Recently I was reminded that there have been a lot of newcomers to woodworking and especially to hand tools. My philosophy on tools is quite simple. Tools were made to be used. Before you get your feathers ruffled, I am not against tool collecting. It is just not for me. Tool collecting serves a useful purpose in that it preserves tools for the future. One of my main objectives for this blog is to show people how to preserve antique and vintage tools with the purpose of making them available for use to a new generation of woodworkers. And I emphasize USE.
The pic above shows my Stanley #4 smooth plane. This is the plane I use for all smoothing work in my woodshop. It was made in the very early 20th century. I completely restored this plane with no regard to its collector value. But I didn’t go into the restoration blind.
I am often asked “should I restore this tool?” That is a complex question with no simple answer. So here goes. It is my opinion that the owner of any item has the legal and moral right to do anything they choose to with said item. A person may feel that preserving a vintage or antique item in its original condition is a moral obligation, but it is not. If you choose to do this that is fine and dandy, but you are not obligated to do so. So if you choose to restore an antique tool that is nobody’s business but yours. Some antique tools can be worth hundreds even thousands of dollars. If you were to restore one of these tools its value would drop dramatically. Therefore, you would probably not want to restore such a valuable tool.
Before you decide whether or not to restore a tool do some research. There is a wealth of information online to help you determine the value of a tool. For Stanley planes you can start here. In general, with Stanley planes, the older, pre 1900, specimens are the most valuable. Once you have an idea of the value of your tool you can make an informed decision as to whether or not to restore it. The idea is to preserve a tool for another generations use. If you do that by a good cleanup, a complete restoration, or wash it and put it on a shelf with the rest of your collection matters not.
As always, thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment. Oh, I have a feeling I’m going to hear about this one :)