Wood is More than a Dead Tree!

Old Tools

I am interested in acquiring old carpenter's, cabinet-maker's and pattern-maker's tools, like wood and metal-bodied planes, chisels, folding rulers, tool chests, spokeshaves, saws, brass tools, calipers, and levels. All tools will be put to good use, either by me personally, by other craftsmen, or by needy beginners in our classes.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other. It undergoes continual changes; it is barbarous, it is civilized, it is christianized, it is rich, it is scientific; but this change is not amelioration. For every thing that is given, something is taken. Society acquires new arts, and loses old instincts."

We wish to preserve some of those "old instincts" as society turns more and more to an all-electric workshop. An old hand tool, when put back into use, honors the memory of its past owner, and we believe that a part of their spirit lives on within the tool, inspiring its new user.

Donations are gladly accepted, and I can give you a tax-deductible receipt! If you would prefer not to donate, we may be able to work out a trade of some sort, or you might even be offered some money for the tool.

Let me know what you have! E-mail Gary@Artwork.net


My latest, for the Virtual Porch -- a Caricature

A Sea Otter Netsuke

Another chance to look at the Dragon that I carved!

Carrousel Horse in progress . . . (still)

Jewelry Box in California Walnut, Brass Drawerpulls (43k)

Photos of the Handcrafted Trophies that I made

The Forest

  • I got to spend a day with the world-famous chairmaker, Sam Maloof! You can see my report about it.

  • Woodcarvers who have constructed individual web pages, and resources, are listed in the Woodcarver's Web

  • The Electronic Neanderthal maintains a whole bunch of wood-related links. Rather than duplicate them, I will just point you there.

  • My Woodcarving Corner has a few words and stuff related to carving.

  • Listserve for OldTool interests:
    A discussion group for interested old-tool-users exists as 'oldtools@listserv.law.cornell.edu'
    For a glimpse at some of the Odd and Wacky discussions that have appeared in OldTools, go to my Arcane Page.
    OldTools has a hypertext webby interface for the Archive

    To subscribe, signoff, or set digest: listserv@listserv.law.cornell.edu

    Gary's WoodBio

    (Obligatory Biography to introduce myself to the 'Galoots' at the OldTools list)

    OK, Neander-gentlemen, I apologize for the late start, but [$include_excuse(Random(0))].

    My name is Gary Ilmanen, but I am occasionally called "Snick". How I got this nickname is a long story; basically it involves snoring. (I am not affiliated with the Nickelodeon cable network, or their lame "Saturday night on NICKelodeon" (SNICK at Night) promotion. If they care to offer me my own show, I will consider it, though.)

    I was born in the Winter of '49. Guess that makes me a young geezer. I have a wife who usually understands me. Our son is all grown up now, did a stint in the Army, then finished college, and went back into the Army as an LT, and left as a Captain, after several years flying spy planes. Mike used to be "not very handy". I figured he must have inherited unhandiness from his mother.

    But NOW, Mike is really handy!!! He completely rebuilt his kitchen, painted the house, and did faux venetian plaster. He came up and we built a really nice deck together. I take it back.

    My last "real job" before becoming an attorney and opening my own office was with the Navy as a "civil servant" Electronics Engineer at the Naval Warfare Assessment Center, Norco, California. Although I never served in active duty, I am an Air Force Brat.

    "Most of the money that I should be spending on old/new tools is sucked up by a motley pack of Welsh Springer Spaniels," he said as he casually plucked a dog hair from his lips. "Them and their breeder, Sandi, that is. Look for her at the dog show, buying more grooming scissors to replace the last pair that she lost."

    [Warning: Flashback Ahead:] I diddled with woodworking when I was a kid... helping the old man bend nails, miscut wood, and poke holes in skin. I learned the basics from him, and he gave me some of his father's remaining tools. I had an early interest in carving. When I was in catholic school (explains a lot), I would occasionally snitch a piece of chalk and carve it into a kind of Tiki or Totem Pole. Then I'd put it back on the little tray by the board. When Sister Mary Bronson-Eastwood picked up the chalk, and felt it, and looked at it... well, you had to be there! From the responses, she must have thought that there was a Voodoo curse on her or something. (Kids, don't try this unless you aspire to become a Comedian or Engineer.)

    I graduated to small hunks of wood made into various shapes, then discovered girls, cars, and small animals were more fun. Just kidding about one of those. [End Flashback]

    After I got married, the Little Woman decided that she needed an end table that would fit into an odd space. "Oh, I can make one..." fell out of my mouth before I could stop it. I am surprised that it has lasted all these years, considering that I knew nothing of designing for seasonal wood movement. I give thanks for the desert's low humidity every time I look at it!

    From the humble beginnings of a Black&Decker circular saw and hand drill, I have managed to put together a fairly decent shop. I have not sawn *completely* through my Workmate, and have whacked it a few times with a chisel. There's some blood on my tools, but I still have all my fingers.

    A couple of years ago, I signed up for a class in carrousel horse carving in Pasadena. After spending beaucoup money on proper chisels and stuff, what resembled a horse started following me to and from class! Interspersed during this project, I did some very nice jewelry boxes, a dragon, and other small stuff.

    So anyway, I've got a still-nearly-finished carrousel horse stuck on one end of the garage. It's the biggest thing I have attempted carving. (The nice thing about working in large scale is that when you slip and make a mistake it is a "dimple" instead of "she lost a leg". The bad thing is that it takes so darn long to execute. OK, it actually would be long-finished if I didn't watch so much TV and do "Armchair Woodworking" -- reading the wood magazines.)

    So, that's a look at what makes Snick tick, sortof. At least one aspect of his multitalented persona. I tend to make light of anything if someone leaves an opening, so try not to feed me any straight lines if you are the deadly serious type! That's all for now -- probably much more than you wanted to read, but I guess you couldn't bring yourself to skip out.


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    Gary Ilmanen

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