Tools of the Trade

Share secrets, compare techniques, discuss the merits of materials--eg. veg vs. chrome--and above all, seek knowledge.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Tools of the Trade

#1 Post by dw » Wed Jan 23, 2002 5:47 pm

I started this topic because so often we talk about tools..."get out your bulldogs...", "...there's nothing like a good London Pattern...". or "I prefer German style pincers for that job...". You get the idea, but the novitiates don't. So this topic is for seeing and discussing and defining what we mean when we mention a specific tool.

I'm gonna start this new topic off with some of my favourite "sweeties." [And Al, yes, your lurid imagination serves you well...there's no telling what goes on in the closet round 'midnight with these beauties Image ]

The first photo is of two different Whichter type lasting pincers. Or plyers, if you prefer. Both are US made as far as I know. The top pair is only about 25 years old and the bottom pair may 100 yrs. old although I have no way of knowing. I really like both pair but what you can't see in the photo is that the teeth on the older pair are convex ribs and concave grooves and the ribs on the bottom jaw fit into the grooves on the top jaw...and vice versa. I've never seen another pair like them.

I don't have any of the English style Whitchters...maybe some one else can post a photo if they have a pair.
1952.jpg
1952.jpg (39.74 KiB) Viewed 6837 times



Tight Stitches
DWFII--Member HCC

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Tools of the Trade

#2 Post by dw » Wed Jan 23, 2002 5:55 pm

This second photo is of a series of German or Swedish style pincers. The two shiny ones are chrome plated (dern nuisance, in my book) Scheins and of fairly recent vintage. The top pair has jaws that are about one-eighth inch wide--*very* useful around the toe.

The middle pair are a little older I think--I don't remember where I got them but the jaws are, oh, half inch wide?

And the bottom pair are perfect for crimping because the "hammer" just hooks over the other edge of a one inch crimping board, affording excellent leverage. And the jaws are hey, maybe going on three-quarters of an inch wide.
1953.jpg
1953.jpg (37.18 KiB) Viewed 6838 times


Tight Stitches
DWFII--Member HCC

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Tools of the Trade

#3 Post by dw » Wed Jan 23, 2002 6:07 pm

The last photo for tonight (I have lots more and a new digital camera) completes the series on pincers--at least from my collection. These are bulldog pincers. The top pair are a pair of old Christiansens which I got courtesy of Lisa Sorrel at Brownwood several years ago. I learned on pincers exactly like these and that experience has soured the USM bulldogs for me--I can't stand them. Too long, wrong leverage, modern ones have plastic (gag) handles...I have a pair, with wood handles, even, but I'll let someone else exhibit theirs.

The second pair are Barnsleys. They're a good sub for the Christiansens...same leverage, same size.

BTW, bulldogs are used in the shank area of western boots to draw the leather tight to the wood in the arch and waist. I'm sure that you can use other types of pincers just as effectively here...including crab lasters (that's a tool I don't have--I gifted mine)...but my teacher used to take a bite of the leather with these tools and then flop his belly down hard on the handle and that held it. Then he had both hands free to tack or chase wrinkles or whatever.
1954.jpg
1954.jpg (34.25 KiB) Viewed 6838 times


Tight Stitches
DWFII--Member HCC

User avatar
jake
7
7
Posts: 544
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 1998 7:01 pm
Full Name: Jake
Location: Mountain View, Arkansas, USA

Re: Tools of the Trade

#4 Post by jake » Wed Jan 23, 2002 6:47 pm

First of all, D.W. this is a great idea!

USM Bulldog pincers...wood and plastic handles.
1955.jpg
1955.jpg (44.1 KiB) Viewed 6838 times

User avatar
jake
7
7
Posts: 544
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 1998 7:01 pm
Full Name: Jake
Location: Mountain View, Arkansas, USA

Re: Tools of the Trade

#5 Post by jake » Wed Jan 23, 2002 7:02 pm

Awls and awl hafts that I would hate to live without:

Top awl: George Barnsley's 3 1/2" sewing awl
Bottom awl: George Barnsley's 3 1/2" inseaming awl

Awl Hafts: Dick Anderson's (Thornapple Boots)

I use the top awl to inseam the forepart of the boot. The bottom awl is used to "whip-stitch" the shank and heel area of the boot. Until I obtained these awls, inseaming was a nightmare.
1956.jpg
1956.jpg (59.94 KiB) Viewed 6838 times

shoestring

Re: Tools of the Trade

#6 Post by shoestring » Wed Jan 23, 2002 7:42 pm

Point me to a good source to purchase new and used tools.Thanks

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Tools of the Trade

#7 Post by dw » Wed Jan 23, 2002 8:11 pm

Edward,

Used tools ought to be purchased with caution at first. Look for names--like those mentioned on the forum...eg. Hammond for hammers, Snell and Atherton for all kinds of finishing and trimming tools. Union or USM for pincers. Look for sharp teeth on pincers and no chips or crack on hammers.

Used tools can be found at the Boot and Saddlemakers Convention in Witchita Falls this year, I believe or the HCC AGM...TBA.

Or there's a fellow in the East, Bill Julian (don't have his address of info handy) who deals in used tools and he's a bootmaker, too, so you probably won't get any trash from him. I got a purportedly 18th century London Pattern hammer from him. Not particularly good condition but a nice piece nevertheless.

Also when you get more familiar and maybe a bit brave, keep an eye on Ebay.I've picked up a few nice things there.

New...Barnsley, Goetz, ..who else? You can get most anything you need from those two at any rate and, for the most part the quality is good.

Tight Stitches
DWFII--Member HCC

crispinian

Re: Tools of the Trade

#8 Post by crispinian » Wed Jan 23, 2002 8:51 pm

Well this seems like a good excuse to put my new scanner to use. Below is a snap of part of the 17th-century reproduction kit I used at in my work at the Plantation. The halberd-style knife is based on a variety of examples from the period, although that form was on the way out by the mid-17th century. It was replaced by the round knife we still see being manufactured today by Osborne and others. The sickle-shaped knife is the other commonly depicted style of the period and is probably what was meant when reference was made to a "paring knife". Both knives, as well as the pliers and pincers, were made by Hector Cole of England. The hammer is copied from one in a painting by Rykaert and was forged by Mark Atchison at Plimoth Plantation (I made the haft). And yes, the face is square. The pliers were patterned after those in a couple 17th-century paintings (see the Teniers painting on the front cover of June Swann's booklet "Shoemaking" for an example). The pincers (nippers, if you prefer) are your garden variety pincers from back then. I later removed the little ball from the handle since I couldn't document that on any shoe pincers (carpenters' pincers, yes). The last is my hand-carved copy of one of the Vasa shipwreck lasts (Vasa sank in 1628 off the coast of Sweden). --Rusty
1958.gif
1958.gif (65.19 KiB) Viewed 6838 times

crispinian

Re: Tools of the Trade

#9 Post by crispinian » Wed Jan 23, 2002 9:27 pm

Edward and others,

Here are a couple pairs of lasting pliers and some saddlers pincers I can part with. Contact me via e-mail if you're interested.
--Rusty
1959.gif
1959.gif (52.56 KiB) Viewed 6838 times

The saddlers' pincers at left are hand-forged. Lasting pliers at center are marked size 2 (8" long). The maker's mark is illegible. Pair on right is marked 5 (9" long), made by Wynn.

crispinian

Re: Tools of the Trade

#10 Post by crispinian » Wed Jan 23, 2002 9:58 pm

1960.gif
1960.gif (32.11 KiB) Viewed 6838 times


Two good friends of mine. My sewing awl, above, is patterned after the Bostonian Hotel site example. Ted Curtin turned it from boxwood. The small one I use for closing uppers, leather balls, buff coats, etc. Tom Cowan at Old Salem turned it from maple, and 4th-generation tinsmith Peter Blum made the brass ferrule. -R

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Tools of the Trade

#11 Post by dw » Thu Jan 24, 2002 5:54 am

Rusty,

The lasting pincers in your photo are the English style Whitchter pincers I referred to above. I have had this style in my possession now and again but never kept them.


Tight Stitches...
DWFII--Member HCC

D.A. Saguto--HCC

Re: Tools of the Trade

#12 Post by D.A. Saguto--HCC » Thu Jan 24, 2002 6:19 am

Edward,

Wild Bill Julian is actually William Niemczyk, 20 Lakeside Drive, Granby, CT 06035, (860) 844-8440. If you catch him *before* the Round Up [Sept.], and the HCC AGM [Oct.], his stock shouldn't be so cherry-picked. The HCC used to run a used tool wants/needs program, but it died a natural death because too many of the tools were drying up. If you get a copy of Raph Salaman's 'Dictionary of Leatherworking Tools', now out in paperback I understand, this shows pictures of almost every tool. Armed with that "hit-list", haunt the flea markets and antique centers too. I just finished outfitting an antique 1870s shoemaker's bench will all original tools, just flea market and antique shop finds, but the availability varies dramatically region to region.

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Tools of the Trade

#13 Post by dw » Thu Jan 24, 2002 7:03 am

Here we have a peg float. On certain kinds of footwear, such as, but not exclusively, western boots, pegs are driven into the sole, in lieu of nails, to hold it in place. The pegs are driven into a plain bottom (as opposed to a metal bottomed) last and the points are often left proud inside the boot when the last has been pulled. The peg float is designed to rasp these points level with the inner surface of the insole.

This float consists of an articulating head, which is an antique and no longer being made by anyone, and a stand which (only the top is visible--coloured blue), in this case was made to fit this particular head, by Dick Anderson. The stand is roughly 18-24" high and is mounted on a bench or in my case a stump. The boot is lowered over the float and pushed back and forth until the surface of the insole is smooth.
1961.jpg
1961.jpg (16.36 KiB) Viewed 6838 times


Tight Stitches
DWFII--Member HCC

D.A. Saguto--HCC

Re: Tools of the Trade

#14 Post by D.A. Saguto--HCC » Thu Jan 24, 2002 7:36 am

DW,

Don't Whitchers have a removeable round hammer? The English style are just "lasting pincers", or "hammer pincers" I think. The Whitchers, with round hammers, are usually corrugated or checkered on the face so the tacks don't slip. They are much better IMO than the standard English type with smooth square faces.

I hope somebody posts a picture of the king of all modern lasting pincers--Berg's.

crispinian

Re: Tools of the Trade

#15 Post by crispinian » Thu Jan 24, 2002 7:57 am

DW,

Whitcher is a mark I've seen on the round hammer pattern, and from Al's and your comments I gather there are Whitcher-made square hammer pliers too. Wynn and Timmins are the marks I see most often on pliers and both were on the scene as manufacturers of metal wares by 1791 (in Birmingham). Timmins was apparently selling the square pattern pliers (called pincers in his pattern books) before 1845.

Lisa Sorrell

Re: Tools of the Trade

#16 Post by Lisa Sorrell » Thu Jan 24, 2002 8:02 am

Edward,
I bought almost all of my best and favorite tools from:
Russ Bigelow
Bigelow Harness
211 Richmond Rd.
Rt. 119
Winchester, NH 03470
603-239-4123
He collects tools, and every couple of years when he has enough, he'll send a bunch to me to try to sell at the Boot and Saddlemaker's Roundup. The pair D.W. bought from me came from him. That's the SECOND pair I got from Russ, BTW. I kept the first ones like those for myself!

If you want awl hafts, the best source is:
Dick Anderson
Thornapple River Boots
N8566 Winter Rd.
Ladysmith, WI 54848
715-532-6301

Lisa

Tex Robin

Re: Tools of the Trade

#17 Post by Tex Robin » Thu Jan 24, 2002 8:14 am

Al,
I have two sets of the Bergs left over from the 50s. Small, Medium and large. The large being the best because of their only occasional use. One of the small ones has been broken off and tig welded to restore them. My mediums are worn pretty slick. Once you use the Bergs there is nothing else that will do. I have a pair of the Whitchters that I use for pulling tacks! The Whitchters are very popular here in Texas in the shops in the Southern part of Texas, but I have never been able to get used to them. Maybe my wife will auction my Bergs off when I am gone..TR

D.A. Saguto--HCC

Re: Tools of the Trade

#18 Post by D.A. Saguto--HCC » Thu Jan 24, 2002 8:39 am

Rusty,

As far as I know, and the two or three I own, Whitcher is distinctively only the round screw-on hammers. Never seen any square, integral hammer ones marked Whitcher. Time for a patent search of lasting pincers?

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Tools of the Trade

#19 Post by dw » Thu Jan 24, 2002 8:39 am

Al, and all,

You may be right about the Whitchters (how exactly *is* that spelled, anyway?) I was almost certain that I had seen the English style listed as Whitchters in a Barnsley catalogue, but now I'm not too sure.

I have a pair of Bergs that I use regularly around the toe and the heel. But they originally had probably a half inch jaw width and someone had ground the jaw to about a quarter inch--I still loove them. All the German style pincers are very similar in configuration and my medium Scheins (half inch jaws) are nearly identical, curve for curve) to the Bergs.

BTW, the peg float I posted earlier is not the only kind of peg float, by any means--I'm just posting my favorite tools...like posting pictures of your kids. Image Al has a float that is used braced under the leg. Probably mostly for shoes--which lends credibility to the idea that pegs were used at least in the heel seat of high quality men's work...of English manufacture? I don't know anyone else that has one like that. I hope you will post a photo of that tool, Al...that is if you can get Miriam to take the photo for you...Image (we really need a tongue-in-cheek icon)


Tight Stitches...
DWFII--Member HCC

D.A. Saguto--HCC

Re: Tools of the Trade

#20 Post by D.A. Saguto--HCC » Thu Jan 24, 2002 8:52 am

Tex,

Three sizes of Berg's! Oh boy, more to look for. I finally obtained two old pairs of Berg's, in two sizes, narrow-nose and I guess medium or wide, from the Volken's last year, and haven't been able to put them down. They are "numbah one". The Berg, or at least that "Swedish pattern", as they are listed in the older catalogues, is about all I've seen in the first-rate shops in England and Europe too. Check Vass. I had asked Janne to keep an eye out for some Berg's for me a year or more ago, but he kinda let on as if he found any more, they'd be hard to part with. Berg is out of business, and highly coveted I find. Before I got my Berg's, I used two pairs of Whitchers, one pair I ground the nose down to a narrow point. And, I only use nippers for pulling tacks--not end-cutters, but nippers. I can grab a whole short run of tacks, roll the head, and yank a bunch out at once. I never got along with the little split nail-puller thingie on the end of the lasting pincer's reins [the handle bar].

D.A. Saguto--HCC

Re: Tools of the Trade

#21 Post by D.A. Saguto--HCC » Thu Jan 24, 2002 9:07 am

DW,

I'd love to sit and shoot photos of tools to post, and maybe I will, but Miriam will have to forward them to you, so you can shrink 'em and paste 'em up here. Besides, I gotta recharge the darned battery for 8 hours just to shoot for 2 it seems. What a pain.

I'm not sure: Whitcher I think. Too lazy to go root through the catalogues at the moment, but I'm pretty sure Whitchers are specifically the round interchangeable hammers. Barnsely did list them, with extra hammers in different sizes too. My Whitchers are both US made, pretty early I guess--1880s-1900--and are marked with the patent date, with a nicely shaped side-plate reinforcing the box-joint, plus a little "pinkie" tab at the end of the lower rein, like barber scissors used to have to hook your little finger on.


Ah yes, my "sit on it" peg-float. You did like that one didn't you. It shows up in Hirth & Krause [USA], and the other mid-late 19th c. US catalogues, but it's about 3 feet long and well-suited for boot-work, not just shoes. Never seen one like it outside of the country, sorry. Among the other kinds of floats and cutters for pegs, stuck in handles for hand-use, I do have some with short handles, suggesting use for shoes too, but, don't forget all those cheapo pegged "brogans". Only the high-class stuff was sewed--usually the cheaper good were pegged. Also, the Brits didn't go for pegging in a big way like the Americans and Germans did, except for fishermen's boots.

User avatar
jake
7
7
Posts: 544
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 1998 7:01 pm
Full Name: Jake
Location: Mountain View, Arkansas, USA

Re: Tools of the Trade

#22 Post by jake » Thu Jan 24, 2002 9:51 am

Three more examples of items used to "float" or rasp pegs flush with the insole.
1962.jpg
1962.jpg (38.33 KiB) Viewed 6838 times

Tex Robin

Re: Tools of the Trade

#23 Post by Tex Robin » Thu Jan 24, 2002 9:58 am

Jake,
And sometimes you have to make your own. I have two straight rasps that I had bent with a torch on the end and they are lifesavers for cleaning up after using the float...TR

User avatar
jake
7
7
Posts: 544
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 1998 7:01 pm
Full Name: Jake
Location: Mountain View, Arkansas, USA

Re: Tools of the Trade

#24 Post by jake » Thu Jan 24, 2002 10:13 am

Example of a bench mounted peg float. The lever half way down the shaft swivels the head level so you can float the heel portion of the insole. At the present location, the peg float is used primarily in the shank area of insole.

I was lucky enough to purchase this from Wild Bill, mentioned above. He's a great guy to work with.

Tip of the hat goes to D.W. for giving me the location where to find this one.
1963.jpg
1963.jpg (32.23 KiB) Viewed 6838 times

User avatar
gcunning
4
4
Posts: 156
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 1998 7:01 pm
Full Name: Gary
Location: Wichita Falls, TX, USA

Re: Tools of the Trade

#25 Post by gcunning » Thu Jan 24, 2002 10:37 am

Wild Bill can get you almost anything and is a great tool resource. He loves to barter. He quotes you a price, you counter offer a lower price, and he then counters back with even a higher price than the first. In other non-sarcastic terms he gets a little put off by trying to talk him down on price.
BTW I got a private e-mail. If you did not realize the armadillo roast was a joke.

Post Reply