Saturday, March 17, 2012

My fetish for olde things....

So I purchased today a new-to-me Parks "12 Planer for my home wood shop.

A Parks Planer is a popular old tool for tinkerers and woodworkers to restore. The design is simple and proven, starting sometime in the 1930s and produced under the Parks and Craftsman label until the early 80s. The one I laid my hands on today is probably from the 50s or 60s, looking at the design; that is just a guesttimate, pending investigation.

So what on earth did I buy an olde tool for, when I could go to Lowes and plunk the same amount of cash on a quality new one? Well, my reasons are numerous, but it all amounts basically to this: they just don't make them like they used to. The old iron on vintage tools is usually pretty awesome. The designs are simple and effective. Many were made in the USA and to stand the test of time.

Old tools, machinery, and cars, IMO, carry with them the allure of ages gone by. They are monuments to the past, a testimonial, for better or worse, to the attitudes, feelings, and culture of those that used and created them.

It's not that I needed another project. I have plenty. Enough to keep me busy for as long as I'd like. The fact is, I love restoring things, bringing them back to life and honoring the "older" than me ways. You can't recreate the feelings of old things in new things. You just can't. New things are often disposable. Old things were meant to last, and can often be repaired.

Maybe I'm just hopelessly romantic regarding certain antiques. However, I take comfort in knowing that I'm not the only one who thinks in this way.

The gent I purchased the planer from had a house in 1980s old suburbia with a driveway and garage filled with old machinery for wood and metal working. He basically had a small path from his house to his garage, and the rest of the stuff was covered in tarps. Don't ask me where he got all this stuff. I think it finds him, but he had basically anything and everything one could ever want for a shop.

The seller, an engineer, was a really chill guy. He spoke with a slow southern draw, and I was saddened to hear that he was "between jobs." You could tell that he was an intelligent dude, who could basically do anything he put his mind to. He allowed me to test the planer and run a board of 100-year-old white oak, which the planer smoothed with relish. I was pretty surprised. I expected the planer to balk. I thought, "Damn, wow." We dropped the setting to take a larger bite, but that was too much, and likely would have been for the Grizzly I am accustomed to using as well.

After loading up, we chatted about his tool collection and additional country storehouse of old machinery. I told him I would hit him up in the future and we parted ways.

On the way, I had considered haggling, because I was unsure of what I was getting myself into with this old work horse, but when I saw that this man was good and honest and out of work, I thought better of it and decided to simply pay the fair price he had asked for the machine and head out. In doing so, I left like I had done the right thing, and may eventually give him a call back the next time I have a tool need.

All that said, I look forward to restoring this tool, as needed, and putting it to plenty of good use.

Over and Out,



Martin Schap said...

I'm with you. Sometimes I enjoy haggling, and sometimes it seems out of place.
In the past when I have accepted a new job and have finished up at the old one, I have taken pleasure in telling people I'm "between jobs" over the weekend.
Congrats on your tool. Use it in good health.

Nick-dog said...

Thanks homie. I will do my best. Talk with you soon.