Marking hand tools for ID purposes

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Forum topic by BlasterStumps posted 06-19-2017 11:50 PM 1259 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2160 posts in 1731 days

06-19-2017 11:50 PM

I bought an old Stanley plane at a yard sale the other day. It had some initials scribed into the side and then someone took something like a nail and tried to scratch the initials out. Doesn’t work but they worked hard at trying anyway. I ran that side of the plane on some sandpaper but could see real quick that it was too deep to mess with so I let it go.
I’m not saying a person shouldn’t mark their tools but wish there was a way for tool owners to do it that wasn’t so damaging. Like a dye spot or something that only shows under blacklight, etc.
Anyone care to share their ‘secret’ marking system?


-- "I build for function first, looks second. Most times I never get around to looks." MIke in CO

14 replies so far

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 4660 days

#1 posted 06-20-2017 12:01 AM

I started out back in the early 70s and then I engraved my SS# into every tool. Now every time I find one I haven’t fixed yet I have to grind it off. In the age of computers you can’t use anything revealing for an ID. I have a symbol I use as a signature on my woodworking and engrave that on all my tools now. As for someone else having a hard time because of my mark, that’s the idea. When I’m gone and someone else owns my tools they can decide what to do with the marks, and no reason they can’t just use my mark as their because I wont care.

View TheFridge's profile


10863 posts in 2777 days

#2 posted 06-20-2017 12:35 AM

Maybe send the nuts to be plated in gold? Silver? Chrome?

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View KelleyCrafts's profile


4632 posts in 2030 days

#3 posted 06-20-2017 12:41 AM

Actually Dan your symbol has your initials and we have the same initials so I think you’re supposed to send all your tools to me. That’s how it works right?

-- Dave - - pen blanks - knife scales - turning tools

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 4660 days

#4 posted 06-20-2017 01:23 AM

I’ll note that in my will, Dave! ;-) My widow will appreciate all the money you send her.

View paratrooper34's profile


916 posts in 4243 days

#5 posted 06-20-2017 01:32 AM

Personally, I don’t mark my tools. Since I only took some my tools out of my shop twice, I haven’t felt a need to mark them. I am thinking about attending a wood working school sometime in the near future and if I do go, I definitely will mark them. But for now, no markings.

For my used tools that have previous owner markings, they really don’t bother me. I consider them to be historical marks and add to the “patina” of the tool.

-- Mike

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 4660 days

#6 posted 06-20-2017 01:37 AM

Mike, you probably wont need to mark them for the classes, people who attend those schools aren’t the type to steal someone elses tools. Your worry should be who breaks into your shop when you’re not home! I worked 38 years in field service and never had a problem with theft from job sites, but had my truck broken into 4 times over the years.

View paratrooper34's profile


916 posts in 4243 days

#7 posted 06-20-2017 12:25 PM

Dan, I hope that will be the case. Hate to think theft in that environment would be possible by fellow classmates. But after 23 years in the army, I found that you just never know. At home; I am good. Dogs, security system, and Smith and Wesson keep the homestead safe. 100% safe? Probably not, nothing is ever 100%, I think. Where there is a will… :)

-- Mike

View dday's profile


180 posts in 2721 days

#8 posted 06-20-2017 12:41 PM

I bought some fluorescent orange tools at a yard sale once. Granddad had a construction company and he painted all of his tools with the hideous orange paint so that he could tell at a glance all that was his.

Took a lot of soaking and scrubbing to tone those puppies down.

On a fonder side, my PawPaw inscribed his initials on all the tools he had. I like it that way. He even went so far as to inscribe their toaster , vacuum and other appliances.. :)

View Markmh1's profile


115 posts in 1735 days

#9 posted 06-20-2017 01:01 PM

In the tool and die shop, quite a few tools were bought second hand. If a toolmaker takes care of a top end tool there’s usually life left after he retires.

The appropriate way to deal with previous owner marks was to simply make your mark next to the previous owners. That way if someone sees you using “George’s” tool, he won’t think of that tool as being stolen or gotten in an illegitimate way. He notes George’s mark and yours, and knows the tool was passed on appropriately.

Having previous owners marks scratched out screams “stolen”.


View OleGrump's profile


581 posts in 1636 days

#10 posted 07-03-2017 10:29 PM

Owning many vintage tools, several of them have names or initials of previous owners. As a gentleman said in a previous post, I too, regard these as part of that tool’s history. Some of these tools were owed by various ancestors, so it’s nice to have these marks as part of their providence. Pop-pop always marked his tools with his initials, so it always brings back find memories whenever I pick up one his tools to use, and see that monogram.
Toward the end of 1999, I got the idea to begin assembling a set of “Y2K” tools, meaning that I bought all the classical style tools, layout tools, planes, brace & bits, hand drill, drawknife, spoke shave, and anything else that was traditional style, but still in production at the end of the twentieth century. (Took some doing, but I even got Stanley’s modern version of the #45 combination plane!) I used Pop-pop’s stamps to put my initials on the wooden parts of all these tools, and a Dremel to mark the metal bodied tools. I had to do that in self-defense, as my oldest brother had a nasty habit of “borrowing” tools he liked, (usually without my knowledge or consent) and “forgetting” to return them…... Barry

-- OleGrump

View Kelly's profile


3881 posts in 4235 days

#11 posted 07-03-2017 11:40 PM

I came up with a logo for my business years ago. I’ve always used it. People might tend to ignore it more than a name.

I like Mark’s notes on the matter.

View oldwood's profile


162 posts in 2535 days

#12 posted 07-04-2017 03:06 AM

I started out back in the early 70s and then I engraved my SS# into every tool. Now every time I find one I haven t fixed yet I have to grind i
t off.

We must be the same age, been there done that.

View Ray's profile


126 posts in 3294 days

#13 posted 07-04-2017 04:28 AM

As I prepared to rehab a plane one day, I found a note folded up and placed under the tote. It included the name of the previous owner and date acquired. This would be a way of identifying your tools, but wouldn’t inhibit someone from stealing them.

-- Creating less fire wood every day

View Clarkie's profile


525 posts in 3132 days

#14 posted 07-04-2017 09:21 AM

I’ve made a practice of not allowing anyone in the inner sanctum of my shop. Also, I never lend, nor do I borrow anyone else’s tools. When fellow woodworkers come by, the machines are turned off and the coffee pot is put on. I grew up knowing you never went into anyone else’s tool box for any reason, and in over 45 years I have never lost a tool. As for someone having their mark on an old tool purchased at a auction or yard sale, that just gives character to the tool, especially if you knew the lady or gentleman. Have fun, make some dust.

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