In the second half of last month, I had to go to Eastern Washington for a two-week trip for work. The place I had to go was pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but at least I had the weekend off. I took a look and the map and saw that Kelowna, BC was only a 175 miles away. I’ve often heard how nice Kelowna is, but have never been, so I booked myself in for two nights. The drive up through Washington and into British Columbia was spectacular. I love going to Canada, it’s a wonderful place and the people are always so nice. While there, I checked out some of the vineyards and enjoyed the parks and restaurants.
And then… It happened… I saw this:
I had no idea that there was a Lee Valley in town, and it hadn’t even occurred to me to look. But once spotted, like a moth to a bug zapper, I was drawn in. Inside, I found out that the store had only been open for about two weeks. Lucky me!
I had some Lee Valley gift cards that I have been saving up from Christmas and my birthday, but not knowing that I would be going to a Lee Valley store, I of course had left them at home. The item that I have been saving the cards for is a Veritas left-handed Shooting Plane with the PMV-11 blade. The store had this plane in stock and better still, the strong American exchange rate meant that it was about $60 cheaper than ordering it in the US. Even by the time I paid Canadian sales taxes, it was still $30 cheaper.
I called my wife and asked her to text me pictures of my gift cards, which she obligingly did. The nice folks at the store was able to scan the pictures of the gift cards right from my phone. I bought the plane and also the dedicated track that goes with it.
The only small setback was that the store was out of the 25° bevel PMV-11 blades and instead provided a 38° blade. No problem, I’ll just have to regrind the bevel to the lower angle. Since this plane’s primary function is slicing end grain, lowering the cutting angle should be beneficial.
The store also had a back room that they were using to hold a clearance sale. They had loads of discontinued products and also items that vendors had sent them as samples (I assume hoping to get included in the catalogue). I had a good poke around the sale and came up with some screaming deals. First, was a load of drawer pulls in packets of six and including two lengths of mounting screws. These were $1 CAD per six-pack. That’s only 76 cents US. I don’t have a current project needing drawer pulls, but at only 12 cents a piece, I figured it was a good time to stock up. I bought six packets.
I also found a set of four riflers. I don’t have any of these, and at the equivalent of $7.60 US, couldn’t say no.
I saw a plain white box and decided to have a look. Inside was a marking gauge, the likes of which I had never before seen. Strange… A micrometer and a marking gauge all in one. The tool is a JessEm Wood Sabre Marking Gauge. I had heard of JessEm and had some gauge notion that they made router lifts. Beyond this, I didn’t know much about them.
I picked the tool up and was immediately impressed with how heavy and solid the tool felt. The fit and finish were outstanding. This clearly was a well made (and likely expensive tool). I asked the salesman about it and he said that since he was having to give me the incorrect blade for my shooting plane, he’d knock a little off the price of the marking gauge. The sale price was already pretty good, but I was wavering on whether or not to buy it as I have recently bought a TiteMark gauge that I still haven’t used. However, when he quoted me $35 CAD (about $27 US), I figured that I’d be a fool to let it go.
I’m not yet convinced about the usefulness of a micrometer on a marking gauge. Is it like putting a laser on Gerhard’s new Mitre Box? (He really needs a laser, don’t you think?) The fine adjustment I get. That’s very helpful, if not essential for accuracy. But the micrometer function? Time will tell. I guess what I’m saying is that I realize how important it is to be able to finely adjust the tool, but not sure that I need to know (to the nearest 1/64th) what measurement the tool is set to. Perhaps I’ll be a convert and swearing by it in the future. We’ll see. What I can say is that this gauge is incredibly well made.
The last item in my haul of goodies was a small carving mallet. It was in an old plastic bag and looked as though it was some kind of black cast resin. I took it out of the bag, only to discover that it was actually a rather beautiful rosewood. $9 CAD ($7 US), sold!!!
After hitting a few vineyards (and having my arm twisted into buying a few bottles), I ended up coming home with quite a few goodies. Though the work part of the trip was not fun, the weekend in the middle ended up being a really good time.
I guess all of this is a rather long way of saying that the next project is going to be a shooting board. Of course, I still have to finish that last post I’m writing about my recent experiment with London Pattern Chisel Handles. I finally resolved that issue to to my liking. I’ll try to get that post out soon.
– Jonathan White
Nice haul from Lee Valley. I plan on visiting the one in Halifax this summer and I do like to rummage around in the clearance stuff.
The only other Lee Valley store that I have been in is the one in Coquitlam (just outside Vancouver, BC). Of course, I go to their booth at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival each year, but there’s no clearance section at that…
Ah yes the LV clearance sales… Always the first thing I hit upon entering their stores, you never know what you will find. And then sometimes they have events like the antique tool sale i attended lately 🙂 I have yet to visit each stores around the country, but ive been to quite a few in my travels.
Good haul, you sucks 🙂
For sure when you visit, Ralph, ill take you around my “usual” woodworking stores 🙂
That sounds like an interesting challenge… Visiting every store. I’ve heard of people trying to visit every National Park, but visiting every Lee Valley store is a new one.
Funny that you say that, but I thought of installing a lazer until I realised that it would entail the use of electricity!! Decided against it for that reason … yeah right.
It makes me extremely envious (as you well know) to see posts like this. It must be an absolute pleasure to poke around a place like that.
Ok, I think we are going to have to start a petition for Rob Lee to open a store in Windhoek. What do you think? Much of a thriving woodworking and gardening scene in the area?
Oh yes and by the way, in Southern Africa they beat that left-handedness out of you at school already, which makes finding suitable woodwork tools much easier!
Well, in many things I am ambidextrous, but sawing and planing are definitely left handed endeavors. And you know they say that only us left-handers are in our right minds. I’ll do my best to avoid the beatings!