Friday, February 02, 2018

I Like Old Tools

I just don't like rehabbing "em. My love of old tools as MsBubba would tell you ain't because I'm cheap nor is it because of some hippy dippy notion of connection to the past. It is simply the fact a good tool from the late 19th to early 20th Century will usually work better than its new replacement. That is not always the case but in general it is a good rule.

If you have ever spent any time looking at Russian aircraft you will see many copies of Western aircraft. Usually poorly executed copies, like the designer saw the Western aircraft several years before he/she put pencil to paper but close enough you can recognize the lineage of the design. I think many modern tools suffer from the same fault. The manufacture makes a tool that looks like one of the old ones and usually makes 'em "better" but missed some of the details that make using the tool a pleasure.

It's not that modern tools are poorly made because most are beautiful works of art but, there that damn but, they miss some of the important details. LN planes are a perfect example if compared to a early 20th Century Bailey pattern plane. The Bailey plane was light so you could use it all day with out tiring. The irons were thin, made of good HC steel and had a good balance between edge retention and ease of sharpening on any available stone. The chip breaker is much better for controlling tear-out than any of the modern back irons. The need for a moveable frog while the iron is in place is selling the sizzle instead of the steak. I'm not picking on LN, they make beautiful planes but I believe they missed the mark in making a working tool. Full disclosure, I own most of the LN planes, all sit gathering dust.

Chisel are the same story, come on, a paring chisel made of A2 steel? You have to be kidding. For that matter any chisel made of A2 is less useful than one made of HC steel and hammer forged. For a hammer forged chisel, for the most part, you have to go back to pre-war chisels or .Japanese chisels. I will not go into balance and feel but hold a pre-war Marples chisel and then hold almost any modern chisel and you will understand.

Joinery planes such as plow, fillester, or rabbet are much the same. The old wood stock ones, if you can find or fix, just work better.

OK enough for now....I'm back on my meds.



  1. You got that right, many small details that make a big differences dissapeared thru the years. Victims of beans counters, no doubt and a lack of understanding how these old tools were used properly, since its been a while everyone was familiar with them.

    As far as rehabbing to bling levels, i am still on the fence but i must say Ralph works lately is getting me inspired to try a better rehabs on my herds.

    Bob, back from outside with Rudy and took my meds :-)

  2. Bob,

    Bing levels while nice isn't needed. That said, I sure do like the way Ralph's planes look. Hell, I have enough trouble just getting the old irons to useable shape. The one from an old wood fillester I worked on this morning kicked my butt. I ended up only getting about 25mm of the back flat and that was using the ruler trick. That's the bad news, the good, if I only need a 25mm wide rabbet it cuts and works beautifully.

    We are moving into our Spring WX and it is hard to keep Maggie out of the pool. It will still be awhile before you can say the same about me :-).