Are LN, Veritas, Clifton, hand tools more Expensive than originals??

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Forum topic by RogerBean posted 03-19-2015 03:57 PM 928 views 0 times favorited 1 reply Add to Favorites Watch
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1605 posts in 4241 days

03-19-2015 03:57 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I hear many laments these days about how overpriced today’s premium hand tools are compared to other alternatives. I am curious whether, inflation included, if this is actually true, or merely wishful thinking. So, I looked at my 1909 Stanley Tools reprint combination tools catalog and see that a #55 combination plane was priced at $18.

I then went to the website: to see what the price would be today. The index only goes back to 1914, but from then the increase in price would be $18 times 23.61 to get to a today price of $424.98. (Interesting that this in the neighborhood of a complete used #55 today). I would presume that if anyone manufactured a #55 today, that a NEW one would be more. But, they don’t, so it’s a moot issue.

Trouble is, I don’t have the prices at hand for block planes or smoothers, etc to compare to the current prices of Lie-Nielsen, Clifton, or Veritas, etc products. So: Are today’s hand tools unreasonably expensive… or are they a relatively good deal?

I actually don’t know. Does anyone out there have original price lists that would calculate to current prices using the inflation calcluator??? I’d be interested in the answers; probably a lot of others would be interested as well.


-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

1 reply so far

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3859 posts in 3249 days

#1 posted 03-19-2015 04:14 PM

I’ve seen some calculations like what you’re doing for smoothers. It basically works out that the LN and Clifton type tools of today are a little cheaper than most of the Stanleys back in the day and I think Stanleys commanded a price premium over say Millers Falls in planes, but I can’t confirm that. The other thing I’d be surprised if most working guys that were buying the tools were making even as much as the average wage back in those days. Laborers wages were notoriously low in the early 20th century. To top that off the average person in 1900 spent 40% of their income on food whereas we spend about 10% or less now, so they had much less to work with. All of that to say on a real equivalent basis those tools really cost those guys quite a bit more than what are considered high end tools of today cost us.

Oh and LN and Clifton really aren’t today’s premium. Things link Briese and Bridge City Tools are the real high end. Those are very high priced, but some would say worth the quality.

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