WoodCentral's Book Reviews
Classic Hand Tools

Classic Hand Tools
by Garrett Hack

Taunton Press: 2003
Hardback, 218 pp., $34.95
ISBN 1-56158-273-5

     Incredible photograhs: an embellished, hand carved plane from Holland, dated 1752; files and a bevel gauge sized to fit the huge bearings of a steam engine; a marking gauge with pivoting fingers for scribing around irregular curves. Hack's beautiful volume on hand tools covers everything from individual categories of tools and how to buy them, to workshops, benches, clamps, and tool restoration. For lovers of hand tools, this book just may cause a reader to hyperventilate, because the turn of each page yields quality photographs of hand tools from major, lifetime collecitons.
     This is not just a picture book, however. The author includes sharpening instructions, illustrates shooting boards, benchtop vises for sharpening handsaws, and tips such as a variety of shopmade depth stops for drill bits. He even shows how to effectively take the kink out of a damaged hand saw blade.
     The chapter on tool making is one that could lead many down the 'slippery slope.' "For people who love tools," says Hack, "making your own is merely the next step." In 'tools for making tools,' he advises what to have on hand and how to deal with the metalworking needs inherent in this endeavor. He explains heat treating, annealing and riveting, as well as replacing and restoring damaged parts on old tools.
     Mallets, calipers, awls, spokeshaves, plumb bobs, vises, chisels, hammers, thread boxes, files….the list included is long. The chapter on hand planes gives a short history, an explanation of the Stanley numbering system, advice on tuning different planes and how to sharpen and use them.
     Full of the history and origin of much of what we use today, this book is a reminder that all tools were once hand made. I can only echo the words of reviewer Jeff Taylor: "You will never ever want to lend this book to anyone. If you don't think you can resist the temptation, buy a loaner copy." I think that is sage advice.

. . . Barb Siddiqui