MJD Toolapalooza – Josh Clark and Jon Szalay, Gentlemen and Scholars


This year at Martin Donnelly’s annual warehouse-clearing auction of 75,000 tools in 3200 lots over 20 hours of auctioneering, I sat in a cluster with new friends Martin from Dayton and Jim from Boston, along with older friend Josh Clark from Hyperkitten Tools and my long time friend Jon Szalay, one of the very smartest guys I know.


Josh’s business of buying lots of quality tools needing some TLC, tuning them and then reselling them for a modest prices is a tremendous boon to woodworkers coast-to-coast. He was having as successful an auction as mine was not.   Time after time he would get a solid lot of tools, each one containing some, sometimes very many, tools that would fit nicely into his inventory.

Fortunately for me, on occasion these box lots contained items he did not really want but I really did, so plenty of sub-rosa horse trading was going on.


The first item we transferred from him to me was a horned scrub plane for my friend Dave, who has caught the hand-tool bug with a vengeance. I’ll tune that up and send it to him next week.


Next came a snazzy but weird layout template which features 90-45-30-60 degree angles, perfect for my use in making simple French parquetry.


It bears a remarkable resemblance to the marking template featured in Roubo’s Pate 14. Hmmm.


Also in the same lot was an excellent little Japanese-style bevel gauge, the smaller version of one I already had. Josh felt this tool was outside the interests of most of his customers, so I bought it to include in my traveling tool kit.


Finally, Josh implored me to take a very nice Stanley miter box off his hands so he would not have to pack it up. Being a generous sort of fellow, I accepted it. Just to help him out.


Spending those days aside Josh was a delightful interlude of good-natured tool chat and tale telling, and I strongly urge you to follow his web site and patronize his business. You will not be sorry.

Thanks Josh!


photo courtesy of Joshua Klein

photo courtesy of Joshua Klein

Jon Szalay is someone I’ve known for many years through our membership and participation in the Professional Refinisher’s Group, an online forum that is part of our every day surfing. His presence was prominent in our recent Groopstock ’14 gathering at The Barn.


Jon is one of the most talented and inventive guys I know, he’s an antiques dealer, machinist, vintage motorcycle expert (he’s renowned for taking a 1911 Harley motorcycle on a transcontinental road trip, “Fix and repair hourly” he quips, and is the “go to” guy for the American Pickers crew), metal caster, carver and artist, the list goes on and on.


Jon had a booth at the tailgating section, and was somewhat overwhelmed by the scope of the auction. “I don’t know where to begin!” he said on more than one occasion.


What eventually drew his eye was a mid-19th century machinist’s lathe, and with his encouragement I bought it for us to restore together (unlike most lots, it went for WAY under the estimate). We’ll get together this fall at The Barn to complete the task and for him to help me set up my blast furnace so metal casting can be part of the ongoing activities there.