Hand Tool Hunting Tips for Woodworkers

Do you prefer to sculpt and carve your rustic wood in a similarly old-timey way using hand tools? There are some who prefer using vintage hand tools whenever possible. These are available at specialty tool dealers who know how to select quality implements, and there are also antique stores and flea markets that have great finds and great deals. For woodworkers and crafters who also collect and use vintage tools as part of their hobby, here are a few tips to help you find the classic implements you are looking for.

Finding Trusted Dealers

Want to take the uncertainty out of the tool hunting process? Buy from tool dealers with established reputations, this means you are guaranteed to get what you order most of the time, without any surprises. Any vintage tools you get will be usable after the level of work and refurbishment the dealer says it will require. 

On the other hand, antique or junk dealers are not specialists when it comes to tools, so there’s a bigger chance of surprises. However, the tools they might have tend to come at a lower price than those offered by speciality tool dealers. 


Examine Hand Tools In Detail

Found something interesting? You must look over every inch of the vintage tool to determine whether it is still usable or salvageable. There may be fine cracks in old cast iron, on chisels or saw plates, that makes them unsuited for further use. There can be defects buried within rust, old paint, dust, that might go unnoticed until you have purchased it and brought it home. So look carefully and examine every piece, every angle and every inch of the item you are interested in before paying for it. 


Hand Tool Rummaging in Antique Stores and Flea Markets 

If you’re trying your luck at antique stores and flea markets, there’s a risk that you might spend endless hours going through the stacks, shelves and piles. Don’t have the time for all that? Develop an efficient process, like scanning the entire area at first and finding specific spots that have a higher chance of netting good finds. Experienced rummagers can intuit or approximate what each booth, stack or pile will contain based on its exterior appearance. When the sellers arrange their items, there tends to be a pattern. No one piles woodworking tools with silverware or home made crafts, right? With some experience you can develop a feel for these sorts of things.


Don’t Get Too Sentimental

If your intention is to actually use these antique or vintage tools for woodworking and crafts, then you must assess them for their potential usability. On the other hand, if you are just collecting interesting knick knacks without intending on using them for your projects, then you can be less discerning. When you are assessing classic tools, the sellers might regale you of interesting moments and heartfelt memories of these tools. Their pappy might’ve used this saw or that hammer when building their old cabin. These backstories are pleasant, some of them may be true, others could be tall tales that should be taken with a grain of salt. But ultimately, you must be objective in assessing the quality of the instrument and determining its providence. How intact is it, can it be repaired, what are the proof marks that indicate its origins, so on. These should be as important as stories that may be embellished or part of the seller’s sales talk. 



With these tips, you can go on collecting quality vintage hand tools that you can refurbish and use for your next woodworking projects. Need materials for your next undertaking? Reach out to Rustic Lumber for woodworking supplies and materials.  For inquiries, feel free to reach out to us, we have all you need for your projects. As your lumber supplier in the Utah, Idaho and Colorado area, Rustic Lumber has definitely got the wood you are looking for.

Got finished projects using Rustic Lumber products? Show off on Instagram and be sure to tag us! We also have weekly contests where the winners will be awarded with great giveaways.