Nostalgia matters because it cares for the past not just about it as a past archaic thing but because it has real value for crafting artisans and especially those looking for satisfaction working in realms beyond mass making. Artisans have valid lives offering something mass makers can’t give. Remember, it’s not you that can’t compete with IKEA or Walmart, but that they can’t compete with you.
I picked through the plastic box of trash 1960’s import tools on a concrete floor and traced my fingers along something I couldn’t see. I felt a wedge in a wooden shaped body and pulled it from the clutter of 60-years of modernity. I suppose I stood and stared at the beauty engulfed in a 200 year film of working dirt. The man wanted £5 but I’d set my mind on £2. He took the two-for-one and I walked on to my next booth where a £3 black leather jacket will make two dozen new strops for the school and a new bit roll hand stitched and riveted by your’s truly PS. I suppose I might also line a drawer bottom with it too, or upholster a stool
I think that the wedge had been locked in place in the moulder, possibly for a century or more. Of course I can’t prove that, but the iron was so deeply rusted to the bed it stopped the iron from being driven in or shocked out in the usual manner. Knowing moulding planes as I do so well I knew that with the right physical forces I could discharge at least the wedge. Usually shocking the heel or the top front conner of the plane body works to loosen the wedge. If taps fail you then tap the iron down further into the throat and because its tapered it most often creates the gap you need withdraw the wedge. In this case the iron was indeed rust-locked. The wedge was the only way left. Two things work; leaving the plane in drier conditions so the wedge shrinks in its diametrically opposed disposition to the length of the plane body ir use a bigger hammer but differently. In this case lack of patience won out and I placed a 0.907185 kilograms (2-lb) 50.8mm (2”) dia hammer in the vise and and with an almighty two-handed grip whacked the toe end back of the plane three times until the wedge gave in. (I was right, it just doesn’t look right in metric.)
This plane was hardly used for some reason and was in surprisingly good condition for its provable age. Once the iron was removed, derusted and sharpened, it did indeed cut so beautifully I stood enraptured by the beauty of workmanship a man called James Clarke made in the form of a plane at Rainford Park in Liverpool back somewhere between 1816 and 1829.
You see there is nostalgia that has value in beauty, in texture that just cannot be expressed about a router bit with tungsten carbide cutting edges no matter what colour you paint its toe nails. The plumes of continuous shavings rise from the throat with almost no noise and I watch in noiseless glee needing no ear or eye protection and I don’t feel one bit guilty for the wonderful luxury of being the energy driving it. Zero carbon fuels but carb-fighting employment of muscle and sinew has to beat greenhouse gasses for sustainability hands down. You see 98% percent of the million views of my blog and videos are not mass manufacturers of anything and everyone of you could use a nice moulding plane like this one more easily than you could use a router.
I like nostalgia and keep it well alive because of the sense of well-being it brings into my life. I will be like my forebears having worked my whole life using my own hands. Care allows the past to live in the present and the future too. That’s what I have learned.
The square I bought to weeks ago was not made for woodworking but as a taylor’s graduated square. I think jot was made by Edward Preston for the John Williamson Company Ltd of 42 Gerrard Street, London. Now it’s a woodworker’s square. You’ll see a lot of it in future.
Toolboxes built to last
Yesterday we closed out the toolbox filming and I was glad to see how many of you are enjoying following the video series. This is about the simplest toolbox to build and there are many nuances to it that come out in the videos that are not so obvious in just looking at it. I am planning on making the restored original available for a fund raising with the proceeds going to one of my favourite charities and have been collecting the tools to fill it it to the brim for that end.