Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Kingshott's Kit

Found another entry for our occasional series of British Woodworking Writers' Suggested Tool Kits, so thought I'd share. In this case, Mr Jim Kingshott from his book on The Workshop. For some reason RJK seems to be rather better regarded across the Pond than here in his native land, possibly helped by the availability of his four videos/DVDS over there. Plus he used to write for Traditional Woodworking, which seemed to me was always the forgotten magazine of UK woodworking. Anyway, on with the kit:

Basic Kit

Jack plane
Steel smoothing plane
9in try square
2ft steel rule
Marking knife
26in crosscut saw, 8 or 9 ppi
10in Tenon saw
Combination mortise and marking gauge
Firmer chisels 3/8in, 1/2in, 3/4in, 1in
Warrington 8oz hammer
Medium oilstone
Screwdriver, 8in cabinet pattern
Fine nail punch
Pincers, 8in
Ratchet brace, 8in or 10in sweep
Twist bits: 1/4in, 3/8in, 1/2in, 3/4in [Auger bits for the brace]


As a Basic Kit goes, this is not dissimilar to Charles Hayward's - and, I reckon, lacks in much a similar way. Not a bevel edged chisel among them? And in RJK's case, none of them smaller than 3/8in, forsooth?! And no means to efficiently make rebates or grooves either. I'd also have recommended anything but a combination mortise/marking gauge. They seem like a good, and economic idea, but those things eat fingers. So, thus far I'm a little ho-hum. Onwards:

Supplementary Tools

Panel saw 20in, 10 or 12 ppi
Dovetail saw, 22 or 24 ppi
Coping saw
Fore or panel plane in metal [RJK was, of course, a big fan of the infill plane]
Block plane, 60 1/2 or 9 1/2 (both if you can afford them)
Metal fillister Record No.778
Bullnose plane, 1in cutter
Shoulder plane, 1 1/4in cutter
Plough plane or combination with cutters
Bevelled-edge chisels; 5/8in, 7/8in, 1 1/4in
Gouges (obtain as and when needed)
Screwdriver bit [Presumably for the brace]
4in and 12in try squares
Mitre square
Sliding bevel
Cutting gauge
Dividers with screw adjustment
Pin hammer, 3oz
Spokeshaves, one flat sole and one round sole
Fine oilstone


Well this is more like it, and again a lot of similarity with Hayward. Still no narrower chisel listed though, which surprises me - unless we should be blaming a typo somewhere, about which I'm starting to wonder. On the other hand, "plough plane or combination" makes my combination plane-loving little heart swell with love for the late RJK...

Recommending two block planes strikes me as interesting though, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, many a woodworker, the more they do, the less they find themselves using block planes at all - I'm one of them, which is slightly ironic given how many of the darn things I have. The old school, classically-trained woodworker, will often seem to regard the ownership of a block plane at all as utterly superfluous and tend to look at the modern amateur a trifle pityingly for even wondering about getting one. But two?! One low angle and one standard angle? If I recall El Presidente correctly, LV only make a standard angle 'cos the educational establishments call for it - owing to the ham-fisted yoof in days of yore having an uncanny ability to bust the more delicate low angle bed on a 60 1/2. So you gave them a more robust 9 1/2 instead, right? But this is a kit for a novice joiner and/or cabinetmaker - a kit whose list includes an expensive and equally vulnerable shoulder plane - so robustness is not an issue. And if it is, you wouldn't be recommending a 60 1/2 in the first place, would you?

In short, I am, I freely confess, utterly perplexed at the double block recommendation in a supposed Starter Hand Tool Kit. Any reader who cares to enlighten me, the comments box welcomes you with open arms - there may even be tea and biscuits.

On the whole I'm still inclined to favour John Brown's list as being the most comprehensive and avoiding the trap of trying to give a pared down list of "basics" that really, IMO, fall just short of being truly useful. Only black mark is his lack of a plough plane. Sigh. Anyway, comparing them all, it does give a fairly good idea of what really are the essentials, and which are the individual's pet likes. You never know, that might be useful to someone.


  1. I agree with you about the block plane. I have both low and standard angle but only ever use the low angle. But then I'll often use the #3 bench plane in situations where others recommend a block.

    Cheers ;-)

    Paul Chapman

  2. Derek Cohen just convinced me in his ACompendiumofBlockPlanes that standard angled block planes are better - end grain is for shooting boards, so I need one or rather I need both, and now this.

    Thanks for the new kit listing anyway.

  3. .

    Whatever happened to the real Kingshott kit?

    As I recall some toe rag(s) nicked some of it a while back while it was in storage.

    Howard in Wales


  4. Couldn't agree more about the sadomasochistic lunacy of a combination guage. Any non antipodean gauge approaching my bench has its thumb stabber removed.

    I use a high angle block to home fragile A2 irons - no point putting them in anything wanting a low EP.


  5. A standard angle block plane is more of a carpenter's tool. I've used one extensively, but not in the shop with the work secured in a vise. There are many occasions where you need to hold the work in one hand and plane it with the other, for instance when you want to fit wood trim, or window casing, or . . . it's hard to say until you need it then it's the only thing that'll do. I saw one guy replacing rotten vertical wood panels on a little red caboose and the new ones were, you guessed it, too wide. He was on the job site, there's no 400 pound Roubo bench with sliding deadman blah blah blah so he just held the plank in one hand and planed one of the edges with a 9 1/2 until the plank fit. Try doing that with a bench plane--just too awkward. At any rate, I keep a little Sargent 307 in my go-around-and-fix-crap-around-the-house toolbox. Very handy for all sorts of things, probably why they sold a ton.

    A low angle 60 1/2 style comes in handy when you're working on a convex edge and a chisel is a bit unpredictable. They say a low angle plane is just a chisel in a metal adjustable jig, and I found my much-maligned maroon monster to be just the thing when dealing with some reversing grain on the outside curve of a mahogany rudder. My spokeshave just wasn't, ahem, cutting it. You can also shoot end grain better with a low angle of course. There are many occasions where I think you just want to trim something up a little, and not make such a big production by getting out the shooting board and lighting up the censer and sprinkling water and observing all the formalities.

    Do I get a cookie?

    --Anonymous Comment-Leaving Person


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