Monday, 30 March 2015

Tools of the Trades Show - Spring 2015

I attended the Tools of the Trades Show in Pickering this past Sunday, after missing the last couple of shows. It was nice to get back into it. This was the first show put on by the show's new owner and I have to give the guy high marks for a job well done.

From my understanding, the show originated some years ago as the brain-child of a small group of guys who were involved in the vintage tool market in Canada as either dealers, collectors or both. Over time, the number of founding members dropped until it finally became the responsibility of one man who had far more on his plate than putting on two shows a year. He did well by it, always filling the room with tables and filling all those tables with tools, but I think he knew the show needed more attention than he had time for, so he finally sold it.

It appears the new owner of the show came out running right out of the box. There were a few new dealers there this time, ones that I have visited online before but not met in person. It was nice to put a face on a URL. It appeared to me that the new owner didn't loose any of the old presenters with the change in ownership, and that was a good thing as many of them are good at what they do. It was also nice to see Sauer & Steiner Toolworks back at the show again. They were missing from the last two shows I attended and nobody makes planes like them.

One major change in this spring's show was the lighting. I have been carrying a Mini Dynamo Flashlight for years now and it has been a lifesaver for me at times. For the first time I was able to keep it in my pocket throughout this show. I don't know if the Pickering Recreation Complex changed the lighting or the show's new owner paid extra to get them to turn the lights on, but wow, what a difference. 

As for purchases, all I can say is that I had a long list when I walked into the place and it wasn't much shorter when I left. As usual, I was looking for anything and everything made by H. E. Mitchell, but I was also looking for new sharpening stones, a cabinetmaker's hammer, a two-way hammer, a bullnose plane, a rabbet plane, a saw vise and an rough Stanley 220 plane to steal parts from so I could make a friend of mine's 220 usable. I walked out with the saw vise and a really rough looking Stanley 220.

The seller thought this was made by Disston
due to the "No. 104" in the casting. I don't
think so, though, as that number is the only
marking on it and I don't think Disston made
a vise with that designation. Also, the
marketing departments of big companies like
Disston would never let a product out its
doors without the company brand on it.

After walking through the door I made two complete circuits of the room and checked out what everyone had to determine what I was going to buy. On my first round I stopped at one dealer to check out a rather cool looking sharpening stone set-up, one with three stones attached to a rotating centre spline that kept the the unused stones submerged in an oil bath. I took the top off and set it down in front of me so I could see what was going on inside it, only to be suddenly scolded for getting oil all of the guy's display. I didn't think I had made a mess of things, but with my eyesight deficiency, I know that I have been known to miss the toilet bowl once or twice, if you know what I mean, so I just said "Sorry", and walked away.

I had picked out some definite purchases and a couple of maybes by the time I finished my second go-round so I got down to business. I headed to the booth were I saw the beefy saw vise shown in the photo above sitting on the floor beneath the table. The tag said it was 18-bucks so I handed the dealer a 20. Needless to say, I was pretty surprised when the guy stated that he didn't have any change. I thought was very odd for someone looking to sell a bunch of tools for cash over the next few hours. Even at $20, the vise was a steal as shipping alone, for something that heavy, would run $40 or more, so I told the guy to keep the 20. Two minutes later I was thinking, "Mitchell, you're such a schmuck."

Next, I hit three displays looking to buy the 220. The first two examples just struck me as being too good to use as donor, but the one at the third dealer was just right, including the price of $15 that I ended up paying.

That sharpening set-up was gnawing at me so I headed back to that dealer again as I felt it was just the ticket. I stood in front of the thing for awhile waiting for the dealer to come and talk to me about it but he seemed to ignore me. I ended up going at it a second time and the dealer's reaction to me was worse the second time than it was the first, but this time my wife was standing beside me and she was quick to tell me that there wasn't one drop of oil anywhere. As we walked away I remembered that a couple of years ago I got an odd reaction from this guy when I asked for his business card, so I wrote him off as being a royal asshole who should find himself a salesman/frontman if he wanted to sell in these venues.

Sadly, the guy had so royally pissed me off that I couldn't get back into buying mood again so we left, taking my unfulfilled shopping list with us. In the end, not only did the jerk loose a sale, but four other vendors also lost sales because of him.

No worries, though. Come October 4th of this year I'll be back at the fall Tools of the Trades Show and the only thing I will remember about this one bad dealer is to give his booth a huge margin when I pass it by.




  1. Sorry to hear things went so bad for you, especially since it seems like you'd been looking forward to it for a while.

    It's funny, I'm pretty sure I had a nice chat with the guy you're talking about and got a deal on some bench stops but I've had a couple weird run ins with other guys in past shows. I try to keep in mind that set up is a fair bit of work, and vendors have a lot riding on just a few hours time. I'm sure I'd lose my cool every once in a while.

    Still, it's a shame things turned out like that.

  2. Well Mitchell you said it right "you are such a schmuck"
    I've attended the show as well for a few years, I love showing up on a site with a newly aquired old tool my customers love it and usually my guys want to use it as well. So you tipped a guy $2 and it bugged you enough to write about it... you must be a big tipper when you go out for dinner too.
    I looked at that guys three headed sharpening stone... it was dripping with oil but it was the only one at the show and they don't come up that often in such good shape. So you foolishly dripped oil all over the guys table cloth then went away pouting like a little girl. There were probably 500 people at the show but you feel that guy needed to waiste his time talking to you three times ... You should have pulled up your big girl panties and made a decent offer or went over to the food caterer bought a coffee and pemeal sandwich and spilled it all over yourself.

    I give all those vendors credit they have the passion to look for those items all year and come back to the show and get nickel and dimed. Alot of the stuff goes for so cheap and quite honsetly one vendor told me he spent saturday and early sunday morning setting up his booth... They were all for the most part pleasent to me and anyone I seen.. even though people were picking up and carelessly handling the tools they had so carefully displayed. I seen a few tools dropped and I'm sure a few were stolen but thank God they still have the passion to come back for another show.
    I suggest next time you feel like sitting down and so easily judging those tools guys..... Load all your tools into your around town for and hour or so.. unload them set them up perfect .... go around the nieghbourhood and talk to all your nieghbours come home and see your wife has put a wet rag on one of your planes and see how lovely your response is. Oh... and then just remember that is what those poor vendors did that before the 500 people came through the doors on sunday. "Yes Mitchell you are such a schmuck"


  3. Well written, Dennis. You told me off but good.

    In truth, though, your response was pretty much what I expected from many with this particular post, although I'll give you extra points for your "big girl panties" part.

    Here's the thing...

    I am still promoting the show in my own meagre way, and as stated, I am expecting to attend the fall show, big girl panties and all. Just because the show is dealing with tools, though, it doesn't mean common courtesy and standard retail practices have to go out the window. Not all of us are the big, brawny construction types, you know.

    It is a great show with some great dealers, but even the best of the best can be improved. All they have to do is listen and react to a bit of criticism. You call it "acting like a little girl", while I call it "points to consider the next time around". Semantics.

  4. Semantrics exactly: You are hilarious...I look forward to running into you at the next show wear the panties on the outside so I recognize you.
    Joking aside I commend you on your attempt at advertising and promoting the show. In the future though please refrain from the "asshole and jerk" calling its uncalled for especially if you aren't the brawny construction type. I like those crusty old guys and I'd hate to see them chasing some guy around that hall with their well oiled antique tools.

    Clearly I've had a slow day off the tools.