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Restoration Of Basic Hand Tools

How to buy, recondition, tune, and maintain secondhand woodworking tools.

Tuition: $825

Materials: This fee will be determined by your projects and the materials used.

Note: This is a five-day course ending Friday afternoon.

Wood chisel

If you’re an amateur or professional woodworker, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve acquired some tools that once belonged to someone else—your father, grandfather, or ones that you picked up at a garage sale, flea market, or auction. If so, some of them are probably in less than pristine condition and, as a result, may not get used very often or at all. But older tools are good tools and, when compared to most hand tools that are being made today, are most often the superior ones. This course will take you through the process of restoration to full functionality, if not outright as-new condition. And the emphasis will be placed on the use of commonly available materials and tools in the restoration process.

Photo of hand tools

Students are invited to bring tools from their own collection. For those who have not brought projects, we will pick through the school’s inventory of discarded tools or pick some from those that your instructor brought. Day one will start with a class trip to Liberty Tool Company to survey their huge inventory and, if interested, purchase some tools to work on during the week. After returning to campus, the initial disassembly and cleaning of tools will begin. If there is time and interest, a trip to Hull’s Cove Tool Shop on Mount Desert Island will take place midweek.

Throughout the week, there will be daily discussions on such topics as finding, reconditioning, and using secondhand tools, a tool’s history and evolution, its purpose, how it works, locating or making replacement parts, and the features and characteristics that make it worth purchasing. Most of each day will be spent on the techniques used for proper cleaning, painting, fabrication (if necessary), and potential start of reassembly of each student’s tools. You’ll explore heat-treating techniques for the reconditioning of blades and cutters of most tools. And sharpening procedures will certainly be demonstrated and practiced.

At the end of this week, each student should be able to better analyze and solve their tool maintenance problems. And, hopefully, the lessons learned will enable people interested in woodworking activities to become better craftsmen and women.

One thing I really appreciated was the genuine friendliness and kindness of everyone I met. Also, as a woman, I was thankful for the non-sexualized atmosphere. That is not a small thing. Thank you very much. A wonderful experience!”
A.D., East Hampton, Massachusetts