Revisiting the Past – The Lee Valley Antique Tool Collection. Many traditional hand tools are critical to the art of woodworking. In this regular series, D.S. Orr takes a look at items from the Lee Valley antique tool collection. By examining their importance to woodworking’s past, he uncovers their significance to its future.

About D.S. Orr

D.S. Orr enjoyed a varied career, working as a professional musician, stage hand and set builder. Throughout that time, he maintained a fascination with traditional tools, particularly those used for wood and metal working. As one of Lee Valley’s earliest customers, he formed an affiliation with our founder, Leonard Lee, based on their shared love of antique tools. Throughout the decades, Doug has helped to add to our antique tool collection, used by the designers at Veritas Tool – our manufacturing arm – for research purposes and as a source of inspiration. In 2006, he began writing vignettes for our email newsletters and has been a key contributor since.


Metal Combination Plane

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Metal Combination Plane


Arguably one of the most attractive hand woodworking tools produced in the last 150 years, the Charles Miller’s patent of 1870 was produced by the Stanley Tool and Level Company from 1871 to 1897. This metal combination plane includes a fillister bed and wraparound fence. Simply a top-shelf item.


Gouge Set

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Gouge Set


Produced by the Adams & Nelson Company of Chicago, a specialist patternmaker’s tool supplier in the early 20th century, this gouge set included 12 sweeps and three handles. The concept for this type of interchangeable handle on a chisel is credited to Edwin Walker (U.S. patent #291,820, January 1884).


Mini Tools

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Miniature Tools


Miniature tools have two classes, toy or actual working tools. The tools displayed on the full-size hand saw all come from a set marketed for children, although some could be used for regular work with no difficulty. The jeweller’s vise, however, is full size and has seen much use over the years.


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