I would like to quote some passages from this book that I feel is very much spot on.
“However, anyone can use power tools with immediate success. Consequently, one feels no urge to compliment a workman who is limited by his machines. They have only democratised the skills he should have learned through practice and discipline. ”
Here are his thoughts on Stanley’s combination planes the no.45 and 55.
“Among serious craftsmen the need to be able make mouldings and the desire to do it themselves have created a sizeable demand for such obsolete combination planes as the Stanley 45 and 55. ”
“As is true of most combination tools these planes with their interchangeable cutters are able to do a job whose results are in the most charitable terms only acceptable. No combination tool ever performs well. The sum of their abilities never equals even that of one good tool which was designed for a specific purpose. One simple bead moulding plane is worth more than an entire combination plane.”
Then he spoke about a friend who bought a 55 combo plane and was sorely disappointed with it and Mike was asked a rhetorical question “He asked me why I thought so many of these tools were still available in their original boxes with all their cutters present and showing very little wear.”
He then went on to say ” I knew as well as he that the original purchasers of these planes quickly discovered that they do not work well and retired them to a shelf to gather dust in anticipation of the day when Man’s forgetfulness would bring about their revival. ”
Good tools unless it’s Benjamin Seaton’s chest of unused tools are usually worn out. They’re worn out because they worked well. There are many moulding planes on the market advertised as good or mint condition and the user is clueless that it’s bogus. As mike says in his book that many of these planes are not recoverable and the ones that are good have to be in pristine condition.
I have seen many combo planes in near new condition and now I know why, but I can’t say other than a large architectural moulding planes that I have ever seen a set of crisp moulding planes.
We are very lucky today that we have toolmakers who have revived quality hand tools by replicating old tools for us to enjoy once more. I love antique tools but they are just that, antique, used and possibly worn out to the point it cannot be revived. Refurbishing old tools has become a big business. While there are some who can refurbish an eggbeater to look and perform better than it was when it was made new, most though wire brush their tools and slap a hefty tag for doing so. In my view I think the price of a pair of H&R’s for $350 is money better spent than on an eBay deal of $70+ that 100% of the time needs to be refurbished and how many know how to do that. Most moulding planes cannot be refurbished without seriously altering the planes width and profile.
If you want more antique tools on the market you need to create a need in the market for the tool makers to take notice otherwise you will continue to be duped by antique dealers hyping up a product when in reality all it’s good for is for firewood.