“No Net-New Tools in 2016” – The Half Way Point

I decided 2016 would be the year I don’t buy any new tools. I’ve covered my self-imposed rules previously. I mentioned in that post that the results have not been surprising. Well, after a few recent projects I’ve changed my tune.

This is the 1839 Schoolbox as detailed in the Lost Art Press printing of The Joiner and the Cabinet Maker.


This is a small box but it was kind of a lot of work. I started with rough sawn pine that was really rough. And believe it or not, there are a lot of dovetails under that milkpaint


The Ashley Iles chisel is going in the keeper pile for sure.

I had to use a lot of tools for this project as there was a little bit of everything. This compounded with my current project (in-process as of 6/25) which is a modern style men’s valet box has really taught me some tough lessons. I went into both of these projects with the mindset of “this is it for tools, this is all I am going to have to work with”. And frankly I didn’t come out of it feeling optimistic and satisfied. It was the opposite actually. To make this quick(er) here are some bullet points.


My planes suck. Okay, there is some hyperbole in there because I have been fighting with some particularly nasty Zebrawood. But I have almost a dozen bench planes, and none of them are perfect. Is there such a thing as a perfect plane? No, but I can (and will) significantly reduce the amount of planes I have while increasing productivity and effectiveness. I’ve given this a lot of thought and this is will my till will look like in 2017

  •  My Stanley No7 stays, but will have a Hock iron and cap iron. The double iron in it now is a generic no-name Stanley replacement, and terrible.
  • Same with my pristine No4. The iron is bent. It flattens out nicely once the lever cap is tightened down, but it makes depth adjustment and lateral adjustments near impossible. Otherwise the plane is perfect.
  • A low angle jack will be entering the line up. The jury is out on brand, but it will either be WoodRiver, Lie Nielsen, or Veritas.  This will replace all the jack planes and shooting planes I have now.
  • The Lie Nielsen 60 1/2 is going to be the first thing I buy when the tool ban is over. I’m done not having a good block plane. I make do with other tools, but I’m tired of “making do”.
  • The Lie Nielsen No73 Shoulder plane will be the second thing I buy. Many people including me always say that a shoulder plane isn’t necessary. And it isn’t. But technically coffee isn’t necessary either. Try to get me on a conference call at 8:00am with no coffee and see how much you like it. A shoulder plane is the quickest and easiest path to tenon success. And I’m all about walking that path.
  • I need something better than my No.45 for plowing grooves and making rabbets. That is all I use the 45 for and every time I use it, it is a miserable experience.

What about all my woodies? Well, They will still be ready to go at a moments notice. I’m just not sure how many times that moment will arise. I do prefer a wooden plane, but I don’t prefer dealing with the effects of seasonal movement in my insulated workspace. Unfortunate, I know but not something I am in a position to address in the near future.


I love to cut dovetails and they find a way into every project it seems. I would like to get dovetail specific chisels like the round back Ashley Iles or some flavor of Japanese dovetail chisel. I’ll let my WoodRiver set go away to a new home in order to make room for 2 or 3 sizes.


All of these get to stay

I use mostly Japanese saws. There will be no changes here. The blade on my Gyokucho 311 Dozuki is amost 3 years old and has probably cut a mile of dovetails. I’ll be replacing it soon. I also want to get a proper handle for my Z-Saw 300mm rough crosscut Kataba for the sake of cohesiveness.

Now onto my Western saws. My Disstons are going to go. they are really nice saws that I am never going to use. It took me a while to find them which is why I haven’t parted with them yet. They need to be put back to work by someone else.

I do also have some backed saws – A veritas 20 TPI dovetail and a Veritas Crosscut Carcass saw and the prognosis is 50/50 for those guys.

Going to miss you old buddy

While I use Japanese saws for most things, I still like a western saw at the bench hook. My Veritas carcass saw has been awesome. I really like this saw. But I don’t love it. So it’s going to find a new owner that will love it while clearing out some space for the Gramercy sash saw that will replace it.

The 20 TPI dovetail saw seems to have an unusual spot in my lineup, but I prefer it over its eastern brethren for the pins on half-blind  dovetails. Don’t ask me why because I can’t answer you, but I get much better results so for that reason alone it stays.



I am woefully ill equipped in the rasp department. The one (yes, one!) I have is good. I do use it a lot. If I had more, I’d use more. Now I just waste a lot of time and energy with 80 grit sandpaper, maple scraps, and spray adhesive.Paul Sellers would call it the poor mans rasp. I’m open to suggestions here as far as brands (specifically first hand accounts of the Gramercy tools rasps), but lifetime tools only.

I have a few Stanley 51’s in good shape and a Birmingham B-Plane spokeshave in good shape. None of these perform well for me. I can’t figure out if it’s me or the tool. In any event I will need to add a round bottomed shave since I don’t have one currently and have been in situations where I could have used one. I will need to do a lot more research into proper spokeshave set up and usage before I replace the ones I have.

In Summary

There are some highlights. I’m in a good place with chisels and sharpening. I do think in my shop the dovetail chisels shed their “luxury” moniker. Also I’m really close with saws. The exit of the Veritas carcass saw and the entry of the Gramercy sash saw moves from from “pretty good” to “set for life”. My measuring and marking game is on-point. I won’t be making any changes there. I will be adding some wing dividers though because using my compass isn’t ideal. Also what kind of woodworker doesn’t own wing dividers?
However when it comes to planes, I’m far from good. Aside from my router plane, I wouldn’t fight for a single one to stay in its current state.


One thought on ““No Net-New Tools in 2016” – The Half Way Point

  1. Really like the Veritas skew rabbet set and plow planes in my kit, despite their uber modern appearance. Add a lie Nielsen bronze 102 block… That little guy is my favorite of my 5 blocks, it lives in my apron. The wood river shoulder planes are good bang for the buck, too. As far as saws go… I know the bad axe is a bit exensive, but their hybrid sash is my pride and joy.

    All in all, you have a nice collection! It’s the woodworker, not the tool 🙂


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