Hand Tools Archive

Re: I couldn't confirm it...
Response To:
Re: Leo Fender ()

david weaver
...Just noting that Karl's work style appeared to be about control and known measurements with rough sizing by fly cutter.

I am also not a fan of all of the norris planes (especially not the later ones with an adjuster, but some of them are OK - the bigger the plane and the coarser the work, the easier the adjuster is to tolerate, plus you can get used to its nuance - that being that you have to set it for nearly no cut and use the lever cap for fine adjustment)....except the early planes are wonderful. Not sure of the context back when they were made, what caused people to buy them instead of a bailey type design - social pressure? Who knows, the early ones are wonderfully made...

..at any rate, Karl may have been a master with a plane, but most of his blog work didn't show much of it.

Konrad Sauer's blog, IIRC, showed a whole bunch of hand fitting.

I've never used a plane from either. Karl Holtey started using A2 steel earlier than most (but after George was feeding blades to coopers at williamsburg). I wonder if that was also about control (the stability of the blade), and not sure what further chasing he did with S53 and other such steels - they never appeared to hold up that well on smoothers. But, I don't think that's the point -I think Karl's planes are more like art, made to a level that I couldn't ever make a plane, and with a lot of hand finish work on them that is to a level of extreme perfection.

(though I've never looked for Karl's origin into planemaking before, his blog says that he was working as a cabinetmaker and that's how he got introduced to planes. I see from his web page that he's back to production again - maybe on a smaller scale, I don't know, but I couldn't imagine that he could've said he was going to retire and then follow through. Being a cabinet maker doesn't really answer how much he used planes, though. I have a lot of respect for Karl because he's chasing an extreme - I can only speculate that his methods have to do with getting the most precise result he can get - I can't imagine matching it - and he probably feels like he's obligated for each plane to be as perfect as he can get it. And no beginner is going to accidentally walk into an $8,000 plane).

I've seen you mention the 70s and 80s tool market before, and have heard the same from George about what was available. He's obviously a toolmaker (that was his job for something like 25 years at williamsburg), but he's also a tool hound. After making a couple of saw kits (something that wouldn't have been an option in the 70s), I bought a bunch of English from fine tool journal's web sales (man that was a steal for certain things for a little while - I still have a $26 groves 26" rip saw that is one of the best saws I've ever used) and some directly from England for probably $40 on average. They were very easy to get.

George mentioned that 20+ years prior, if you could find a good antique brass backed saw without damage at a flea market here in PA, they were $70-$80. Effectively four times the price I paid (or more, just eyeballing the impact of inflation) once there were modern makers and more ease in getting tools. I think the last 15 years have kind of been the golden era for hand tool woodworkers. Ebay's global shipping opened up supply, Japanese makers started catering to the West, and the domestic makers have popped up everywhere. It has a little bit of a temporary feel to me - certain vintage stuff is already much harder to find than it was 10 years ago, but in fairness, the shine of some things has worn off (10 years ago, infill planes were sort of an "it" tool. They are easier to get (used) for reasonable money now if you avoid larger dealers...to the detriment of folks who bought dozens or more of them 10 years ago when they cost two or three times as much.

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