Stanley Planes


Tool Stories


Too Precious... by Tom Holloway


Ah...!  That's Popular Woodworking magazine, to complete the reference...

Medium-old-timers will remember when Adam participated in the discussions here - until, I suspect, he felt drawn more to actually walking the walk than to talking the talk.  I'm glad that he has since emerged on the pages of PopWW, and thank Chris Schwarz and the gang for their part in reviving the flame.

More generally, as this interesting discussion unfolds, I am reminded of aspects of my own family history, in another line of work that has traditionally depended on personal equipment (tools) brought to the job.

In 1946, when I was two years old, my dad left Oregon to take a job on a cattle ranch in central Nevada.  Before heading south he ordered a Hamley saddle from the makers in Pendleton, OR.  It cost him $112, or about $12 more than one month's wages of a ranch hand in those days.  For most of the next 33 years (except for some time when he had "starved out" and needed to do something else to help feed his family) my dad depended on that Hamley saddle for his daily bread.

It was a top-of-the-line saddle when he bought it; he used it hard and it served him well.  He never acquired another one even when he was later able to afford one, largely because he didn't need another saddle.

One of my brothers, the one who has stuck closest to the Cowboy Way, still works colts and shoes horses and rides most every day.  He has a favorite saddle or two that get the most use.  But he also cares a lot about the variety and history of western tack (riding equipment, urbanites), and his tack room is filled with many more saddles, bridles, hackamores, related items than he could hope to use - even though all of it is potentially useable.

I have a similar relationship to the tools that line my shelves and fill my drawers, and a symbolic or figurative relationship with the old-time joiners or cabinetmakers or finish carpenters who made a living with a few good tools.  I'm not trying to be them (any more than my brother is still earning a living as a ranch hand, as our father did), and I feel no sense of guilt or embarrassment at having more tools in my shop than I am going to use.

Tom Holloway

...thinking Peter Hyde would not get away with stashing his edge tools under a plane seat these days.

December 19, 2005

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Disston Backsaws


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