Finding tools in Maine and visiting Liberty Tool

Back from 12 days vacation and tool hunting. We drove across the Adirondacks, through the Green Mountains of Vermont and White Mountains of New Hampshire to Maine. First stop in Maine was Liberty Tool in the small town of Liberty. I had high hopes for finding *something*, however to be honest, it wasn’t the nexus of tool hunting that I had expected. There are a lot of tools there, that is for certain, however for the seasoned tool “collector” seeking a good selection of vintage tools, it just isn’t there. There is an abundance of “generic” vintage tools, in various states of dis-repair. There are plenty of mechanics tools, but some things are quite worn (e.g. files), but having said that – inexpensive. There are bunch of files, and piles of screw-drivers – there is a *lot* of stuff there. Part of the allure may be the hunt. The place is kind-of overwhelming, there are drawers of things, bottles of other. Behind the counter there are a few of the more expensive pieces. I spent maybe an hour inside looking about – here are some photos of the ground floor (there aren’t many tools on the upper two floors).

An abundance of hammers, and mallets, and saws.


A bunch of bench planes, both metal and wood, drills – and odds-and-ends out the ying-yang.


What did I find? I found an extremely nice (complete) hand-grinder made by the Modern Grinder Mfg Co., and a Stanley No.120 block plane with a 6-star lever cap. The grinder is nice, but I guess I should have checked the size of the wheel needed – this one takes max 5″ wheels, and they are harder to come by. Nevertheless, might work well for buffing with a felt wheel (For $14 it was too good a bargain to pass up) . I wasn’t expecting a slew of rare block planes, but there were really only a few generic ones, and I wasn’t after bench planes, nor wooden planes. Just down the road from Liberty Tool, is Frapoli’s Place – who honestly has a better grouping of well-conditioned woodworking tools. I found a nice Millers Falls No.57 block plane.


The hand-grinder and the Stanley No.120

We traipsed around a bit of southern Maine, but tool pickings were slim – my best pick at a flea market – a Stanley excelsior No.15 block plane for $1 – rusted, and maybe beyond repair, but it has all it’s parts I’ll give it a shot. We spent a couple of hours at the Maine Antique Festival, but that was also empty from a tool point of view – a few bits of overpriced pieces, although we picked up some nice silverware. The conclusion on picking for tools? The good stuff ends up in tool auctions, or you have to know someone, who knows someone (who likely knows someone).


Millers Falls No.57 and the rusted $1 Stanley No.15

So we did visit a place that is guaranteed to have tools – the Lie-Nielsen shop in Warren. We arrived at 4.30pm, with 30 minutes until closing. I couldn’t *not* buy something while there, and the 10% in-store discount didn’t hurt. I ended up with the small iron scraping plane, and the LN 60½ low-angle, adjustable mouth block plane. Tom Lie-Nielsen even came into the showroom while we were there – should have got him to autograph the box or something. The nice thing about the store – you can actually play with the tools before you buy – something that is missing in Lee Valley stores. What Lee Valley needs is a feature store dedicated to its core woodworking tools where one can play with the tools, and there is a full-time woodworker there to help people select the right tools – if the store were in Ottawa they could attach a tool museum to it as well, judging by the catalog covers, Lee Valley must have a great tool collection. Well, enough picking – time to do some organization before the next Tools of the Trades show in October.



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