Today’s car boot buys

These are saws John recently restored

John and I went to the car boot sale and bought 2 nice Spear and Jackson hand saws (ugly at first glance), a #151 spokeshave, a sawset, a large lumber saw, a snipe bill moulding (molding US) plane (V nice with boxwood slips) and two good, but rusted gouges.

If you are interested in restoring old tools like these I will be discussing the restoration process of each one of them over the next few posts and also sharpening  and using them too.

Car boot sales (no US equivalents that I know of), garage sales, estate sales, household auctions  and so on are good places to buy good old tools at cheap prices. Planes, and spokeshaves, saws and gouges can be bought from as little as 20p to £20 per item depending on what they are. We paid £5 for the sawset and the spokeshave, buying new would have been around ££35-40. The lumber saw is a not so usual find and though I don’t need one for cutting dovetails, I couldn’t see it sold for scrap steel. For this saw and the two Spear and Jackson panel saws, nicely made ones from the 1950s and much earlier, we paid £5 for the three.

Now you can buy Lie Nielsen panel saws for £195 each, or Victor panel saws from £50 +, but these saws don’t stay sharp and soon you will have to sharpen them, which puts them on a similar level to what we bought for a fiver. If finance is an issue, or you simply don’t mind getting your hands dirty, why not buy secondhand, learn to clean up and restore, learn to sharpen and set and have the skills to boot with the good new-to-you saw? The large lumber saw would cost about £140, so, for a £5 investment, we bought £240 -£500 worth of saws.

The snipe bill moulding plane is just lovely. It has the patina of a loved and well-used and cared for moulder that cannot be anything but respected. I think a good moulding plane is well worth paying £30 for. Rarer planes are worth £50 plus. This snipe bill is used for cleaning up contoured areas at intersecting transition points along the moulds. Looking at the construction of the plane with its boxwood slips and pristine shape, its carefully formed wedge and the floated throat, I feel inspired to set the same example in my everyday work too.

Watch out for the upcoming restoration workshops on this blog that change the tool to look like the before and after saw shaping above and don’t hesitate to ask questions of I miss out some key info you need. Forgot to mention the brace. Isn’t it nice for £3.


  1. Our US version of a boot sale would be the flea market. Flea markets are usually located in a large field where the owners cheaply rent a spot on the ground or on a supplied table to the general public. They were very popular for many years but lately seem to have fallen out of favor. My guess is Ebay or other online outlets like Craigslist have made it too easy to dispose of items.  

    1. Agree! In the US flea markets you can just find packaged very cheap low quality tools. I haven’t found anything worth being called vintage in the entire Houston area. Maybe towards San Antonio, but a bit far for a day trip for me.

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