Today Alice made it down the rabbit hole to the tea party which was full of treats and surprises. What the heck am I talking about you ask!? Today, I found what is at the end of the rabbit hole: a little bit of hand tool heaven.
Thanksgiving time is upon us for those of us in the States, and for me, that means my annual trip to Greensboro, North Carolina (NC) for Thanksgiving with the in-laws. And what is not too far from Greensboro, NC? Roy Underhill’s Woodwright school and Ed Lebetkin’s Antique Woodworking Tools which is above the School. I am not kidding, Ed’s shop is a little bit of hand tool heaven in Pittsboro, NC.
I had heard about the shop via a YouTube video by Christopher Schwarz. It took me a while to find contact information to find out if the shop would be open the Wednesday before Thanksgiving or the Friday after. And I found Ed’s email address at the end of some other YouTube video, so I emailed Ed, and within twenty minutes he wrote back with his phone number. I called him up, and he said he would be happy to open up the shop for me since he had some work to do. And guess what! He had already found my blog and subscribed too! He also said he would be closed on Friday because he was busy. So much for Black Friday hand toolers! I guess we aren’t the “Black Friday” type.
After a pleasant hour long drive, I made it into Pittsboro, NC and thankfully found a place to park, and then made my way up to Ed’s shop.
Upon entering, my heart went “pitty pat” as a gazed upon a wonderland of vintage tools. I immediately knew that my philosophy of only purchasing what I had the cash for was going to be thrown out the second story window. Ed was right there, and after the first handshake, I could tell that we would hit it off. Ed is a really nice guy and is fun to talk too, and he has loads of good stories to tell about the tools he sells.
I did come there with a list of tools that I wanted; a vintage plow plane, an eggbeater style hand drill, and another set of dividers. I found a nice plow plane made in the 1830’s and got to test it out, and I got three additional irons. The bonus is that I got the plow and the additional irons for less than half the cost of what I was ready to pay for a new one.
Next, I got a Stanley (England) model 803 hand drill. The action on it is still great. Needless to say, my two year old son loves turning the handle round and round. What fun!
Ed was out of the size of dividers I wanted, so I got a 1.5” chisel instead. It was made in Sheffield England and has a nice beech handle. Right now, my widest chisel is only an inch wide so this is something I have been wanting.
You cannot image how much restraint I had to exercise not to go crazy buying a bunch of tools, but I did cave when I saw these big tri-squares made with ebony and brass. It took a couple of tries to find one that was still true, but once we found one, I just had to have it.
Next, I asked Ed to give me a tour of the shop, and I saw so many interesting tools, my credit card started smoking in my back pocket. After the tour, we went down stairs and looked in the window of Roy’s Woodworking School. In the window, there were the projects from previous shows, so that was fun to see them in person.
One day I would like to attend one of Roy’s Classes, and I especially would like to be there for any class that Christopher Schwarz guest teaches. (big sigh…..) Maybe one day……
The store has only been open for year, so I hope I can make it an annual trip for me, and perhaps it will be incentive to visit the in-laws more often!
If you are interested in visiting Ed’s Antique Woodworking Tools, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire for hours of operation. You won’t be disappointed.