Tool or historical artifact?

Many people collect things, in some ways it is our individual attempt at preserving the past. I collect block planes because they interest me. Not all are in pristine condition, few will likely ever be used, and over time they have really transformed from being active tools to historical artifacts. That’s not a bad thing, some tools continue to have historical value, or aesthetic value, but just aren’t as useful as working tools anymore. Some of my vintage block planes aren’t very usable, are finicky to adjust, have fragile parts, or less than optimal (often skinny) blades. They are still objects of beauty, but to woodwork, I prefer to use more functioning tools – my Lie-Nielsen or Veritas block planes for example. They retain their edges superbly, and function perfectly for the tasks they are needed to perform. Vintage saws are also  tricky because they require straight blades, and straightening blades isn’t trivial.


Other tools, like chisels are a little different. Old wooden planes often work extremely well, and with a little tuning can become workhorses. The form factor and use of chisels has not changed in eons. Many chisels made in the past 100 years are good quality, and easy to both sharpen, and use. Of course some people collect chisels because they are rare, or because they collect tools of a certain manufacturer, e.g. Stanley, Swedish chisels from Eskilstuna, like E.A. Berg. Is it right to turn a rare, historically significant plane into a working tool? That can only be answered by the person who owns the tool. Would the Victor block plane above make a good tool in the modern shop?

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