Saturday, 24 May 2014

sheltered in the Lee

Made it to the Lee Valley vintage plane sale today. You'd think they were giving stuff away.

The place was packed; met lots of interesting people waiting in line for the doors to open.
In mere minutes, it was almost impossible to move. Despite the crowding, everyone was polite and patient. There were some large iron planes (6, 7, and 8) that went quickly (and at good prices) along with various drills and braces, but my eyes were set on the wide selection of wooden moulders.

After digging around for quite a while I managed to find a snipe-bill in good shape (score!), plus #12 hollow & round, a 1" skew rabbet, a bead following plane, and a coarse rip saw with a very good plate. 

The best buy for me was a "badger" plane with a thick Sorby iron. I was watching people picking this item up from amidst a group of wooden jacks, and almost immediately putting it back down again. When I finally got hold of it, I could see it was not a normal plane, having a skewed iron that did not span the full width of the sole but stuck out of one side like a rabbet. I'll use it for making raised panels.

I also got a chance to speak with Robin Lee again. He indicated that there would be two more vintage planes sales this year, in Calgary and Vancouver. He was open to the idea of offering courses in making moulding planes, and possibly carrying annealed iron blanks at the stores. We also spoke about rapid prototyping advances and ideas like injection moulded plane bodies with swappable sole plates - think pattern-makers planes. 

Tool dealer and plane expert Doug Orr was on hand to offer advice and answer questions, along with a copious quantity of knowledgeable LV staff.

There was an interesting looking DVD playing in the background of the sale area. I asked one of the staff what the name of it was. Not only did they get me the name, they went and got a DVD from the shelf while I waited in line so that I wouldn't lose my place. It was Classic Plane Making by Tod Herrli. I've already watched most of it, and it's a pretty straightforward method to make a set of #14 hollow and round planes without any special tools except plane floats, which he shows you how to make.

Konrad from Sauer and Steiner planes had a working display in the main store. These are some of the sexiest handplanes I've seen, but I cannot imagine owning one unless I magically became a (well paid) professional furniture maker. When I win the lottery I'll order a set.

I also ran into fellow students Robert and Mary during this event and we talked about sawing techniques, tote design, vintage tools, apprenticeships, planned projects, upcoming classes, and so on. Rob also mentioned something about rumors of new frog designs for Lee Valley's bench planes.

All in all it was a good, if tiring, experience. The list of "wanted" items is dwindling.

Robin Lee warned me to save up for something big in October. This sounded ominous.