The old Stanley tools we find nowadays are in far worse condition than when my father used to find them, i’m not talking about more rust here but rather the way they have been treated by their users. Back in the day when my father first formed Tooltique the tools seemed to be processed far quicker than they are today. The Stanley tools seemed to have less rust back then and many of the tools in general came direct from highly skilled tradesmen who had looked after them. Tools do tend to be scruffier nowadays with more paint loss etc and refurbishing them does take considerably longer to get them to meet customers requirements.
Having thought about this, it occurred to me that customers are better informed from a range of experienced professional woodworkers who share their knowledge of using old tools through online bogs and YouTube. These tips and standards were never widely available to many hobbyists back in the day who bought many of these Stanley tools which now turn up here and across the web in desperate need of refurbishment. I do think many old planes have simply never been through a professional woodworkers hands and require more work as a result because they were never tuned.
Selling online has certainly reinvigorated the Tooltique Brand but we had to understand there are new expectations that came with it, especially with all the advice and tips gained by hobbyists online. Highly experienced old timers had already learnt what to do to get the best results from their tools, which often involved some hard work to get them just right. This hard work with the refurbishment we do here on the tools saves people a lot of time but shouldn’t be taken lightly by customers who think it’s easy.
You have heard the saying a good tradesman never blames his tools but when tools are set up well it does make life much easier, especially for those with far less experience.
I handle and buy many vintage tools every week and i’m privileged to handle so many more than most people would see in a life time, I know better than most that used tools will do ‘a job’ but in most cases they can perform so much better. For users its imperative to experience this, otherwise they will never know the difference.
I see many old tools being traded online but woodworkers buying them should understand that those old tools are just the same as those we buy in here. They aren’t great until a process has been applied to tune them up, with a high degree of accuracy, applied by the same means that old time woodworkers used.
The reality is that most old Stanley planes are worn, they will take a shaving when sharp but most will leave a poor finish when compared to a good refurbished tool. Uneven soles on your planes causes them to work against each other whilst foreign parts cause functionality issues.
Woodworkers who choose to restore their own tools may be prepared to put in the work required to get them up to the optimum performance, however it’s very likely they will always lack essential parts making the process more difficult. Doing it properly includes lapping the sole on a perfectly flat surface, refining the chip breaker and back of the iron, freeing up all moving parts and sharpening. If you look online for refurbishing old planes this is usually only performed on a smoothing plane due to the larger ones being so much more difficult.
Knowing our parts is essential to being a good used tool dealer and this requires experience to describe all the items accurately and from that experience I can tell you without any doubt there a hell of a lot of Stanley tools out there that aren’t as they first seem.
As I have said before we don’t just simply clean the tools here, they are prepared so all the required work a professional woodworker would undertake is done, apart from the final refined edge on the blades, which every good woodworker has to master.