A fair trade

Here’s something I’ve learned. Disregard 90% of the information you read on most online forums and 100% of the attitudes.

When I was first looking into purchasing a shoulder plane a year ago I had three pieces of information swirling around in my head. The first was the fact that I had just purchased my first few Lie Nielsen planes and I loved them. The second was that almost everyone with an opinion on online forums said that they preferred the feel of the Veritas version and the third was this opinion by Shannon Rogers that maybe I didn’t need one at all.

At the time I was using an old skew rabbet plane as a shoulder plane and I have to admit I found it helpful. That encouraged me to disregard Shannon (no disrespect Renaissance man) and blaze my own path, but all of that rebellious spirit was cut short by the forum dwellers and the seed of ergonomics they had planted in my brain. Besides, I had (and have) other Veritas planes too, so maybe they were right.

And they were. Sort of.

Let me first say that the Veritas shoulder planes are all exquisite tools. There is no difference in quality in my mind between them and their Lie-Nielsen counterparts. When it comes to bench planes I tend to favor LN and with joinery planes I favor Veritas.

Let me also say I get where people are coming from with the Veritas plane. The design is smart for most people, but it was never quite right for me. In my (admittedly larger) hands, the Veritas plane always felt cramped. A few weeks ago I finally decided to do what I always should have done and listed my Veritas medium shoulder plane for sale. If you’ve followed along thus far, this is where the story actually starts.

That sale ad sparked a cross-country conversation between Marilyn Guthrie (of She Works Wood blog fame) and myself about the differences between the two. As it turns out, she had the Lie-Nielsen version and wished she had purchased the Veritas. The rest of the story can really be summed up in two words: “let’s trade”. In short order we both packed up our shoulder planes and sent them from Atlantic to Pacific (and vise versa) and I have to say that as soon as I felt the swoop of the bronze Lie-Nielsen cap in my palm I knew this was the right plane for me. No money exchanged hands, just tools and good will.

 I’m not sure exactly why I felt the need to tell this story. It certainly wasn’t to compare the two planes. Maybe it was just to say thank you to Marilyn and an online community that still has a good spirit about it.

Maybe it’s because the idea seemed simultaneously obvious and revolutionary. Trading? Isn’t that what you do with baseball cards and well, whatever kids are artificially inflating the value of these days? How will commerce survive?

Maybe it’s just a reminder to trust your instincts every once in a while above the chatter.

They’re both exceptional tools. Now, they’re just in the right hands.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Marilyn says:

    Thanks for writing this post. I had the same thoughts.

    I would love to find more opportunities to trade with others and trading or gifting unused tools. Needs change, we have the opportunity to upgrade, we don’t need it though we thought we did etc. And then what do you with that old tool? I’ve never really liked the Craig’s list experience in trying to get a tool into someone else’s hands.

    Here in Seattle, the Wood Construction (Seattle Central) program hosts an Annual Tool swap (its February 25th this year) open to the public. I’ve found some awesome well priced tools there and made a few swaps as well. I also look for opportunities to donate to new woodworkers. Chris Schwarz created an opportunity a few years back like this.

    Anyway, I have found my blog (sheworkswood.com) and Instagram a fun way to match tools with needs. I’m so glad we got to trade and I KNOW this tool is in good hands. And I’ll be have fun with my new too me tool this weekend makin’ picture frames. 🙂


    1. jaredtohlen says:

      Speaking honestly, as a new woodworker on a very tight budget, I wish more of this sort of thing happened. Trading or gifting. When I see woodworkers on YouTube or other places with a backdrop FULL of tools just sitting there, my main thought is “Boy, that [insert expensive/rare/hard to find a good user version of tool here] would be great to have, and they have like 5 back there…”

      I got my start from one very generous woodworker who had a Japanese chest full of old tools he had upgraded from. He just pulled it out of his trunk and put it in mine, told me a few good-to-knows, and said “Enjoy!” His only stipulation was that if I found it wasn’t for me, just let him know and he’d pass them along to someone else. (Here’s the IG post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BH2Nev9A1IU/?taken-by=jaredmtohlen)

      Ever since, I’ve been trying to get a good chest-full of vintage users and have resolved that if I ever upgrade to new, premium tools like LN or Veritas, I’ll give away what I can to folks who will be in the same situation I am now.

      This is also why I’ve been trying to engage as much as I can online with folks, whether through blogs such as yours, or over on Instagram, or some other place.

      Anyway, thanks for sharing, James! Glad you two got the tools in the right hands 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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