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Choosing a Decent Vintage Plane

“When you’re looking to restore an antique plane for use, the good (and bad) news is that half the battle is often getting a good plane. Although you can bring most anything back into service, if you’ve secured a decent example, the restoration will be minimal.… Restorable examples can be obtained at antique stores, flea markets, tool swaps, or tool dealer websites. Be warned that they are usually pulled out of barns and attics, and often have the grime to prove it. In dimly lit antique stores, it can be hard to know which examples are worth investing time in and which are better used for stove fuel. There are a few simple things I look for, the first and...

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Convivial Tools

Every time I pause to observe the marks left by the tool, I look at the fibers of the oak. You can follow the movement of the grain with your fingertip. It carries on without any concern for the chalk lines or pencil markings, suddenly curving, sometimes plunging, elsewhere whirlpooling around a knot, departing unpredictably and never straight. These lines have a lot to say, and I am reminded of a remark the poet Gary Snyder made to his friend Jim Harrison: “And so each one of these huge old coastal live oaks, with their remarkably twisting, turning, tumultuous structure…. It’s one expression of what it’s like to live in the wind.” The bit of my axe strikes wood again....

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