Guest post by Jerry Trapani:

This past Sunday (October 16), the Long Island Museum of Art, History and Carriages at Stony Brook (New York) hosted a lecture by Jamie Swan of Northport. Mr. Swan is a fourth-generation craftsman, and many of the tools in his collection are family heirlooms. He filled four tables, end to end, with all sorts of tools for everything from carriage-building and cabinet-making to ship-building.

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Jamie Swan speaking about antique woodworking tools (photo by Jerry Trapani)

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As part of his lecture, Mr. Swan told the story of Leonard Bailey, a plane maker from Rhode Island whose ingenious patents were the best of his era. Unfortunately, though, he was a terrible businessman. Over his lifetime, Mr. Bailey lost his company three times to the large Stanley Tool company.

Mr. Swan also told the story of his grandfather, James Brudenell Swan, who was the building superintendent for the Brewster-Rolls Royce building in Long Island City.

Mr. Swan spoke about the apprenticeships that his ancestors had worked and how they had passed their love of woodwork and their good tools to him. Among the tools he’s inherited are a hand hub borer and several planes used to make joints and decorations. He also has a coachmaker’s brace used for boring holes inside coach bodies.

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Mr. Swan's father's toolbox (photo by Jerry Trapani)

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I never realized how many different kinds of planes there were. Moldings, contours, and decorations all had to made by a skilled and steady hand. Each detail had its own tool.

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a multitude of planes (photo by Jerry Trapani)

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Among the many tools on display were spoke shavers; a “traveler” used to measure the diameter of a carriage wheel in order to know what length to cut the steel tire; and many types of rulers, including several with calipers incorporated to measure a piece of stock or wood.

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a ruler with a caliper incorporated (photo by Jerry Trapani)

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tools ... (photo by Jerry Trapani)

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... tools ... (photo by Jerry Trapani)

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... and more tools ... (photo by Jerry Trapani)

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If you’d like to learn more about old hand tools, try these books: Antique and Collectible Stanley Tools by John Walter; Classic Hand Tools by Garret Hack; Restoring Antique Tools by Herbert Kean; A Museum of Early American Tools by Eric Sloane; A Reverence for Wood by Eric Sloane; and Patented Planes in America 1827–1927, Vol. 1–2 by Roger K. Smith.