A guide to vintage & antique tools identification

Although you might not know it, old tools are worth money if you have the right ones. Many of us have rusty old tools laying around somewhere in our garage, or perhaps you have a collection of finely maintained tools that you already know the value of.

You might be wondering, what old tools are valuable? Our vintage tools identification guide gives you the insight to identify vintage tools by brand and by design. If you’d like to put a name to antique hand tools, then this guide is for you.

We’re going to separate the following by tool. From axes to clamps, we’ll give you some tips on how to identify antique tools from an everyday ‘mass-produced’ tool. Take a look!

Saws

One of the most coveted tools in the world of vintage tools, the vintage market is saturated with saws of all shapes and sizes. It can be tricky identifying which are the real deal and which are not.

In terms of brands, keep an eye out for the following: Simonds, Atkins, Disston, Sandvik and Spear & Jackson. Disston are one of the most reputable and respected vintage brands available, but the other two are certainly worth a mention. If you come across any of these brands, you’re likely to find a hefty price tag. You’ll be able to tell a Disston saw apart from others by the telltale gold medallion on the handle.

There are also certain craftsmanship details to look out for. Applewood or beechwood handles are common signifiers of vintage origins, as are split nut screws (make sure they’re still intact). Generally, keep an eye out for ‘keyhole’ saws, ‘dovetail’ saws, and ‘rip-toothed’ panel saws as these are also high-value.

Hand drills

If you have some old-looking hand drills in your possession, any of the following features will indicate whether or not they’re of a significant value.

If your hand drills are made entirely out of wood, with perhaps an ivory trim or other such ivory design, then it’s more than likely a vintage tool. The rich wooden design accompanied by an extravagant ivory inlay was a favoured combination for many designers in years gone by.

Hammers

Hammers are also very popular within the antique tools community, and there are a number of ways that you can identify vintage hammers from others. Many vintage hammers are actually made from alternative materials like copper, brass and lead, and some have unique heads.

As for vintage hammer brands, keep an eye out for the names True Temper, Vaughn, Atha, and Plumb. These are classic DIY brands and have produced some outstanding antique tools.

Among some of the oldest tools in history, axes are another favourite for vintage tool fans. Some of the categories of axes you should keep an eye out for are: Goosewing axes, Cooper’s axes, Mast axes and Broad axes. You’ll find that vintage axes generally come in two different styles, single bit felling and double bit felling. If you don’t know, single bit axes have one cutting edge while double bit axes have two cutting edges symmetrically opposed to each other.

Like hammers, vintage axes often have unique and telltale design quirks that standard tools do not. Keep an eye out for elegantly shaped handles and unique markings on the axe head.

Wrenches

Although older wrenches and modern wrenches haven’t changed that much, there are certain signs to look out for. If you’re looking at a wrench with intricate cutout designs on the handle then you’re most likely looking at a very old vintage wrench.

Vintage wrenches often have multiple wrench heads on the one handle, which is often seen as a prototype for the adjustable wrenches we’re familiar with today. Also, vintage wrenches will almost always have wooden handles as this was the normal build before stainless steel.

Clamps

If you have an old-looking clamp in your possession, you might be interested in its potential vintage quality. A telltale indication of a vintage clamp is if it has a pincushion on top of the clamp itself. These are traditional sewing clamps and were household tools for the textiles and manufacturing industries in the 19th century.

Other vintage clamps include: traditional vise clamps, jeweller clamps and blacksmith bench clamps.

Looking for vintage tool storage?

Using our custom foam solutions, you can safely and securely stow away your vintage tools to ensure they’re kept in optimal condition whether you’re on the move or not. Our range of tool cases and tool case inserts are also worth a browse – you’re spoilt for choice!

In the meantime, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team. Feel free to explore our blog section, too. It’s packed with insights from the exciting world of tools and tool storage.

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