Yankee Drills


Tool Stories

  PAST San Diego Trip Report by Ken Greenberg


I recently returned form a very long drive to and from the San Diego PAST event and figured I ought share a bit about the experience.

I've attended pretty much all the Northern California events over the last few years, but had never been to this meet. But since our daughter is working as an art teacher down there, it seemed like a good opportunity to haul a bunch of her stuff down in the truck and maybe bring back a tool or two. It's about 1000 miles round trip, some of it through Los Angeles traffic, but my wife and I shared the driving duties so it was not too bad.

Of primary importance was the opportunity to meet with two of the local galoots - Lew Soloway and Scott Owen. Always nice to put faces to names, and it was a real pleasure having the chance to talk to the two of them. Clarence Blanchard was also there, but was very busy. I never really got a chance to say hello as he was generally away from his booth or talking to someone, and I was usually late for one thing or another.

I did get a chance to spend some time talking to Don Rosebrook when Scott and I were wandering about. Great guy, and Scott and I both ended up buying catalogs from his box. I decided to pass on the $10,000 plus plow plane, though. He had quite a nice group of plows as you might expect. There's a picture around here somewhere that will eventually be on the PAST web site. I'll let you know when I update that page.

I also had a nice time with Konrad Sauer of Sauer & Steiner, purveyors of YBIPs. Now that I'm a FOYBIPO member as a result of building a Shepherd Tools kit, I pretend to know something about the things. Not necessarily true, but I at least got to mumble with a bit of lucidity about design issues and such. He had a Spiers shoulder plane that looks a whole lot like mine. Konrad is another interesting guy to talk with and has learned an amazing amount about infills.

Someone (I think at the PAST board meeting) mentioned that he's only 31.

There were some nice tools for sale as always. This meet had more out-of-area participants than usual, probably because it is 70 degrees F in San Diego in January. We mostly get local folks at the Northern California meets, held in warmer times. So I got to meet a number of dealers that were new to me. I was not particularly in the market for anything as I have most of what I need to build what I build, but still I was drooling over a nice Preston circular sash router. Can't think of what I would do with it, but it sure was nice, and the price had been reduced. It will be interesting if it resurfaces at a later meet. There were also a bunch of Stanley 95 edge trimming planes, more than I had ever seen in one location. I've always been interested in owning one but managed to talk myself out of it until the best dealer had packed up.

However, there was still the auction. About 500 lots in just under five hours.

A great deal of stuff to sit through, and there were a few things of interest at the beginning and end but a long dry spell in the middle. This gave us an opportunity for lunch and a couple of walks around the hotel grounds to work off the amount of sitting we were experiencing. Mostly old woodworking tools, as you would expect. Prices were all over the place, with many lots going for less than the anticipated low end of the range, but some for much more. My wife was interested in some fine sharpening stones in wooden cases, but they were going for up to $200. I didn't encourage her to bid.

There were a couple of Clark & Williams planes in the auction, with little felt pads on the soles to avoid scratching their display cases or some such purpose.

Obviously never used. One was a coffin bodied smoother, and the other was a smallish (but pretty) moving fillister - I didn't realize they made those.

Since PAST guys are mostly collectors, I figured that there would be little interest in very late 20th century planes, and I was right. Martin Gardner won the fillister, and I came home from San Diego with two items I have lusted after for years (the other being my lovely wife, of course). OK, I didn't need another smoother but I sure wanted one of these. And now I have one.

I am happy to have attended, and might even make this a regular habit (even if they make me sit through the board meetings). The meet is held about the third weekend in January every year, so if you feel a need to escape the cold, maybe you should consider attending. The show is $20 to attend, and you must be a member of PAST (another $20) or of a tool club with which we have a reciprocal agreement. The Thursday parking lot sale is open to everyone for free, but I arrived too late to attend that part of the meet.

Ken Greenberg
Ken's Woodworking

January 26, 2006

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