A week or so back I said that for around £200 you could buy the tools to make the cabinet I had just built (above). Someone commented and suggested it would be nearer four times that much and that for that you could buy a nice machine, or words to that effect. It really made me think and ask myself, ‘was I saying something that was not true?‘ I rose to the challenge and within about half an hour I had bought some tools that he had considered prohibitive because of perceived higher costing. It wasn’t at all out of sorts to suggest the prices will be too high because of course prices of hand tools have risen markedly according to their scarcity. I recall buying a #4 plane for 99p one time ten years ago, and a Stanley router for £10. via eBay. That’s not going to happen again in my lifetime. Now it is hard to make comparisons because different countries have different cultures and most of the countries never had an industry that produced the Stanley plane types or the Record ones either. The USA had many different makers ranging from Craftsman in the Sears Roebuck range and then, of course, we have Millers Falls and others too. Prices have risen over the past decade, that is true, and rightly so they should. A Stanley #4 smoothing plane is well worth £100 and so too a #4, #41/2, #5 and a #5 1/2. Anything longer than these, I have no time for.
This was the first tool to come in. I did what is always suggested and saw that the pin through the frog casting that retained the yoke had been replaced with a galvanised round-head nail. Not an issue and easily replaced with a mild steel pin when I am ready.
The plane cost me £34.95 with free shipping and arrived four days later carefully boxed and well protected. I knew too that it had plastic handles but that has never really bothered me. If or when I find a spare set of wooden handles I will likely change them out. All in all, I got the tools I wanted for under the £200 price cap I had suggested. It will take me no more than an hour of pleasant metalworking to get the plane in the same condition as my now 54-year-old version that’s been used every single day over that half-century. Hence, my comment about the planes being well worth £100.
The next tool to come in was the tenon saw with the black plastic handle. Now, it’s not pretty, I know, but it’s going to be fine. Trust me. The teeth are a little big for a 10″ saw but it will do what I want it to do just fine. I just need to sharpen it and it will be good to go. Can’t complain about the cost of £1.99. I have a similar one that I bought back in 1968 that has a Teflon coated plate and it has cut many a hundred dovetails over the years. The Teflon on mine is still on but has thinned out some.
Addendum: I just sharpened the teeth and the teeth are perfect for sharpening because whereas as they are hard enough, the hardening is even throughout and not too hard to be sharpened which is sometimes the case with lesser quality saws. Can you tell the quality of steel just by sharpening? With experience, yes, you can, but it might take you a while to register the differences you encounter.
This third tool so far was just £28 and arrived so well packaged and shipped. The previous owner had carefully wrapped every piece in bubble wrap and as I unpacked it I realised that it had not actually been used as far as I could tell.
Now this plane comes from the maker with only three cutters, 1/8″, 3/16″, 1/4″ but almost any cutter will fit and you can make one in under 20 minutes if you’ve a mind to. I just slipped a 1/2″ Record cutter in to show you it takes them. We never really plough wider than 1/2″ anyway.