So another long weekend been and gone leaving us with nothing but the ordinary two-day weekends right through until the end of August. Traditionally the second Bank Holiday in May means one thing to me - tools at the car boot. Something about three available selling days gets the buyers and sellers out in force and the whole "spring has sprung time to clear out the garage" effect has kicked in. There's only one possible thing to spoil it; the great British weather. The forecast said carpe diem sometimes translated as "it's going to rain cats and dogs on Sunday and Monday" so we duly trotted out on Saturday. Everyone else had correctly interpreted the forecast similarly, and thus the place was a pleasingly busy spot in the Saturday morning sunshine.
As it turns out the weather boffins had fumbled the ball and Sunday morning and the whole of Monday were just fine and dandy, but by then it was too late...
Now we're not talking the huge flea markets going into numerous fields here, but I suppose there were about 40 stalls to go over. My craning eyes saw tools actually laid out on a table rather than on the floor, so I headed in that direction at best speed. Not that I actually missed any boxes twixt here and there you understand. But I didn't dwell. As it turned out the first aisle had all the best pickings and I only made purchases at three points but they were, I think, good ones.
First up was a gentleman who was evidentally rustaphobic. The hand planes were wrapped in plastic bags and everything else was coated in wax. Made a change from oil or the inevitable WD-40 I s'pose. I duly went through the bags and declined the usual Record, Stanley and Woden suspects; slightly to my subsequent non-buyer's remorse I didn't pick up the plough plane with the additional irons for what appeared to be four quid, but by then I already had the spokeshave in my grubby paws. The curiously sticky spokeshave - thick wax not buffed out feels very odd when you're not expecting it. The pre-used label hanging from its shapely brass knob said "Preston" and the mark on the cutter (put in bevel up, which may have appealed to me subconsciously) seemed to agree. Lamond's work of wonder devoted to the humble spokeshave suggests it's a #1384 and it needs a replacement spring on one side, which I devoutly hope isn't beyond my humble abilities. Anyway I hung on to it and worked my way round the stall towards the chisels. The way chisels of age and quality are disappearing from car boot life is frightening so I've taken to buying any bevel-edged, octagonally-bolstered chisel of reasonable condition that I see. There was only one - Aaron Hildick I think, although I haven't cleaned it to check yet - so that and the shave came to a favourable knocked-down-price-for-quantity and thus home to Alf Towers.
On we go.
Diagonally opposite the waxing-one I find myself opening a cigar box to reveal some of the shiniest-looking Skarsten scrapers outside their original wrapping. I'm so taken with this unusual phenomenom, Skarstens by the nature of their calling tending towards the distressed look as a rule, that I'm surprised to be accosted by the observation that I wasn't even off the tarmac yet and what was holding me up buying some tools? Wrong day and wrong place, but there was The Tall Scotsman in ebullient form. I step off the tarmac and in amongst his wares immediately; greetings are exchanged. He has something to show me, but I can't buy it. I'm also told "there's nothing you'll want here" which I don't mind telling you drives me potty. Both he and the fellow on the corner with the tent flanked by Am-Tech and Blackspur crud will insist on greeting me with that and it just makes me feel like I'm somehow not allowed to spend money with them 'cos it'd be a slur against their ability to match tool with purchaser. But I digress...
What he's got is an extremely spiffy-looking Stanley #65 chamfer spokeshave. Little dink out of one of the fences, but all round a nice example and I drool appreciatively. Turns out it was in an auction box lot which he won against a collector friend of his, unbeknownst to said friend. Eventually it came out that he'd won it and the friend said "can I buy the spokeshave off you?" Not now, says TTS, but you can have first refusal. He chuckled in, to my mind, a slightly evil fashion when he opinioned "when he finds out how much I want for it he's going to wish he'd bid on further for the whole box in the first place". Out of my league then, so I felt better. Right up until he reaches behind him to show me likely value and brings out a - wait for it:
A copy of Antique and Collectible Stanley Tools by John Walter.
Okay, that's my day totally spoilt right there. Hell's teeth, the bloke sold a copy of Some Eighteenth Century Woodworking Tools by Ken Roberts on da 'Bay the other month too. We go into this whole thing and just how much lower the latter went for than it should have and I don't begrudge him satisfaction of seeing me turn green. Anyway I can look stuff up in Walter's if I desire now, which is nice of him to offer.
Anyway, a little bit more show and tell before he's distracted by a chap wishing to purchase an armful of toy cars (four GBP a piece, forsooth! And he didn't even bat an eyelid at it) and I bend my mind to consideration of a later model Disston No.5 in rather good nick that's been in my eyeline for the last 15 minutes. Now I can to a certain extent take or leave Disstons, but this is barely used and anyway I haven't bought anything off TTS for ages which is not good for longterm seller/buyer rapport. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it... So I pay more than I'd usually ever consider doing for a saw and go on my way. In all probability I'll clean it up and sell it on again.
So I mosey on to the next stall, reluctantly leave a pistol gripped dovetail saw owing to some doubts about the condition of the blade but do buy a promising 14" back saw instead. Not particularly old, but a comfy handle and its condition seemed to be worth the risk. Probably another seller-on candidate bearing in mind the saw till is already full. Doorless, but full.
After that it was pretty much dowhill. Some hesitation over a slipped Moseley bead with quality boxing, not unlike the one I bought in Topsham a couple of years ago, but somehow I resisted. Actually it was probably my usual problem - the more tools I see in one place the less likely I am to buy them. Something I'd snap up on a slow day suddenly drops down the desirablity index when there are others to choose from. Besides the pockets were a little light by then...
Not often I come home with offerings by Preston or Disston, never mind with both at once. In short, a good day.