Working Within the Limits of Tool Preservation

198 SB3 Type 9 Pre0I spent a long time researching and learning about tool preservation before I ever touched a plane. Even so, it was a couple or three years before I really settled into a comfort zone where the hands on experience I gained began to gel with the “book knowledge” I’d accumulated. For me, the greater appeal has always been geared more toward preservation than restoration (although I use the word restoration more often when casually talking about “cleaning up” a plane or tool). It’s probably a matter of semantics; I think most people equate restoration with refinishing, while preservation, by it’s very definition, speaks to preserving and sustaining. To me, that’s more accurate, and is a key part of my guiding philosophy and approach to tools.

It’s very easy for me to “go too far” when cleaning up a tool, to make it pretty vs. simply making it functional. My underlying intent is to preserve the character, finish, patina, etc. whenever possible. Dirt and rust are not sacred to me (as they are to some collectors), they are destructive elements of neglect. When I’m cleaning up a tool, I try to stay within the same boundaries that a woodworker of 100 years ago would have stayed within. He would have only been interested in preserving his tools, keeping them clean and in good working order, not making them pretty to sell on eBay. I constantly remind myself of that, not because I’m right and everyone else is wrong, but because it’s consistent and true to the values and parameters I defined when I started this venture. It’s my mission statement, if you will.

198 SB3 Type 9 Post7



About Bryant
Bryant is a business management and organizational development executive with over 20 years’ experience focused on financial and operational efficiencies, talent development and optimization, improved employee engagement, and cultural alignment of teams within the organization. He has diverse experience in successful financial and strategic planning, brand management, leadership analysis and talent development, as well as designing and executing improvements to teams’ cultural efficacy and organizational alignment. Bryant has experience in both International Public S&P 500 Corporate and Non-Profit Sectors, and also runs his own entrepreneurial business venture, a consulting company specializing in helping small businesses and organizations improve operational efficiency, leadership development, and employee engagement . Bryant holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and a Bachelors in Fine Arts (BFA).

2 Responses to Working Within the Limits of Tool Preservation

  1. what sort of resources did you use regarding tool preservation and restoration? That is the sort of reading I would love to find


    • Bryant Rice says:

      I started out with the obvious “restoring a hand plane” Google search, but quickly realized that I didn’t like what I found most people are doing. Just my own prejudice, but stripping and refinishing was not what I had in mind. So I quite literally read everything I could find online that had any remote connection to museum restoration and preservation of metal artifacts and tools. I looked for information on very specific topics, such as saving the patina on iron and brass surfaces, and more generally, tried to educate myself in manufacturing techniques, processes, and materials in the late 19th and early 20th century. Original treatise and articles from period publications also provide insight on care and handling of tools during that time period, which I think puts things into perspective. In order to really understand what’s reasonable in terms of restoration or preservation, I think we have to better understand how the tools were originally used and maintained. We can’t simply apply our 21st century disposable everything logic or habits. Our values and perspective on the use and maintenance of new tools we buy today is different. Think about it… how many cordless drills have you purchased in the last 10 or 15 years?

      It was a laborious and time-consuming effort, and unfortunately, most of the information I gathered came in bits and pieces from hundreds of sources. If you look on the blog under the Reference tab, there’s a drop-down for resources. Listed are books and websites that I found useful. Beyond that, the search for resources is part of the journey.

      Hope this helps.



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