Sunday, November 13, 2005

Tool Pillage

So another year, another show come and gone, another painfully long countdown to the next one! But first, the gloats...

Started out on Wednesday with the aim of having lunch at Topsham; which we did. Then a look round Topsham Quay Anteek Centre, wherein hangs out Old Tools Feel Better. Well they may do, but he does horrible things to saw blades... Anyway, I passed by and looked at the other stalls where a few odds and ends of tools were to be found for the eagle-eyed. Amongst them a wooden side bead was spotted on the radar. Screws in the side jogged my memory, and I identified them as removable slips, rather than a repair. A look at the end revealed it to be solid boxed, made by John Moseley & Son, 55* middle pitch. I was tempted; the sign "30% off everything on this stand" and I was more than just tempted. The sale was made. Just under a fiver, and it's sharp and virtually ready to use! Looking up in British Planemakers when I got home, I found it to date to between1862 and 1880, which is not only older than I thought, but easily the closest I've been able to date any wooden plane I own, which always gives me a buzz. An excellent start to my pillaging raid.

Going on to the hotel, I was able to meet up and exchange the bulk of the saws as arranged. Some was in trade for five (five! Count 'em!) Woodworker Annuals - 1934, '35, '38, '39 and 1940. I already have '36 and '37 so it's getting to be quite a good solid run of them. I could do with '31, '32 and '33 now, to lengthen the run into my earlier copies. Only downside; all but one had had its index removed. Bit of a bummer, but I'm sure I'll cope. Anyway, that bit of high-pressure sales talk also produced some spending money for the 'morrow. Things were looking very good indeed.

Next day was the show itself, and rather more modern tools to drool over. There are about a million things to mention from the various conversations I had, but forgive me if I spin that all out over the coming week. I don't know if i'm just really lucky, but I've yet to meet a woodworker who is anything but nice. Two examples very generously came bearing gifts. Luckily I had sussed the likelihood of that, so I had too :~) BB had made a miniature square by expending infinite care and patience on an old saw blade. 'Tis a thing of beauty, and I shall have to make it a special holder I think; I fear I'll lose it otherwise. I may even be promted to try my first lap dovetail in order to use it... I'm also equipped with delights from a certain Canadian manufacturer, including a mug that should, by rights, be burning me as I sip my tea. Miraculously, it doesn't; I think it's double-walled. Well it did surprise me that a company priding itself on design should apparently have the worst possible design of drinking vessel!

So I was gathering up the goodies left, right and centre, and had only spent 20p on leaving my coat in the cloakroom. Time came round to meet up with the forum folks, although various of them had been popping up all through the morning and saying howdy. One resulted in a swift sale of my "user" dovetail saw in the car park, which left me a little embarrassed in the saw department. From glut to famine in 2 days! The chisel exchange previously arranged also went just fine and it was starting to be unbearable not to have spent any money. I went in search of the sizing tool I'd set my heart on. For a while I thought I was doomed to failure; Henry Taylor didn't have one, neither did Crown, and of course Axminster themselves didn't. I didn't think Ashley Iles would, but I had a quick look in passing. Huzzah! They had a Sorby one; so I swooped and purchased. It's actually a bit disappointing; the swarf wasn't removed before the finish was applied, so I'll probably have to file away some of the finish before I can even use it. Tsk. I knew Sorby weren't what they were, but that's really poor considering it's not that cheap a bit of kit. Anyway, the wallet was out and I was on a roll. I decided to have a look at the Veritas holdfast and wonder if I had the nerve to bore a hole in my bench top yet. Lovely smooth action on the screw, and the clamping force is excellent. Yep, gonna have one of those. As it turned out, it was going to make more sense to order direct from BriMarc after the show, so that's still on, erm, "hold" until next week. In the meantime I can decide if there's anything else I want...

Meanwhile the dovetail saw situation was bugging me. I decided to have a look at the L-N. The only available timber to try it on was far too thick, and I was disappointed in the saw in consequence. Also I managed to look like the most hopeless saw user in the world with DC looking on. D'oh. I beat a hasty retreat and went to have a look at the Thomas Flinn 1776 dovetail saw. Superficially similar to the L-N, it didn't grab me at all. Not least because the handle is significantly larger; great for the blokes, but a nightmare for me. Their bench wasn't helping any; it was wracking like a tea clipper in a gale which makes any saw look like dross. Anyway, that was no good. Bum. I wandered about wondering if I could manage okay with the saws I had until another DT saw should cross my path, but the pull of the L-N stand was great enough to find me back there eventually. And there was a thinner piece of stock. Ah-ha. I had another shot, and it was like a different saw. I know in my head that's as it should be, but I hadn't expected it to feel that different. I was convinced. I bought.

I haven't tried it yet.

I can also confirm it's slightly embarrassing to have manufacturer "A" peering to see what you've bought from manufacturer "B" while at the same time you haven't actually bought anything from manufacturer "A" - yet.

On Friday we wound our way home, via Liskeard and Bob's Tool Box. Naturally he had more dovetail saws than you can shake a big stick at... D'oh! Not cheap though. Very much serious dealer prices, but a heck of a range of stuff. I didn't buy a thing, but the old man fell for a billhook and got a wedge to help deal with some of the more awkward firewood. Bob himself was a bit busy, being in the middle of some reorganisation at the time, so I didn't complicate matters by introducing myself. Worth another visit if we're passing again I think.

So that was it. Back to the ends of the earth for another year, booty safely gathered in, feet worn down to the ankles. Watch this space tomorrow for what was gleaned from the Canadian.


  1. So you got the L-N. Nice one! I remember the look on Pete's face when he looked at the price guide ;)
    So what other goodies did you get???
    Awaiting the Canadian goodies.....

  2. Other goodies? My dear fellow, some of us know how to restrain ourselves! That's the lot. Veritas goodies are yet to be ordered; Martin advised me to do them direct. I dunno, maybe he was worried I'd clean them out...

  3. 1. Isn't it? :~)
    2. That black curvy thing. It's to go on a parting tool for turning.
    3. That's probably wise advice... Well actually I sold my user, the potential alternative and the third choice, all in the last few months. I dunno why really, except I suppose I'm aiming towards a quality kit of tools that are all available now. A sort of snap shot of tools of my time maybe? Dunno, just kinda happened.

    I'm not proud...

  4. Roger
    3: A lot of people have been saying that! ;)

  5. So Alf, have you come to any conclusions about the LN saw yet?


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