Collecting Antique Tools

Collecting Antique Tools

Johnny Williams
Jun 21, 2010

As a little boy, I was a big baseball card collector. Now that I'm all grown-up and working as a furniture maker, I've begun collecting old woodworking tools. As for all those cards, well, they collect dust.

It's not easy being a collector today — buy one too many thimbles and a concerned friend might turn you in to the producers of A&E's Hoarders. But I'm sure you'd all agree, when displayed with order and restraint, a collection adds charm and soul to any space. And besides, who cares what folks think, ultimately, a collection ought to reflect your passion and personality. As a woodworker, my antique tools elicit the joy of working with my hands and remind me that I'm part of a long and humble tradition. Plus, they look pretty bad-ass too!

Many people collect for the fun of the hunt. I found most of my tools here in Connecticut at flea markets, tag sales and consignment stores. The finest finds have been hard-earned — whether you're hunting out brass candlesticks or vintage clocks, give yourself plenty of time to dig through piles of junk. But then again, once your friends and family get word of your collection, you won't have to look so hard — just last week, I received a lovely keyhole saw for my twenty-something birthday. Thanks friend!

For you curious cats, I've described my tools below. (Clockwise, beginning with the hand saw)

• Hand saw: a versatile tool usually used to cut boards to length

• Divider calipers: used to draw arcs and circles, as well as measure distances on maps

• Hand plane: hefty tool used to flatten, or joint, the surface of a board

• Keyhole saw: long, skinny saw used to cut out intricate shapes

• Crosscut saw: two-person saw used to fell trees and cut logs to length

• Coping saw: C-shaped saw used to cut delicate shapes and cutouts

• Carving chisel: small cutting tool used to carve detailed shapes in wood

• Outside calipers: teardrop-shaped tool used to measure the thickness of an object

• Folding tape measure: a collapsible measuring device

Images: Johnny Williams

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