Archive Page 2


Episode 11 – Hand Planes, Part 1

A luthier's finger plane, NOT for planing your fingers...

Luthier's finger plane (NOT for planing fingers)

I have bad news for you. Although he was a brilliant inventor, Leonard Bailey was NOT the Messiah! What he did do was advance the art of plane manufacturing, combining efficient manufacturing, good design, and good business acumen (selling his patent rights to Stanley Rule & Level Co.) Later on, he didn’t do so well because he chose to compete against the very folks (the tool giant) he sold out to. Sometimes you get the chicken, sometimes you get the feathers. Nonetheless, hand planes have certainly felt his influence.


A sexy Stanley No.-4 from the WWII era.

This is the episode we begin to look at a huge subject, that of hand planes. Planes seem to have stirred the greatest interest of tool collectors for long enough that volumes of valuable information on history, manufacture, anomolies, and how to type many of the recognizable – and some a bit more arcane – is all readily available with a minimum expenditure of effort. As I researched information for this and the next podcast, I became increasinly impressed with the ingenuity of the Galoot; if something isn’t available, the Galoot made it. Sometimes that meant relying on the blacksmith, but it seems that, especially prior to the Civil War, that the Galoot would be so inclined to spend his own time with hammer and forge. The Bailey pattern plane, no matter what marque it bears, is the story of the Industrial Revolution and the shift away from widespread wooden plane use. We can almost track history; I offer exhibit B, a type-17 Stanley No.-4 smoothing plane with funky red-stuff handle that was painted black and the relatively tiny depth adjusting nut is made out of hard, black, rubber (recycled Jeep tires?) rather than the customary brass. This one here has become my po-boy scrub plane, which doesn’t work out real well because it still remembers it was made to be a smoother.


My Stanley 60-1/2 with racing stripes.

It’s very important to have a really good block plane, and I have one in my 60-1/2. I like it because its a stealth conversion; someone with brilliant forethought concluded that if he (or she) added the gold metalflake paint to this plane that made his (or her) AMC Gremlin model look so cool, then that would absolutely punch holes in its value (the plane’s, not the Gremlin’s) and some struggling Galoot down the road would be able to get full functionality at a discounted price. I know that there is a God because that someone with brilliant foresight was NOT me (anyone who knows me can testify to that) and that I’ve never owned either a Gremlin or a Gremlin model. I can do better than that, actually, because one of my girlfriend’s father had given her an orange Pacer stationwagon. Everybody said, “Oh, God!” as we drove past.


A cleverly conservative execution of a fantastic plane kit!

I will soon be blogging about my really cool Christmas present, but now is a great time for a sneak preview. My parents had obviously been peeking at Santa’s “nice” list (now just hold on a minute!) Anyway, under the synthetic, non-allergenic, non-asthma-attack-inducing genuine Canadian Pine fake Christmas tree there lay a package containing a plane kit from Ron Hock. Now, I’m one who loves to use wooden planes, but they always have been Other People’s Planes (OPP.) Now I have the chance to use one of my own, WOO-HOO! As soon as it’s finished, of course. It’s so much cooler for me now since Woodworking In America 2008, as I had the chance to meet Ron Hock himself, and sho’nuff, he’s one of us! In the podcast I make note of the fact that, like chisels, wooden planes are used in conjuction with mallets (for adjusting the plane, of course!) Here’s my set-up.

For Further Reading

Here are a few very important links for you to book mark for further study, illumination, and reference:

Patrick Leach, one of the original OldTools Listerv masterminds where he was (is) known by (among other things) the moniker, “The Merchant of Ashby,” is one of my primary dispensers of vintage Stanley iron and consequently one of the reasons I work. He has compiled a world-famous (world-wide-web famous?) cross between a subversive treatise, a hortatory sermon, and an old-time SNL feature on Stanley metallic planes known universally as Patrick’s Blood & Gore, and found here: Patrick’s Blood & Gore.

Yet another fellow Galoot, Jay Sutherland (who does not have nearly as many weird and humorous monikers as Patrick,) assembled a page in the 1990’s that breaks down the Stanley plane type study very clearly. Doing a type study on a given plane is fundamental to understanding an individual plane’s collector value (if you do that collecting sort of nonsense. I don’t.) You can find Jay’s excellent resource here: The Stanley Bench Plane Dating Page.

Patrick’s B & G, revised and illustrated by listmom Ralph Brendler and Allen Fisher here: Revised B & G

If you’re in the market for vintage Stanley baubles, I would highly recommend avoiding the eBay route where quality control can be “iffy” (yes, I know, eBay will make them play nice, etc.) I am militant in my belief regarding helping my friends prosper, so I will always recommend two Galoots I’ve had personal dealings with over the years, and have always been treated a lot better than just fairly. Patrick Leach, as already mentioned, is one, and Sandy Moss is the other (Sandy’s Tools-For-Sale page is here: Sandys Tools.) And just for the record, I’m not getting paid for this by either of these gents.

That’s it for part 1… here’s the podcast. Come back for more fun in part 2!


Episode 10 – Boring Tools (Not!)

Modern gimlets (just add Vodka)

Modern Gimlets (just add vodka)

Yes, I have teenagers, so yes, I understand that any activity that isn’t their own idea or that sound like the vaguest hint of discomfort is… you’ve got it, “boring.” I’m not a teenager. Therefore, from my perspective the only boring Galoot tools out there are made to put holes in wood. This week’s episode covers exactly that — the myriad methods the Galoot has at his or her disposal to sever or spread those wood fibers in approximately (hopefully) perfectly round manners. Apparently, boring holes sort of lives up to its name among workmen, because over the years an incredible amount of creative energy has been invested in the tools that make round holes in wood (and skull material — listen to the podcast!)

Wooden Bitstock - my favorite tool I don't own

Wooden Brace (my favorite tool I don't own)

"Gentlemen's Brace" This is one I DO own!

"Gentleman's Brace" This is one I DO own

Despite being overly laden with puns (C’mon, by now you KNOW me…) we cram a lot of detail into 23 minutes: we take a look at gimlets, the bitstock (also known as the brace), and of course, the wide range of bits used in the brace, including the 6 main patterns of auger bits.

At the right is what is known as a Gentleman’s Brace, although it became known as such without association to its present owner. There once was a day when I thought I might become a tool coll… A tool coll… I can’t say it. I once thought I would own lots of tools. Disaster has a way of making one more practical, don’t you think? Here’s the interesting chuck on the end of this gentleman:

Beauty in simplicity.  Definitely not Dewalt.

Beauty in simplicity. Definitely not Dewalt!

Yankee brace

Yankee brace, 14" throw.

Yankee chuck

The Yankee chuck. Click to enlarge.

This brace fascinates me. It’s a Yankee brace, made by the North Bros. and does feature a ratchet. The ratchet is not exposed like it is on the standard Millers Falls pattern, but is, in fact, enclosed with a button that actuates it’s direction. With a 14″ throw, this brace is intended to get through tough stuff. One of the remarkable things about the North Bros. company was their ability to think outside the box. These are the same folks that brought us the Yankee push drill I used to see Daddy struggling with. Apparently his was a right-handed push drill, and he being left handed, well, you know.

Below are a few shots from the internet, showing some of the bits that we covered in the podcast. With six primary “patterns” of spiral bits (comparable to those found in spiral augers) our predecessors, the Galooterati, knew what they were doing when choosing a bit.

Center Bit

Center Bits

Spoon bit

Spoon Bit

Nose Auger

Nose Auger

The critical feature in choosing a bit (besides availability) is the grain direction the Galoot needs to bore through.

A Couple of interesting bits of engineering:


My Yankee ratcheting drill -- yes, ratcheting!


Like I said! Here's the ratcheting mechanism.

I wish I had lots more room to show and tell with all the pictures of really, really cool stuff.

Okay, just two more, because the items are just so intriguing – the breast drill (not for putting holes in your chicken, but for leaning on) and the post drill:


Millers Falls breast drill

A very cool post drill (from the internet)

A very cool post drill (from the internet)

Whew… not boring at all! Heres the podcast:


Episode 9 – Layout and Marking

On Layout & Marking Tools

Layout and Marking tools, while not as glamorous as infill planes, for example, are essential to Galootdom. Episode 9 of the now classic “Way of the Galoot” explores the various tools for laying out and marking that need to lurk in the Galoot’s tool chest drawers.

Rabone no-1190

Folding rule

At the right is  one of my folding rules, a crispy Rabone with a built-in protractor and level (just how cool is that?)

Superior Works marking knife

And at the left is my Superior Works cocobolo handle (  This knife is made by Patrick Leach, old tool monger (and now new old tool monger,)  Stanley plane expert, and author of the famous “Patrick’s Blood and Gore.”


At the right is a Stanley sliding bevel gauge.  Note the clever use of staining fluid on the benchtop; this is done for the same reason that we tattoo horses’ gums…


Trammel points

And a groovy set of trammel points.  I’d be afraid to use these, knowing my own work habits.

As always, this is but a mere surface scratching (pun intended) as to the availability of good marking tools.  I promise you that the tools pictured here are far superior to crayons…

And as always, here is the podcast:

Video thumbnail. Click to play


Episode 8 – Saws

On Saws

I recently started evaluating my saw till, the one I keep in my Joiner’s tool box.  As I was pulling the individual saws out and looking at them, I began to realize that I couldn’t remember when I had bought most of them.  Not a few, one or two, but… In fact, I could only readily account for the one my dad gave me when I was in junior high.  That deserves a good “sheesh.”


A cool Disston D-8 thumbhole

Saws are an intoxicant for many Galoots, and it seems clear that I’m no exception.  (I deny that I have a problem, however.  I can stop any time I want.)  In this week’s episode we take a look at what a hand saw is, as opposed to a Hand Saw, and examine many of the forms saws take.  An excellent “old tools” example is the very cool Disston D-8 from the late part of the 1800’s shown to the right.  It features a “thumbhole,” and no, it’s not for a Schützenfest.  Although you would have to have perhaps more primal anatomy than I have to actually put a thumb through that hole, it was intended as an aid to sawing two-handed.  This feature is only found on rip saws.  At the other end of the spectrum is the

Lie-Nielsens' dovetail saw

Lie-Nielsens' dovetail saw

compartively diminutive dovetail saw.  This saw holds my fascination for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its intense practicality and ability to do what it was made for.  I don’t own a LN (yet), but the one I have was  made by Independence Tools, a partnership between Pete Taran and Patrick Leach (two of the early Old Tools Listserv members.)  When the two decided that they didn’t want to make saws anymore, they sold the patterns and rights to LN, who made a few minor mods, and viola! a star is born.

I’m also becoming a huge fan of the bow saw, having recently built a “turning saw.”  These are saws (bow, turning, frame) that seem to be increasing in interest right now, which is a very good thing.  Incredibly practical for bench work, easy to build and maintain (and make look nice,) the bow saw is a vital component of the Galoot’s tool chest.  Here are some really good annotated links to saw information.

Gramercy Tools: Joel Moskowitz and his crew are some really great people, and Joel has an extensive knowledge of tools and how they work.  They are now manufacturing bow saw kits and parts (turning saws) that are of very high quality.  The rest of their site is full of tool eye candy, too!

Wenzloff and Sons: I had the opportunity to meet Mike Wenzloff and to speak with him while we were in Berea.  You would expect someone who is working in the family saw making business to be knowledgeable about saws, but this is the new millenium — you don’t expect Mike to be so enthusiastic about saws and saw making!  WAS is producing some of the finest historical reproduction saws on the market, and of course they are using modern metallurgy and techniques.  Nontheless, these are not mass-produced saws, and I want a specimen of all of them!  Browse!

Lie-Nielsen: Awe, c’mon.  You KNEW I was going to say that, anyway.  The link is to their saw page, which is as far as I’m concerned, a cut above (ba dum bump.)  LN is manufacturing a new “progressive pitch” dovetail saw that I’m going to need to check out in the near future.  Enter at your own risk.

Veritas/Lee Valley: Robin Lee has introduced a radical new dovetail saw with a synthetic back that integrates into the handle.  I’ve heard nothing but positive things about this saw, and the demo model they had at Woodworking In America was always in someone else’s hands whenever I tried to get to it.  I’m finding the aesthetics for many of Robin’s tool offerings to be very progressive (as in, uncomfortable for a history buff) but functionally at least as good as anything else out their, and often far superior to what our predecessors worked with.  I wonder what Duncan Phyfe would say.

Vintage Saws: Never content to rest, Pete Taran has NOT dropped off the radar screen, but continues to play in the world of saws.  Pete isn’t just someone who sells saws, but he is actually a tremendous resource about the tools he sells.  He has reprinted a number of articles he authored as a contributing editor to the Fine Tool Journal, and they are full of excellent information on Disston saws and their typology, care and feeding.

Disstonian Institute: Going back into the recesses of OldTools Listerv history, we find a ubiquitous name… Ralph Brendler.  Ralph was one of the earliest of Galoots, a longtime and much beloved listmom, and a curator of historical information on marking guages and Disston saws, among other things.  He began a legacy that Jay Sutherland continued and caused to flourish, and this is the link.  Make sure you’re in a comfortable chair; it reminds you of college days, only better because it’s a lot more interesting.

If you haven’t seen this yet, you need to.  This is Frank Klausz, cutting a set of well-fitting dovetails in just about 3 minutes.  Click here to go to the video!

And of course, here is the podcast!


Episode 7 – Chisels

On Chisels

This week we take a brief survey of the various types of chisels available to the Galoot, and what they are used for. If you are anything like me, a good tool is a thing that brings joy, and a really good chisel is just one of those things that can make you dance a little jig. Or something.

Mortise Chisels

Set of LN mortise chisels

At the right is a photo of Lie-Nielsen’s very fine mortise chisels, on the pattern that has evolved since Moxon’s time. These are many knowledgable Galoot’s “go to” mortising chisels, and rightly so. Notice the socketed handles.

Different Mortise Chisels

English Pattern Mortise Chisel

At left is, among other things, is one of Ray Iles very fine English Pattern mortise chisel, imported by Gramercy Tools. Note the robust construction and unusually thick handle. The 4″ square will help you with some perspective. See below for links to Gramercy Tools.

Eye-Candy Bevel Edge Chisels

Blue Spruce bevel-edged chisels

Blue Spruce Tools makes some bevel-edged chisels that look like they should be museum pieces rather than ordinary bevel-edged chisels, in fact the term “ordinary” and “bevel-edged” chisels don’t belong in the same reference to these beautiful tools. It’s tools like those shown on this page that makes woodworking a spiritual exercise! All these tools (and more!) are discussed in the podcast.

Firmer Chisels

Sorby "Registered" Firmer Chisel

At the left is a Sorby “Registered” firmer chisel. Note the robust construction, but not nearly as beefy as the mortise chisels above. This chisel will hold an edge well, and withstand more raps from a mallet that I care to give it.

Finding chisels made with excellence, in no particular order:

Blue Spruce Chisels

Gramercy Tools


These are just a few, by the way. Fortunately, new old tools have never been more available or of higher quality than at present! By the way, the photos above were shamelessly snarfed from the tool maker’s respective web sites. Visit them!


Episode 6: The Galoot Toolchest

Power tools, while they have a distinct an unique “gadget value,” are often too expensive for the hobbyist woodworker. An increasing number of individuals are flocking to hand tool woodworking to save money and space, and because they are seeking the therapeutic value the solace of quiet woodworking offers.

In this episode, we examine the nine categories of tools that would be found in a Joiner’s (cabinet maker’s or furniture builder’s) tool chest. Come along as we continue to equip our shop for the adventure of Galootdom!


Episode 5: The Galoot Workshop

This week we take a brief look at the fundamental link to the Galoot and his or her environment… the workshop. We consider questions that need to be answered for the Galoot to optimize the workshop. Also, we consider a woodworking lesson I’ve learned.

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