What I’m working with

As noted earlier today, I actually have a fair number of tools already. I won’t need to make a whole pile of purchases before I can start building a few projects, after all.

After I posted yesterday, I decided to pull everything out of the old crate I use for storage to see what kind of shape they were in.

The crate I picked up from work. I figured, why build a tool chest when one was already made?

This above crate used to contain chemical weapons protective gear in a previous life. At least, that’s what had it just before I got hold of it. I worked on a military base with an operation that destroyed that gear to terrorists couldn’t get their hands on it. We demilitarized the gear, but that left this crate, so I brought it home for tool storage.

Well, let me tell you a little something. It ain’t that great for tool storage.

I mean, it’s a big box. There’s no organization to it, nothing. I could probably add stuff to the box to help with that if I wanted to, but it also isn’t all that wonderful at keeping the tools clean either.

So, the first step was to empty the box almost completely.

The nearly empty box. About all that’s left are some Allen wrenches and an angle thing. The rest is trash, more or less.

I went and placed everything on the picnic table outside.

The family photo, more or less.

There were a few items that didn’t make it here. For example, my Ryobi table saw and Delta miter saw.

Also shown is the cheap jig saw someone gave me. If you get what you pay for and I paid nothing… I do think it’s an older Black & Decker, but I can’t be sure. There’s no logo on the saw itself.

Then there’s my bench top drill press.

Yes, this is a mess. I am not a cleaning kind of person, unfortunately. That’s just one of many habits I’m trying to change.

Anyway, back to the tools on the table. 

My measuring and marking tools, as well as my brass joiner’s mallet from Veritas and a couple of clamps. I’m very disappointed in the shape of my Starrett combination square. I think it’s salvageable, but it isn’t pretty. But that’s far from the worst.

For example, my planes.

The blades and cap plates are rusty, but that’s OK. So are the sides and soles as well. The #7 on the right isn’t in awful shape, so it should clean up easily.

The #4 on the left looks like hell, but I bought it that way. It was purchased as a project plane, so I expected it to look like hell. The others are rusty but it doesn’t look like the pitting is too bad. I’m pretty sure I can make all of them purr.

The only doubt I had is the block plan on the end. That’s just a cheap-o Stanley I bought from a big-box store years before I even thought about woodworking. I needed it to try and make a door stop sticking. However, it actually works kind of OK.

It’s here that I started to have my first real heartbreak, though. Missing is my Diamond Edge low-angle block plane. It was a hundred-year-old tool that cut like butter, and it’s not here. Now, that said, it may have been placed somewhere else when we moved. That’s my hope, at least.

As for what I have here, it’s clear to me that I’m going to need to do some major restoration work. That’s fine. I don’t mind it. In fact, I actually enjoyed it back in the day, so I look forward to it now.

As for the rest of the tools…let’s take a look at chisels.

Yep. A whole bunch of Narex beveled-edge chisels. I bought these years ago from Lee Valley. One is missing, though. It looks like the 3/4″ chisel is missing, but that’s OK. Lee Valley still sells these chisels and you can buy them individually.

Also shown are the right and left skew chisels I purchased, as well as a 5/8″ Japanese chisel (I found the 1″ and the 1/4″ chisels in another toolbox later) and a 1/2″ socket chisel. These handful of chisels are extras that I can use for whatever.

Luckily, the Narex chisels are in good shape. The 1″ chisel has some slight rust on it, but I’ll clean that up. A few others have smaller spots here or there, but nothing major.

The Japanese chisels looks awful and the socket chisel needs some TLC. They’ll get it.

Now, my hand drills, brace, and rasp.

None of these look all that bad. They still seem to work fine and are actually in decent shape, which is more than I can say for the rasp.

The irony here is these are the least likely to be used, by and large. I’m far more like to use my Milwaukee cordless drill for most applications. Still, I have options and that’s rarely a bad thing.

I’ll probably use these from time to time just to know the feeling and technique, but boring is, well, boring. The upside is that I have no issue with my daughter using one of these.

The rasp will be interesting. We’ll have to see what we can do on that one.

Next up are my backsaws and an el-cheapo coping saw.

The dovetail saw at the bottom is in excellent shape, all things considered. The one just above it in the picture isn’t in awful shape, really, but the one on top will require a good bit of work.

The coping saw is fine. Go figure.

However, next comes my real heartbreak.

You see, my saws were somehow removed from the box. Mother nature was not kind.

The one on the right is a Disston and luckily, the handle is still OK. I just have to clean the blade up.

The one of the left is marked Warranted Superior and is in bad shape. The handle is badly cracked as well, which means I’ll need to figure something out on that front.

Near the bottom are my spokeshave and card scraper. They need some TLC, but they’re not in awful shape.

Now, for the rest of the power tools.

In the box is a biscuit joiner. This is from before Black & Decker acquired Porter Cable. It was purchased used. I fired it up one time to test it, then never fired it up again. Also included are a bag or two of biscuits.

Also pictured is my knock-off Dremel with an extension. I don’t really see me using this on wood all that much, truth be told, but who knows. I might use it for tool restoration.

Finally, here’s a rip guide I had for my circular saw.

Since ripping is one of those operations that absolutely no one seems to enjoy with hand tools, this gives me options on things like longer stock that I may not want to run through the table saw.

The Missing in Action

Currently missing are a few items that I know I have purchased, but aren’t here for whatever reason.

First, there’s the low-angle block plane and chisel mentioned earlier.

Additionally, there’s a missing vintage Stanley router plane I had that didn’t require any restoration. It was my unicorn for a while, then I got one, now it’s missing in action.

Also missing is a right-handed skew rabbit plane from Lee Valley. I purchased it and never got a chance to use it.

Also in this category are some metal rules I picked up way back when. Those are easily replaced. I’m not too worried about that.

Finally, my Porter Cable router seems to be MIA. I have a feeling it walked off when we had some people here at the house doing some work, probably about the same time my bastard file went missing. Now, I don’t necessarily need a router, but they’re hella useful for a lot of things, especially if I want furniture pieces quickly.

Oh, maybe that isn’t a finally. After all, there’s something else missing.

It seems I don’t have a damn hammer anymore. Seriously, how do I not have a hammer? I think it vanished around the time my router did, but luckily, hammers are inexpensive.


I have my work cut out for me, but that’s cool. I wanted this work, after all, so it’s time to get to work.

There are a lot of tools needing restoration and preservation, and I also need to delve into our storage room and see if any of these missing tools might be hiding in there. I hope and I pray that they are, but I’m pretty sure most of them are lost to the ages.

With some, like the missing chisel or the bastard file, it’s not the end of the world. I can pick up a replacement easily enough.

For the router plane or the low-angle block plane, though, it’s a different matter. Both are vintage tools that meant a great deal to me. While I can replace them, they probably won’t really be replacements, if you know what I mean.

Regardless, though, I do think I have almost everything I need to get to work.

After I get a freaking hammer. (Seriously, how do I not have a hammer?)

2 thoughts on “What I’m working with

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