Many visitors to our storefront ask where to buy quality vintage woodworking tools. We have a few favorite online dealers (Patrick Leach, Jim Bode and Hyperkitten). But we always prefer buying old tools in person. Looking at 10 jack planes in person is better than looking at 100 on eBay.
For in-person tool shopping in our neck of the woods, we recommend attending a tool meet of the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association. Or a visit to Dan Raber at Colonial Homestead in Millersburg, Ohio.
Last week we made our irregularly scheduled pilgrimage to Colonial Homestead, which is in a new location, just outside downtown Millersburg. As always, it was an insanely pleasurable shock to see so many quality woodworking tools lining the shelves and tables of the store. We didn’t have a lot of time to browse, maybe 90 minutes. But I could have easily spent an entire day picking through all the tools and studying them.
I own all the tools I need to make furniture. But I still adore looking at the wide varieties of tools made by different manufacturers during the last couple centuries. Plus, I have a soft spot in my heart for user-made tools and oddities. As someone who both designs and uses woodworking tools every day, Colonial Homestead recharges my batteries when it comes to tools and tool design.
If you live within a day’s drive of Millersburg, Ohio, I recommend you load up the family and make the trip. Have them drop you off at Colonial Homestead with a wad of cash. Then your family can explore the gorgeous Amish country that surrounds Millersburg, Berlin and Walnut Creek, Ohio. (The community there is the second largest in North America.)
There’s good food. And tons of kitschy shopping to be had, especially in Berlin. There are tours, a cheese factory and, well just check out this website. Below are just a few photos of Dan’s store. There is no way to capture it all.
— Christopher Schwarz