The old time woodshop journals #48: Tool pickin', cleaning and using!

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Blog entry by jjw5858 posted 04-16-2014 07:37 PM 2512 reads 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 47: Resurrecting craft in a throw away society Part 48 of The old time woodshop journals series no next part

For the many of you out there that are always on the hunt for great hand tool buys at a Flea Market this one is for you. I would say this is also for the beginner or curious onlookers that may want to start using hand tools but may feel overwhelmed by the catalog prices of some of the leading brands that are making outstanding top quality tools.

I know for myself at times I have to take a deep breath after drooling over a Lie Nielson catalog and seeing a hand plane upwards of 200-300 plus clams….holy cow. If your someone on a low budget all of a sudden things look to be put on hold regarding your fantasies of using hand saws, planes, and chisels for an afternoon of wood work. For those starting out or simply on a lower budget this problem can be solved.

One expensive part of my kit that honestly will pay you back in sharpened gold in mere weeks are…….Diamond Stones. Save up for them….really. I see and hear all of this deep examination on the subjects of sharpening, looking at edges and all of this dramatic explanation of a getting a razors edge. If you want to cut out all of that and get to the sharp part please follow the Paul Sellers method of sharpening…no lie my friends it will work wonders. Like anything it does take practice to begin to see and feel the correct bevel angles as you hone your irons and chisel blades. So…Diamond Stones, and a hardy strop with green rubbing compound and watch your arm hairs disappear with a razor edge. Be careful. This sharpening method once practiced takes me about 10 – 15 minutes and I do this on a regular basis. That is all my tools require, no complicated jigs or long process to worry over. If it sheers paper, cuts hairs or another goody to try gently stick the edges along your thumb nail. If you can feel the blade directly sticking into your nail with little movement…your good to galoot.

The diamond stones purchase will save you hundreds of bucks on new gear and now you will be able to fix older blades on older good gear you pick for better prices! NOTE: Please keep in mind, your looking for old gear that is in decent shape. Not a plane iron that looks like it was chucked into cement 50 times. If that is the case you will need to go to the grinding wheel and keep a water quench to keep the steel and irons temper while you totally rework a new blade edge. This method is for someone more advanced and it does require patience and care so please take notice if that becomes the situation.

Of course if you already have a solid method of sharpening then you are already halfway there!

Other important things to have on hand while cleaning: Various grits of sandpaper and steel wool, WD-40, 3 in 1 oil and if you like some BLO for bringing out the grain in handles, etc. You will also have to enjoy doing some work on these great oldies, so bring a few jars of elbow grease although I do not think Home Depot carries that…lol.

The second tool here that is huge is an electric wire wheel, yes I said electric. No worries friends we all need to plug in now and then and the wire wheel will work perfect for this sort of work. Please make sure to wear goggles and be prepared for your hands to get mighty dirty. You also may want to have on a mask. Keep in mind we will be taking off various rust and some paints, so best to strap a mask on while we spin.

Here are some more hand tool finds we can take a look at, see the cost, and review the time I put in on cleaning them up.

This wonderful Stanley Chisel. Ok so it is not a full set, but hey a good chisel is always a welcome component for any tool tote.


This chisel was already in good cosmetic shape, it simply needed to be sharpened!

Here are a duo of hand planes. The Stanley was in far worse shape than this current photo and you can look further down for the pics of the Dunlaps clean up. I got this Stanley for 10 dollars. The plane was complete but needed plenty of care. I recall the seller telling me to take this Dunlap with it! Yes this Dunlap was a freebie, the gentlemen just wanted to get this off of his table.

Here is how this old Dunlap hand plane looked when it was given to me. This plane is the size of a Stanley #4. The handle has been glued a bit offset but it holds very strong. There may just be some potential in this, besides it was free what can we lose?




Here we are, cleaned up, sharp and making shaves! Took me under 3 hours to disassemble, clean the entire plane, oil things up and of course sharpen and test it. Still needs some slight tinkering but this is really cutting nicely now.



Here are a trio of Handsaws. Just picked these 3 up for 9 dollars! 9 bucks for 3 nice rip saws and 2 of them are Phila Disstons!


How about this awesome smaller spokeshave $10 haggled down from $15.


Using the diamond stone method I flattened the bottom and sharpened the blade and it is working with ease!


Maybe you need a vise to hold all your projects in. I got this ole Stanley for 8 bucks, wood pieces included and ready to bolt her up! I use this as my new main vise and it works great.


So let’s look at the bill…lol.
1 Stanley chisel $10
2 Hand planes (Stanley #4 and Dunlap of the same size $10)
3 Rip Saws (2 of them Disston Philas $9)
1 small iron spokeshave $10
1 Stanley bench vise $8

The time I spent…well ok, that is priceless. I enjoyed every fix up.

$47 total and we already have a nice tool kit started!

Think what you can purchase brand new with $47 at some of the top hand tool manufacturers…..maybe one chisel.

I hope this was a fun break to get some ideas or perhaps you can share with someone you know looking to start on their own path of getting some solid tools together. The efforts are rewarded with nice shaves and a great feeling of accomplishment seeing the tool revived and used again.

Never let an idea or possibility sit and waste away in a corner, pick it up, teach yourself something and share it.

With that, work safe and have fun my friends!


-- "Always continue to learn, laugh and share!" JJW

6 comments so far

View JKMDETAIL's profile


223 posts in 2864 days

#1 posted 04-16-2014 08:10 PM

Yes and these old tools are ready to be used not displayed on the wall. Although they do look nice. My Dad has an apple crate of saws i will be cleaning up soon. Just got three nice wooden planes, one of which was my great grandfathers. Still has the ‘H’ stamped on it.

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 3693 days

#2 posted 04-16-2014 08:54 PM

Good points, and nice scores all around.

-- Brian Timmons -

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30636 posts in 3546 days

#3 posted 04-17-2014 12:37 AM

You are a savior for these tools. They will serve you well. Keep on your journey.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Cedar Furniture Lodge 's profile

Cedar Furniture Lodge

824 posts in 3480 days

#4 posted 04-17-2014 04:18 AM

Awesome find.

-- "The Cedar King"

View jaykaypur's profile


4017 posts in 3617 days

#5 posted 04-17-2014 10:37 AM

I need to find some of these kind of yard sales down here in Va. You always do a great job cleaning and restoring these old tools. Great story too.

-- Use it up, Wear it out --------------- Make it do, Or do without!

View WellExecuted's profile


33 posts in 2521 days

#6 posted 06-15-2015 04:16 PM

Awesome, Joe. That’s how I felt this weekend when I got to see the fruit of my labor tuning my $15 Stanley No4 for the very first time:


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