One of the best ways to understand hand tools is through the eyes of people who used them to make a living 100 years ago. And when I first started making sense of all the hand tools available – both new and vintage – one of my most important books was an old Stanley Tools catalog we had in the shop.
This catalog showed nearly every tool needed in a hand-tool shop, from the chisels to the butt gauges to every sort of plane in the company’s line. The catalog’s text explained what each one was used for and how it functioned differently from other similar tools.
The catalog also had fantastic exploded views of many of the complex tools, such as the company’s miter boxes, the multi-planes and handplanes.
I often read through this catalog before I headed out to the local antique markets so I could identify what I was seeing and know if it was something useful (do I need a clapboard gauge, a wantage rod or a board stick?). Thanks to this catalog I also could easily figure out when tools that I spotted for sale had parts that were missing. And I even learned how to adjust my grandfather’s level thanks to that book.
The only downside to these sorts of catalogs is they can be difficult to find. There are some poor-quality scans available on the Internet, but we wanted to do better than that. For a long time, we have sought to publish a crisp and classy catalog from the heyday of Stanley Tools’ production of woodworking tools. So we collected a bunch of catalogs and finally settled on one produced in 1914 – one of our favorite eras of Stanley’s output.
This catalog contains all the planes, hand drills, measuring tools, chisels and hundreds more that are critical to a furniture shop, but without a lot of the oddball stuff that came later.
For many years we carried the majority of the Stanley Hand Tool Catalog. In the last twenty years we have watched as innumerable lines within the brand have been discontinued and it is a heartbreak. This catalog is a great treatise on hand tools.
Description from Lost Art Press:
After selecting the catalog we liked the best, the next challenge was printing it. We wanted to capture and reproduce the crisp drawings from the 1914 original and produce it on the smooth and hard paper that was common at the time.
Without getting too geeky, we worked with our pre-press people to figure out a way to scan and print this catalog so it looked identical to the original. We had to develop a new scanning and image-processing routine to make the scans. Then we made a sample catalog using the scans on a modern offset press. We crossed our fingers. Many reproduction catalogs look muddy and display “moire” because of the screens used in the day.
Our pre-press manager came back with this happy news: “It looks clean enough to eat off of.”
We are pleased to offer this 144-page catalog, which looks and feels like the 1914 original. The only “improvements” we made to the vintage catalog is that we spent the extra money to sew and glue the signatures for extra durability. And we used acid-free paper to prevent the pages from yellowing over time.
If you are just getting into hand tools, we think you will find this catalog a delight to read, hold and learn from. The information in it is factual and straightforward – not the puffery you get from many modern catalogs. And if you collect or appreciate vintage hand tools, we think you will love this catalog, which reproduces the vintage drawings with remarkable clarity.
Like all Lost Art Press books, this is produced entirely in the United States using domestic materials. Softcover. 144 pages. Color cover with black & white interior.