Win a Copy of ‘Restoring, Tuning & Using Classic Woodworking Tools’

DunbarbookRecently, Michael Dunbar updated two of his classic books, “Restoring, Tuning & Using Classic Woodworking Tools” (which has just been added to ShopWoodworking.com) and “Make a Windsor Chair” – and I happen to have an extra advance copy of the first one on my desk. It’s an excellent revision of his 1989 edition, but I really don’t need two copies. So I’m giving one of them away. Simply leave a comment on this post before 6:59 a.m., Tues., Sept. 9. Sometime before lunchtime Tuesday, I’ll choose a random winner from the comments (that will be a nice break from loading the truck to drive down to Winston-Salem for Woodworking in America).

Click on the image above for a closer look at the table of contents.

Click on the image above for a closer look at the table of contents.

Below is Mike’s introductory chapter, so you can get a taste of what’s inside (and below that, you’ll find a free PDF download of Chapter 4, which just might come in handy for your weekend rust-hunting plans).

— Megan Fitzpatrick

I wrote the original edition of this book—Restoring, Tuning, and Using Classic Woodworking Tools—in 1989. My goal was to make available to my fellow woodworkers the information and knowledge I had gleaned from years of using classic tools and studying every original source I could locate. I was aware that my book was comprehensive, as it took a year to write. Several years later I was surprised but gratified to learn that among old tool users the book was referred to as “the bible.” The book remained in print for close to two decades and was missed when it was no longer available. I knew this because so many people contacted me asking how to get a copy.

The information about tools in the original book has not changed. The tools are the same. They are still used the same, and they are still repaired and tuned the same ways. However, the world has changed. This book was written when we wrote letters, talked on the phone, and shopped in person. In the meantime, the world entered the information age. Like everyone else, woodworkers now shop on line and communicate electronically at the speed of light. While some people still operate the old ways, most have entered the 21st century. So, when it comes to acquiring old tools, things have not changed, but there have been additions. I have done the same. I have not changed the original text, I have only added to it. That is why these opening paragraphs are in bold face. It is to show that this text is new. I will do the same through the book. So, whenever you run into boldface type you will know that I have added that information.

shoulderplane

From Chapter 14: Metal Special-Purpose Planes

Every woodworker that I have ever known whether he or she works by hand or totally with machines, is an occasional woodworker or a professional, eventually acquires some tools that once belonged to someone else. They might be planes that belonged to his father or chisels that belonged to his grandfather. One way or the other, every woodworker will find himself owning at least a few such tools; most woodworkers own a lot of them.

I am partial to classic tools, tools that in this book are referred to as secondhand. Second-hand tools, which were built in the finest tradition of craftsmanship as far back as the 18th century and can be found generally in large numbers today on the marketplace, can play essential roles in today’s fine-quality woodworking shops. I have been using them since I began woodworking in 1971. My affection is not just sentimentality, nor is it a desire to be quaint. Using older tools is a practical way to work wood. They are good tools, and when compared to the hand tools that are being made today, are most often the better ones.

In the following pages I explain how to buy, recondition, tune, and use most of the secondhand tools you will commonly find. Most of this information will also be helpful to you when you buy a new tool, as few tools come ready to use right from the box. They always have to be tuned and sharpened, procedures that incorporate many of the steps that I describe for reconditioning older tools.
This book is a practical guide. In writing it, I assumed that you already have a basic knowledge of woodworking, as well as a familiarity with hand tools—their purposes, how they are used, etc. Since it is a practical guide, it is intended for the woodworker rather than the collector. As a result, it does not have price lists or check lists of toolmakers.

Although the purpose of this book is to explain how to find, recondition, and use secondhand tools, not every type of tool is discussed, for two reasons. First, although I have done all sorts of woodworking, ranging from inlay to timber-framing, I have not worked with every tool found on the second-hand market and cannot speak with any authority about them all. For example, I only use a wooden spokeshave. I have tried metal ones, and so know how they work. I also know that they do not perform as well as their wooden counterparts. So, although they are a common second-hand tool, they are not included in this book.

mouldingplanes

From Chapter 12: Wooden Molding Planes

Secondly, I live in New England, which was settled much earlier than other areas of the United States. Consequently, some of the tools found in New England are much older than those commonly found in other regions. Because many of these very old tools are not commonly found everywhere, I have excluded many (but not all of them). If by chance a tool has been left out that is of interest to you, I am confident that the information that is supplied will allow you to infer what you need to know to recondition, sharpen, and use it.

Although I do not generally recommend using what are usually called antique tools, and will explain why, I have included some. Wooden planes are a good example. So many dealers now sell these tools that they can be purchased mail order even if they are not regularly found where you live. So, no matter where you are located you can easily obtain wooden planes.
Many of them are still quite serviceable.

Each chapter deals with a different category of tools and begins with a general discussion of that type of tool that includes the following: the tool’s history and evolution, its purpose, how it works, and the features and characteristics that make it worth purchasing. Also discussed are ways to recondition and tune that particular tool, and the problems that (in my experience) are most common to that type of secondhand tool. A section on selecting the tool contains information about the kind of damage (specific to that tool) that can be repaired or would be either so complicated or time-consuming that buying the tool would prove impractical.

Although Chapter 8 is a general description of tool sharpening, any special sharpening problem encountered with a particular tool is discussed in its specific chapter. And, finally, no discussion of the tool would be complete without information on how to use the tool.
There are two basic sources of written information available to those interested in learning about secondhand tools. Both proved to be great help to me when I was learning about hand tools and woodworking by hand. The first is tool catalogues. As early as 1816 (when Smith’s Key to the Various Manufactories of Sheffield was published), tool makers have published illustrated catalogues of their tools. Several pages from catalogues have been printed in this book.

chisels

From Chapter 17: Chisels and Gouges

The other source of woodworking written material is, of course, woodworking books. For centuries enterprising woodworkers have been publishing books explaining the how-to of their craft. However, there is one essential difference between the books written today and those written in the latter part of the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth. The earlier books show how to work by hand, using hand tools.

In the bibliography, I have listed the names of some tool catalogues and woodworking books available in reprint. If you find that you enjoy working with second-hand tools, perhaps you should read some of these.

A few terms appear throughout this book that should be clarified here. The words iron and cutter have the same meaning and are used interchangeably. Tuning refers to all the processes needed to prepare a tool for use. Sharpening and adjusting are part of this process. For example, flattening the sole of a plane and beveling the underside of a drawknife would be considered part of the tuning process. Both old and new tools have to be tuned before they will give you their best performances.
Reconditioning (or restoring) is only done to second-hand tools. This process includes cleaning, as well as making repairs and replacements. After a second-hand tool is reconditioned, it still has to be tuned.

While I am on the subject of terms, I have to address two that have become current in the past decade: they are molder and smoother. These words are gaining traction as a substitute for the original words molding and smooth/smoothing planes. In all the reading I have done I have never seen these terms before. They have no legitimate antecedent and are of recent origin. Woodworking has a long and honorable tradition that I think we should cherish and maintain. It is incumbent on every generation to respect our traditions, to preserve and pass them on, and not alter them either by error or on purpose. Therefore, I refuse to use these words and urge you to do the same.

— Michael Dunbar

Click on the link below for a free download of Chapter 4: Selecting the Proper Tool
SelectingProperTool

And don’t forget to leave a comment – that’s all you have to do to be entered to win a free copy of “Restoring, Tuning & Using Classic Woodworking Tools,” by Michael Dunbar.

155 thoughts on “Win a Copy of ‘Restoring, Tuning & Using Classic Woodworking Tools’

  1. Charlie Matteson

    I recently read about a man who was restoring old saws- good ones. Apparently he was doing a first rate job. Eventually he realized that he was a woodworker not a saw restorer and settled for several of the saws he restored. I have found myself doing the same thing! The tools I own don’t dictate how good of a woodworker I am, it’s the work that I do. I still like old saws though.

  2. B Jackson

    I usually don’t buy lottery tickets. So, do I think I’ll get lucky? Hmmm … Worth a try. If I don’t win, I’ll buy this book later this year, anyway, as I have some old planes in bad need of rework.

  3. Matt_Rob

    It will go GREAT with the West tool tote I am going to win this weekend at WIA. I can hardly wait. Maybe I should take the pickup to WIA because there are a lot of give away items this year.A Saw Stop table saw, Jet bandsaw the already mentioned memorial Fred West tool tote. On another note page 20 in the Hand Tool essentials book circa 1997 or so is that a foreordained illustration of a former editors evolution? Windsor saw-bench, Nicholson knock down workbench and least we forget the ever present tool chest. I don’t know do they make puffy sleeve shirts with button-down collars.
    Just sayin
    Matt

  4. woodlife

    I have checked this book out at our local library. It would make a good addition to my personal one.

  5. gtpreacher

    Let me get in the running for this book. It could help me with a few tools I’ve inherited from my grandfather.

  6. rjpat

    I’ll try my luck but I never win anything, lol
    (originally I was going to say “Pick me please” but decided that didn’t sound very adult)

  7. sbellis001

    Thank you for the opportunity to acquire this DVD. It will be a welcome and useful addition to the other tools in my shop.

  8. iampapabear

    Man do I need this!
    Maybe another possibility for a book title “Restoring, Tuning and Using Classic Woodworkers”?

  9. Haifisch46

    My five year old grandson visited us today, mostly because he wanted to tell us how much he loves going to kindergarden. As we listened to his soft little voice, I realized that he seemed to be an amalgam of his father and myself, and I began to remember all the values I tried to inculcate into my son when he was the little guy’s age: do good work, and avoid anything – hardware center 2x4s or political and economic theory – that is shoddy. Be honest – not just in your words and deeds, but also in your thoughts; avoid pretense. Remember that all work contributes to our innate human dignity, whether it is writing a Supreme Court brief, making a tool chest or corralling shopping carts at the supermarket. And, perhaps most importantly, invest in those things – hand tool skills among others – that can never be taken from you.

    I realized then it’s time to clean up and repair the woodworking tools I’ve been hoarding all these years, so that when my son begins to teach his son our shared values, the tools he uses will reflect them. I could really use this book – I’ve got a lot of planes to clean up, some saws to file, and some chisels to sharpen so that the little guy will be proud to use them, and more importantly, learn that anything worth doing is worth doing right.

  10. rootertooter

    ***********PLEASE OH PLEASE PICK ME******************************* MY LUCK WELL IT ______’_ Have a good day…

  11. Stuart Hough

    Michel writes in such a fashion that anyone who picks up his book and reads it will understand the subject matter. This neophyte would love a chance to have this book, as it may provide that pivotal, critical bit of information I need to make my older, aged tools work like new again. Thanks Mike, for refreshing the original manuscript!

  12. woodworkjay

    I’ve recently inherited some tools, and sure could use this to learn about, and get them into useable condition. Thanks.

  13. armerlo

    Have been acquiring old tools in various states of repair. This looks like a good source for how to tune them all up. Thanks for the chance to win one.

  14. JonasW

    I have old planes that I’ve restored. When I find suitable ones I buy them, and I would be very happy for a copy of this book!

  15. rainesjc@msn.com

    I have purchased several vintage chisels and hand planes that need refurbishing. This book will be helpful.

  16. Milford

    As a part-time employee of Hida Tool Co. in Berkeley, I frequently explain to customers for the Japanese woodworking tools that early American tool blacksmiths also used the laminated construction of cutting edge tools, undoubtedly as a way of saving their stock of good-quality steel that could be properly hardened and tempered to a hard layer that could take a good edge and maintain it. This can be seen, for example, in the molding plane irons, in which the long narrow part that extends through the body is not of the same material as the cutting-edge layer. For this reason, these old tools, if properly maintained and/or restored, can be very good ones to use instead of a router; sometimes even where a restoration piece is needed for which there is no equal router cutter.

  17. Mike Hosimer

    I have been trying to restore some of my Grandfathers woodworking tools. There seems to be a great deal
    of information about restoring planes, but not so much on other tools. I think this book would be a great
    help. Thanks for giving away your extra copy, and the opportunity to own it!

  18. Roy987

    Hi Megan
    I’d love to participate in this demonstration of the intersection between randomness (your comment selection), happy fate (the book arriving in my humble home), and a reduction in the ignorance of the universe (I have much learning to do). Greetings from Vancouver!
    Roy

  19. woodchips

    I would really love the extra copy because a friend gave me a box full of old hand planes and shaping tools that are in need of restoring. I want to restore these and use them in my shop. All are made of wood and steel. Thank you for your consideration. Jerry

  20. Pkorman1

    As a blended woodworker (both power and hand tool user) I use many “second hand” tools. Planes, Saws, chisels and my favorite, Eggbeater Drills. I find them cost effective ways to obtain those tools which I need (yes, it borders on obsession at times) however I think that we are very lucky. We live in a renaissance period of hand tool makers. I have to take exception to Mr Dunbar’s “They are good tools, and when compared to the hand tools that are being made today, are most often the better ones.” The 2 big mass marketeer, Lie and Lee, are extremely innovative and address many of the drawbacks of older tool designs at a fair price. There are also the host smaller craftsman, tool makers who produce new tools that are exceptional, no reconditioning required. For me, the advantage of the newer tools over the older models leads me down the path to upgrade quite frequently (yes, another obsession). GTG, now, I in the mood to get me some tools. Think I’ll go over to “Tools for working Wood” or the internet…..

  21. wdewitt

    I would love to get a copy of this book. I am in Cape Town, South Africa and the only place to get a ‘good’ (and I use the term loosely) traditional woodworking tool is at the flea market. There are some basic articles on the internet but this seems by far more comprehensive and exactly what i need. Even if I don’t win a copy this is definitely going on my Christmas wish list :). Thanks Megan for this opportunity and thanks to Michael for bringing this book to the 21st century.

  22. re.koch

    I have bought many vintage tools over the past few months. A little advice on how to restore them would be welcome.

  23. hmerkle

    Megan, as long as you bring it with you – I will not cause you postage – you can hand it to me at WIA!
    Regardless – I look forward to seeing you there.

  24. Adcatron

    Am starting to try o use more traditional hand tools in my woodworking trying to emulate my grandfather’s level of woodworking using only traditional tools. This book should help with this endeavor.

  25. joecarey68

    Looking to develop my woodworking skills in retirement! So far have found that hand tools are often faster than the setup time to use power tools.

  26. BSchluntz

    What I create in wood is secondary to how I create it. I spend my day in a technology profession ensuring that everyone can work at the speed of electricity. At home I relax by reading books that I can actually turn the pages and woodworking with hand tools. Like all who read this, I appreciate the shooshing sound of a hand planer, the zipping sounds of a hand saw, the snicking of my carving tools and the low grinding vibrations of the hand brace. Whether using the tool or maintaining it, the peace of mind experienced while slowing down to do either appropriately has no equivalent in the world I work in.

  27. Buildinggeek

    I was looking at my collection of “needs TLC” tools just the other day. I need this book Megan!
    Alternatively, I could send them to you and you could return them in “after” condition 😉

  28. montanadriver

    Looks like a good addition to a woodworking shop. More than the action parts it looks like a book that will increase one’s understanding of the tools. Nice 🙂 -b-

  29. Pearswi

    I enjoy finding and restoring old useful tools particularly saws and planes and would certainly appreciate a copy of Mike Dunbar’s book.

  30. bmccroskey

    Almost all of my hand tools are old users that belonged to one or the other of my grandfathers with a few garage sale tools as well. I would love the additional knowledge that would come from that book. Thank you!

  31. CottageCrafted

    Just stopped into local auction for an estate sale. Found several potential buys: Two old Stanley Planes, two Disston saws, a one-man crosscut saw and more! But boy are they rusty and the wood worn. These finds are really out there. Restoration looks like a mountain to climb when you first view these old traditional tools. Yet I discover treasures under those layers of dust and ruin. A little TLC with Dunbar’s methods should do the trick. And some elbow grease!

  32. don b

    I get great satisfaction bringing an old tool back to life. There is a lot of history in the tool that has been used by prior craftsman. This book would be valuable. Thanks Megen for the offer.

  33. barmarc1

    I have several old tools in my shop (my fathers #5 Jack is one of them) which need some love to bring them back to usefulness. Sounds like this book would be very helpful.

  34. jppierson

    Sounds like a great instruction manual for the VA doc to use to treat my numerous ailments! I really enjoy working wood and get great satisfaction out of resurrecting the oldies but goodies.

  35. Geordie

    I’ve restored one Sweetheart plane with no guidance except what I hope was good sense, have started work on a second, and have a brace and several drawknives waiting. The how-to book sure would help, and probably encourage me to tackle more-complex tools. Thanks!

  36. Dave Beauchesne

    Count me in on the draw please – there can never be enough info when restoring or using hand tools.

  37. sarcasmn

    As a new woodworker that prefers to use hand tools it’s nice to have a source to learn and gather information. Thanks

  38. hharr40

    Megan,
    I’ve several old Stanleys, including a 45 that I paid $25 for, so I probably don’t deserve a free book. Nevertheless, I have several oldies needing work so….please enter me in the drawing. Thanks!

  39. skoonz

    Megan,

    This book, in no way can make up for the fact that I will not be able to make WIA this year. But it sure couldn’t hurt.

  40. pauls

    Megan,
    Thanks for your generosity. If I win the book I’l send it a nephew who is getting started in WW.
    Paul

    1. ColonelEd

      After years of attempting to restore old tools, it would be nice to know if I’m doing it right. Looks like a great book.

  41. bearswood

    I look forward to reading this book to hear the words of wisdom Mike has added to this revision. My first copy has been signed by Mike in Berea,KY and I use it religiously.

  42. jofww

    Megan, a lot of the hand tools I own are pretty old, most of them coming from estate sales and online auctions. Would love to have a good single resource to guide me in restoration. Looking forward to meeting you and the rest of the staff at WWIA next weekend. There you go, you can just bring the book to Winston-Salem and save the postage! Thx, Jim

  43. woodwerks

    I love old tools, can’t really afford to spend the money for the new ones. Sometimes when I lust over the newest and bestest (new word?) I like to think of all the marvelous furniture out there that was built with classic old tools. Finding a gem in the antique store or flea market is a thrill and makes that tool all the more special. Please include me in the drawing.

  44. BLZeebub

    This is one of the first books I too bought and devoured two decades ago. I still own it, hardbound of course, and know where it is in my library. Always good info and now updated, schweeeeet!

  45. jwaldron

    These bits remind me of my P-Chem professor back in the day. No beating around the bush, no fancy flourishes, just straight to the point and move along. As he sometimes used to say, “You make up your own mind, but the Calculus says ….” All objective, all the time. And a lot more definitive than Francis Urquhart.

  46. DDThetford

    My grandfather was a carpenter, born in the early 1900s, and trained and worked up through the 1960s. If only I’d known to collect his tools from him when he retired! I was little, but I do remember his hand-built tool box, his old hammers, saws, chisels, folding measuring sticks. Would have been a treasure trove. So, I do a little collecting instead, and this book would be an amazing help!

  47. cdarney

    I have several old tools now, picked up from auctions and yard sales, that need to be restored. This would be interesting!

  48. DamianGomez

    This looks like a great book for someone like myself who has long been a woodworker but only recently started getting into hand tools. I would love to have a copy.

  49. pepers@charter.net

    I used this many times from the Library. I could use my own copy, I could even donate it to the library so others could get started at restoring old tools.

  50. Scroll57

    My husband and I would be interested in receiving this book. We have an 1877 treadle scroll saw and just finished demonstrating – along with several of my fellow club members – at the New York State Fair. We demo ‘old fashioned’ woodworking because we are located in a museum which is focused on life in the 1800’s. All work is done without electricity. We had a spring pole lathe, did veneering with hide glue, had a shaving horse, did hand cut dovetails, and did carving. We are planning more demos next year using more hand tools that members have – some of which need restoring. This book would be an excellent tool to use for the restoration.

  51. GrimWood

    The first addition was one of the most informative books I found as I began woodworking. Please put my name in the had for the new edition!

  52. don2laughs

    Obviously you have a ‘hungry’ following, Megan. Good luck on the trip. I’ll be here in San Diego watchin Chris on stage.
    That book belongs on my grab shelf in the shop….and it will find it’s way there sooner or later!

    Thanks for the tease! :>)

  53. harriswd@hotmail.com

    Thank you for sharing. I have always admired your taste, especially your tiger striped LVL bench, no kidding. It was one of the most inspiring parts of magazine. I saw it first online, and it took me awhile to locate an actual copy of the magazine. My town is too small to support worthwhile magazines. Of because my search was so difficult, I became a subscriber. What’s worse is that I also cannot live without the DVDs!

  54. JAS

    Hi Megan. I am a bamboo fly rod maker and I use classic woodworking tools regularly, especially the Stanley 9 ½. Just downloaded chapter 4. Can’t wait to read it. Thanks for the download and the opportunity to win the book. JAS

    1. Sligo

      tried to reply 20 times, never did this before, want that book. had great lie about young lady interested in woodworking who works in local hardware store, always nice to my kids when they are with me. pick me I’ll give her the book

  55. Mikescott13

    This looks like a very useful book. Might motivate me to get all those rusty Stanley planes out and restore them.

  56. sleclerc

    Love Mike Dunbar! I took one of his chairmaking classes and would love to read either of these two books.

  57. jim childress

    I like the cover! Megan I am not worthy to receive this gift, but I like the cut of your jib like the
    sailor said the ‘Lady’. Anyway, good luck to all & sundry woodworkers.
    Jim

  58. b_houf

    I remember picking this book up at the library a couple of years ago. Definitely one that I wished I owned.

  59. jby230

    I was just going to start cleaning all the rust off of my grandfather handplanes this weekend. I look forward to reading this book.

  60. jabbruzzese

    I’ve picked up and then put down a number of wooden planes for fear of not knowing if they were any good or how to restore or tune them.

  61. whutchis@gmail.com

    Pick me! Pick me!
    Whatever – I’ll be at WIA, so you can just throw the extra copy on the truck!

    1. Megan FitzpatrickMegan Fitzpatrick Post author

      We won’t – they’re not actually quite in the warehouse yet (or maybe they are as of today…but that wasn’t in time to get copies for WIA – sorry!). What I have are “advances” – a few copies that get sent to us straight from the printer.

  62. elwongo

    Well, if I don’t win, then I’ll still buy the book. I’m knee deep in my grandfather’s old rusty tools and feel guilty every time I look at them. My greatest fear is “repairing” them incorrectly and rendering these classics unusable. Good luck, everybody!

  63. Gene

    Loved (and still own) the first edition. I enjoyed Mike’s updated text in “Make a Windsor Chair,” so I’m sure this updated version will be great too.

  64. jerseytool

    I have always enjoyed restoring and using old tools. This book would be a great read and a terrific resource.

    Put me on the list please…

    Thank you

  65. gregwest98

    As much as I hate to admit it, I’m a sucker for these random giveaways. Don’t buy lottery tickets though which makes no sense.

    But I do love restoring hand tools so PICK ME!

  66. pmpasion

    This was one of the books that lead me into hand tools when I was first started woodworking. At the time, I couldn’t afford to buy it, but checked it out from the library. Once I could afford to buy it, it was out of print. So glad it is available again.

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