Tools of the trade

Inside the Aladdin’s cave that is my workshop – just a small selection of antique and collector’s tools

I moved to Dorset when I was eight and opened my first antiques/second-hand shop aged 18. I always carried out my own restorations, making a lot of furniture and a few fitted kitchens, hence the interest in tools. I’ve always preferred using hand tools, especially planes, as they give a much better finish, but my favourites have to be old wooden moulding planes, and I have over 100 in the workshop.

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A very rare antique gunmetal adjustable dovetail marker. This one is a bit of a mystery, having recently been purchased on a dark 7am morning from the back of a van. I didn’t have a clue what it was until I got home and played with it. This very classy, and probably unique, dovetail marker was very quickly snapped up by a collector friend with a good eye

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An exceptionally fine set of 25 Herring carving chisels with boxwood handles

I find it much quicker using a plane than having to set up the electric router or spindle moulder. I really got hooked on the dealing side of tools when I picked up a triptych full of 72 Holtzapffel ornamental turning tools at a farm sale. I sold them out of the back of my car at Tony Murland’s auction car park, picking up more than three times as much as I paid for them within five minutes of arriving.

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Mathieson bridle plough and sash fillister – with a chest full of tools like these, it’s a treat to get to work in the morning

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In a drawer under my workbench I have a sharpening stone. I don’t recall how I came to have it, but I can’t remember not having it! Over the years, I’ve owned all sorts of grinding wheels and stones, but whenever I’ve had a job which requires that little extra, out it comes. I think it may be a Belgian Coticule variety, but I’ve never really got to grips with the differences in natural stones

I’ve been retired for about five years, and a little over a year ago, I decided to clear out my workshop. To cut a long story short, instead of getting rid of my tool collection, I started buying and selling again. I have an online shop, which I’m learning to use, and now mostly buy at auction. The auctioneers take an average of 30%, so please, if you have any good craftsman’s or collector’s tools, I’m your man and I’ll happily collect anywhere in mainland UK – we can even split the auctioneer’s share!

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Everybody has a bit of luck sometimes, and mine came as I was cleaning and sorting out a box of old moulding planes hoping there might be a pair or even a small set of something. I came across a dirty mark on one of the sides, so gave it a rub like Aladdin and there it was – the elusive Granford Maker Mark 1687–1713. I guess that’s what they call a sleeper. It only happened to me once before when I bought a plane by ‘Samwell Holbeck’, which was in superb condition with a lovely mark. I bought it out of the back of a van in David Stanley’s car park, in front of 20 other treasure hunters, but that was a very long time ago

Old tools wanted for cash
If you’re wanting to sell any old tools, cash buyer Daniel Letts can promise you the best prices in the UK for vintage and used tools in good condition. He’s interested in single items, whole collections, and also does workshop clearances T: 07977 298 834
E: [email protected]

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