When I began teaching at woodworking schools several years ago, it was the most selfish act imaginable.
I didn’t do it to share what I know about woodworking. I didn’t do it to inspire other woodworkers. I didn’t do it for the travel or the all-you-can-eat breakfast bars in mid-priced hotels.
I began teaching so I could save enough money to buy a half-set of Clark & Williams hollows and rounds. I have coveted these planes since I first saw them in 2002 when I met Larry Williams at the WoodWorks show in Ft. Washington, Pa.
And after a few years of teaching and saving I finally placed my order with Larry and Don McConnell. That was about 18 months ago (I think). Earlier this summer the 18 planes arrived from Eureka Springs, Ark., and I took the box to my shop at home. My immediate instinct was to drop everything I was doing, rip into the box and start using the planes.
But I’ve been working on a new book (details here), and every waking moment has been devoted to building, writing and editing. However, this week I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I took the box to work and I’ve been unpacking the planes on my lunch hour and am about to build a special tray in my toolbox for them.
These aren’t my first moulding planes. I’ve been using hollows and rounds for several years now. I have a fair number of vintage planes that I’ve fixed up and have been using. The vintage planes have been real hit or miss. I struggled to find ones where the wood wasn’t warped, or the irons weren’t too far gone, or the wedges weren’t impossibly messed up. But even with this rag-tag fugitive fleet of hollows and rounds, I’ve been thrilled with what they do.
So it’s fair to say I was speechless as I unpacked my half set. Really, honestly and truly, these planes are handmade things of beauty. Each one is perfect. Every surface is exquisite. Every chamfer is crisp. They are what every tool should be: perfectly functional, comfortable, easy on the eyes and inspiring.
I am still deep into this book project but I’m pulling myself out of it a little bit more every day. And now I have something to look forward to: Putting these tools to work.
So thank you Larry and Don. Though I paid full price for these tools, it was far too little.
– Christopher Schwarz