Inside the shop at Old Street Tools
I was in Eureka Springs, Ark. last week to shoot some photos with Doug Stowe. I finished up Friday afternoon, but wasn’t leaving until Saturday afternoon (It’s not easy to get in and out of Eureka Springs when you’re coming from Connecticut). So, Saturday morning I met Larry Williams of Old Street Tools. He took me to their shop and explained how they get from rough wood and raw steel to a finished plane. And then I got to use some of the planes in question. This was the first time I had used a woodie other than a molding plane. I was gobsmacked. I loved the light weight of the fore plane, and the small coffin smoother was a joy. The plow plane was impressive, too. Just as impressive was how thoroughly Larry and his partner Don McConnell have optimized the plane making process. They use modern techniques where it makes sense (like using a Grizzly wood mill to mortise the throat) and the makers hand and eye where they offer an advantage (like in heat treating an iron). I’ll have to start saving my coins and get on their waiting list.
Wall of planes. Phil Spector had his wall of sound. Larry Williams and Don McConnell at Old Street Tools have this. I know which I prefer.
Small smoother. This iron in this little guy is only 1 5/8 in. wide, but it does a great job and is very easy to use.
Simple, but elegent plow. Compared to some of the ebony and ivory wonders I've seen, the plow plane on the left is just a country gentleman. But boy can he work. Comfortable to hold and easy to use. You can't go wrong with that.
The brute in the corner. This guy and his twin do a lot of work at Old Street Tools. And Larry Williams is clearly a whiz at figuring out how to get the most from it. The number of precision jigs he has for it was dizzying.