old tool etiquette

Just bought this old 2" firmer socket chisel on eBay. It's about 14" long and appears hand forged when I look at it up close. It's a little beat up on the edges--some dents and chips (like it got stuck in a timber and someone whacked it on the side to free it). It appears to have two-laminations in the blade (working edge seems to be more dense-- harder?). The handle is hickory (I think), hand worked, and is ringed on the business end (this, too, is beat up pretty good). I know nothing about the tool's history, but the seller might.
I was originally shopping for a user, but I'm having second thoughts. Any thoughts about preservation vs. use? Any value to preserving a tool whose history may not be available? I'm not a purist of any sort, but this thing has me thinking.
Dan (I can...but I don't want to.)
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If you're going to keep it as a collectible, don't do anything to it except store it in conditions that won't cause ot to deteriorate.
Personally I think old tools should be used, but there is a thriving trade in old, collectible tools.
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On 12 Jul 2004 20:31:14 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gte.net (Dan Cullimore) wrote:

use it. clean it up, stone off any dings and burrs that get in the way of it working well and sharpen it. make yourself the appropriate mallet to whack it with and have at it. you become part of the history of the tool.
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Personally, I like using old tools for their intended purpose, but I won't overhaul them to do so. If I can use it without destroying it's visual appeal, I figure no reason not to. That's what it's for, after all. I enjoy using my grandfather's hand tools because they were his.
Dave Hinz
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On 12 Jul 2004 20:31:14 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gte.net (Dan Cullimore) wrote:

You sure it's a firmer ? At that length it sounds more like a slick. Is the handle obviously removable ? Like so many slicks, it also appears to have suffered some abuse. They're a _hand_ tool, used for careful paring and shouldn't be hammered or struck at all.
--
Smert' spamionam

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(Dan Cullimore)

Could be a slick. That length includes the wood, which could be removed (I think) given that it appears to be jammed into the conical socket. It's pretty darn tight right now, but rotates a bit.
I'm really curious about the possibility it was smithied. Anything I should look for as a clue to this? (I know a blacksmith who could probably tell me.) To get it useful will take a bit of work as the edges and back are not flat, what with dings and such. Too bad this tool was abused--it looks very well made.
Dan (I can...but I don't want to.)
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snipped-for-privacy@gte.net (Dan Cullimore) wrote in message

14" is slick length if it's all iron, but short if that includes the handle - even if it's a replacement short handle. I've very rarely seen an old slick with the original handle.
Framing chisels tend to have firmly attached handles too. Slicks are a bit of a hazard anyway for people holding them by the handle and pointing downwards (!), so for a chisel that eventually _will_ get taken upstairs on a job, that's just far too risky. Some framers give them a drilled hole through the handle and let them hang off a belt lanyard from a knute hitch. I've even seen loose socketed chisels where this hole went through both socket and handle - the lanyard also kept the two parts from coming apart.

Yes.
There's nothing magic about smithing - it's just how you make stuff, and particularly it's how _everything_ used to be made. Even today, what's the difference between hammer forging, power-hammer forging and drop forging ? It's a gradation of techniques, not an entirely different manufacture.
As one smith told me, "Smithing is when you sign it afterwards". It's about the personal involvement with a piece, not whether it's a hand hammer or a Little Giant.
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snipped-for-privacy@gte.net (Dan Cullimore)
wrt old socket chisel

A tool's history can rarely be worked back through its life. If there's a birthmark, then that gives the early information. For a chisel a mark would usually be stamped somewhere on the body, perhaps on the top, just in advance of the small end of the socket. But the tool's form tells it's history, too. Sounds like the one you acquired is a framing chisel, rather than a firmer. It's a matter of degree, but a firmer would be thinner in cross section. I don't think it's a slick, as another poster suggests, but it could be. Slick's have longer handles, so you can work the blade, rather than strike it. Replace the current handle with a longer, and you have a slick. A matter of use, really, nothing cast in stone.

The best way to preserve an object is to use it as it was intended, if possible, not to shelve it, whether tool or other artifact. We learn through observation, but we learn best through bringing things again alive, getting the feel, getting hands on. Maybe "they" don't make a chisel as good as yours anymore, but how will you know, unless you re-use it? Frank Morrison (the two-part iron is because there's some high-carbon steel welded to the tip, btw)
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Fdmorrison) wrote in message

It does sound like a framer as the handle is pretty short and the iron quite thick in section. It's definately made for striking, with a ring on the end of the wood. Thanks for the differentiations.

This is as I thought. Thanks.
And Tom V.--you're welcome.
Dan
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On 12 Jul 2004 20:31:14 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gte.net (Dan Cullimore) wrote:

I don't think there is an Emily Post standard for old tool treatment, so, FWIW, I'll simply state my opinion. And, as I've heard before, "Opinions are like A**holes. Everybody has one, and they all stink".
I am talking about "quality" tools. Tools created to satisfy the needs of the person whose livelyhood depends on the use of those tools. I am not talking about "pot metal" junk made for one or two jobs and expected to fall apart before you finish those.
Tools were made to be used. It is no disrespect to the tool to put it to use. That is it's intended purpose. I believe it is more disrespectful to abandon use of the tool and relegate it to a display case.
I own only one tool that lives in a display case. I built the case specifically for a Disston No 7 (not a D-7) saw. It was purchased new by my father in the early 1920's and used by him throughout his working life. It was one of the very few new tools that Dad owned in the early days of his carpentry career. It is priceless to me because it belonged to him. It is worthless as a collector's item because Dad broke the handle and replaced with one salvaged from a D-23. Dad had to drill new holes in the saw blade because the hole pattern in the D-23 handle does not match the No 7 handle. Dad filed away more than half the original depth of the blade during the many times he sharpened it. Dad may not have been the greatest saw sharpener of all times since the saw now has a distinctly concave cutting edge. Even so, it's one of the best cutting handsaws I've ever used.
The fact that the saw is being displayed instead of used causes me some twinges of guilt. I assuage that guilt by remembering that the saw is on display not as an excellent or distinctive or memorable example of the tool maker's art but as a memorial to Dad.
If you obtained the chisel as an investment, the way some people purchase works of art, then by all means, consider yourself a "collector of tool art" and "preserve" the tool. If you want to show respect for the chisel, and by extension, the artisan/craftsman who used it, if you want to be worthy of the chisel, put an edge on it, replace the handle, if needs be, with one that suits you, cut some wood, and "collector's value" be damned!
Simply my opinion. (See paragraph #1.)
Tom Veatch Wichita, KS USA
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(Dan Cullimore) wrote:

Thanks, Tom. I'm not partial to "collecting" tools (I have a few dust collectors, however...hmmm--'nother topic!) although I recognize that some have intrinsic value as "art" or "history": your father's old saw, and your memorial to his life through it's preservation in a case, being one example of that sort of "history" worthy of display. What an honor. I have my dad's old manual Royal typewriter (not displayed) for just that reason: he made his/our living on it when I was a kid.
This blade has a story, I'm sure, but it isn't mine nor anyone's I know. What you've expressed is exactly the kind of thoughtfulness I was hoping for, something to order my own confused thoughts about respect "'for the chisel, and by extension, the artisan/craftsman who used it' [and]", I would add, "[the one who made it.]" Since I know nothing of this chisel's story (it would have no personal meaning if I did--not that that is everything), and given the fact that whoever had it to begin with didn't care enough about it's past to worry with it, I will assuage my reluctance, put the edge on it it was meant to have, and cut some wood--what I intended all along.
Thanks, Dan
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On 14 Jul 2004 10:43:19 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gte.net (Dan Cullimore) wrote:
<snip>

Mea Culpa.
I noticed that omission after posting the message. The sentence should have read:
...the artisan/craftsman who made/used it...
Thanks for cleaning up after me. Now, if you are really in a cleaning up mood, I have a workshop...8-).
Tom Veatch Wichita, KS USA
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