Time ticks by and with seconds left will I come out on top. I’m bleary eyed and tired from sitting in front of the computer screen. The auction ends and I am the proud new owner of a Millers Falls number 9 smooth plane. A few days later It arrives in a box. I bring the box inside the house to be opened and notice my wife rolling her eyes. Box is opened and inside is a cruddy rusty tool with potential. I’m like a little kid overjoyed with my new toy. This has been a regular occurrence in our house for the last year.
My first experience with a hand plane was one I bought from a big box store. It was an awful experience. At the time I wasn't aware of what made a good tool. The blade was abysmal and the plane body poorly cast. As a frugal hobbyist woodworker I could not afford to put money into the Lie Nielson and Veritas planes. I was utterly crushed, is there no way I could keep my hobby spending under control and get a good quality tool. One day someone suggested I rehabilitate an antique tool, that was the start of the slippery slope that is hand plane collecting. At first I was limited by only being able to buy from local antique stores. Even found an antique dealer who specializes in hand tools. Alas I found eBay where there are a plethora of antique hand planes. eBay has a category dedicated to hand planes I found under the collectibles section. My daily ritual was to filter through eBay for the planes I wished to own. My pride and joy is a Keen Kutter with a Bedrock frog.
I become fascinated with even the most trivial detail of something I find interesting and I am a history geek. I delved into any source I could find to know more about the history of these tools. I surfed through the Internet for sources of information on every aspect of the planes. By this time this has cascaded into a full blown addiction. Though I found solace in that I was not alone. In the past year I have found several online who just like me collect hand planes. I could finally stop boring my close friends on the finer points on the hand planes I was collecting. Their eyes tended to glaze over as I prattled on about antique planes anyhow. At last I had a support group, an entire community of people like myself. They may not have found a start in the same way but they understood. On Roy Underhill’s The Woodwright Shop I even have a show I feel is tailored to me. I’m giddy when St. Roy breaks out a hand tool to work on a project. There is a plane with a flexible bottom that finesses curves, who knew.
The first time I took a shaving with a tool made over 60 years ago was an exciting moment. I had come a long way from the chatter prone junk I first purchased some time ago. It was the defining point in my hand tool journey. This all started as a cost effective way to further my woodworking hobby. Along the way I picked up a new hobby a few friends and an appreciation for good quality tools. Now only if I can build up a nice collection of moulding planes.