I have always liked wooden planes, or at least how they look anyway. I had never bought any but wanted to, and last year an incredible opportunity came about; a friend of mine, that I had worked with, called to tell me he had heard about a woman that was selling her husbands tools (and I called another woodworker friend I had also worked with to tell him). Her husband was in the final stages of Alzheimer’s and she had to place him in a hospice, and wanted to sell his tools since he would never be using them again.
He had at one time owned a large boat, and owned several apartment buildings so had tools of all kinds, including a large collection of woodworking tools.
The three of us went to her home to see what she had to sell. Her husband had converted a one car garage into his shop; it was finished out with a machine room and a smaller room with his compressor, etc. and both air-conditioned. She had set up a couple of tables with tools on them plus laid some out on his tablesaw, and there were several tools chests loaded with tools, and shelves on the walls with various “stuff” on them as well.
But what interested me most was on one of the tables was a large collection of wooden planes of all kinds – it was definitely “drool time”. But I was able to curb my enthusiasm, and only bought one of those planes that day. And my friends bought some of the tools as well.
However that was not the only time I went to look over those tools, as did my two friends. The one that called me originally purchased several mortising chisels and various other items. The friend I called also bought several things, the biggest “bargain” being an older 18″ Delta bandsaw. He had told a few others and among the things they bought were a shaper and a heavy duty thickness planer.
But I digress – on my second visit I decided to offer the woman a lump sum for all of the wooden planes she had on one of the tables (there were some plough planes on the tablesaw, but those were priced higher though still a bargin). Anyway after several days she called me to let me know she accepted my offer for those planes (it turned out to be almost 80 planes).
Well, now that I had those I had to figure out exactly where I was going to put them (I had not considered that beforehand). Fortunately about 10 years before I had converted a gun cabinet that belonged to my dad into a tool cabinet and found with careful placement I could put all those wooden planes, plus the other metal planes I now had, into that cabinet. Here is a picture of those planes:
Some of these planes I had no idea exactly what they were for, and once again Chris Schwarz came to my rescue and recommended “The Wooden Plane” by John M. Whelan. This has been a very useful book in helping me find out what those planes are used for.
Next I wanted to find out 1) how exactly to use some of these, and 2) how to sharpen them, since quite a few of them are molding planes with complex shapes. So I purchased two DVD’s that Lie-Nielsen produces: “Traditional Molding Techniques: The Basics” by Don McConnell and another done by Larry Williams titled “Sharpening Profiled Hand Tools”. At present I have not done anything with these planes. My intention is to first clean the wood to remove the years of grunge without disturbing their patina.