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Antique Tool Show - Richmond, VA by Bill Taggart

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Well, my pal Michael Winget-Hernandez was a-gonna proudly report on our trip to the Antique Tool Show here in the Richmond, VA area this past Saturday, so he cold relate his first gloat, but he tells me he's gotten all-fired busy on a pesky work-related project, so he gave me special dispensation to take the lead...

Anyhow, the show was quite well attended, with lots of dealers and plenty of very nice tools and stuff to behold and paw. I suppose we should have thought ahead and taken a digi cam to capture some of the scenery.

On to the part where the gloat comes in...

Michael had said he was looking for some mortise chisels.

On one table, I spied a cheesy sheet metal tool tote with a bunch of chisel handles sticking out of it. Upon closer inspection I saw that the marked prices were very reasonable for what were pretty decent chisels, especially compared to the prices found on most of the stuff found on other dealers' tables.

I ran over and found Michael and drug him back to the table. We both dove in and eventually emerged with a total of six chisels - I had two wide ones (can't resist them for some reason, even though I truly don't need them, but these prices were pretty good) and Michael got four mortise chisels. Dealer comes over, says "ya want me to make you a price?" Uh - yeah. He does some faulty addition on a scrap of paper and comes up with

$92 total. Then says "give me $60 for all of them." Woo hoo!! Ten bucks a chisel for some that I seriously would expect to see sporting a $20 price tag (maybe more) on any other dealer's table.

Later on, we returned to the same guy's table and I got down and dug through the pile on the $3 tarp while Michael rooted around in the $5 box. He pulled out two more chisels, and the guy says to him "Tell ya what - pull out one more thing and you can have all three for ten bucks." Michael grabbed a Stanley marking gauge. He got himself a decent chisel that says "German Cast Steel" on it, with a handle that didn't quite fit the socket, plus another chisel and the marking gauge, all for $10. The guy tells me that the $3 items are now $2, so I grabbed a few more things that I don't really need, but for two bucks a pop, hey how can you resist?? I got a chisel in need of a handle, a pair of Channellock needlenose pliers, a bundle of six extra slim taper files and I don't remember what else.

Anyhow, we returned to my lair, and I fired up the lathe and fine-tuned the taper on the chisel handle that didn't quite fit Michael's German Cast Steel chisel until it fit just right, Michael grabbed a mallet and whacked it into the socket, and then we polished the chisel and handle up. Then I ground the bevel and gave it a quick sharpening. 

Michael ended up with a very respectable user that would easily sell for $15, maybe more, but he paid about $3.30 for it, plus about 20 minutes of fun fettling.

Here's the "after" picture of the chisel.  Not too shabby for $3.30 and a few minutes of fooling around in the shop, I think.

Here are the four mortise chisels Michael got.  As you can see, they just need minor cleaning and a bit of sharpening.

I think Michael made out pretty well. His other gloat is that those pictures were taken on his Bob Key-style workbench.

Bill Taggart
January, 2006

Sorry for the long delay in addressing this. Just trying to get the mortgage paid... you know the routine. Thanks for filling in, Bill.

Anyway, first of all, let me say that Bill left out the best part, which I guess he did because it's my gloat.  We got the chisel deals, just like he said, and one of them had a handle that had been, well, it looked like someone had taken a handle for a larger chisel and chewed on it until it would barely penetrate the opening in the socket, but it wouldn't stay. 

In fact, when I first picked the thing up in the $5 bin, the handle wasn't with it, and I was ready to buy it anyway.  But Bill (what a chiseler) came over and said, "Where's the handle?"  So we dug around a while until we came up with it, and one for another one that I wanted that didn't appear to have a handle, either, and of course, the guy comes around and says, "Yeah, I'm sure the handles are in there somewhere."  And Bill and I just looked at each other and kept digging.

Anyway, Bill found the handles - both of them, but this one was, well, let's just say that it was the opposite of "trying too hard."  It was a slacker handle that seemed like it wanted to get out of the $5 bin, but not enough to stick in the socket long enough to get smacked with a mallet.


 
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