2014 Would-be Sybarite's Wodoworking Gift Guide

The 2014 Would-be Sybarite’s Gift Guide: Day 2

 In Shop Blog, Woodworking Blogs

Philly PlanesI have several matched hollows & rounds…but I don’t have a full set. Or a half set. Poor me. (That said, I do have the two sets I knew I would use, plus a couple unusable ones inherited from my grandfather.)

Anyway…I don’t think a half-set is unreasonable for anyone who pursues hand-tool woodworking. So these aren’t really be an indulgence so much as something you might just have to save up for.

Thus, on my list goes a half-set of H&Rs, from any of several makers whose tools I either own or have used enough to feel comfortable recommending them (with the caveat that not all of them are taking orders…but if you run across their wares in an estate sale, snap ’em up!): M.S. Bickford, Old Street Tool (formerly Clark & Williams), Caleb James and Philly Planes (from whom I, er, borrowed the image).

— Megan Fitzpatrick




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  • fltckr

    I can’t resist: for me, the opposite of Sybarite is “Leaverite”. For some, it is a type of unwanted mineral, for me, it is action warranted by the priced tag, as in “leaverite there on the counter, I can’t afford it”.

    • Megan Fitzpatrick
      Megan Fitzpatrick


  • amoscalie

    Like I have said in the past, you need to start making your own H&Rs instead of buying them. They are not that hard to build and it is a very satisfying experience. Even the floats can be made relatively easily. They require a little bit of amateur blacksmithing, but nothing that the average person cannot do.

  • oltexasboy

    Yeah Megan , I priced some of Caleb James tools and I don’t think so. I have had cars over the years that I have paid a LOT less for than his planes. Granted they are of superior quality but some of us would be hard pressed to pay $5000.00 for a full set of planes at that price. It has gotten to a point to where this has become a competition between the haves and havenots, not a relaxing hobby for the ones of us that are of lesser means and do this for fun. I do appreciate the helpful tips and tricks that I get from FWW but I am going to keep buying the tools I can afford , that way every once in awhile I can splurge and get some Cheery or Maple to work on from our local wood dealer.

    • Clay Dowling

      I invite you to explore the wonderful world of ebay, where I have picked up several nice hollows and rounds for very little money. It probably won’t net you the fancy matched set. But it will get you usable profiles that you can make work.

      The other option, of course, is to design your furniture so that you don’t need tools you can’t afford, or don’t want to buy. Or learn to make your own tools. But that’s a horribly addicting hobby in its own right.

    • tsstahl

      Don’t get too hung up on having the full set. In my mind H&R planes are like Legos, you can never own them all.

      I haven’t purchased any new for lack of skill and need. I have a couple of the yard sale variety that may or may not be set up correctly (how would I know?).

      Anyway, I use them in conjunction with router bits. I might route a profile with a bit or two then hit it with one of my resurrected hand planes for a truly custom look. Disclaimer, I suck at this stuff and claim no expertise whatsoever. 🙂

    • Thomas

      Yes, some of these new fancy redesigned tools are crazy expensive. Living up in the northeast and traveling for business, i get to stop at a variety of antique stores and pick up a variety of old tools. After a while you know what things are worth and when you have a steal or not. Most of the stuff out there is overpriced as compared to 10 years ago, but I have my share of $5 and $10, #4 and #5 planes that just needed/need a little tuning. I know some would rather be working wood than fixing up tools but I enjoy both. The wife says you don’t need 20+ hand saws, but at $5 each, I feel like I am saving some of the past and hope others will need them eventually. The hollows and rounds are typically not in sets out there unless you want to pay a lot more at higher end shops, but I have seen them. I really hate to pay more than $10 or $15 for a wood molding plane unless it is a detailed profile with boxing. Not sure about the market in TX but check ebay and craigslist. Good luck.

  • Sawduster

    You’re really a sybarite in the truest sense, a person of luxury and pleasure. gosh you just enyoy a multitude of the finest of things. Maybe I’ll obtain just a pair someday?

    • Megan Fitzpatrick
      Megan Fitzpatrick

      No, no. I just want to be. In reality, I am woefully practical and in many things a skinflint.

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