acquiring an old tool I promptly ask for information
on its origin, since the value of a tool is in its history. Here are some
important questions to be made to the dealer:
What is the origin of the piece? (place and
Does it have a brand? (sometimes the
information is not visible)
What kind of wood is it made of? (in the
case of wood tools, of course!)
During the nineteenth century, Brazilian timber -
such as rosewood and
gonçalo-alves - were often used
in the manufacturing of foreign tools, namely by Isaac
Greaves, one of the most prominent English trade
names of that period.
about the tool is also useful for its restoration, but sometimes
the supplier is unable to provide it. If so, one might have to
extract evidences from the piece itself.
It is very
difficult to specify dates, exception are marked and
catalogued tools. In the case of wood planes, the difficulty
increases considerably. I often come across pieces made by
anonymous craftsmen, where the brand - considering there is any
– only appears on the iron. In such cases, each craftsman would
build his own tool, according to the blade he would have
It is essential
to bear in mind that what is important is to rebuild, to fetch
the original aspect of the piece. Any change, even if "for
the better", will disregard this aspect. Unlike a
remodeling, restoration aims to exalt the nature of the piece,
rescuing the time in which it was created.
will update and, in effect, destroy the story of an old tool.
So, within the limits of a restoration, it is necessary to
The reconstruction of parts of
a tool (grafts) should, whenever possible, be made with the
same kind of wood.
Old tools should not be
varnished, unless you are using an original recipe.
Traditionally, linseed oil is used to preserve the wooden
and metal parts of old pieces. Waxes and furniture polish
may also be used.
Signs of use should not be
erased, as they are the "scars" of an old tool.
Some tools are reproduced nowadays, which means that not every used tool is
necessarily old. Likewise, there are unused old tools which
appear to be new.