Plane Speaking

About a Woodworker’s Tool

Story and Photos by Keith Knight

My friend Ken Lustig has always known a lot about old tools. A few years back, when I called him about what to do with some old hand planes I wanted to rehab, I soon learned that asking him this question was genius on my part. I’d long known he had a collection of planes, but I had no idea how extensive it was.  When I walked into his shop in Coeur d’Alene, which is about the size of two-car garage, it had a very ordered but busy look to it. His plane collection was in a smaller room dominated by wall racks full of planes, all neatly arranged. In the middle was a large table where he concentrates on his refurbishing work.  I was so intrigued by this scene that I spent several hours talking with him, taking a trip back in time.

I think a lot of people in Idaho appreciate both history and traditional hand tools and I think Ken may have one of the best collections in the state. I’ve known Ken as a woodworker for many years, and of his interest in different kinds of wood. He has made some beautiful boxes, cabinets, and one-of-a-kind furniture. We’ve taken classes together, from tool-sharpening to woodturning—if it has some thing to do with wood, he’s interested. It all came together, I think, in the cabin he built on the river, with features amazing, eclectic wood contrasts. 

Ken worked for the Panhandle Health District in Coeur d’Alene for more than thirty-five years, retiring as director of environmental services in northern Idaho. I guess you could say he had a reputation for being plain-spoken, although he also was known for using analogy and metaphor to make his points. He was a persistent advocate of protecting land and water quality.

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Keith Knight

About Keith Knight

Keith Knight and his wife Jackie moved to Coeur d’Alene from Minnesota in 1976 and stayed because they had found the perfect spot. They have three sons, all graduates of Idaho State University and former track athletes. Keith is a retired teacher with many interests, among them history, writing, and woodworking.

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