When building up your tool kit it’s perfectly normal to buy some new low quality tools just to get started but as your skills grow you will soon realise those so called bargains will eventually limit your capabilities. The Steel in most new tools are far inferior quality and the best makers today are expensive, not necessarily for what they are but when they are compared to what you can get here.
Quality tools are expensive to manufacture and there is no way round the fact to be the best the processes and materials needed cannot be replicated without using them. Back in the day when working with hand tools was all a craftsman had, their tools reached heights rarely met by today’s toolmakers. Laminated steel was often hand forged and the high carbon steel needed for the the cutting edge was purified with skill, experience and knowledge handed down through generations of toolmaker family businesses. Apprenticed toolmakers who purely concentrated on making saws, edge tools and plane making are but a few examples of what were once revered craftsmen. Tools in the main has been reduced to a mass production product fueled by cost cutting accountants.
Larger established brands have over the years gradually drip fed changes to their well known models to optimise profits, eventually it degrades them to little more than comparisons to unknown makers of cheap Chinese imports. “If it looks the same it must be” and when you hear people comparing the latest models to those only made a few years ago is it any wonder they have little knowledge about older models that gained these companies their reputations.
Let’s face it, many old tools have been used so much in their lifetime its little wonder many are starting to fade in performance. When tools lose their flatness and precision they once had rarely will they be capable of producing their best work, becoming suitable only for those with less precise needs. That is until we get our hands on them and give them a thorough refurbishment, which generally utilities tools and skills not seen in a typical wood shop, let alone in a the back of tradesman’s vehicle or his shed at home.
Our old tools are revitalised properly with the emphasis on flatness to ensure they are a joy to work with, whilst older steel tends to keep not only a finer, sharper edge but one that lasts that bit longer. Simply cleaning with with round abrasive wheels is not good practice and will often accelerate the deterioration and performance of many woodworking tools.
Our smoothing planes for example can be set up to take the finest of shavings on the most difficult grained timber whilst still leaving the smoothest of finishes. This is because they are perfectly flat, lapped on a precision granite bed whilst the same attention is made to the cutting components.
Our vintage hand saws only flow through the wood because they have been jointed flat before they are sharpened this also ensures they will be far easier to resharpen again at future date.
We say if these two important tools for woodworkers are done correctly then the trust will have been established for the refurbishment in our other tools.
Old tools encourage the learning of all the skills of sharpening as it becomes a priority to maintain quality tools and once mastered you never go back to disposable ones, it shows your commitment and dedication to your craft, it will also show in your work because you can then adapt them to suit different situations and materials.
If your new or old tools perform just OK our tools will be an upgrade, if your tools are limiting your skills and they are making life difficult when it shouldn’t be, our tools will make your life easier, if you are constantly replacing rather than building your tool kit then our tools will solve this. If you have new high quality tools and a limited quantity of them because of their prices then we are the answer, they may be less glamourous but are equally effective.
Unknowingly downgrading tools by Maker
I bought a good pair of lightly used Gilbow tin snips off my Father in the early 1980’s and had them for many years they were brilliant, however they eventually become dull having used them day after day. In the early 2000’s I walked into Lamberts of Norwich one day and there sat a brand new set of Gilbow snips so I promptly bought them. I soon realised how poor my old ones had become and discarded them only to find the new sets rarely withstood 6 months of use before having to buy another set again and again. If only I had kept the original pair and refurbished them rather than thinking that being Gilbow they were of the same quality.
Corporations Profiteering from downgrades
The average chippy uses at least 4-5 throw away saws a year at around £10 a pop that’s about the same price as a good fully refurbished used saw that would probably outlast most craftsmen. On this basis those poor quality throw away saws will cost in the region of £1500 over a career in today’s money. It’s in the interest of corporations to continually downgrade quality so the average carpenter uses more saws and history suggests this is very likely to happen.
Compare that to a good Disston or good old Sheffield handsaw that can be resharpened time and time again for a price ranging from £40 – £80. Quality saws also work, feel and look so much better and will serve you for many years to come, the quality doesn’t change and the longer you own it the better you become at sharpening it. More on Saw Sharpening here
The ECO Impact
The fact is that new disposable tools may seem less effort but over a working lifetime you will be paying for the privilege of using inferior tools that will have no end value.
For all those who think new disposable tools are better should consider this, how environmentally friendly are they?
- Producing tons on new poor quality steel often using fossil fuels
- Using plastics and the energy to mould it
- Milling and shaping carbon footprint
- Paints and finishes environmental impact
- Packaging with every tool and the environmental impact
- Shipments from China etc carbon footprint
- Disposal and recycling environmental impact
- ETC, Time & Time Again
There is probably many other reasons but ultimately they all have a higher impact on the worlds resources than learning the skills to eradicate this waste caused in the name of convenience.