Relaxshax's Blog

Old School Tools (Fool!)- Back to basics building for YOUR tiny house or vacation cabin in the woods….
August 22, 2011, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

     I recently scored two vintage/antique tools at a flea market mall in Fairfield Maine that I had been looking for online for some time now, mainly because of my love of using these style tools growing up, and more recently (well, almost ten years ago now) from when I first began framing the aerial platform for my own cabin in Northern Vermont, and re-realized their usefulness through simple design.

A small hand drill ($6.00) I found at a flea market

 One of the challenges that tiny house or vacation cabin builders often face is having to build in remote places (the few locales in which land is still somewhat affordable) where in many cases electricity might not be present. Sure, you can bring along a cordless drill, or a rechargeable reciprocating saw and a few batteries, but those will only last you so long if you don’t have an electrical outlet to keep replacing them (and they’re not cheap)- and here’s where these old school gems come in…..

Also, for those out there who want to, or need to build off/under the radar, or semi-secretly, these tool are irreplaceable in use and effectiveness.

A two speed manual drill with a brace bar (for your hip, shoulder, stomach)

      For the pre-drilling of lag screw holes on my cabin (and I mean LOTS of ’em) we used an old fashioned brace and bit. Sadly, these type tools are NOT sold at Home Depot or Lowes, and these days few even know what the heck you’re talking about when you mention them by name, but, they’re not only damn useful and durable (notice- NO plastic!)- they’re SO easy to use. Its tools like these that made my cabin a possibility, in a site (still) with no electricity or running water. I used a borrowed brace and bit at the time too, and now (hence this post) have reacquired a good one on ebay for $20. Heck, another pair of perks is that you actually get a little exercise when you’re working AND can also enjoy the day, scenery, and great outdoors, without the sound of some motor-driven power tool screaming in your ear. 

As for the tools I picked up recently, another incentive is that I got them for a mere fraction of what they cost brand new (from the few companies that even make them anymore) and since they’re antiques, they’re all metal, and come from an era when manufacturers actually used quality, long-lasting, parts. I can’t tell you how many modern “improved” tools I’ve burned through, in fact, a real high end corded drill of mine (that I LOVED) just recently bought it. Not happy…

Other tools I might recommend (some tool/store links for these semi-hard to find items are below). Again, Ebay is a good place to look if you want to go the used route too- which I do encourage.

SURFORM– its like a very rough sanding rasp that takes large amounts of material/edging off. These are great if you needs to majorly, and quickly round out some board, deck, or railing edges.

BLOCK PANE– great for resizing and shaving doors, planks, or just about any other slab or piece of wood that needs some slight fine tuning. With a sharp blade, these operate very smoothly.

DRAWING KNIFE– a dual handle blade that’s great for peeling logs (for log cabin building) or even taking the edges of dimensional lumber. 

A GOOD SET OF CHISELS– I don’t even own a GOOD set myself, but I’m repeatedly amazed/surprised at home many times I’ve used this tool. From installing locksets to mortise and tenon work, to fending off hungry bears (kidding), you can pick up a so-so (but workable) set for very little.

NAILSET– for manually countersinking nail heads (for trim work, flooring, etc). 

COPING SAW– for tight curves when sawing, trim work….

If you have any advice or recommendations, we’d love to hear ’em!

-Derek “Deek” Diedricksen

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