Several of the blogs I read (Chris Schwarz, Joshua Farnsworth, and Bob Rozaieski) have all cautioned against purchasing tools from Ebay and have suggested instead attending a hand tool event sponsored by Mid-West Tool Collector’s Association (MWTCA). I discovered from their website that there are local area meets all over the place and it just happened that they were having one in my area this weekend. I wasn’t really looking for anything specific but I thought it would be fun to attend, meet new people, talk about woodworking, and buy tools.
What I didn’t realize is that you have to be a member of the association to attend the event and this particular event had an entrance fee as well (I’m not sure if all events do or not). This meant that I would be dropping fifty bucks just to go to the event. I simply justified it in my mind by recounting all of the shipping fees I’ve paid buying tools online and went ahead and made the plunge.
I wasn’t disappointed. This was a two-day event held at McCormick’s Creek State Park (IN) and it was full of old tools, most of them “user” tools, which is exactly what I wanted (I don’t tend to intentionally collect tools).
As I was browsing the tables I looked up and recognized a face from my past—my high school woodshop teacher! He’s been retired now for fifteen years but is still active in woodworking. I owe a part of my start in woodworking to Mr. Brown (well at least a tic-tac-toe game, baseball bat, and small box). It’s not often that we get to go back and share what an impact a person has on our lives and I felt honored to let Mr. Brown know how much I appreciated him even if I didn’t show it as a seventeen year old kid.
We picked up about where we left off and he even invited me over to check out his shop—really looking forward to that!
I didn’t leave empty handed either. I picked up a couple of moulding planes to try out. I’ve been skeptical about buying anything on Ebay and this was the perfect place to get a test model. I’ve never used a molding plane before so I picked something that didn’t have a spring angle, had a decent blade that seemed to match the profile (by eye at least). I’m sure there are better ways of determining the quality of molding planes and I’m sure I will gain some experience in the future.
How do they work? Perfectly. In fact, I came home, adjusted the iron and started in on a piece of scrap poplar. I’m officially hooked. The cut was smooth, quick, and easy. Honestly, it makes me want to sell all my routers and bits and start an entire collection of molding planes
The other tools I bought were a pair of Buck Brothers chisels that I have plans of turning into a matched pair of skew chisels to get into the corners of blind dovetails. The best part? I only spent fifty dollars for two planes and two chisels. I’m already looking forward to going back again next year. What everyone said today is that the national meet is even better. If you get a chance check it out—I promise it will be worth it.