Draw Knife........circa 1895

At a recent antique show, I came across a real gem. A draw knife, with adjustable handles, made by the Wilkinson company. The 1895 date on it was the icing on the cake! The quality of the steel is outstanding, and literally holds a razor edge. Don’t ask how I know about the blade edge. I’m looking forward to using this ‘‘new’’ tool on an upcoming commission, for a classic balsa, big wave gun. The first surfboard I ever shaped, I used a Draw Knife, Jack Plane, and a low angle Block Plane. They were the only cutting tools I had access to at that time. Several months later, I would see a Skil 100 in use, for the first time. What a revelation that was. I always keep an eye out for quality woodworking tools. Every now and then, I trip over a really exciting find, like this 1895 draw knife. I wish it could talk, I’d sure like to know the history of it. All 122 years of it.

You would get a kick out of a block plane my dad has. About 10 years ago my father visited my great grandfather’s homestead in Sweden. At that time the homestead was still in family hands. He brought back a big wooden block plane that belonged to my great grandfather who was a boat builder. The writing on the steel is all in Swedish and the date on it is from the 1880s

That sounds like a real family treasure. Find a way to use it if you can. Makes it a nice connection to your family history.

If any of you have an interest in old woodworking tools, and how they were used, I can suggest several good reference books. I came across these books about forty years ago. They are: A Museum of Early American Tools, A reverence For Wood, and An Age of Barns. All three books are authored by Mr. Eric Sloane. They may be out of print now, but I’m sure you can find them on eBay.

I had hoped that this thread would stimulate others to post about old tools they have rescued, restored and refurbished, and will be using. What’s in YOUR toolbox, eh?

I have a lot of old tools - my wife is in the antiques and collectibles business, as well as used and out of print books. So I pick up stuff that interests me from time to time, as I often accompany her to estate sales and yard sales. I have too many old tools to list, but I’ll try to share some.

I bought this old bench plane years ago, but never used it until recently, on my wood slab project.

Same for the other planes, the low angle block plane was probably the most used of them all, very handy for peeling layers of grain. (its the rusty little plane on the far right in picture with all the hand planes together). All the planes got a tuneup, meaning I took them apart, sharpened the blade, and put them back together.

The big rasp was a gift from “mattwho”, and it was super handy in certain applications. I have been looking for a Shinto rasp, but apparently online is the only place you can find them.

The draw knife was a gift from “proneman”, all it needed was a bit of sharpening. Useful just on the rails, and you have to be careful cuz it will dig in and remove too much if you’re not.

I own the same big rasp. I heard they were specifically made for grinding horse’s hoofs.

Some old planes and stuff. The metal one was 5$ at a garage sale and sees use. It is sharp enough to make curly q’s and finds high spots on plywood.

I recently saw an episode of “Fixer Upper” in which a draw knife was being used to whittle on a post. The oldest tools in my shaping bay are as follows; Two 7.5 Amp Skil 100’s, One with a Barrel, the other with blades, sixties era Surform (wooden handle and knob) and a few Farrier’s Rasps that I have no idea the age of. I’ll try to get a few pics. That’s it. How old a tool is isn’t that important to me. How well it works is what I value. I have respect for old tools but more respect for tools that get the job done effeciently. Lowel

My personal favorite block plane is this vintage Craftsman 3732 Knuckle Cap Low Angle Plane. This one is somewhere between 50 and 75 years old. The steel in this block plane is much better than my more modern block planes and I can get this thing crazy sharp. The adjustment knob on this model plane really lets you micro adjust the depth. The throat is adjustable and the blade has a very shallow angle of attack. Fits in my hand perfectly. By far the best block plane I’ve found. Here is nice looking one for sale on eBay: https://www.ebay.com/itm/CRAFTSMAN-3732-Low-Angle-Adjustable-Throat-Knuckle-Joint-Block-Plane-EXCELLENT/312004295471?hash=item48a4e7bb2f:g:67sAAOSw9mpaDY5v

Stanley also made a nearly identical plane to the Craftsman called the Stanley #65. Not sure if there are any differences.

Another favorite vintage tool is the WilKro razor planer. I have two of these. You can set up this little plane 3 different ways. I keep one set up for flats and I keep the other set up for working inside curves like a spoke shave. It uses standard Gillette razor blades you can buy at the drug store. I use these for refining thin tails and noses on shortboards. You can see the tissue paper thin foam curly cues it takes off of a blank in the picture below. Here is one of these for sale on eBay: https://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-WILKRO-RAZOR-PLANER-PLANE-Patent-2289504/132345562575?hash=item1ed06905cf:g:x-AAAOSwuLxZXwc5

You inspired me to dig into the box I got form my Grandfather (Swedish). Below are some pics of what I found. I couldn’t find the one that can be adjusted to do concave/convex planning so I put a picture from ebay of one. The second picture is for a planer that could do finboxes as it drops below the surface.

Right, since we’re doing tool show and tell here I’ll show you guys some gear I really like using. I like my block-plane, which happens to be a Stanley, and I also have a decent set of Stanley Chisels and all sorts of other things, but like I said, these are the things that I like using. Possibly not much use for making surf boards though!

The first one is the old Paslode Impulse framing nailer. These things totally revolutionised my trade when they came out. This one is fifteen years old and would probably shoot about sixty thousand nails a year, so that’s nearly a million nails! Over the years it’s been dropped of scaffolds, used in the rain and been covered in mud. The thing just keeps going. I generally get it serviced at least once a year which costs about $150, but it’s money well spent.

The second one is my Estwing 20oz hammer. I got this when I started my apprenticeship. So long as these thing aren’t stolen they generally last an entire carpentry career. You seriously only need one of these in your life! A lot of guys in the old days ended up wearing out the grips, but these days due to the use of nail guns that’s not such an issue. God knows how many nails this thing has banged in over the years!

The third one is a Ramset J20 Powder actuated gun. In case you’ve never seen one before they take a .22 charge and fire a pin into concrete or steel. These things were designed and made in Australia. They are basically indestructible. Eventually the firing pins wear out, but they are easily and cheaply replaced. My one is second hand, and I’ve only had it for about 15 years, but I think it’s about thirty or forty years old. It’s hard to know how many shots it’s fired but I’d say it’s possibly in the hundreds of thousands

Those narrow blade planes were used for cutting rabbets & grooves mostly for sash windows. This is what “finish” carpenters used back in the day when houses were entirely hand built on site. It wasn’t just the skill of using the tool either, you had to know how to sharpen them. These primitive wood holders of basically chisels had to be razor sharp in order to work & required constant sharpening, so there was a huge variety of stones. The metal parts of the tools were done mainly by blacksmith technique.

Here’s a few more from my collection. The clamps get used on a regular basis, but most of the others are as I found them, meaning I haven’t yet taken the time to see what they need to be useable. It’s on my list, tho.

The nice thing about picking up old tools at yard sales is nobody even knows what they were used for, so you can usually get 'em pretty cheap. You just have to put on your best poker face and say, How much for this old junky thingamajig? NEVER say something like, How much for this antique rabbet plane?