Two weekends ago, my family and I took a trip to Victoria, BC, Canada. It is only about 20 miles away across the water, but it is another world. We love going there and try to go two or three times a year. My wife normally books us a couple of nights in a nice hotel for my birthday, so we go there every April. We see the sights, do some shopping, and enjoy the fantastic restaurants.
This trip, we once again took the kids to the Royal British Columbia Museum. My son likes going there and asked to go straight to the Woolly Mammoth. How can you say no to an exited 6-year-old?
So, you are wondering if the bench blog has become a travel blog now? Fear not, I’m just slow in getting to the point. As I wandered through the museum, I came upon this display of old woodworking tools. I (of course) immediately smiled, and the kids (of course) immediately groaned “oh no Daddy, not more woodworking stuff”. They then promptly walked off with Mom.
There was a pretty comprehensive set of tools on display, but some of them were a little rough. A few I might have even passed on if spotted at a garage sale. However, there were a few gems in there that I have yet to find “in the wild”. The shape of the handle on the below saw was very nice, the lambs tongue was well executed, but it has certainly seen better days.
I have to admit that I had a little chuckle when I came upon the bowsaw in the display. Gerhard Marx over at Je ne sais quio woodworking made a couple of beautiful bowsaws recently and wrote about them here and here. Brian Eve from Toolerable and I were picking on him a little for the string he used on the two saws.
And then I saw this:
Gerhard, I take it all back. Your string is superior to the historical record. Mea Culpa!
I was also pleasantly surprised to see an ebony and brass mortise gauge in the display case. I have the exact same gauge but the maker’s stamp on mine is too shallow to read and I have never been able to ascertain its brand.
However, all the tools in the display were numbered and there was a corresponding key. This listed the tool as a Hibernia Mortise Gauge by William Marples.
Here’s my mortise gauge so you can see just how similar it is. It is a fantastic tool to use and very well made. It is hefty, solid, an functions perfectly. It’s by far my favorite mortise gauge.
As I stood there looking at all the tools, a couple (I assumed husband and wife) walked up and were viewing the display. The lady said to the man:
“Wow, could you imagine trying to woodwork these days using all that old stuff?”
Yes… yes I could, I thought to myself as I smiled and walked away.