View Full Version : Of Grapes and Chisels

Larry Frank
03-22-2010, 9:32 PM
I was grocery shopping today and one of the items on the list was grapes. So I looked them over and pulled one out of the bag and tried it. It was very good so I bought the two pound bag. As I was putting it in my cart, I remembered the thread about doing sampling and the comments both right and wrong. I usually just buy apples or oranges and take them home without trying them and sometimes get some bad ones and toss them out.

I reread the thread concerning buying three chisels, trying them out and then returning two of them. I do not want to re-open that thread as pretty much everything that can be said was said.

However, all of this reminded me of problems that I have buying tools, especially expensive tools. How do I pick a tool or brand of tool if I can not try it out. I read the threads here and listen to the pros and cons but unless I have it in my hands and try it, I still do not know. I do not have this problems with most power tools. However, I had shunned Festool until I put my hands on the circular saw and guide and it sold itself.

I think that the thread about the chisels brings up an important issue with many of the expensive hand tools. How do I know that I will like a $55 LN chisel or $300 plane. If I am lucky, I will be able to handle one at a store but that is not always enough. I could go to an LN event if it is close enough...... Or if I know someone close who has one, I could go try it there. But most of the time, I would end up buying without giving it a try.

It all seems to get back to that grape....you have to try it before you buy it and sometimes it is not easy. The grape was cheap but most of the hand tools are anything but cheap and not always easy to be able to put your hands on them. I think that the next time I want to get a new LN plane of Lee Valley plane, I will call them and tell them that I think that I want a certain plane but want to try it out and see what they say.

Jim Rimmer
03-22-2010, 10:20 PM
You know, calling them and asking for a trial tool might not be a bad idea. I used to play a lot of golf and the club makers (especially Big Bertha) would leave clubs with the pro for people to try out. It was the same kind of deal - nobody wanted to buy a $300 driver without trying it out first.

You more than likely will get a used tool but the folks trying them out will be people that appreciate quality tools and LN would probably make sure it was in good condition before sending it out (if they even do something like that).

Dave Johnson29
03-23-2010, 11:17 AM

Way back when I was young, I was an Apprentice machinist. Some of the old farts could make stuff on old machinery that modern CNCs would struggle to make. Well, almost.

They knew everything there was to know about the machine, how to tighten gibbs to make that final cut. How to slip the belts just at the right time and amount to momentarily slow the speed a fraction for a second or two during a depth of cut transition.

I could go on, but the end result was they were as efficient with the old machines as we Apprentices were using the new machines. That was way before CNC, by the way. :):eek:

So, where am I going?
I bought an old smoothing plane for 12-bucks at a swap meet and then got online and found out about refurbishing them. There is a ton of information on the subject. After about 5 hours of part time learning and hand work, I have a plane every bit as good as a $300 one. No taste test needed and I enjoyed the journey.

What is that old adage about a craftsman and his tools? :eek::D:D

Rod Sheridan
03-23-2010, 12:07 PM
I've tried out tools at Lee Valley, they have a classroom area where you can take a plane or chisel and try it out.

I've also done the same thing at Felder, it looks kind of funny when they roll a dust extractor out on the carpet and wood starts getting machined, however it is nice to see stuff in action before buying.

I've test driven cars, and motorcycles, yet I can't think of a single vendor other than Felder where I could try a shaper, a planer or a saw.

I wonder if it would be a good sales attraction to offer that sort of capability?

Regards, Rod.

Richard M. Wolfe
03-24-2010, 12:33 AM
How about power tools? One time I happened to be sixty miles from home and found a particular router I wanted. I got it home, pulled it out of the box, plugged it in, and.....nada. Since then if I'm buying a long way from home I tell them I will take it if they will take it out of the box, plug it in and turn it on.