Tool Haul

by | Jun 20, 2014 | 35 comments

All I’m missing now are a few chisels, apparently.
I had expected Richard to find me a little saw, and perhaps a plane to show willing. But between conversations at Mr Arnold’s recent charity sale, he filtered through boxes and tables and kept adding to his stash. By the end of the day a substantial pile of tools had accumulated, and you’d be forgiven for thinking they’d been pulled out at random, but he’d actually been very specific and selective.
Every so often, a tool would be placed in to my hand, not to be looked at, but to check the fit and feel. Then he’d get excited over some well set teeth, or a tight mouth.

Buying tools second hand seems overwhelming to me. Even when Richard’s ordered bits online, there’s been times when he’s ended up disappointed. A hands on sale is the better option, but with endless tools sat next to each other I’m still at a loss. No doubt it takes experience to know what to look for, and fortunately I had help.  hand tool haulPiling the tool haul in to a box at the end of the day, Richard informed me that restoring all of these would keep me busy. I’d been revelling at the exceptional value of going second hand, when I realised the next stumbling block; getting them working.
I know that Richard will guide me along with this, but I also know that he means it when he says it’s my job. Without him, I would be feeling much more than a little daunted.

Amongst the haul there are a selection of saws, a couple for joinery and a sweet panel saw. They all seem well made, but are very blunt with wobbly handles.

There’s a couple of marking gauges, and a brace and egg beater drill. Then there are the planes; a wooden jack, smoother and several rebate planes, together with a Stanley No. 3 and an old router plane.
wooden hand planesThis isn’t an extensive collection of tools, but Richard feels these will be ample for getting me started. To go with them, he’s going to dig out an old sharpening stone and a few marking tools he has stashed somewhere.

Old tools like these aren’t difficult to find or expensive, so it’ll be interesting to see just how much work they require to get in to action. I’m opting to start out with a few of the wooden planes, so I hope to have some tales to share about their restoration next week.

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About Helen Fisher

About Helen Fisher

Helen seeks to explore ways to live with greater joy & sustainability for both ourselves & the planet. Concepts which have led to the launch of her second business We Are Carbon. As the producer of our videos, Helen brings a unique perspective & injects life to our education ensuring it is both a pleasure to watch & easy to follow & learn from. Learn More About Helen & The English Woodworker.


  1. Ken

    Very nice, look forward to seeing what you turn out with that little lot.
    Nice work guys enjoy 😉

    • Helen

      Thanks Ken, I’m really looking forward to taking my first shavings!

  2. Adam Riley

    That is indeed a great start.
    Have fun restoring them, and even more fun using them.

    • Helen

      Cheers Adam, btw it was lovely to meet you the other weekend. Your tools are truly exceptional!

  3. Arthur van der Harg

    Cool! Fettling these tools under Richard’s eye wil make them truly your own. I think there’s a lot you can learn just from making them work. Have fun!

    • Helen

      I always feel there’s no better way of understanding something than rebuilding it, or at least that’s what I hope!

  4. Rob Caldwell

    Very nice. At some point I want to do a complete reset and try to start over with only tools that I find and restore. I think that this will be a great experience and I look forward to seeing how it goes.

    • Helen

      That’s a lovely idea Rob. It’s funny to think that a set of tools like this is similar to what Richard started out with. He moved to the snazzy new tools gradually, but is moving right back towards the basics again now.

  5. Thomas

    I have to say, I am a bit jealous 😉 I am getting some tools of my own via eBay and I would be more than happy to have some guidance from Richard.
    You two seem to be such nice people, I really like reading your posts.
    Frettling with those old tools is really a lot of fun though! Good luck with that! I am looking forward to the next post!
    Greetings from Germany, Thomas

  6. Eddy flynn

    great haul Helen, people would pay a lot of money for the tuition you’ve got on hand good look with cleaning and making good thats an excellent start to anyone tool kit

  7. mike murray

    “Old tools like these aren’t difficult to find or expensive”
    They can be. Depends on where you live. I’ve not seen a used tool sale like that ever in my area.

    Knowing what I know so far about those tools, all I can say is WOW! I see some fantastic finds there.

    I would concentrate on giving them a good clean, flattening, and sharpening, adjusting, etc. and then put them to work. With the exception of saw sharpening, I bet you could get the lot ready in a few days. Nice collection of tools! I have been at this for a while now and have yet to find my first brass-back tenon saw or back saw like the one I see in the pictures. Brass back anything for that matter. Love those saws you found.

    That little smoother is a gem. Very nice. Richard has a good eye.

    Now you need a place to store them out of harm’s way when not in use.

    How exciting to see you start your “journey”.

    All the best,

  8. Chris Buckingham,France

    What a catch! You will find that getting these old warriors back into shape will probably be less work than fettling a new plane, which usually requires a lot of work/tuning to get to perfection,the bonus is that in getting them back into work you will get to know them much better and they will feel like old friends, much more than any new tool can.

  9. david

    He’s teaching you the right way. Be grateful and never complain at the mundane seeming tasks he gives you. One day the reason for the lesson will become crystal clear. I envy your good fortune in having such a qualified teacher.

  10. Floyd

    Very nice tools. Can’t wait to see them after you are through refinishing them.

  11. bob putman

    what a wonderful haul of tools, a great way to start, getting these tools in operating mode will be lots of fun, then it will be time to test them out,,congrats on your new haul..

  12. Paul Chapman

    Looks like you have some nice tools there, Helen. You’ll love the #3, a great size for a smoothing plane.

  13. Jim Hendricks

    WOW Helen..that is quite a haul.

    I spent so much time chatting to people I forgot to look properly!

    I did get one of Adam’s awls though…which I am really made up about and Douglas never stopped talking about the screws! Made his day I think!

    It was wonderful seeing you both in fine form again and really generous of you to donate such wonderful things.

    I spot a couple of familiar items there which I think shouldn’t need much restoring…but if you need any advice then you could do worse than popping into the UKW and ask away!



  14. Jim Linn

    Helen, Richard’s quite right. You’ll learn everything you need to know by restoring these tools yourself.

    A big pile like that can look quite daunting! My advice? Pick the one that needs least work and start with that. Whilst working on that one, put all the others out of sight so that you’re not reminded of how much you’ve still to do. Proceed in that manner, one tool at a time. Before you know it, they’ll be done!

    It’ll be a wonderful feeling, the mists clearing.


  15. Graham Haydon

    That coffin smoother looks really nice. Enjoy ’em!

  16. Dave Pryor

    Wow indeed, Helen.
    There is nothing more satisfying than getting hold of an old tool, that may not have seen active service since Adam was a lad, and fettling it for use. I have recently been working on some old carving gouges and chisels that belonged to my wife’s grandfather. After several hours of grinding, honing and polishing I now have something that is the equal of many a modern piece; plus I’ve learnt a great deal about the tools in the process.
    Good luck with the project, and I look forward to hearing your future posts.


  17. oldbury

    lovely haul you’ve got there, It’s a good feeling to see an old piece of kit given a new lease of life.

  18. Jim

    What a fine post for my first visit to the English Woodworker! I’ll be back to see what you can make of your haul – and what you can make with them.

    Here in Florida, I haven’t found many tool sales to expand my inventory, so I’ve started into making my own. You’re lucky to have so much better access and such expert guidance.

    Fair winds and following seas,
    the boatwright

  19. Jim Linn

    Is everything ok? Only, no posts for over a month…

  20. Alex

    Yes, I was wondering if everything is OK as well.

  21. Mark

    Jim/Alex, I emailed them last week with the same concerns. Helen replied saying that they are fine, just having some problems with their workshop (as previously mentioned in a few posts) and should be back posting soon.



  22. Jon

    I actually ended up getting some second hand tools when I bought my first planer. The guy said they were his Dad’s who passed away years ago and he didn’t know what to do with them or even what the were. I ended up getting some great hand planers that I still use. I love finding second hand tools like that. Better that I use them rather than rust away in someones garage.

  23. mike murray

    I’m really hoping that the long silence is because you folks decided to knuckle down to get things at the new property taken care of before the coming fall weather. I can only imagine all the work to be done. If you get a free minute though, throw us a bone just so we know you’re okay.

    ps: I used hand planes today to thickness two short boards to 1/2″. Would probably never had done that if I hadn’t seen your videos. It takes a little effort and time but so does rolling that big old Makita planer out and setting it up. The Makita planer isn’t as fun though : ) I’m really glad I got to watch the videos.

  24. Steve Jones

    I’ll add my voice to the chorus hoping all is well and you’re busy doing what you love.

  25. Don Peregoy

    Just to let you both know we think of you often and with true fondness.

  26. mike murray

    I’m probably poking my nose in where it doesn’t belong but I can’t help it, I’m concerned about Richard and Helen’s well-being. Is there someone reading this blog that is close to Alford that could contact these folks to find out how things are going and possibly come back to the blog and let us know. It has been a long time with no posts now.

  27. Helen

    Hello to all. We’re both very sorry for our absence, and especially to read of your concerns. I just wanted to let you know that we are both fine. We’ve had an awkward time of it, but nothing too dramatic, and we do hope to be back posting again very soon.
    Thank you.

  28. mike murray

    Really good to see a post from you Helen. As I suppose a lot of other people do, I feel somewhat close-knit to you folks so not hearing from you for a while was hard. Thank you again for making the post.

  29. Dan Noall

    -Ditto what Mike said above.

    Miss you folks. Hope all is well.

    • Brian Johnston

      Just one question. Any chance of a heads-up if there is going to be another of these sales in the future?


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