Category Archives: Tool acquisitions

The Bad Axe experience


In this post I would like to highlight what it is like  to deal with Mark Harrell from Bad Axe. The short answer is that it is the best customer service I have ever encountered, but I am sure you want to know a smidgen more.

I first e-mailed Mark on the 13th of April 2015, with some questions regarding the process of getting a custom saw built. He replied the same day and explained the process. We then went into an e-mail discussion where I told him what I want to do with the saw and he advised me what would work best for that purpose.

I ended up ordering two saws. One for my cousin in Cape Town and one for me. I asked Mark to send both saws to Cape Town to save a bit on shipment cost. The picture below show the saws in the Bad Axe workshop before leaving on it’s journey to SA. It is a Roubo Beast Master (Filing: Hybrid-Cut , Pitch: 9 ppi, .0315-Gauge Plate , Back: Copper-Plated Steel , Species: Texas Honey Mesquite , Fasteners: Black-Oxided/Gun-Blued Steel Slotted-Nuts , Size: regular ) and a 12″ Hybrid Dovetail/Small Tenon Saw  (Filing: Hybrid-Cut , Pitch: 14 ppi , Gauge: .02 , Sawback: Copper-Plated Steel , Handle Type: Open Disston Pattern , Species: Wisconsin Black Walnut , Fasteners: Black-Oxided/Gun-Blued Steel Slotted-Nuts , Size: large)


Here they are after the arduous journey at my cousin’s practice in Cape Town on June the 16th. He is a Urologist, but promised that he would not use it in theatre. It might cause damage where it is not needed.

Sae by Jogy

… and finally in my shop in Windhoek. I picked mine up during a recent trip to SA.


My monster is absolutely sublime. It compares very well with my Disston no. 12’s. I need to cut some massive tenons in the next few weeks and will sure post on that experience, but for now I can only say that the whole experience of dealing with Mark Harrell and Bad Axe Tool Works has been a pleasure.

Thank you Mark, you are a legend!

Another tool ensemble from Jim Bode


Last week I received a package from Jim Bode. This one only took 3 weeks to reach me as apposed to the previous (and first) one that took three months. If you are keen to find out what happened to that package read this post

You can check out Jim’s website, there is a link on my home page. I have only good things to say about their service. He usually hangs on to the stuff I buy until we have enough to justify a shipment across the Atlantic.

From right to left:

Yankee no. 135 quick-return screwdriver with 5 bits, I. Sorby pigsticker mortice chisel, Japanese carving axe, and a Yankee no. 41 push drill with 8 bits.


A perfect user ensemble of hollows and round by Sims (ca 1816-1834). These are incredibly well made and as good today as 200 years ago.


Fourth acquisition from Patrick Leach


My fourth shipment from Patrick Leach arrived this week.

It included:

1) This Stanley no. 203 bench clamp. It is in the process of being rehabilitated in this picture.


2) Stanley no. 923 12″ brace. In the picture I am cleaning and lubricating the chuck.


3) This Disston no. 12 18″ 12pt cross cut panel saw. Unfortunately I did not take a picture of the blade befor sending it to Kenney for a clean. It was rusted on one side. According to my research it would have been made between 1896-1917.


4) Sargent no. 407 smoothing plane and a Stanley no. 3.


Goes without saying.




… and Marples gouges.


December 2014 tool finds.


This December holiday turned into a fairly successful tool solicitation exercise. I met some people dealing in antique stuff and found new tool hunting grounds for future purposes. In the picture below you can see the artifacts I managed to secure.


This massive “treksaag” I bought at an antiques auction.


I met a lady who is the owner of an antiques/coffee shop in Groot Brakrivier at the auction. I later bought a few old tools, including this brass and leather bound tape measure from her.


She also sold me this old ink roller, which is destined to become a glue roller.


This medium sized screw driver (embossed with “Yankee patent made by Stanley”) I bought for R65 (US$5,64 with todays exchange rate). They fetch between US$50-75 (shipping not included) if bought form antique tool dealers. I love these and only had the large version until now. I use them all the time, so this would probably be my favourite of the lot.


My father in-law gave this more recent version of the Yankee patent to me as a present. This one (large size) has only the Stanley name on it. He bought it new in 1978 for R18,40 as you can see on the original box. It has a plastic red handle, as opposed to the wooden handles of the earlier models. I think this could become my son’s first Yankee!


Speaking of Didi, I also bought this run down Stanley Bailey no. 4, which we will rehab together. It will be his first bench plane. It was R300 (US$26). I am certainly no expert, but it looks to be a Type 17 (ca 1942-1945).


This a collection of wooden smoothers and joiners found in 2013 and 2014. I will use these for decorative purposes in the shop.


Stanley no. 9½ Block plane rehab


These little beauties were made between 1873 and 1981. This one is an example of the final design (in the tool’s evolution) as far as I can gather from the literature, but could still be anything between 40 to 100 years old. I bought it from Patrick Leach.


As per usual I sent the various part off to get bead blasted. Then I applied the usual sequence of coats to the main casting and lever cap.


Kenney also plated the lateral adjustment lever, the lever that adjusts the throat and the depth adjustment lever with Cadmium. Now I only need to sharpen the blade. The last picture shows the leather pouch I made for it.


Second acquisition from Patrick Leach


My second (of hopefully many more) shipments from Patrick Leach arrived yesterday. It reached these shores in perfect condition after a two week journey and a further week of faffing around at Namibia’s customs.

June 2014 US postal


A group photo.


This is a Buck Brothers drawknife made around the turn of the previous century by this famous company. It is an absolute gem, they simply do not make tools like this anymore.


A #71 open throat Stanley router plane with three different blades, in original box and hardly ever used condition.


A #923 Stanley 10″ brace in perfect condition and no obvious signs of being used much at all. Again, you simply can not buy anything approaching this quality made more recently.


These are two Sorby (Sheffield made) pairing chisels Patrick acquired in England recently and shipped it to the USA, only for the edge tools to extradite themselves to Namibia after a very brief visit. There are a ¾” and a 1″, both in as new condition with the usual boxwood handles.


My first acquisition from Patrick Leach


On Monday my first tools bought from Patrick Leach arrived safe and sound. You will find all his details on the library page of this site. Patrick has singlehandedly solved my problems with regards to accessing quality old world tools.

Here you can see 3 x Imhoff & Lange wood screw box and tap sets.


This Irwin Auger set were made well and truly before 1900, but is soooo much better than anything you can buy today. Even the lid of the original wooden box is built with breadboard ends. There are 9 augers ranging from 4/16″ to 1″



This Miller’s Falls #88 jointer gauge will first be subjected to my usual rehab and then put into action for many years to come, hopefully.

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Chisel storage


On Saturday I briefly interrupted my bench-building-activities in order to ensure that my precious new Lie-Nielsen bevel-edge chisels receive a warm welcome and safe haven right from the start of our (hopefully) long and prosperous relationship. I ordered these chisels back in November 2013, but the tool works at Lie-Nielsen were out of stock and in the process of crafting new ones. As far as what I can gather they had a few hiccups in this process, which meant that the chisels only arrived on 10/3/2014. The guys and gals at Lie-Nielsen leave no stone unturned when it comes to their commitment to ensure the absolute highest quality, which was again quite obvious when I unpacked these heirlooms.


An example of the attention to detail is how the backs of these chisels have been perfectly flattened by hand honing. This means that you have the absolute minimum preparation honing to do before you go mental with it on a piece of timber.


Just look at these stunning Hornbeam handles. I plan to turn my own longer handles for when I am using the chisels for paring.


Here you can see how I very quickly built a rudimentary chisel dwelling from a piece of scrap Swarthout. Swarthout (Acacia melanoxylon and known as Australian Blackwood, Sally Wattle or Tasmanian Blackwood) originates from Australia (surprisingly) as a species, but this particular piece is South African by birth as it spent many years enjoying the tranquility of the rain forests of the Garden Route.


I decided that the quickest way to keep the chisels sitting stable and upright (as the three smallest chisels are top heavy and therefore tends to attempt acrobatics in it’s dwelling) was to whack dowels through the living room.


Together with the dowels, a small notch on the inside of the side walls where each chisel’s socket rests, does a great job of keeping each chisel proud and upright.



At this stage I left the dwelling as is, but might add a base once my bench is finished, because it might be useful to grab the who set and stick it on the bench next to you while doing dovetails or mortises. For now it will be supported by two storage containers on either side of it in my tool rack.



Lie-Nielsen acquisitions


My favourite modern day tool company is without a doubt Lie-Nielsen. I thought I should compile a post on the various acquisitions I’ve made so far. Below are some pictures of my first shipment. Most of these tools are by now indispensable members of my tool regiment.


The five DVDs were complimentary gifts that has changed the way I do woodwork for ever. The dusting brush is never more than an arm’s length away while I am in the shop.


This is the first quality hand saw (carcass in this case) I’ve ever owned. It is superb in every way. I have since a added their dovetail and tenon saws to my collection.


Their no 4½ Smoothing plane with a 50º frog and a small block plane that has see a hell of a lot of work by now.


Low Angle (bevel up) Jackplane with adjustable mouth. I use this predominantly with a toothed blade to remove material fast in conjunction with my shop made scrub plane and no 606 Bedrock with a fairly aggressive cambered blade. You will find posts on each of my shop made hand planes and one documenting the rehabilitation of the #606 elsewhere on this site.


Their large scraping plane arrived with the tote damaged. LN had absolutely no problems with replacing it and simply added a new tote to my next shipment.


June 2013

In this shipment I received heaps of Lie-Nielsen blade/chipbreaker combinations for all the wooden planes I’ve built during 2013. You can see how each blade and shipbreaker has it’s production date and the initials of the quality control inspector on the wrapping paper. This is the Lie-Nielsen attention to detail that I love and appreciate. Also included in the shipment were a Magni-Focuser for sharpening, a 1″ bed float, a couple of double extra slim taper files and a DVD on making side escape planes.







At the time (November 2013) I ordered this set of bevel edge chisels they were out of stock at LN. Due to their serious quality control and meticulous processes to ensure the absolute best products, I only received the shipment in March 2014.


Part of this order was a LN replacement blade for the no. 78 Stanley rabbet plane I rehabilitated at the time (you will find and entire post dedicated to this project under the category ‘Rehabilitation of old tools’ on this site). You can see a picture with the #78 sporting it’s new blade and a chipbreaker/lever cap I fashion out of brass as the original were missing. Incidentally the brass lever cap lends a Lie-Nielsen-esque appearance to this vintage Stanley. The Lie-Nielsen replacement blade is significantly thicker than the Stanley original.


The chisels are beyond words in terms of quality and precision of machining. Since taking ownership of these babies, they have see a lot of heavy work chopping out humongous mortises during the process of building my 18th century style workbench. (you will find a series of posts entitled ‘My workbench 1-4′ documenting this process in detail.)




My most recent shipment to date included a closed throat router plane, a tongue and groove plane, and two sets of vise hardware for the workbench I am building. I will try to remember to add photos once the hardware have been installed.