Then last Friday, TTS drops me an email. Will I be at the car boot on the morrow (Saturday) and shall he bring the chute plane along for a show and tell? Well, yes, okay then. As you're offering...
You know how this goes, right? You see the thing. You fondle the thing. You even get to use the thing with the provided bit of softwood for the purpose. You fall for the thing and sell any passing grandmothers you can scrounge up. This is how it's supposed to go. I talked sternly to myself all the way there about how I wasn't going to do that.
And when it came to it, it was fine. It's a super cool bit of kit, and I'm so glad I've seen one for real, but the love has died. It takes up so much space, I'd be worrying about dropping something terminal on the castings all the time, and it's so effortless you feel a bit like you've taken a step back to using power tools. It's crazy, but it's just not for me. So if anyone's in the market for one of these babies, I can put you in touch with TTS without a pang.
Mind you, I didn't escape entirely. Managed to avoid the free saw this time (Go me!), resisted the rebating shave and the folding drawknife, but came unstuck on the open gear wheel of turn of the century example of a Millers Falls #2 hand drill and - you won't believe it - a Millers Falls #14 jack plane.
Oh dear, I've been doing so well in not buying old bench planes. I mean really well. I'd virtually forgotten how to go about cleaning one up, it's been so long. But I had sort of been on the lookout for a #5 for genuine jack plane work, and wanted something a bit different. I used to have a later USA-made Stanley, but sold it ages ago. It was clean, tidy and did the job, but I never quite warmed to it for some reason. I warmed to this one. Even when I discovered the sawdust of aeons under the frog...
But it wasn't so bad - the quality of finishing on the bits and pieces is sufficiently fine that they shrug the rust off pretty easily. Dunno if M-F bench planes are always so well made though; it's my first.
And my last. Yes, definitely my last. One is more than enough. Yup.
The iron's a bit ho-hum, so I embraced the ruler trick just to get it taking a shaving. Very pleased with it. And the grain on the front knob is just gorgeous. Okay, so a purist might have repaired the chip on the top of the horn of the tote, but it doesn't bother one in use, and a tool should be allowed to show the odd battle scar now and again.
The drill's got all sorts of niggles with it; the brass ferrule on the main handle has split (which apparently they often do), the ferrule on the crank knob is completely gone, and the doodah that bears on the gear wheel to keep it engaged is also MIA. On the other hand, whereas I thought the springs were missing from the chuck, it turns out to be a springless one that uses a grooved system. Very clever.
What I really fell for though, was the egg-shaped side handle. Obviously I need to brush up on my Millers Falls stuff via OldToolHeaven, because this all came newly to me. A total knuckle-mashing nightmare to hold for most users, it appears, but just for once the smaller hands win, and it seems just fine to me.
As you see, not a lot of paint left on it, but then it appears to date from somewhere between 1899 and 1906, so I reckon that's not unreasonable. Nice drill, and I can sort of see why it's so well-regarded a model. However, despite my best efforts, all hand drills are judged against the Record 124 now, and I'm afraid are coming up short. So is that the sound of me throwing away all my drills in disgust as a result?
Wadda you think? ;)