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Gems & Junk

I stopped by the legendary Liberty Tool Co. the other day when my family was passing through town. It’s always a delight to dig through the bins and shelves on a kind of treasure hunt for pre-industrial tools. It is difficult to leave empty-handed. The shelves were packed full for our visit, and I was glad to have the assistance of my kids in carrying out the afternoon’s haul. There’s always a spectrum of tools to dig through, and two that I found illustrate that spectrum well. First is this sad bevel-edged chisel. Socket chisels often show damage from hammering without a handle in place, but I have never before seen one so abused. After this one lost its handle,...

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A Trip to Liberty Tool Company

The thermometer read 1F when I started the car before dawn, and the wind had been rattling the house all night. These minor details didn’t matter one bit, however, as today was the annual Grand Re-Opening of the Liberty Tool Company in Liberty, Maine. Tool pilgrims from all over flock to this place for its reliably well-stocked supply of hand tools, from the common to the esoteric. And every year, after a long winter’s slumber and limited hours, the store re-opens with all-new inventory of picked and reasonably-priced antique goodies. Incredibly, neither Joshua nor I had ever ventured down for this event, but today would change that. Each of us roused our respective eldest boys out of bed (this is...

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Interview with Tool Collector Skip Brack: Issue Two Table of Contents

Liberty Tool Company in Liberty, Maine has become a legendary stop for woodworkers vacationing in Maine.  This massive three floor grange hall full of antique hand tools is the labor of love of Skip Brack. Brack has been picking tools all around New England for decades and turning them around for sale to honest to goodness users. His prices are very affordable and his selection is reliable. You won’t often find rare mint collector items but if you are in need of a trusty jointer plane or a Stanley #4, you know Skip will have tons of options for you. If can’t find what you’re looking for at Liberty, then you can try his two other tool stores not far...

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