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A Knowledgeable Tool Collector is a Happy Tool Collector!


This section lists reference books for the serious tool collector. Some of these books I don't actually sell myself, but I have linked each title to the place with the lowest price on that particular book. If you decide to buy these books, you will be buying them directly from the lowest- cost merchant I know of.

I own and can personally recommend each of these books. They all provide lasting value -- you will use them time and time again in your hunt for information on your latest tool acquisition.


Cover Title Description
Joseph Bramah: A century of Invention 1749-1851 A great read about one of the industrial age's great inventors.
Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanism of Thought -- Hofstadter's view of metaphysical applications in modern tools.
A Treatise on Lathes and Turning A wonderful treatise on lathe concepts circa late 1800's, reprint
Woodworking Machinery, 1800-1880 A very nice survey of the woodworking machinery of the 1800's, a hard to find book.
The Art of Fine Tools
by Sandor Nagyszalanczy
Delight in this remarkable collection of 125 of the most unique woodworking tools from around the world. This book will inspire and amaze from the first to the last page. It features tools of ancient significance, remarkable precision, and tools with incredible artistic decoration and design. Over 300 color photos depict the beauty and the classic designs of these tools.
Tools: Rare and Ingenious
by Sandor Nagyszalanczy
The new (second) one from Sandor N. As good as the first.
British Saws & Saw Makers from 1660 New in 2015 -- detailed look into British Saws and their Makers. Order from author at
American Wooden Planes,
by Emil Pollak, Martyl Pollak
The definitive guide, covering American planemakers from the earliest individuals who worked before the Revolutionary War to the last few manufacturers of the twentieth century. The third edition is completely revised and contains almost 40% more information than the second edition, nearly 2,000 biographical entries, over 2,200 imprint illustrations and 930 wedge outlines. Simply by comparing the name struck on the front of the plane with the name and imprint illustrations in this Guide, the reader can easily determine the planes age, rarity and place in the history of planemaking.
Antique & Collectible Stanley Tools: Guide to Identity & Value
by John Walter
John Walter's book has been around for a long time and he has the pulse of Stanley tool collectors. His is the only available book with frequently updated prices, uinfortunately just for Stanley tools, but you have to start somewhere and these are the cmost commonly encountered.
Antique Tool Collectors Guide to Value
by Ronald S. Barlow
First published in 1989, this book has just been republished (in 1998) and contains updated values for many of the tools shown. While I don't agree with many of the values shown (they still seem outdated to me) the listing of tools is invaluable for finding out what that oddball tool was used for. Be sure you get the 1998 edition.
Axe Makers of North America
by Allan Klenman
This book provides detailed case histories of various individual axe manufacturers and conglomerates in the U.S.A. and Canada. Axe collectors can use this as a clear map through the mine field of mergers, takeovers, and other corporate maneuvers. However, this is no ordinary, dry as dust survey. Klenman has enriched specific case histories with anecdotes and interesting tidbits of information from his vast storehouse of personal knowledge of the subject. Buy it direct from the author.
Dictionary of Leather-Working Tools, C. 1700-1950 : And the Tools of Allied Trades
by R. A. Salaman
In this marvelous book, Salaman describes and illustrates every tool used in the leather-working trades in Great Britain from about 1700 until the present time, and explains its purpose. All told, he covers over 1,100 different tools.
Maker  of American Machinist Tools
by Kenneth L. Cope
This is the first guide to describe both the makers and the tools they produced. Included are the major manufacturers such as Brown & Sharpe, L.S. Starrett, Standard Tool, Sawyer, and Stevens, as well as the many smaller firms who were often the pioneers and innovators; altogether over 330 companies. In addition, the book provides extensive background on the history and development of the tools themselves.
Boxwood & Ivory: Stanley Traditional Rules, 1855-1975
by Philip E. Stanley
Rule collectors have little information to turn to in the pursuit of their hobby, but this is a happy exception. For Stanley rules, you need nothing else.
British Planemakers from 1700
by Jane Rees, Mark Rees
This new third edition has been completely re-written and is well over twice the length of its predecessor. The biographic directory covers 1650 makers and dealers (versus 880 in the second edition), and includes for the first time over 1600 imprint illustrations. Like its predecessor, the new edition traces the development of British planemaking, but far more extensively, describing and illustrating the many types of planes and tracing their evolution. There is a chapter on the planemaking trade and its practices, as well as sections on apprentice records, plane iron makers, trade marks, and a complete index.
Patented American sawsets : an illustrated patent directory, 1812-1925
by Todd L. Friberg
Saw set collectors have little information to turn to in the pursuit of their hobby, but this is a happy exception. I don't know of another source of information on saw sets.
Patented Transitional and Metallic Planes in America, Volumes I and II
by Roger Smith
Mr. Smith's seminal work takes you on a journey through the history of patented planes. The amount of information is staggering, and had to be divided up into two volumes. If you like hand planes, this is simply a must have. Buy it direct from the author. Mr. Smith also has in stock many valuable reprints of old tool catalogs.
Restoring, Tuning and Using Classic Woodworking Tools
by Michael Dunbar
A good beginner's guide to help keep your hand tools in tip-top shape, and help rescue the less fortunate tool from the scrap heap.
The American Patented Brace 1829-1924 : An Illustrated Directory of Patents
by Ronald W. Pearson
This is a vastly expanded successor to Dr. Pearson's earlier Guide to American Brace Patents. Not only are many newly discovered patents included, but these are now cross-indexed and illustrated and, for the first time, the author provides an indication of their rarity. Over 500 brace patents are listed alphabetically by patentee name and chronologically by date and patent number.
The Complete Guide to Sharpening
by Leonard Lee
Lee, a well-known tool manufacturer, covers the practical and technical information to sharpen tools quickly, efficiently and safely. Descriptive photos, clear line drawings and step-by-step instructions show exactly how to improve the performance and safety of any cutting tool. 255 photos.
Tools : Working Wood in Eighteenth-Century America
by James M. Gaynor, Nancy L. Hagedorn
Written to complement an exhibition at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Gallery, January 1994- June 1995. Extensive narrative text and captions fully explain the beautiful and functional objects in the photos.