Q&A on planes and saws

Question:

In your article: 29 JUNE 2013 – Which plane–Bevel-up First or Bevel-down? You stated:

“It’s no secret that I do not like heavy bench planes of the #4, 4 1/2, 5 and 5 1/2 sizes. I feel that they are generally excessive and costly and especially is this so for new woodworkers. I believe I speak truthfully on this issue and even after fifty years of working wood I still rely almost solely on the the planes numbered above for my daily work. With these four planes I can do anything I can with other planes.”

I am not sure I follow what you are saying. Are you saying you do not like the Lie-Neilsen “heavy” planes but do like the old Stanley Bailey planes of the #4 to #5 1/2’s? I have never held a Stanley Bailey, are they lighter than the LN’s? I thought the LN’s were patterned on the Bailey’s. Am I missing something?

Another question. I inherited three saws from my uncle that he purchased around 1980 and have hardly been used. Tyzack-Turner – Excalibur No. 1, Nonpareil:
1) Dovetail Saw – 8-inch, 20 teeth/inch
2) Rip Saw – #154 4 ½ teeth/inch
3) Crosscut Saw – #154 12 teeth/inch
What is your opinion of this line of saws? I know of nobody who has an opinion.

I am a beginning woodworker using a mix of power and hand tools but trying to slowly wean myself from most, or all, of the power tools. I am learning a lot from your YouTube videos. Thank you for providing them.

Best regards,

B M

Answer:

P1110859Whereas Lie Nielsen, WoodRiver, Jumma, Quang Sheng, Clifton and others are all copies patterned from Leonard Bailey’s formidable plane range, these planes have indeed gained weight (physical) over the years too. It is also true that the standards on all of them are pretty high but that they are all very much the same plane. Wouldn’t you think that just one of them could give us something new and innovative. It is pretty boring when you go from one to the other and then another and you say to yourself they are all the same. None of these makers invented anything but copied what was already in existence in the same way many makers copied most of the Stanley planes when the patents ran out. In the case of the heavyweights it just happened that they all plumbed for the Bed Rock pattern but not because it was the best but that no one was making them. Lie Nielsen was the first and then the others wanted a slice of that pie too hence the birth of Clifton planes in the UK, WoodRiver (crummy name) and subsequent to that we saw the Chinese move in because this great North American chain store retail franchiser needed their own model and couldn’t find a maker to supply them. Most of the commonly known plane makers were actually gone or on their way out with the advent of scaled down industrial machines designed for the home user but then people started to investigate hand tools as an alternative to the machines and a niche market opened up whereby so-called high end planes came to be. P1100104

I don’t think that this was in answer to a need so much as a lack of working knowledge of the planes. There was a long period when planes like the Bailey-pattern were considered inferior to what was emerging but the reality was they had no champion to fight Leonard Bailey’s corner. In the hands of inexperienced users the old ones you list seemed to jump around and then someone said that heavy planes with thick irons solved the problems. Of course they didn’t at all, they had the same issues. What was different though was that they arrived sharp and set in the box so at least they would work for a few weeks if taken care of and not reset. Of course this only postponed what has to happen eventually and that is to understand the plane, any plane, the best thing is to take it apart and put it back together time and time again as you would a hand gun or a rifle. Do it in your sleep so that you are always ready for action even in adverse conditions.PICT0173

I say all of that to say that the engineering fraternity have as yet to come up with one that weighs in the same as the Bailey pattern planes. You are right, Leonard Bailey did indeed invent the planes we are speaking of with the only difference between a full-blown pure-bred Leonard Bailey plane being a minor introduction called the Bed Rock pattern frog. Whereas people selling Bed Rocks extol the virtue of the sliding incline where the two chunks of metal slide against one another with an awkward mechanism inside for adjusting the planes mouth, what  no one talks about is that this automatically alters the depth of cut to a miss-set position. The reality is that we woodworkers hardly ever need to adjust the throat opening in the first place. In fact, in my 50 years I have only altered the throat opening half a dozen times and it made little if any difference to the awkward grain I was trying to work on those different occasions. Add to this the fact that such an adjustment ALWAYS alters the depth of cut and you face even more adverse reality than any problem you might be trying to resolve in the first place. The fact is that the Leonard Bailey plane CAN be adjusted without removing the plane cutting iron assembly, if you know how, when everyone tells you it can’t. Another plus for the Bailey is that resetting the frog to change the mouth does not alter the depth of cut; that is no small thing and indeed is another plus.P1140760

Now as to your saws. Truth is that there are really only two saw makers from Britain these days. One of them, Spear and Jackson, don’t really have much of a clue about saws these days. Certainly nothing like the original owners of the company. They are marketing strategists relying as many such companies do on their daddy’s reputation. The old name still counts for something. All of S&J saw are made in Taiwan so they are not a British made saw. Then on the other hand you have Thomas Flinn. No one connected to Thomas Flinn has any connection to the maker Thomas Flinn as in the man Thomas Flinn. Nor do they know Roberts or Lee of Roberts and Lee or Pax or Crown or William Greaves. What the owners of Thomas Flinn did over the years was buy the names of these saw makers when they went out of business and applied them to their saws. Until the internet developed its fully orbed probe to provide its unending supply of information everyone thought these saws were different makers in Sheffield. The reality is they all come from the Flinn stable.

As to your Tyzack Turner saws. I am afraid it is unlikely that these were produced by Tyzack and Turner as such but by some other saw maker putting their names on the saws. That said, there is nothing wrong with the saws. They are good saws and I own some of them too. I am afraid you have look a little deeper beyond the labelling with some, not all, UK makers. Not much is truly made in the UK if you start digging around. There are some that try to keep the standards and I hope we will see more tool makers emerge in the coming years.

39 Comments

  1. handmadeuniqueclocks on 24 January 2016 at 10:35 pm

    As machinery replaced hand tools and skill was replaced by trained monkey machinists so too did the quality of hand tools dissipate from the market and the laymens were none the wiser. It is of my personal opinion that Thomas Lie Nielson who brought quality back into hand tools and made available to woodworkers once more that played a vital part in the revolution of hand tool woodworking. Yes indeed they are copies of the Bailey pattern but the pattern was so good that there was no need for change and every plane out there on the market including yours are based on that same pattern. The late 18th century was the pinnacle height of sheer beauty of furniture making, come turn of the 19th century up until today quality and beauty went downhill mainly due to mass production and corner cutting. I used this as an example of modern day plane makers I look at LN as the craftsman of the 18th century and woodriver, Quang Sheng as the demise of the 19th century, nothing more than a quick buck flog em out the door fire sales. They are slightly better in appearance than the modern Stanley planes you will see in your home centre stores.

    With antique stores and most eBay stores running a muck with their over inflated prices be that for the plane or shipping fees that are not actual shipping rates but figures they have added makes sense to buy from LN a brand new high quality copy than from them for the same price if not more which you will have to refurbish before it is of any use to you. It is crucial for us woodworkers to support only quality tool makers that you have come to know and trust and depend upon when you need that particular tool for that job you know where you can get it because if we don’t then these tool makers will cease to exist like they have done so in the past and the future generation of woodworkers will once more devour the flea markets and antique stores and pay twice the money they are worth for a non functional tool.

    As for price of LN tools I understand that they are high and out of reach for many but I also know that some people are just plain and simply tight when it comes to spending but they have no problems in spending twice that amount in restaurants and alcohol. If you really want something you will always come up with a way to get it.

    These are my own thoughts and opinions and have not been influenced by LN directly I respect you as a craftsman and your achievements and equally respect them for their role and achievements in this revival of hand tool woodworking.

    Each has a specific role to play and each is integral in the survival of hand tool woodworking after all we depend on each other.



    • Carlos J. Collazo on 25 January 2016 at 12:36 am

      Interesting comment. Would you place Veritas in that class of toolmakers who have copied and also developed, but who have also maintained high standards?



      • handmadeuniqueclocks on 25 January 2016 at 2:57 am

        Thanks Carlos for your question and the answer is definitely yes I would include Veritas as a quality toolmaker without a doubt. The only toolmaker out there that is innovative that listens to their customers needs and wants. I must admit that I’m a traditionalist as I prefer the traditional look but if I compare the Veritas bevel down smoother to the no.4 LN which is the same no.4 stanley you can buy everywhere in my personal opinion I got better results with the Veritas version than I did with the no.4 and the 5 1/2.Stanley or let’s keep it at LN. I believe the results stem from the BD vs BU and really it’s each to it’s own. What works for me may not work for someone else odd but true I have more BD planes than I do BU but in the case for the BU smoother I do prefer even though I don’t own one anymore a mistake on my part but when I did worked better for me than the no.4 BD current one does. I’m actually when I get my act together will purchase the Veritas BU smoother and use it over my no.4 or atleast when the work dictates to me that I need to.

        I hope I have answered your question.



      • handmadeuniqueclocks on 25 January 2016 at 3:38 am

        I don’t know if it’s just on my end but my reply to you has just mysteriously vanished.



      • Paul Sellers on 25 January 2016 at 3:39 am

        The answer is yes and no. Veritas is really quite different. They have on staff dedicated plane designers, saw designers and other engineers who take what exists and designs it from the ground up. They chose a very difficult path in the early days by trying to come into the field of tool design with many tools waning in demand. They have designed a whole fleet of planes from scratch that are really quite unique in many cases. And what they produce is top notch as far as quality goes.

        What Tom Nielsen did was remarkable too. He took Stanley’s tools and revamped the whole series over the years and built into the tools what was lacking and that was quality output. These two North American companies deserve whatever awards North America gives to their tool designers and makers. I think that Clifton too did the same in countering the lowered standards of British made Stanley’s because Stanley kept the office in Sheffield but exported production. They liked the name Sheffield but not the expense, hence they exported manufacture to North America too, but this time to Mexico.



    • Chris Wood on 25 January 2016 at 4:52 am

      In reference to the comment about supporting new manufacturers such as Lie Nielson and avoiding flea markets and antique stores as well as ebay, I have to disagree. If the price difference were a factor of 2 or 3, I might agree. But the chisels/planes/saws etc… that I started hunting for about a year ago that cost a few dollars or less are the only reason I have what I consider to be a perfectly fine set of tools. A new Lie Nielson plane/chisel is a few orders of magnitude greater in price than these tools, and while I have no doubt it is a wonderful tool, if I waited until I could afford one of those I would still one year later not have a tool. Instead, I have learned how to restore old planes, which is not only useful but fun, and I have several wonderful tools at my disposal. Some are great and I love them, some I made a mistake purchasing and some are in between. I’ll add that I learned a lot of things by watching Mr. Sellars, and some things by making mistakes.

      My point is that while I would love to in the future be able to purchase a nice $300 plane and support Lie Nielson, if I and people like me were not able to obtain less expensive tools in the meantime we likely would not get into woodworking at all, and Lie Nielson might lose a lot of future business anyway. So perhaps the flea markets as well as the high end manufacturers can co-exist.



      • Paul Sellers on 25 January 2016 at 9:07 am

        I am looking forward to someone giving me the first #3, #4, #4 1/2 # 5 and #5 1/2 with the same qualities and virtues of the Bailey-pattern planes of matching weight with improved engineering but without thick irons or any of the so-called better engineered cap irons. Just the higher engineering standards and a few features I have added to improve the soles edges and GET RID of those dead square and dead flat outer edges that so trip and snag the planes. Whoever that is will get my endorsement. As long as it happens before I get too much older and before I pass from this world!



    • SteveWales on 25 January 2016 at 5:01 am

      Hi Salko,

      (Firstly, I mean no disrespect towards any of the toolmakers that you yourself mentioned in my further comments )

      You obviously have a sense of kinship towards the craftsmen of antiquity and to those in our modern world who are looking for a stable niche within which they can practice their craft and live a modern life.
      unfortunately your arguments are somewhat flawed.
      Firstly, you take a snapshot in history when handtools were used in furniture making and compare it with a later time when machines were used and you call this difference bad.
      Unfortunately history is just not this simple. Before handtools (the sophisticated mechanisms we think of ) and handtool production, there where community makers- Cottage industry (if you could ask them their opinion towards them new-fangled hand tools and means of production, I’m guessing they would say Oooh bad, And the quality just isn’t the same!!). Before that there existed other systems – feudalism, Slavery and so back.
      Second (and Thirdly) Lie Nielson and the other independant tool makers played a Very Small part in the upsurge of interest in handtools in the amateur field. The previous generation of craftsmen became teachers to amateurs — Anyone who did any type of learning under them would of been told of the superiority of the out of production tools and to avoid the worst of the inferior influx.
      I would allow that Lie Nielson’s and others names grew ALONG with the upsurge of interest in handtools — But simply because he and his fellow makers had capital to invest in advertising space in the magazines, while the dead tool companies of the previous generation had no voice.

      Your comparison between lie Nielsen and Woodriver/Quangsheng (The Same Manufacturer I think) is Very Wrong and a little mischievious of you.
      These Asian Copies of Lie Nielson’s Copies Of The Bedrock design are In No Way Inferior in the hands of the amateur woodworking fraternity (Or in a craftsman’s hands I think)
      – they will produce the Very Same Quality of Work from an Individual that the other higher priced tools will. They are made to within a wisp of a hair the same tolerance and engineering finish with the same mix of CNC machinery versus hand work — the only factor is price — Chinese workers make a shamefully small wage-labour rate — which mostly we don’t care about – unless its in relation to an issue we do care about. We pretty much all do the same thing – We Feel a sense of entitlement to the things of modern life and to have them at the lowest price, regardless of the negative consequences on other’s lives or our general future as a whole — Except for the odd selective issue that has some direct negative effect on ourself.

      If I gave you one of the worst examples of the poor quality “Budget” planes to use — Would the Quality of your finished work suffer in the exchange?

      The Internet and our ability to tap into information WhereEver we are, IS one of the driving forces. – Paul speakes of ‘Friends’ in All countries — How some of them must laugh to read our First World anxieties about our 1/1000th tolerances and how PM V steel is the only one to have if you want a Really Sharp blade We are starting to acting like wine-snobs, I actually read ” you get a more Buttery Feel of the Blade off the stone” — What does that mean??), while maybe they have no access even to a basic tool kit.

      Our frustration and failure at woodworking with the “Hobby” equivalent of professional machines is what is bringing Most people towards handtools in the termed Developed countries.
      The Magazines have for years peddled the makers’ wares as the be all and end all — endless articles on how to get the best out of your crappy inaccurate machine, jig after jig to get any sort of repeatable action – “more time making jigs for woodwork than woodwork”
      AND it Not The Magazines Fault — they only survive on Ad revenue and Leonard Bailey ran out of budget a long time ago – They had to keep plugging the virtues of the machine.

      Four – you are only right about the state of the second hand market in your country where stanley’s and records are not so common. – There seemed to be a branch-off towards Asian style tools in Australia quite a long time back – Is this so? only a couple of weeks ago i bought a Boxed Stanley No.4 (1970’s )for £10 , admittedly, if you are an impatient person you can pay a good bit more. To suggest that I can buy a LN for the same price as an Ebay stanley is wrong thinking.
      AND as For
      “As for price of LN tools I understand that they are high and out of reach for many but I also know that some people are just plain and simply tight when it comes to spending but they have no problems in spending twice that amount in restaurants and alcohol” — Seriously??!

      Paul has often reminisced over the “Cost me a Weeks Wages” price of tools when he was an apprentice. I’m sure i could make a great case for cheap, inferior asian products being the saviour of handtool woodwork — A plane for the people.

      Finally, This isn’t in anyway personal, you may not realise it, but you have indeed been “influenced by LN directly” — From the contents of your Tool cabinet, it’s obvious that you must have invested heavily in LN products. On a psychological level it would be reasonable and normal to defend your investment against a perceived threat.

      Remember also that those artisans in Romantic times of the 18’th century would be payed a fraction of today’s equivalent wage-rate. No Land ownership, no home ownership, no time away from double digit working days, no luxury in their lifestyle — And they weren’t allowed to Smoke in their workshop — Dangerous habit that is 😉 ,

      Steve.



      • handmadeuniqueclocks on 25 January 2016 at 6:27 am

        I commend you Steve on your valid points and thank you for watching my videos yes I do have a bad habit that I have been trying to rid myself off of it for many years but never succeed. You have written this so well that it is hard to rebut but I will try and correct you on some minor personal points if I may. Yes I do own quite a few LN tools it is quite obvious in my photo’s and videos I just started to produce but I also own quite a few antique tools and this is where my grievances stem from. Living in Australia being so far away from the rest of the world and the now low Aussie dollar has made eBay an expensive field trip, our antique dealers too are charging equivalent prices for a used LN tool to what LN will charge for a brand new one, an antique rabbet plane will cost more than if I purchased a new one directly from LN. I have thought about this often when I read or hear on some recording that they got such and such a tool for $10 or $20 or 10 pounds. These prices are non existent here and if they are I have not come across them. The shipping is murderous, the conversion rate is murderous and the amount of antique tools available in Australia is a small portion compared to the US and then the UK. I have only ever purchased a few tools form Australia, the rest are from the US and one from the UK which I paid more for shipping than I did for the tool itself. I will let you in on a little secret which most don’t know, Hans Brunner an Australian antique tool dealer is by far the most cheapest anywhere in the world and many and I say many dealers from the US and the UK buy from him. He holds an online auction once every few months and this is an email auction only so you have no idea what the bids are but he states what each tool is worth eg.a 2100 yankee brace $30 -$60 then you bid your price. Unfortunately I have never won a bid even if Ibid the maximum he asked. Do they make their deals prior I don’t know or do they over pay their purchases I don’t know that either but I know what they are worth and I have never been able to pay their worth.

        What I said about people being so tight is referring to my own people in my locality only and is very spot on, I should of clarified this in my post. I know this because I deal with the statistics of their spending behaviour on the Gold Coast, I know the average income and their expenses and where their money is being directed too. I also know what is draining our incomes and why we are in an economic rut but the govt. refuses to listen as they are nothing more than a cheap car salesman in it for a quick buck rather than a long term solution. I know things that the average Joe doesn’t.

        As for machinery this has been around since the 13 century but I was specifically referring to the demise of quality furniture making which started very early in the 19th century with the introduction of machinery and sloppy workmanship due to pressure of mass production to get it out the door yesterday and I failed to mention this as well the person I truly was referring too for this is Thomas Day a free black american who was a renowned cabinet maker. His fame basically went through the roof overnight with exaggeration on my part which led to his furniture being in high demand. Due to the large influx of orders and the inability to pump them out the door in a timely fashion he employed upto 12 other black american craftsman and introduced machinery to meet those demands. Saw marks were left, if a dovetail chipped or was simply missed it was ignored. Mill marks were also left from the massive planer he purchased. In no way am I saying this guy or his workers were incapable of producing anything but quality quite the opposite but due to mass production and the speed and long hours they were forced to work quality was sacrificed to meet profits, no different than today.

        I know Chinese workers work for a pittance while the owner reaps the rewards, I also know that they are capable of producing high quality as they clearly offer 3 types of manufacturing to the west, High quality, medium quality and low quality with the obvious price differences and companies rarely choose one of the first two and you now have Brazil, Mexico and finally Vietnam will come into play to replace China.

        Steve once more you have made commendable valid points and I respect you for that. Well done.



        • SteveWales on 25 January 2016 at 9:54 am

          Thanks for taking my teasing about your workshop habits with a smile.
          It seems that what you are describing is part of the general list of Man and His Faults.
          There are countless examples of cultures tapping into information from different parts of the world and being discontent with their lot – think TV and the fizzy drink ad’s negative influence(Big American Dream) on the developing world.
          the ‘Auction’ is a smart seller’s tool to squeeze the most out of buyers by pitting their Ego’s against each other – I constantly laugh at ebay listings where competitive bidding pushes the final price past the brand new price for the item.
          If you go onto the Uk or Us ebay site and change the search criteria from Aus back to the either UK or US, you can see all the domestic listings – look for a listing were a number of planes, or saws or whatever are being sold off (prob. after the passing of the old owner) – find out the best courier cost then contact the seller and explain your plan to pay for courier – you will usually get multiple items for a lot less than their individual cost (Just last week 12 old quick release 52 1/2 and 53 vices went for just £170 for ALL Twelve – it was ‘collect in person only ‘ mind). I live in Ireland and there are virtually no second hand tools available on the domestic ebay site.

          What you describe concerning slipping of standards because of expansion is also due to our human failing -greed. You are doing Fantastic within your niche — you think” the Bigger I get The more I will make” – time and again the bubble simply bursts.

          have you thought about approaching the higher end asian factory either yourself or as part of a collective – They will certainly be interested in growing a new customer base. You could offer an obviously needed alternative to the restricted market enviroment you find yourself living in.

          Goodluck with your video and woodworking projects



          • handmadeuniqueclocks on 25 January 2016 at 10:26 am

            Thanks Steve for the heads up on eBay just maybe I too can now enjoy the bargains out there.

            A quick final note on why I own LN tools because I could afford them at the time, the Aussie dollar was stronger than the US so for me it was affordable and since I gave my hand planes to my young nephew to help him get started I needed to replace those I gifted away so I spoiled myself with LN, I have never looked back since. In the end my tools whether antique or new provide for my family, keeps me doing what I love to do, gives me self worth as the bread winner and helps me produce quality goods. I couldn’t ask for more.

            Glad we spoke I hope we can do it again some time soon.



  2. Gordon on 24 January 2016 at 11:49 pm

    Paul – you mention “One of them, Spear and Jackson, don’t really have much of a clue about saws these days”. At what (last) point did they have a clue?

    I ask as I have an old and very rusty (and blunt) tenon saw from my youth that I’ve just cleaned up; having come across your saw sharpening video. I haven’t had chance to sharpen it yet, but noticed it is a Spear and Jackson. I’d guess it’s probably late 1970s at the earliest, maybe late 1980s at the latest.



    • Christopher Mitchell on 25 January 2016 at 2:17 am

      I will offer this information for you about Spear & Jackson. It’s one of the oldest saw manufacturer’s from the UK dating back as 1760’s Under” Love and Spear” That would be William Love and Alexander Spear. I can date your saw for you if you want me to just send me a picture. Can you still read the logo on the Spine, “Back” or the Medallion. I bought one a year ago that’s in perfect shape that dates back to 1890. It has the prettiest Handle ‘ve ever seen on a saw. The Lambs Tongues detail is just out of this world. I recently received a book from Simon Barley who did many years of research on British Made Saws. Its a great book and He is a very nice Man. Come to find out I have a British Made saw that he couldn’t find a Picture of so He’s going to put a picture of my saw in his first revision. I thought that was pretty cool.
      I’m a saw nut and just cant seem to stop buying them I think I have a problem. Lol
      If you want me to try and date your saw just respond back to this message and we can share emails If that’s ok with Paul. I never read the rules I feel most is just plain common sense and respect so I figured I could handle that.
      Cheers
      Chris



    • Paul Sellers on 25 January 2016 at 3:26 am

      Spear and Jackson started sliding down the tube a long time ago. I would say the last half decent saws they made was after World War II even though I have collected their bicentenary saws with the rosewood handles that came out in the 1960s. Their best saws likely will have been rusted at some time in their lives. I like many of their 1960s to 1970’s versions that there seem to be plenty of. They can still be had with the brass backs and even though they have utilitarian stamp of the post WW II they do function very well.



      • Gordon on 25 January 2016 at 3:24 pm

        Thanks Paul. Mine is definitely later than WWII. At a push it might be an early 70s saw (my dad gave it to me) but I suspect it’ll be a new purchase in the 1980s. It definitely doesn’t have a brass spine, and I don’t think there’s anything stamped on it, so I suspect it is a later/cheap one.

        In any event, I’ll have a go at your sharpening technique; it’s unusably blunt now so I have nothing to lose. The only issue is that I can’t remove the handle for further cleaning (it looks a little like your saw images above, but I don’t know if the domed heads in the handle are bolts or rivets).



  3. Cory on 25 January 2016 at 11:49 am

    I remember a time not so long ago when I would have spent a lot of money on the “high end” tool makers simply to have a go at woodworking. I had no clue as to what a “quality” tool was capable of or what a really sharp tool was. Expensive have their place for those who can afford them. But it is a different for those who want to try woodworking without going bankrupt just in case they don’t follow through, or for the young who have less expendable cash.
    A better solution is for the rest of us who have learned how to restore tools and use them to a certain degree to pass the torch.
    I think it would suit Paul very well if those of us who have learned from him were to pass the torch. I have some tools that I have spent inordinate time fettling. They are not the best tools, but will work. (They took so long because I had not come into contact with Paul’s teachings to that point.) I fully intend to find someone to hand them on to so that they can learn more easily and affordably. I believe may of us have more tools than we really need and would never miss them by giving them away or selling them for what is reasonable. Just my opinion, for what it’s worth.



  4. David Pickett on 25 January 2016 at 2:41 pm

    Paul – Tyzack, Sons and Turner were still making their own saws into the 1980s, using the elephant and ‘Nonpareil’ trademarks, which they first used in 1876 (according to Simon Barley’s excellent book). I think they ceased manufacture some time around 1990, when I think the firm went into liquidation.

    The saws are of top quality, the only point letting the later ones down being handle shape, which was not as nicely rounded and comfortable to hold as 19th century or early 20th century saws – a fault common to all handsaw manufacturers. The Tyzack family were something of a Sheffield dynasty (rather like the Marples and Sorby clans), their history in Sheffield going back to the 18th century, and in manufacturing around Sheffield before that..

    I do know that they didn’t sell their trademarks to another manufacturer.

    I’m sure your questioner will find them to be very good saws.



  5. David Pickett on 25 January 2016 at 3:32 pm

    I’ve been doing a bit of research on Tyzack, Sons and Turner. Their main business from about the 1890s until the 1980s was the making of parts for agricultural machines, but they also produced scythes and saws. They changed the direction of their business in the 1990s, going into the electronics market. The firm became the Tyzack Turner Group, and later the TT Group, under which name they are still in existence.

    I’m not sure exactly when they got out of ‘traditional’ manufacture, but I do know that they made handsaws until very late in the 1980s. I bought a dovetail saw by Tyzack’s new from C J Bent and Sons of Warrington (for £32) in the late 1980s, and they had a display of at least four different sizes of Tyzack backsaw. I also bought a Tyzack 26″ handsaw by mail order about the same time. Both are very good saws; the handsaw is a real delight to use.



    • David Pickett on 25 January 2016 at 4:10 pm

      A bit more digging – it seems that Burgon and Ball bought out the trade name and the agricultural tools business, which is still trading – http://www.burgonandball.com/shop/scripts/default.asp?trade=false&sect=a

      The name the Tyzack, Sons and Turner parent company is now TT Electronics. It seems the firm adapted to a changing world, and thus survived!



  6. Brian Lowery on 25 January 2016 at 4:44 pm

    One thing is true here in the U.S.A. The population is aging, and the “baby boomers” in particular are retiring in great numbers. Many of these “boomers” have taken up woodworking as a hobby in their retirement. If there is a little space in their house or garage, a lot of these new woodworkers have purchased a small lathe. Just look at the proliferation of small lathe tools and “pen kits”. Some concerns like noise and lack of space for machines have lead others to hand tools.
    As already mentioned, merchants saw a need and started marketing these tools. Many of the people who buy these tools don’t take on complicated projects, so they are satisfied with the (poor) results. Therefore, merchants keep on making the hand tools.
    In my opinion, many of these knock offs, are inferior to the pre-WWII models. I am 71 yrs. old, and my dad, uncle, and grandfather were woodworkers, and I inherited their tools. If you know how to sharpen and use them (I was a wood shop teacher in the 60s & 70s), these older tools work just fine. I have used some of the newer tools, too, and I don’t see any improvement. In fact, many are just poor copies and don’t work well at all.



  7. Bob Newman on 25 January 2016 at 9:05 pm

    Just some observations from a 76-year old who got back into handtool woodworking a few years ago, ridding myself of most of the power tools I had collected over the last 40 years…. I inherited several planes, saws, and a brace [with some bits] from my dad that were “restorable” and are used regularly. I have purchased an Adria dovetail saw that is an improvement over my dad’s backsaw. I have purchased a Veritas bevel-up jointer [that I think is innovative] that I use regularly, and a Lie-Nielsen bronze #4 that I bought at his shop in Maine because I thought it was a piece of art. I have only had it a few months but find it a pleasure to use.

    I bought a L-N 1/2″ chisel, and followed that with a few new Sweetheart Stanley chisels to complete the set; I prefer the Stanleys. I also like my old Marples. Perhaps I’m not sophisticate enough or skilled enough to see the differences, but when they are really sharp they perform equally well for me. Did I mention that the L-N manganese bronze plane is a work of art in my eyes? But then, as a metallurgist, I really appreciate the color of bronze and copper and gold…



  8. Michael J. Price on 25 January 2016 at 10:39 pm

    A quality tool is a joy to use and Lie-Nielsen makes some very fine tools. I am relatively new to woodworking but in my opinion it comes down to putting in the time and effort to acquire the necessary skills, practice, practice, practice. I started out with some really good tools but the results were disappointing until I persevered, you can’t buy SKILL you have to earn it with sweat and hard work.
    Michael J Price



    • handmadeuniqueclocks on 25 January 2016 at 10:42 pm

      I love that saying “You can’t buy skill you have to earn it with sweat and hard work.”



  9. Ralph Cansler on 26 January 2016 at 1:19 am

    Paul, what are the “higher engineering standards” you speak of relative to plane makers or any hand tool makers?



  10. Randy on 26 January 2016 at 5:04 am

    Paul, you said it is possible to adjust the throat of a Bailey pattern plane without removing the blade. Would you please do a video on how to do that? Maybe you already have, but I’ve missed it.



    • handmadeuniqueclocks on 26 January 2016 at 7:31 am

      There are 3 screws directly underneath the blade adjustment screw, loosen the one on the left and the one on the right, the middle screw turn clockwise to close the throat and anticlockwise to open the throat then re-tighten those screw are two screw. That’s it, nothing more to it.



      • Gordon on 26 January 2016 at 9:54 am

        handmadeuniqueclocks – I think you’ve just described a Bedrock frog, surely? On a Bailey the screws that cinch the frog are underneath the blade, and there’s only one screw behind the frog underneath the depth nut (ok, actually two, but the top one is to hold the ‘U’ shaped plate that the frog adjustment screw uses to move the frog).

        I’m pretty certain Paul has – briefly – shown adjusting a Bailey without removing the blade as it was news to me. It might be late on in his recent plane restoration video. That said, I wasn’t sure how you could get a tightness of the screws that hold the frog; such that you could still move the frog but be confident the frog wouldn’t move whilst using the plane.



        • handmadeuniqueclocks on 26 January 2016 at 9:58 am

          Thanks Gordon for the clarification my bad on this one.



          • Gordon on 26 January 2016 at 10:05 am

            No worries. For a minute I was wondering if I’d missed something obvious – I do that occasionally 🙂



    • Paul Sellers on 26 January 2016 at 8:38 am

      That’s a good idea. Will do.



      • Randy on 26 January 2016 at 5:21 pm

        Thanks, I appreciate it. Like you, I rarely have a need to adjust the throat, but since you mentioned it’s possible to do it without removing the blade, I immediately got very interested.



  11. Jaime on 26 January 2016 at 3:12 pm

    You forgot Skelton Saws. Probably some of the finest saws ever produced: being made in the UK now!



    • Paul Sellers on 26 January 2016 at 4:47 pm

      Not really affordable for the general populous, Jaime. There are many makers of top quality tools that I so admire and respect, but it would not help the majority of people were I to recommend a dovetail saw at £240. Here we generally talk about the affordable tools. There are many saw makers striving to be known for the highest standards of engineering, which is commendable, but they cater to a niche market of collectors and users. The saws we choose can be fine tuned and sharpened to cut as well as any high priced versions. Most of the high end makers invest in producing as near perfect tools with pristine cutting edges and progressive tooth patterns, but in reality, were I to use any saw ever made, it would still need sharpening in a few weeks depending on the wood and the work and the amount of use. This is what is not generally repeatable without experience in sharpening. Most new to woodworking would be very intimidated sharpening a saw that they paid so much for. Just my thoughts. Nothing wrong with your comment and thanks for jumping in. The saws are very lovely.



      • Jaime on 29 January 2016 at 3:47 pm

        Good point.
        I had some Lie Nielsen saws previous to the Skeltons, they were pretty rubbish: the plates on two of them came twisted and was making my cuts wander. I sent them back and they replaced them for ones that were “true”. They weren’t great quality saws but at the price point of a hundred odd quid one can’t expect high end quality. When you consider the process of getting them to the customer they are not bad value.
        The Skelton saws are awesome. It takes Shane about 18 hours to make his dovetail saw so they are good value – even if more than most are willing to pay.
        All that being said and as you display time and again one doesn’t need tools of that quality to produce world class furniture…..



  12. Acorn Carpentry on 27 January 2016 at 2:14 am

    I just bought a Union 4 1/2. Have you ever run across them? It was 15 dollars and really seems to fit the hand nicely. I cannot wait to get it tuned up.



    • Gordon on 27 January 2016 at 11:11 am

      It’s only available via the Wayback Machine, and missing the images, but there’s a little info about Union here: http://web.archive.org/web/20150121003824/http://www.brasscityrecords.com/toolworks/museum/union%207/union%20x%207.html



    • Chris Wood on 5 February 2016 at 2:12 pm

      I just saw a Union plane at a pawn shop! I kind of wanted it, but my ignorance of Union, lack of money, and the fact that the pawn shop was trying to sell a “Chicago Machinery” (Harbor Freight) tool for $20 when I know brand new they are like $14 made me question them. It was $25 and they didn’t budge much on the chisels I got from them. As a side note I got a Stanley chisel blade for $1 that says “No. 60 made in the usa” and made a handle for it and it is really nice.



  13. Hector MacNeil on 27 January 2016 at 9:58 pm

    First of all, Thank you, Mr. Sellers, for all you have taught me in the six months or so since I first discovered your videos and your blog postings. I was a teacher for over 25 years and I am humbled by your gentle, calm, and thoroughly effective teaching.

    I’m not a woodworker but I’ve worked with wood for my own purposes over the years. There is an expression that I heard from an older carpenter back when I was in my teens. He used to say, “A carpenter can’t blame his tools.” I took that to mean that it’s up to the carpenter to select and care for his tools so that they and he are ready for any job. I bring this up here because I have never had the money to buy the expensive tool that I might have wanted but tried to keep the tools that I had in as good a shape as I could. Last fall, I took a long, hard look at my planes and my chisels and realized that I had been using them without putting the time and care back into them. That was when I discovered your videos and blog. Thank you again. Since then I’ve sharpened all my chisels and plane irons as best I can, although I’m still working at perfecting my sharpening.

    I’m sure that any real woodworker would find my collection of tools rather comical but they work for me and the better I care for them, the better they work and the more pleasure I get out of the simple act of using them. I’d just encourage anyone starting out to buy the best tool you can afford and don’t wait for the ultimate name brand tool. Get started, learn to care for your tools – your videos are wonderfully informative for that Mr. Sellers – and get down to the joy of working with wood. When that good quality tool comes your way at the right time, grab it. By then you’ll know enough to appreciate it properly and you’ll know how to give it the care it deserves. Thanks for reading and my apologies if I come across as preaching. My best to you, Mr. Sellers and if I may say it once more, Thank you!



  14. Jonathan O'Neill on 28 January 2016 at 11:56 pm

    On the topic of planes Im in the middle of restoring a 1950s Stanley Bailey No 4. Iv the sole flattened, the iron sharpened as well as the chip breaker mating and polished nicely but The biggest problem I has is that front prongs on the frog are now in line with each other. It seems someone at one time grounded it wrong or at lease attempted to try something.

    The problem its causing is that its throwing the iron out of square. I thought the lateral adjustment would fix this but it seems that the shorter of the frog prongs is lifting the iron higher than the other side.

    I will include a link to the photos I took of the plane, much help is really appreciated.

    http://jon9oneill.imgur.com/all/

    Jonathan.