In ‘plane’ sight: Atlantic Tool Collectors Association annual exhibit taking place at Museum of Industry

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STELLARTON — Asking Scott Ross to identify his favourite piece from his massive tool collection is like asking a parent which of their children is their favourite.

“I have too many to pick,” the New Glasgow resident chuckles. “I can’t name a favourite specific piece but I do like my carpentry tools the best.” Makes sense because Ross is a carpenter by trade.

Some collectibles include china tea cups and saucers or vinyl records, sports cards or sports memorabilia. Ross, and other members of the Atlantic Tool Collectors Association, collect tools in all shapes and sizes. And this is an exciting time of year as the members of the Atlantic Tool Collectors Association are getting ready for their Spring Show and Sale taking place May 11 at the Museum of Industry in Stellarton.

“When I was a little boy playing hockey some guys were building a fence around a place where I was playing. They had gone home but one of them left a level on the fence. I took it home and gave it to my dad. When my dad passed away I took it back. I’ve had that level for well over 50 years.” It has no real monetary value, he explains, beyond the sentimental value attached.

He has other pieces in his collection that he holds dear to his heart. “You have a tendency to collect and trade pieces from other members. Sometimes these members pass away so those pieces I’ve received from them have sentimental value to me as well because I have a mental picture of them and that tool.”

Axes and slicks, saws and wrenches, chisels and planes are among the close to 1,000 pieces Ross possesses. Some are antiques, but not all. They are largely tools of the trade that would be familiar to this carpenter. He even has a display of miniature children’s tools in his possession. All hold a special place in his heart.

Picking up a particular plane with a large curved handle Ross explains, “This is what’s called a squirrel tail, for obvious reasons. It’s small and can be held in your hand to work on small bowls or doing pattern making or anything that takes small detail — like a violin, for example.”

Ross has been collecting tools for about 40 years — “since I was old enough to buy tools.” He has been a member of the Atlantic Tool Collectors Association for 20 years and estimates there will be 30-45 members exhibiting their collections on Saturday. All are as proud of their collections and Ross is of his. All will be happy to explain their pieces to anyone with an interest.

The Atlantic Tool Collectors Association Spring Show and Sale will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission to the show is free.

These tiny planes are among the hundreds of tools Scott Ross will be exhibiting Saturday at the Atlantic Tool Collectors Association Spring Show and Sale taking place at the Museum of Industry in Stellarton. Pictured among the display of planes is a collection of children’s tools that will also be a part of his display. (Jardine photo)