Have You Seen Any Interesting Tools that are New To You


Lee Valley’s on-going diversification (they’ve also begun carrying leatherworking tools which is even further afield than instrument-making) is interesting, and I’m curious as to what other fields they’ll attempt to address.

I sent in an e-mail a while back suggesting that they should do at least a web page collecting all their things which are useful for hobbyist CNC machines.


Well, they’ve always had home and garden, and a lot can fit into that category. Plus now they have a Festool page, relatively new, I think.


Depends on your country, I suppose. They’ve been in business for decades, and started with three sections. Hardware, Gardening, and Woodworking Tools. What is included in those three varies quite a bit. Then, somewhere around 10 years ago now, they became the North American Festool partner.

If you’re seeing fewer than those four tabs, maybe they have begun grouping the old ones into new ones for foreign markets? I can see where Luthier, and Leatherworking tools are an easy extension to their Woodworking tools section. In fact, I can see them eventually changing the name to just “Specialty Tools” instead.


When I first saw Lee Valley’s catalog (no internet back then) thay reminded me a bit of Garret Wade - who had a showroom on 6th. Avenue in Lower Manhattan - but had a catalog business too. Garret Wade, back then (starting in 1975), was one of the first dealers for Lie-Nielsen planes - and Lee Valley (starting in 1978) seemed to be just starting up their Veritas operation. Getting a good hand plane back then - meant that you looked for an old Stanley-Bailey Bedrock plane in good condition or good enough to restore - but before the Internet - finding one required scouring the countryside so to speak. Sometime in the 1960’s - it seemed to me - that many tool manufacturer’s thought that the age of quality hand tools for woodworking had passed. Legendary manufacturers like Disston, Millers Falls and Stanley started making mostly lower-end product to sell to the DIY crowd - not dedicated woodworkers. In more recent years - when Stanley has tried to reintroduce what they call their Sweetheart line of tools - they are just trying to hearken back to days long past.
The new Stanley planes - IMO don’t hold a candle to production planes from Lie-Nielsen and Veritas - let alone what some modern (Hotley, Sauer & Steiner, and Lazarus come to mind) small infill plane makers are doing.


Please forgive me for this next statement, as it isn’t meant to hurt you. I wasn’t even born back then, so I did not know that. But I do thank you for the history there.

I can honestly say, I am rather proud of Lee Valley, and being Canadian. The Veritas line is designed and manufactured here in Canada, with some mass contracting being sent out to Japan and China for various inconsequential things. Veritas tools, I have to say, really feel Canadian in a lot of ways. Heavier than they look, efficiently designed, and often far more over-designed than one might expect. Their Rotary Plunge-Router setup is a huge example of this. Did they HAVE to make it out of cast metal materials? No. They could have just made it plastic, like the real Dremel plunge router base. But they made it out of Aluminum, Brass, and Cast Iron, machined by hand and all!

I even once called their customer service desk to ask a question about these kinds of things once, and when I said “I have a suggestion” I was told to hold, and none other than the President of Lee Valley at the time picked up to listen to my suggestion. I found out that much of their hiring process actually involved asking whether or not there is a mischievous streak to their machinist hires, because they have certain gift items that are only made seasonally, like their trick bolts, and if their machinists don’t have a sense of mischief to them these items don’t tend to get made in enough volume. They go through prototypes, and insist on making very silly April Fool’s joke items really work. So, much like the rest of us Canadians, they really show how much they like to play while they work.

I was not aware of the exact year they started. I love the company, but I don’t keep those kinds of details in my head. It’s bad enough having a photographic memory, I don’t want to go around memorizing EVERYTHING. But it’s awesome that you know this stuff fred! It’s nice to know my country has contributed, at least in some small way, to your life experience!


Jessem is another Canadian company that makes quality tools. Their tools are always well built and excellent value for the price. Sometimes they hit a home run, and a few of their tools don’t fly. Innovation is likely difficult for a small company. I bought their mortise mill on closeout and it’s a great tool, but not easy to use without making a jig that turns it upside-down. Then it works like a horizontal mortise machine. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dof8dytydX0 Because of the quality, it will stay accurate and last forever. Maybe this is an interesting tool that will be new to many, but sadly no longer available.

I’ve always thought it was too bad that Jessem likely didn’t have the resources to take this further, build something along the lines of that jig to go with it, and do more with the clamping, since that was difficult.



I’ve been collecting old planes for many years and have a modest collection of infill planes.

Sauer & Steiner - makers of infill planes are mentioned in my prior post. I think that they may still make some spectacular infill planes in Kitchener Ontario. When I first heard of them - they were making planes solely on commission.


If your pockets are quite deep - buy one - and admire! Their K18 - can be custom made for you at a price starting at $5500 CDN


Holy Jaw-Drop Emoji, @fred !

I’ve never, EVER, paid more than $300 on any of my tools so far! I’m only into my tools somewhere hovering around $2000 total! I mean, give me time to magically get super rich to buy all the bigger stuff I want, but… $5500? For a PLANE? That sucker has GOT to be some serious quality if it costs that much… Blades made of Meteorite? Inset screws with industrial diamond grip? Comes in a Rare Mahogany Case, with built-in humidor to keep the plane in EXACT perfect conditions for centuries? Or it’s at LEAST a large tool, that does a lot at once. That it would be machined, and built, to the standards required by the KING of the OCD people would just be expected at that price.

I have to say, I don’t work on those scales most of the time, so I haven’t heard of these companies yet. My personal life side-tracked me there. I thank you both for letting me know about these tool companies from my native Canada, but… Wow… I was not prepared for that!


Yep - starting at $5500 CDN is a pretty hefty price for a hand tool. I’m guessing that some of my most costly hand tools are also planes. I sometimes use my Lie-Nielsen #8 jointer plane that currently sells for $475. But the LN #8, while very nicely made - is meant to be a working tool - and comes from a factory - not out of a custom maker’s shop. I’ve bought some old Norris infill planes - that were pricey - and they are more in the way of display pieces than working tools. I suspect that folks who commission Sauer to build them a $5500 plus plane are more likely buying it as a collectible not as a working tool. As with collecting anything - a collectible might prove to be a good investment if some future buyer is willing to pay more than you did for the item. But you can never be sure so you need to take solace in the enjoyment you get in possessing the item. if you enjoy looking at a $5500 plane - and can afford it - then the enjoyment might be worth it. With my tool collection - it will likely be my kids who sell it off and see it its worth anything or not. Selling some of the “heavy-iron” old machinery in my shop may prove a challenge - but I had machinery movers/riggers move some of it in and they can get them to move it out - or try to sell it with the house.


You, sir, have my deepest respect for that level of commitment. You probably have a collection worthy of a Museum exhibit, by the sounds of it. Hidden in your head is a love of a specific set of tools, and how they all worked together… if ever I’ve heard of an Academic study of such a subject, it’s the collection you describe. Though it may not have a large financial worth to you, or your children, I am certain that the very act of putting that level of historical detail together would be worth more than any given piece is worth financially. In a lot of ways, with full documentation of the collection, that could be turned into a book that is required reading for vocational trades schools, or as a part of a traveling exhibit that visits post-secondary institutions to teach students where these things came from, and why they’re still important in the electric age. Sure, a DeWALT cordless planer could do something fast, but the care and love you’ve taken in collecting those tools should show the value in doing things WELL.

We need more of that in the world! I have always envied the OLD trades. Knife/Blade Making, Blacksmithing, Leatherworking (which I do some of myself), and common Wood and Metal working. I know I’m a young guy, but I have always been depressed at so many trades and trades people disappearing from the world. I don’t like this throw-away world, and I have always wanted to repair or reuse things, rather than toss them aside.

Please, fred, I beg of you… Document and, for lack of a better term, Curate that collection of yours. Publish a book, or assemble it in a way that can be some sort of touring exhibit. Perhaps take on an apprentice to do this, perhaps one of your children, and take the time in your life, with all you know and have experienced, to gift that back to the world. One way or another, this could earn you some small stipend or license fee while you’re alive, and present your children with something to honour you with long after that. I’m POSITIVE I’m not the only one in the world who would be in debited to you for doing this. You talk of the quality, and love of these companies, perhaps some of the sponsorship funding could come from those companies? I don’t know. I just know that you, sir, have a deeply admirable treasure on your hands, and are a person worth respecting for having gone to such lengths for it.

From the bottom of my heart, @fred… Thank You!


Cool battery storage I think I read about such a concept here printed with a 3d printer.


Very short form factor for a double-ended flex-head ratcheting box wrench - from a vendor (Mobarrel) that I’ve never heard of:

They seem to come in several sizes


@mosh …Okay… That looks cool… I can imagine making a kind of bandolier for batteries out of those… Or simply buying some TSTAKs and keeping batteries and a charger inside. It looks VERY handy to keep chargers and batteries secure!

@fred I think I’ve seen those as well. My eye started twitching when I tried to think of the application for those. By the time the tool has to be that tiny for your hand to reach it, doesn’t the fastener it’s tightening require more torque than this little tool can provide? I mean… By this point, isn’t it easier to take the thing out of wherever it is, fasten the bolt using a larger wrench to get enough torque, and then put the item back in place?

It seems to me the effort saved in having such a tiny tool is undone by the lack of sufficient torque for the fastener. Considering you’d probably only use something so small if it was on something so massive you’d need a forklift, or chain lifter, or some other larger equipment to move it enough to fit your hand and a standard sized wrench for tightening a very vibration-sensitive bolt. Not wanting to move the device with heavy equipment would be the only justification I could ever see for such a tight-space tool. Like a large engine, or a Furnace/AC main system, or maybe an extremely large Water Heater… Maybe an industrial loom, or manufacturing machine of some sort? Something huge. You don’t want to squeeze your hand in with a full sized wrench, but, then again, something that big probably needs that bolt much tighter than this little thing can handle…

I’m sorry. I’m rambling… I’m having real trouble wrapping my head around this. This thing couldn’t possibly torque a fastener enough. You’d NEED at least a little more in the middle, like a stubby sized body, not just the two ends… right?


Dorian, I suspect these types of devises are more for running fasteners in or out that have already been loosed. Maybe for a tight quarters area where you can reach with a heavier tool to torque it but not quite nimble enough to start the fastener. Just a thought.


Some new tools that I’ve seen over the years have interested me because I have seen in them great utility in their meeting previously unfulfilled needs. Others might have seemed silly - and sometimes the marketplace seems to have agreed with my assessment because they have disappeared from sale. The idea that a “better mousetrap” can be invented is always a hopeful thing - but does not always come to fruition. I also have noted that some new tools are perhaps a bit like fishing lures that may be designed to catch more fisherman than they do fish.


A drive style for socket-head screws that I’ve not heard of before - called Aster Recess