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With a few hours to kill in Maine this afternoon I tool a long-overdue side trip to Liberty Tool Co. in Liberty, Maine. While the state of Maine in general has more than its share of vintage tools, Liberty Tool Co. is supposed to be the mother ship of steel, rosewood and cast iron.

Located in a white clapboard building across the street from the Davistown Museum, I was sure my wallet was going to end up lighter by the end of the afternoon. The covered porch in front of the store is heaped with piles of tools and hardware in all manner of glass jars.

I poked around the porch a bit and reached for the front door.

It was closed. Damn. Though my sources told me that Liberty Tool was open on Sundays, this is February in Maine. You’re lucky if the bowling alley is open if there aren’t tourists around. I peered in through the dusty windows and got a glimpse of the tools on the first floor.

The view made me want to be a better man. I’ll be back later. But I’ll call first before I make the hike.

The whole trip wasn’t a waste, however, I did encounter the very first birdhouse that I’ve ever wanted to build. It’s awesome. Look for plans for the “Handplane Birdhouse” in an upcoming issue (errr, probably not). Look for plans in an upcoming blog entry.

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 10 comments
  • TedM

    Liberty Tools will reopen for the 2010 Season on Saturday, March 6th at 8:00 AM. and if past years are any indication, you’ll have to get there early for opening day. 🙂

    Don’t forget to check out the Davistown Museum across the street! It’s a small hands-on museum for eighteenth and nineteenth century hand tools.

    You can find more info here –

  • james

    As a collector i can say without a doubt that for me, the hunt is just as enjoyable as the acquisition. HAPPY HUNTING!

  • Derek

    I, too, visited there over the summer. I was in Windham and made the long, but very enjoyable, drive up/over to Liberty. The drive and the junk shops along the way were worthwhile, I think. But if the only think I cared about was Liberty Tools (the point of my trip), I would have been disappointed. I don’t know if it was the time of year (lots of summer folks visiting and buying stuff for their walls….aggghhh) or the fact that the "real" proprieter was off on his own vacation, but I didn’t really have a lot of success there.

    I guess, after reading about the place somewhere, I expected a proper mecca of incredible, old tools, ripe for the picking, all very serviceable, and quite affordable (inexpensive?). What I found was a lot of old tools, somewhat useable after what would be lots of work, for not so competetive prices. Now, again, it could easily be attributable to summer season, absences, etc. And I was predisposed to be disappointed after I discovered there were no serviceable mortise chisels there, which was the main thing I was looking for. And, being a New England Scot, I’m naturally a little "tight" with my wallet….not cheap, but I do favor a good deal!

    That said, I did come away with a few saws to play around with sharpening, and I did get a good deal on a bow saw. So I shouldn’t complain too much. And it WAS, certainly, fun poking around the nooks and crannies. I did end up spending about 3 hours there, so….yeah, definitely go back, if you’re nearby, and have a fun afternoon. But I would caution about getting too many hopes up. Oh…and definitely, visit across the street where the overflow is….there were actually some good deals on saws and such over there. Happy hunting!

  • John Borgwardt

    Look forward to seeing the plans. John

  • Al

    Apparently birds prefer york pitch???

  • David Cockey

    I’ve been there sporadically over the last fifeteen years. My impression is that over the years they’ve gotten in batches of tools, the good stuff has sold and the not so desirable stuff has stayed. Over the years the proportion of good stuff has declined. Best bet is to find some boxes of stuff they’ve recently gotten in.

  • Jeff

    Porta Potties – too funny.

  • joe barry

    I visited Liberty last fall for the first time in over 30 years. Back then it was an Aladdin’s cave full of ancient Stanley treasure. Nowadays it seems to be just a junk shop as your photo of jars full of miscellanious nuts and bolts would verify.

  • John Cashman

    Oh, sure, blow one of my haunts. Now everyone will be there. It’s a fascinating place, and not far from Lie Nielsen. It’s also very hit-or-miss. The best part is reading the labels on the thousands of little drawers they have holding miscellaneous items. One label is "LRTs," which stands for "Little Rusty Things." Another is marked "Nuclear Waste." Inside is a gizmo that says it is radioactive, and if found should be returned to authorized military personnel. Word of honor, it was there this past summer.

    It’s an ancient building, and careful observers or the outside picture will note the Porta-Potties. If you go, find a john somewhere else first. Especially in winter.

  • David Chidester

    That’s awesome! It might have to be the first birdhouse I ever build as well.

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