With the advent of power tools, and the decades long move away from handmade wooden furniture, there are thousands upon thousands of old carpenter’s tools being discarded.
Chancing on a bundle of old carpenter’s wooden planes at an auction some time back, I picked them up with the idea of repurposing them. These must have been stored in a damp shed, as the planes that actually had blades were all rusty, some of the wooden bodies had woodworm, and many had cracks, dents and were just no longer useable as a plane.
I’d noticed people make some of the larger ones in to lampstands, but as I don’t have the qualifications to do that, that was out.
But as someone who uses a lot of paint brushes, which normally live in collections of tall tins, the idea came to turn them in to paint brush holders. With the plane handle, these would make an easily moveable and solid paint brush holder (nothing worse than knocking your paintbrush tin over), and an artist’s paint brush holder would be a great gift for painters.
The first job was to take apart the ones that had blades (not easy as they were rusted in), and then gently clean all the wood without removing any of the aged patina (or the paint splatters – why old wooden planes would have paint splatters I don’t know).
As they had been stored together, they all got a few coats of a woodworm treatment to dispose of those dastardly creatures.
Next came the drilling. Checking my artist’s paint brushes, I decided on two different hole sizes, 6mm and 8mm, with some planes just having one size, and some a mix (and 8mm also works for pencils).
They had to feel good as well as look good, so depending on their state, some were given a coat of Danish Oil (nourishes the wood and gives a great finish), others were given a couple of coats of wood wax and then polished up.
And there you have it, hopefully a great gift for painters that would save these old planes from the landfill site or bonfire.
Of course, as these things are, that was just the start. Wanting to preserve much as possible, I kept all the old plane blades, give them a light clean enough to distinguish any makers name, and sell these on eBay, to carpenters who want spare blades.
That just left the wooden wedges used to hold the blades in the plane … hmmm, what can I do with those? Staying with the artist’s gift theme, a couple of copper horse shoe nails and they became paint brush rests.
Every part repurposed!
I’d started off just using the block and coffin planes. I’d often see old moulding planes but didn’t think they would work as well as paint brush holders. But, nothing ventured … so the next time I saw some I picked them up. And, as long as I’m careful to not drill too deeply, and they are thick enough, they work just as well ~ so they now are on my repurposing list.
You can find these repurposed wood planes at my ETSY shop in the paint brush holder section here: Artist's gifts ~ Paint Brush Holders
The artist’s paint brush rests are here: Artists gifts ~ Paint Brush Rest
And though I don’t always have some for sale (I wait till I get a bundle of them), you can find some old wood plane blades and irons on my eBay shop here: Old carpenters wood plane blades