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Book review - Tools A Guide for Collectors


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Established Member
24 Jul 2007
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There's a huge amount of information on-line about old tools now - quite a chunk of it on here - but sometimes you can't beat the efficiency of a good book, written by someone who really knows their subject. But it can be hard to choose based on just the cover, and this sort of specialist work is not going to turn up next to the chocolates in your local WH Smiths. So I thought a few notes might be helpful.

The book in question is Tools - A guide for Collectors by Jane and Mark Rees.

First published in 1996, the second edition was published by the late Roy Arnold in 1999. It's an A4 sized paperback of 256 pages.


Most of it is about woodwork tools, so there are sections on planes, saws, chisels etc. (44 pages on planes, but there is always more to say about them than any other tool.) It also covers measuring tools including specialist gauges; and dips briefly into agricultural tools and tools used by vets, plumbers, piano makers, bookbinders, coopers, clog makers and a few more besides.

Each section describes the main tools likely to be found, illustrated with engravings from old catalogues. Here for example is a bit of the section on chisels:


There are also sections on some of the major makers such as Marples, Preston, Rabone, Mathieson, Buck and Gabriel:


These are good intros and give information not easily available elsewhere.

One unusual aspect of the book is that it gives example prices, as realised at David Stanley auctions. The section on moulding planes even includes a price estimator which starts at a base price of £4 and adds or deducts for condition, maker, rarity etc:


Although written before the dominance of the Internet and eBay, these prices still look useful to me. I think eBay has tended to lower prices as it has made scarce items findable by all the people who might want them.

I thoroughly recommend this book. The authors are foremost in their field (Jane Rees is working on the next edition of British Planemakers) and manage to convey a lot of detailed information in a concise, readable format. It acknowledges the importance of Salaman's Dictionary of Woodworking Tools but if you have that already you won't be left thinking that this just covers the same ground.

It's available from Secondhand Tools or Classic Hand Tools at only £15.95 + p&p which is excellent value.


Established Member
12 Mar 2009
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Kent - the Garden of England
Excellent review Andy...thanks a million for that!! =D>

Now...once I get the crick out of my neck...I think I will ask Alfie which he would prefer for his up-and-coming birthday...Charles Gabriel....this one...a newer Goodman....a replacement Salaman...to replace the one he has eaten the corner of.....WAAAAIT!

Dogs grow seven times faster than humans right?....SO..... :idea:

:mrgreen: :mrgreen:


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