Buying good tools cheap #3 – The knife

I think all too often we want a one-size-fits-all tool we can suit to every task without compromise. I confess that’s how I see certain tools, for the main part anyway. Every so often I discover a new tool, use it for a while, even fall in love with it for reasons known and unknown, but I sometimes find that eventually I will return to the one once picked up more than any other. With knives I have come across and made I have always been mostly settled for long periods. When I began woodworking I used a basic. non-retracting Stanley utility knife. It answered my needs impressively. Today I find it too clunky and inarticulate for most if not all of my bench work, but for carpet and laying vinyl flooring it still knows no equal.

I wrote a fairly extensive blog on knives that might help expand this article here.

It’s as much an evolving relationship with tools as it is with the woods we work and choose for our projects or the style we build. The evolution can seem more instant than others, more an unquestioning transfer of preference from one to the other, and that is most often fine. Many times we go through a slower process of opinion change, experientially based, sensed, uninfluenced by fashion. My knives are many, but when I work I reach for one knife only and that’s Stanley’s Folding Pocket Knife model 0 10 598. You can read a previous blog I did that talks about this knife here. The US equivalent is the Stanley 10-049. Slightly heavier and blade shape is different but this knife works equally well.

I found no real eBay bargains for this tool and on Amazon the price ranged from £5-10. That being so, I bought mine from Amazon for £5.75 with free shipping.

I need no other knife than this for all aspects of the work I do. For dovetails it knows no equal, but I find this so for all other joints also. There are knives I don’t like particularly and this is not based on opinion but how they work. A knife is singularly critical the the accuracy of my work and determines the outcome of every joint. For details on this click here.

5 Comments

  1. Howard in Wales on 1 September 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Agreed.

    But combination planes, these days, are always old – i.e. second-hand. When you
    get them you hope that the skates are parallel, but if so are seldom level and
    often at a ‘wrong’ angle to the line of the fence.

    I have bought several (after some work on them) excellent combi
    planes of all types, by all the main makes – 44s, 45s, 50, and a couple of old
    55s over the years but all have needed some fettling (principally on the
    skates) to work properly.

    From the evident lack of wear they were made like that –
    previous owners expected them to work straight from the box.

    It’s all very well getting a bargain from the internet, but
    tools, old or new, always needed fettling to work and I hope that you’ll devote
    some blog space to showing how to get these planes in a fit state to work.

    All best from Wales

  2. Jeffrey A. Dustin on 6 March 2017 at 2:09 am

    I destested the plastic handled garbage on the Stanley blade. So I picked up the red cast iron handled Swann-Morton retractable knife. Love it and it is the sharpest knife I have ever owned.

    • Paul Sellers on 6 March 2017 at 5:50 pm

      Pretty strong vocal there, Jeffrey but the Stanley is not made from plastic any more than the Swann Morton is not made from plastic as they both have inner components made from polypropylene, a very wear resistant material. I have worked with both and whereas I like both, the Stanley has remained the one I reach for in the day to day of life. I guess it’s all a matter of preference.

  3. tony on 5 February 2018 at 11:22 am

    Worth pointing out that the Stanley type blades do not need to be treated as disposable. I keep mine sharpened on a piece of leather glued to a strip of flat wood. Keep the edge towards you and push away from you.

  4. Peter Brisland on 9 April 2019 at 11:44 am

    Thank you for the info for buying tools I’ve sent off for a Stanley folding knife like yours
    it looks the right tool on your videos.

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