Monday, March 17, 2008

A find of not-so-epic proportions...

This past weekend, my wife and I visited my great Aunt Edy over in Illinois. She it truly an amazing woman; she doesn't know the meaning of the word "rest". She normally walks about five miles a day; pretty remarkable for someone in her late 70's. And if she knows she won't be able to walk her required five miles on a particular day, she'll make up for it on the day before!

She was concerned our visit would interfere with her routine, so before we showed up (at an early 8:30 a.m. on the dot, thank you very much), she'd already walked three miles, figuring she could get the other two in after we left.

At some point in time, I'll have to devote a whole entry (or two or three) to Great Aunt Edy...

The purpose of our trip, in addition to the visit, was to make our first (hopefully of many) sojourn to the Belleville Flea Market at the Belle Claire Expo Center. We'd heard a lot of good things about it, and from the way Aunt Edy talked to some of the dealers, she's been there many times before.

It wasn't really how I expected it to be - I guess my expectations of flea markets are disproportionately high... in any case, we had a lot of fun. My wife recently started getting into collecting cut glass and she had a great teacher in Aunt Edy (who has a china cabinet full of it!). She taught us what to look for and the easiest way to check for cracks and when a few minor chips doesn't reduce the value very much at all (when the piece is signed).

I enjoyed the discourse, but was slightly more interested in other wares - hand tools! To be honest with you, I thought the pickings were quite slim, as far as flea markets go. I did find a fairly nice Stanley #5 in good user condition. I chuckled as I disassembled the plane, checking the various parts out for defects - the blade was set bevel-side up!

When I assembled it again, I put it together properly; my OCD would not have it any other way. The handles were crisp and tight and the Victory blade had a lot of life left in it. It wasn't priced terribly high, at $27, and I was sure I could talk him down some, but I thought back to the pre-WWI #5 I have sitting at home, waiting for me to restore it, and I decided to pass. In retrospect, maybe I shouldn't have. I could have fixed it up and given it to my best friend or one of my woodworking friends... I probably won't pass up the next one I find like that.

I did not, however, pass on a nice little piece I thought I'd share with you. It was in the $1 box, so I didn't feel right trying to talk them down any. It is a hand tool, but not the usual kind one keeps an eye out for, I suppose. Here's a picture of it in the untouched state...

Not much to look at, is it? Give me a few minutes with some mineral spirits and a green scotchbrite pad, though, and see what you think after that.

Take a closer look at the handle. That isn't plastic, my dear big-box-shopping-friends! Looks like rosewood to me. And now check out the metal in this close-up.

The blade, the ferrule and the tang are all one piece of metal, riveted to the rosewood handle with brass pins. In this picture, you can also see a small band of sapwood on the end of the handle. It actually has a maker's mark on it, too! It says, " G. L. & CO. CHICAGO" on one side of the blade. Google didn't come up with anything on it, yet, but I'll keep an eye out.

The blade is really thick and hefty; I wonder if I might be able to file a nice clean flat edge on it and sharpen it up like a scraper. I could use it to clean up the insides of boxes or tight corners, maybe? It feels like it could really hold a hook, though.

I'll have to post something about it if and when I give it a try!

Aunt Edy kept apologizing to me; she felt badly that I didn't find anything other than an ordinary paint scraper! I don't know... a rosewood handled paint scraper with an integral tang? It might not be the find of the Century, but in our world of plastic and poor quality, I'd call that anything but ordinary...

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