean them up, resharpen the cutting edges, and replace any broken or damaged components as best I can. Then they will be employed in my own projects and on various tasks for my friends, writing yet more chapters in their long stories. Maybe they'll be around for another 100 years...

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