Sunday, 7 February 2010

The Wild and Wonderful of Tool Collecting...

So I have been busy spending my kid’s inheritance, but he shouldn’t mind as I’m having a blast doing it.

So taking you around the image above, the three Plane Floats at the front left have taken about six or seven months to get them to this point. The old one was purchased from The Best Things just before Christmas. I had it shipped to Jim Bode of, who made two copies of its handle for me. These were used to complete the two other floats, which were purchased without handles some time ago. Those two were hand-made by St. James Bay Tool Co. out of Arizona.

Behind those floats are four Stanley squares. The little wooden one is a 4 ½” No. 20, a Sweetheart era one with a full Stanley Tool sticker on the handle. The larger one is a pre-Sweetheart 6” No. 2. In front and behind the No. 2 are two 4” No.14’s, two purchases that include a saga that came to an end this morning.

I will try to make the story of these two squares as short as possible. I purchased the first one just before Christmas from When it arrived, I checked it out and set it on my cabinet and forgot about it. Christmas day, my wife decided to clean up my office and asked me to put away some tools when she was done. Complying, I picked up the little square and it fell apart; the little, what Jim Bode says is the proper name for this thing, “screwpinwiththeelipticalgroove” having fallen out and disappeared. Needless to say I was a little p.o’d, not only for my wife's decision to clean on Christmas day, but also for messing with my stuff with the resulting loss of a irreplaceable part.

Two weeks into the New Year I found another No. 14 on eBay, being sold with the little No. 20 by shopdweller, who turned out to be a hell of a nice guy. Again my wife intervened to mess me up, asking me to take her shopping the day the listing ended, so of course I missed it. As the bidding for these two squares didn’t hit shopdweller’s reserve, I emailed him, asked him what he would take for them, we struck a deal, I purchased them and had him ship them to Jim Bode. Jim turned a new screwpinwiththeelipticalgroove for me and sent the whole lot on to me.

This morning, as I was sorting and putting the things that had again accumulated on my tool cabinet away, I saw a shiny thing flash as it went tripping off to the floor. Not knowing what it was, I started to look for it. First, I just got down on my hands and knees and searched, with no luck. I then grabbed the flashlight and searched with that, again with no luck. Finally, I grabbed a Pocket Magnet Retriever I had recently purchased from Lee Valley and started dragging it around all over the place. Well I came up with a shiny thing, I don’t know if it was what fell or not, but I was not happy when I saw what it was. Yup, you guessed it, it was that damned missing screwpinwiththeelipticalgroove that I had just spent a lot of money and jumped through hoops to replace.

Just as an aside to this story, the reason I own a Pocket Magnet Retriever is that two weeks ago my wife dropped a copy of the key to the car’s locking gas cap down between the seats and neither of us could see it. I told her not to worry about it as the cap came with two keys. I decided one would go in the little overhead storage place mounted to the car’s headliner and the other I gave her with the instructions, “Put this somewhere safe where you will remember where it is when we need it”. I would expect you figured this one out as well as, yes, she didn’t remember where she put it. My first attempt to retrieve the key in the known location was to buy this magnet thing and try fishing for something I couldn’t see with it. As that didn’t work, I had to remove the entire seat assembly and the carpet below it to find it, a job which was successful in its purpose the day before the gas gauge hit the almost empty mark again.

Now don't go thinking I'm trashing my wife here, relating all these little trials and tribulations within these pages. God bless her, as without her, I'd be lucky to own a screwdriver, let alone all the wonderful tools she has helped me accumulate over the years. Just between you and I, though, she is a bit of a forgetful klutz.

Ok, back to my tools.

Having just purchased and watched Chris Schwarz’s DVD, “Handplane Basics – A Better Way to Use Handplanes”, I was impressed by the amount of wood he removed from a plank using a Stanley No. 5 with a curved blade. As I also realized that this set-up and use would result in this plane taking a serious pounding, I went off to find one that was good, but cheap because I figure I will end up beating the hell out of it. I found the one you see in the back of the photo on Antiques of a Mechanical Nature. While the base of it is what they claimed, a Type 12 from 1910, I think it has a few Type 11 parts on it and as is the way with such things, no one will ever tell if one of the users put this assembly together, or it came from the factory this way. This was my first purchase from Larry and Carol Meeker and I found them to be very professional and straightforward.

In front of the No. 5 is a No. 49, the smaller of the tongue and groove pair. This plane was purchased from Patrick Leach of Superior Works – Patrick’s Blood and Gore fame. I found it on one of his more recent monthly lists. It is in very good shape and finding a No. 48 in the same condition to go with it is turning into a chore.

The handle sticking out in front of the No. 49 is actually an old awl that I grabbed from There was absolutely no reason to buy this one as I already own a few, but as it turns out, I seem to have a thing for old, long, wooden-handled awls, and this one is a beaut.

To the right of the awl is the No. 3 that you have seen in the previous posts, as it is the one that I turned into an iPhone dock. I have used this plane a lot now, sadly, though, not for its original purpose, but as the dock.

Last week I received the Stanley No. 2 on the far right. Now I fell in love with that No. 3 the minute I had it out of the box and assembled, but I went absolutely nuts about this No. 2. What a spectacular little plane; a Type 8, it is in even better shape than the Type 9 No. 3. It took Jim of a couple of months and about five tool shows to find this one for me, and the man certainly has an eye for quality and value. I won’t tell you what I paid for both the No. 3 and No. 2, but I will say I have seen far worse examples sell on eBay for a lot more recently.

And mentioning eBay, I have to ask, what’s with all the junk on that site lately? I don’t know if my eye is getting better, or the tools are getting worse, but I haven’t seen much on that site worth buying for some time now.




  1. Ahhhhh. A man with a discerning eye. Great finds Mitchel.

    Now, what's a guy with so many metal planes gonna do with those floats? I don't remember hearing much about woodies from you.

    Much agreement on the state of eBay merchandise. I've found a couple of inconsequential things lately, nothing to brag about.

  2. GREAT blog.
    I've started one myself, from my (small) shop:

    Drop by if you have a chance. I'm going to link to yours.