Collector vs User: My story
  Re: Collector vs User: My story by DCarr10760 (Reading over the ver...)
At some point over the last five years I've transitioned from collector (hoarder) to being a mere completist.

My handsaws are now limited to rip 4 tpi through 11 tpi, and crosscut 5 tpi through 12 tpi. But I do only have one of each.

Now I need to do something about those bench planes: working sets of wooden bodied single irons, wooden bodied double irons, transitional, vintage metal bodied, and new metal bodied.

At least I do use them...
  Re: Collector vs User: My story by DCarr10760 (Reading over the ver...)
My story?  Well, growing up, the only "woodworking" I did was salvaging boards from an old barn we had and nailing together tree forts.  I learned a few things, I guess, mostly about straightening nails.  (We kids weren't about to buy our own nails, and mom and dad sure weren't going to buy them for us, either.)  I also learned that using a dull handsaw is miserable.  We did have a little saber saw and an old circular saw, which my brothers and I used unsupervised.  No injuries, though!  

When I got married in my early twenties, we needed a bookshelf, so I bought some lumber, sawed boards to length with a circular saw, and assembled everything with L-brackets.  It's ugly as heck, but it's still there and full of books!  We were living in the Waco, TX, area at the time (pre-Chip&JoannaGains), and we enjoyed visiting Homestead Heritage, where Paul Sellers was teaching at the time.  On a whim, I took a one-day hand-tool-joinery class there with Frank Strazza, and I was hooked.  Soon, while searching the internet for info on hand tools, I stumbled upon WoodNet.  I signed up for a membership, and I've been here ever since.  

I was in grad school at the time, so money was extremely tight.  I scoured antique malls for diamonds-in-the-rough.  I found a few, as well as a few duds, but I learned a whole lot about restoring old tools--much from the folks right here.  I was also given quite a few tools early on, and those were always a godsend.  For the first few years, I was a hand-tool-purist by necessity.  I was living and working wood in a single-wide trailer, and I made myself a tiny workbench that doubled as a kitchen island for years.  (My wife had grown up helping her jack-of-all-trades dad do repair work around the house, so this was pretty normal for her.)  I struggled with saw sharpening, hand plane fettling, dimensioning stock--you name it.  But for some reason, I persevered.  I did like the results when I finally finished a project.  And I was making things that I couldn't possibly have been able to purchase.  

Eventually I graduated and got a real job, and we moved into a real house.  So I built myself a real workbench.  Most of my woodworking tools still fit into a small tool chest.  Because I now had a regular income, as well as a whole house to fill with furniture, I began to fill in the gaps in my toolkit.  I was never a collector.  Sure, I'd hold on to individual tools for sentimental purposes, and I'd snap up a too-good-to-pass-up deal at an antique shop, so I ended up with a few duplicates.  But by and large, I focused on getting the tools I knew I needed to do the kind of work I needed to do.  I built an "Anarchist's tool chest," and that did help limit my tool acquisition.  I've only got so much space to store new tools, so I can't collect indiscriminately. 

I still visit antique malls and flea markets now and then in search for fine tools.  But I'm also a whole lot more picky than I used to be. I pass up a lot of junk because I know exactly what I'm looking for.  I know what I can fix and (mostly) what's worth fixing.  These days, I'm mostly on the lookout for tools that I can clean up for my kids to eventually use.  I'm teaching them the basics of woodworking as I have opportunity.  Once they're grown, who knows what kind of woodworking I'll want to do?  But that's a few years off yet.
Steve S.
Tradition cannot be inherited, and if you want it you must obtain it by great labour.
- T. S. Eliot

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  Re: Collector vs User: My story by DCarr10760 (Reading over the ver...)
Great stories.

I started young. I descended from a long line of woodworkers. I have my great grandfather’s #7 jointer plane and the leg vise from his workbench. My grandfather’s early job was building coffins for $1 a day. His career grew into bridge building. A product of the depression, if he needed a tool, he would make it. I ended up with several of his handmade tools. Even have probably one of the earliest portable table saws in my attic. He needed a portable saw that could be carried out and fit onto the steel of a new bridge. He made it and used it to cut wood forms for bridge concrete work.

My Dad learned on the power tools of the 40s and 50s. A radial arm saw was his #1 tool. He has always maintained and used an arsenal of hand tools. Ever since I was old enough to walk, my Dad gave me at least one hand tool for Christmas, most being vintage and some vey collectible. He still gives me tools for Christmas, 50 years later. I was introduced early to woodworking. Built my first tool cabinet when I was 14. Still use it today to store my molding planes. Built my coffee table and end tables I still use, when I was 16. He trained me on how to hang and perfectly fit house doors with a hand saw and a jack plane before I could drive a car.

An activity I share with my now 83 year old Dad is the hunt for vintage tools and there restoration. We enjoy sharing the story of the deals and the occasional rare find, such as the $10 rusted Stanley #2 or the $50 complete Stanley 55 in a shoe box.

All this background is to show that I couldn’t avoid being somewhat of a collector. But, the hunt has been severely cut back in recent years as our tool cabinets are all full. I do make an occasional exception, and it doesn’t always have to be rare. I came across an early Stanley #4 this summer. It was a type 7 that had been neglected. Bought it for $1 at a yard sale. Just couldn’t leave it behind. After a cleaning and tote repair, I tried it out with a spare hock blade and chip breaker. It performs better than any other Stanley plane I own and is now my favorite smoother.

I try to convince myself that I’m not a collector by making sure all the tools are sharp and ready to go. All 70+ chisels I currently have are sharp along with the 25+ bench/block planes. I still need to sharpen a dozen molding planes and saws, but am currently focusing on using the tools for projects, instead of tool restoration. I do sell some of the tools, but give many more away, usually to a young woodworker that is showing interest in the hobby or an experienced woodworker that is looking for tools to teach a group of kids.

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