Antique Woodworking Tools In the UK

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  • #5236
    Michael Evans

    Hi all. The UK has such a rich history of craft, art, and tool making and I always look forward to visiting such a delightful people and place. I am coming to the UK and Ireland in late May/early June 2019 and always try to pick up a few older hand woodworking tools every time I visit. I have had excellent luck in the past with street dealers at the Portobello Rd. and Bermondsey Markets in London but was hoping that the readers of this forum might have some suggestions for other sources. We are going to start in London making coastal stops (it’s a cruise) around Britain, Ireland, and Le Havre. My opportunities for travel outside of the port areas will probably be pretty limited except while in London. I realize there are specialty dealers doing business on the internet and through eBay but I prefer to buy directly from an owner or local dealer. That allows me to possibly get some of the history of the tool and I can relive the experience of travel each time I bring the tool out and put it to use. For me there is nothing quite like remembering the wonderful experiences in Oxford or Lucerne when I use some of my carving tools, or London when I am using my Record planes, coffin smoother, or dovetail saw. My interest is in user tools, not the high end collectables. Because I am traveling, I would be limited to smaller tools such as chisels, small back saws, shorter planes and similar items. Any broadaxes are probably out of the question unless you know of a good way to ship them back to the states. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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  • #7651
    Alberto Corcoba

    Hi Michael,
    I was browsing through Common Woodworking and saw your post. I have lived in Cambridge for 3 years and always found odd tools in car boot sales. They are pretty much like flea markets and tend to take place in the weekends. Here in Cambridge there is even a man specialized in tools who comes each weekend. A tool shop on a garden table, really. There is a web called where you can check if there is any one along your route. I have also found tools in antique and charity shops, of which you will find plenty in the UK harbour towns. They will be more expensive, but if you have bought in Portobello, I think you will find them quite affordable. Of course it takes time to find good stuff from these sources, but if you enjoy the search, my experience is that it is worth trying because many garages in the UK preserve good old tools, and they come out quite frequently. I assume you know ebay, but gumtree is another website where you can find tools from particulars that you can then email or call and meet along your way. Hope this helps.

    Michael Evans


    Many thanks for the hints. I am really looking forward to my visit in a few months.

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