Other Interesting Planes

MORE AMERICAN MITRE PLANES

Early iteration of the Bailey no. 9 cabinet makers block plane (or pianomaker’s mitre plane). This one has the Aug 31, 1858 patent date. It’s not hard to see why Bailey changed the handle. From Quiet Corner Antiques.  Below that are two photographs of the same example of the Bailey no. 9 first version, taken by Jim Bode in June 2019.

L. Bailey mitre plane, as advertised in A. J. Wilkinson & Co., Boston catalogue c 1867. The earliest advertisement I have seen for this plane was in Bliven & Meade's 1864 N.Y. catalogue.

L. Bailey mitre plane, as advertised in A. J. Wilkinson & Co., Boston catalogue c 1867.  Bailey’s mitre plane was also included in the earlier Bliven, Mead & Co. 1864 New York catalogue.

Stanley no. 9 Cabinet Maker’s block plane. Type 2, with horizontal adjustment knob. Photo from MJD auctions, April, 2016.

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Lie Neilsen No. 9 plane, with the original in the background.

Lie Nielsen’s No. 9 plane is longer, with a sole 10 7/8″ long, as compared with the 9″ long c. 1900 Stanley shown here.  Its also more massive, and looks to be more robust as compared with the original body casting, which can be prone to cracking at the rear, where the handle is attached.   When the top fixing screw for the Stanley No. 9’s adjustable front sole piece is driven too tight, the casting can also crack on the sides, right above the adjustable front sole.  While this example does not suffer from these problems, the Lie Neilsen is the one I go to first: it cuts wood very well, with no worries about breakage.  It is, however, a rather big rig–14″ if you include the handle attachment–the user made handle is slightly oversized, in order to push the plane more easily.

William G. Scott mitre plane, made at 204 Clinton St., Cincinnati, Ohio, with German silver shield or crest inlaid into the rosewood front infill. Apparently, there were at least three sizes of this plane, this one is 9″ long, with a 2″ iron. Others were 8 5/8″ with a 1 3/4″ iron, or 8″ long with a 1 5/8″ iron.

 

William G. Scott’s mitre, to my knowledge, was the only production infill mitre plane made in 19th century U.S.A. outside of  New York state.  Like the New York makers of pianomaker’s planes, Scott found his inspiration from the infill planemakers of Great Britain.  Unlike the New York makers, Scott was influenced by profiles with more fluid lines, rather than straightforward box mitre designs.  The smaller versions of this plane resemble an oversized Irish chariot plane.  Scott’s mother was born in Ireland, and his father was born in England, so chances that he did not know about this Scottish/Irish style of planemaking would have been close to zero.  Especially considering his surname.  In the relatively small number of these planes that have surfaced, there is much variation; Scott’s casting designs were constantly tweaked and changed.  Its fairly obvious that William Scott enjoyed playing around with his designs, because for usefulness and practicality reasons, it certainly was not necessary.

Carpentry and Building magazine, September, 1886.

Carpentry and Building magazine, September, 1886.

“Simple, durable, and effective.”  Carpentry and Building magazine September, 1886.

Scott mitre plane. Its the same as the example in the advertisement with the exception that the two infills were affixed to the casting with machine screws.  Its small: 8″ long, with a 1 5/8″ Moulson iron.

“Sole Manufacturer,” could be taken literally: Scott likely worked alone, after business hours, in his home-based workshop.  Its true that Scott mitres are rare, but the small and steady amount of them that surface over the years, indicate that Scott must have continued with his planemaking endeavors through a long timespan.  This would also be supported by his use of many casting variations which would have been used for a good number of casting batches over time.

U.S. census 1880. William Scott, wife Susan. Born Canada, circa 1851. Chattanooga, Tennessee. Carpenter.

William Scott, carpenter. Cincinnati City Directory, 1882. First year of entry for Wm. Scott in Cincinnati.   Clinton Street was in the West End, near the new Taft Information Technology High School on Ezzard Charles Drive.  During the 1950s, the historic West End was razed for ‘urban renewal.’

1845 Cincinnati street map, showing a portion of the West End, including Clinton St.  Liberty and Linn Streets are still there.

1883. Its William G., not C. (ad is incorrect).

1900 U.S. census. William G. Scott.

 

 

http://mshepherdpiano.com/wp-content/uploads/Scott1905.jpg

Cincinnati City Directory, for 1905.

Scott was listed every year, at 204 Clinton Street through 1894.  In 1895, Scott was living at 13 Kenmore, and then he moved to 844 Clinton Street in 1896.  W. G. Scott remained at 844 Clinton Street for the rest of his life.  Note the separate address at the southwest corner of Josephine and Dorchester Avenue, Mount Auburn, for Scott’s workshop.  Its an indication that Scott’s business was growing.  With fly screens a specialty, Scott must have used his mitre planes for  shooting the frames, among other uses.

1910 U.S. Census.  William G.Scott

William G Scott mitre. Alternative casting pattern.

Scott mitre planes together, rear view.

William G. Scott’s death certificate. His wife Susanna lived until 1937.

William G. Scott-interment.

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Two W. C. Scott mitre planes, 9″ long with L. & I. J. White 2″ iron in back and 8 3/8″long with D. R. Barton 1 3/4″ iron in front. The smaller plane has “Scott” inscribed roughly embossed, inside the plane as part of the casting. A steel sole was sweated onto the bronze body.

Scott.mitre.I.J.White.iron

Scott mitre with L. & I. J. White iron, 8″ long. Similar to the plane shown above, but with some differences in the lines of the casting. Photo from Martin Donnelly Auctions, c. 2002.

Martin Donnelly’s flowery description of this plane. 2002.

Scott mitre plane that was sold in the MJD September 2009 auction. 8″ long.

Scott mitre plane with replacement infills. EAIA Journal 2015

Scott mitre plane with replacement infills. EAIA website c 2015 The nose on this plane is rounder than any of the other Scott castings shown here, and the iron appears to be set a few degrees lower than the others as well.  It was sold in the 46th Brown tool auction in March 2015.  Plane is stamped by ‘C. Fielding’ in a wave pattern. Some of you may notice that the signed Gabriel mitre shown on the next page (English Mitre Planes) was also stamped by C. Fielding.  It is fairly common that when a collector passes away, the heirs place the tools up for auction to be returned to the collecting community.

Baldwin Piano Factory, c 1920. While Scott's mitre plane predated the introduction of Baldwin pianos by four years(1890), chances were good that a few Scott mitres were used therein.

Baldwin Piano Factory, c 1920. While the introduction of Scott’s mitre plane predated the introduction of Baldwin pianos by at least four years (1890), chances were good that a few Scott mitres were used therein.

By 1886, D. H. Baldwin’s potential work force of skilled craftpeople was already established in the Cincinnati area, and besides, Baldwin was not the first pianomaker in southern Ohio.  Frank Renfrow, a longtime piano specialist in the Cincinnati area, documented the following local pianomakers from 1825 to 1880: Charters, Garish, Golden, Reuss, Strange, Clark, Bourne, Smith & Nixon, Blackburn, Britting, Dannrechtin, Schaunel, Wardrogen, and Chase, among others.

 

 

Largest Scott mitre with 2″ iron and smallest with 1 5/8″ iron.  Bodies are similar, but the front of the smaller one has sharp corners, and the large one has rounded corners

Scott mitre plane, from the John G. Wells collection.   John Wells was a prominent architect (and tool collector/researcher) from Berkeley, CA.  Photo from David Stanley Auctions, February 1, 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IRISH CHARIOT PLANES

The roots of William G. Scott’s mitre plane designs originated from the Scottish mitre plane, which was a somewhat ephemeral form, and not made in quantity.  Scottish mitre planes emerged in the mid to late 19th century, and lasted until the 1920s.  Another derivation from the Scottish mitre was the Irish chariot plane, which was a slightly smaller version of the Scottish mitre, with a typical 1 3/4″ iron and a length ranging from 6 1/2″ to 9″.  Irish chariot planes were also a stretched version of the classic English chariot plane, a blocky form ranging from 3 1/2″ to 5″.  Others just consider Irish chariots as another variation on a block plane.  All of these assertions are true.  The vast majority of Irish chariot planes were unmarked, and user made–perhaps in a small casting batch for members of a workshop, or a group of friends.

Scottish/Irish chariot plane, gunmetal and ebony.

Unmarked quality Irish/Scottish chariot plane, with cupid’s bow on wedge.  The iron is set at 17 degrees and is 1 3/4″ wide at the mouth. Rosewood was used to bed the cutter.  Its an example of the creativity many craftworkers possessed in the late 19th century.  Traces of Scottish mitres, English chariots, and block planes are all apparent in its design.

 

 

As many as a third of all chariot planes made were of the ‘Irish chariot’ type. Of all the infill planes, the Irish chariot was one of the most free in form, and at any given time, a variety of designs are available for sale on ebay U.K.  Unfortunately, the quality on many of the examples varies as well, with a majority being average at best, with a few of good quality.  At least three makers made Irish chariot planes: James Mulholland of Belfast, Edward Preston of Birmingham, and John William Thackeray of Armley, Leeds.  All of them could be considered at the high end for fit and finsh.  Thackeray classified his Irish chariot plane as “The Ivy,” Improved Mitre Plane, but all of the design characteristics point to the former.

Irish Chariot planes first appeared in the 1890s, and they continued to be made into the 1930s.  Were they actually developed in Ireland?  If James Mulholland made Irish chariots in the 1890s, then there’s a good chance that it was the case.  A James Mulholland, “Ironmonger,” was listed in the 1890 and 1900 P.O. Directories for Belfast.  Throughout the 1890s, there were various listings for a James Mulholland as a joiner, carpenter, or smith.  James Mulholland was located at 61 Ann Street in Belfast from 1907 to 1932, and this address was stamped on some of his Irish chariot planes. Like Preston, Mulholland’s version was also orange/red, with a plain toe, like Preston version 1, but with swept sides like Preston version 2.

What is clear, is that the Irish chariot pattern was not a London design.  All of the known makers were north of London.

James Mulholland, Belfast, and Edward Preston, Birmingham, Irish chariot planes. Photo by George Anderson.

 

James Mulholland “Ironmonger,” Kelly’s Belfast, Ireland P.O. Directory for 1890.

 

 

 

James Mulholland, “Ironmonger and tool dealer.” 61 Ann St., Belfast. First year with telephone in 1908.

 

 

James Mulholland, “Ironmonger’s Assistant,” 41 Henderson Ave. Belfast, Ireland.

James Mulholland, “Ironmonger.”  Home located at 37 Cypress Gardens, Belfast.

 

Preston Irish Chariot plane, 7 1/4″, 1 3/4″ iron, throat closer, version 1.  Preston stamp on toe.

 

 

 

James Mulholland was born circa 1864. Was Mulholland first to make Irish chariot planes?

 

 

 

Mulholland’s shop was a family business: son John Mulholland, 20, was an assistant ironmonger, Sarah, 21, was the book keeper, and James Jr., 15, was an ironmonger’s apprentice.

1932 was Mulholland’s last year of entry in Kelly’s Belfast Post Office Directory at 61 Ann St.  James Mulholland age 69, died on 30 January, 1934, and was buried in Belfast City Cemetery.

 

 

 

Preston’s Irish chariot plane first appeared in his 1901 catalogue; it is unclear how long it was made before that, however.  The cutting angle on version one is noticeably higher than the second version.

 

Edward Preston’s Irish Chariot plane, in his 1901 catalogue.

 

 

Preston’s Irish chariot plane was also available in gunmetal, and with a rosewood or ebony wedge.  There was no infill.

 

 

Preston Irish Chariot plane,version 2.  Length is 9″, 1 3/4″ iron, embossed “PRESTON,” and no throat closer.

Preston factory at Cheston Road, built c. 1900. From 1909 catalogue.

Both Preston Irish chariot planes had a knob shaped wedge.

By the time of this second larger version of the Irish chariot plane (c. 1914), casting technology had advanced to the point where a mouth closer was not necessary to achieve a fairly fine mouth.  Having said that, my version 1 Preston Irish chariot has a tighter mouth (<1/16″) than this version two example at 3/32″.  Preston Irish chariot planes were made in the New Works at Cheston Road, Aston.

 

Invariably, all captains of industry asked their hired artists to make the most impressive image possible of their manufactories.  Edward Preston Jr. (1835-1913) was no exception.  At the factory’s peak before WWI, Preston employed about 200 men and women.

 

Aerial view of Cheston Rd, c. 1952, looking south.

Edward Preston’s Whittall Works, in the 1914 Ordnance Survey of Birmingham.  Exchange Works, Edgetool Factory on Rocky Lane was John Yates, Ltd.

Cheston Rd., proceeding from Rocky Lane, northward. From Kelly’s Birmingham Post Office Dir., 1905.

Edward and Harriet Preston in the 1911 U.K. census.

 

 

 

 

 

During the first half of the 20th century, the narrow piece of land between Cheston Rd. and the rail line was developed considerably.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Manufacturer Rules, Planes, Spirit Levels and general tools in wood, ivory, steel, iron, and brass.”

Edward Jr. (1835-1913) and Harriet Phoebe Preston, c.1880s.

Index listing for will of Edward Preston Sr.

 

 

 

This will index listing put Edward Preston Sr.’s (b. 1798) death on 14 April 1875.  Most publications have his death in 1883.

Edward Preston Jr. From the Birmingham Daily Gazette, 2 September, 1908. Article about tariffs

 

 

 

 

It was Edward Preston Jr. who was responsible for expanding his father’s business beyond wooden planes, first adding rules, and eventually offering a full line of tools.

Edward Preston, will index.

 

 

 

“The Ivy Improved Mitre Plane [Irish chariot plane] with fine Eye,” made by John William Thackeray, circa 1900 through 1920s. 1922 Catalogue.  7 1/2″ long, 1 3/4″ iron.  From Thackerayplanes.com

John William Thackeray was born 10 April, 1869 in Burnt Yates, Clint, Yorkshire, to Charles and Sarah Thackeray; Charles was a joiner and farmer in 1871. “The Ivy” improved mitre plane (Irish chariot) was Thackeray’s best known plane, and the only one that had this mark on the body.  It was named for the Ivy Works, at 51 Old Row, Armley, Leeds, where the plane was made.  Occasionally, Thackeray’s planes would be stamped with a large “T” on the body.

 

Prices in the 1922 catalogue. Castings only: Nickel plated, 11/6; Malleable Iron, 9/6; Gunmetal, 11/6. Rosewood or ebony wedge 9d; Thackeray iron 1/6.

 

W. Thackeray “Improved Mitre Shooting Plane.” From 1922 Pocket catalogue.  Thackerayplanes.com

Improved mitre shooting plane was actually a simplified version of “The Ivy”  without the embossed toe and the throat closer.  All of Thackeray’s planes were available as separate components: body castings, irons, infills, wedges, and  lever caps, were all available individually.  For those who had skills and sought to save money, this could have been a boon.  For those who chose to buy a completed plane–that could add up.

J.W. Thackeray 37 Pye Lane.Clint,Yorkshire, 1871 U.K. census..

 

Charles Thackeray “Joiner (Master), and Farmer, 46 1/2 acres.”

 

J.W. Thackeray in the 1891 U.K. census, living at 5 Wesley Place, Leeds.

 

Charles Thackeray, Charles Jr., and John William, 22, were all “Joiner[s]” in 1891.

John William Thackeray married Jane Anne Senior at Armley Church on 5 September, 1896

J. W. Thackeray in the 1901 U.K. census, 5 Elizabeth St. Armsley, Leeds.

John W. Thackeray, “Carpenter; Employer,” with wife Jane A. and son Fred, 3.

J. W. Thackeray, 1910 Tax assessment.

 

 

 

Thackeray rented his property

 

 

 

John William Thackeray, 1911 U.K. census. “Joiner; Employer (2).”

John William Thackeray, 1911 U.K. census 18 Edinburgh Place, Armley, Leeds.

 

 

 

 

Thackeray “The Ivy” plane, circa WWI.  Plated version, with ebony.

 

 

Thackeray’s version of an Irish chariot plane was heavier than other examples, as seen in the depth and thickness of the casting.  That does not make it a mitre plane. The bed is infilled with rosewood.

“The Ivy” embossed casting was part of a general practice by several planemakers to promote their products around the WWI era.  Preston was doing it, then Spiers introduced their embossed lever cap.  A few years later, even Stanley made a name  embossed lever cap.

Thackeray’s “The Ivy,” in gunmetal. From Thackerayplanes.com.

 

Price for a completed “The Ivy” plane was 13/9 for either the nickel plated or the gunmetal version in the 1922 catalogue.  Preston’s price for the iron Irish chariot was 10/- and gunmetal 14/- in the 1901 catalogue.  There was a good amount of inflation between 1901 and 1922, so Thackeray was less expensive.

 

 

 

Another “The Ivy” plane. From thackerayplanes.com

Side view of same plane.

Thackeray cast iron smooth plane. Photo from Ebay U.K.

Thackeray smooth plane, stamp on iron. Photo from Ebay UK.

Photo from corner of Canal Road and Old Row. The Asbestos factory was directly behind Old Row, now Ledgard Way.  Photo from leodis.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aerial view of Old Row from 1949, showing general location of Thackeray, and the J.W. Roberts asbestos factory behind.  Photo from morningstaronline.co.uk

John William Thackeray addresses: 5 Wesley Place, Armley <1891-1893>; 5 Elizabeth St. c. 1901; 67 Old Row 1907-1912; 51 Old Row, “Ivy Works” c. WWI ~1930.

 

All of the white stuff was piles of asbestos fibres blanketing the neighborhood.  Many locals contracted mesothelioma.  J. W. Roberts was producing asbestos there from 1906 until 1959.

 

 

Area as it appears today. Old Row renamed Ledgard Way. From google maps.

Detail of Old Row, Armsley, Leeds, from 1907 Ordnance Survey map.

Samuel Ledgard (1874-1952) was a Leeds businessman best known for his buslines in and around Leeds.  Ledgard also owned a pub and brewery on 212 Armley Rd., very close to Old Row.

Some urban renewal is apparent on both sides of Ledgard Way (Old Row).

 

Samuel Ledgard, Nelson Inn (brewery) 212 Armley Rd.  From 1908 P.O. Directory.

 

 

 

 

This map was drawn before J.W. Roberts Asbestos factory was built.

 

Two foundries and a forge were minutes away from Old Row.  Price competition between these foundries likely made it viable for Thackeray to sell unfinished plane castings profitably.  Like other planemakers, Thackeray would have owned his proprietary moulds and cores, bringing them to the foundry when a new batch was required.

1908 Kelly’s P.O. Directory for Armley, Leeds in 1908 for Old Row. Only two listed.

 

In 1893, five individuals were listed on Old Row.  There must have been a lot of empty units in and around Old Row.

 

 

Thackeray entries for Leeds in the 1908 Kelly’s P.O. Directory.

 

By 1908, John William’s father, Charles was working as a wheelwright.  No doubt, most, if not all these Thackerays were related.

 

 

John William Thackeray wore three hats: joiner, planemaker, and undertaker. 1908 Leeds P.O. Directory.

 

It must have been interesting…  There has always been a market for finely made caskets.

 

John William Thackeray’s ad in the “Illustrated Journal for Mechanics,” volume 14, circa 1898.

 

From the beginning of his planemaking career, John William Thackeray offered an a la carte menu for his customers.

John William’s ad in the “Illustrated Journal for Mechanics,” volume 20, c. 1900.

 

By 1900, John William Thackeray was offering a full line of planes.

 

Two cast iron shoulder planes, made by John William Thackeray.  Photo from proxibid.com.

John William Thackeray, age 70, joiner, (born 10 April 1869) in the electoral register for 1939, along with his family at 38 Conference Road, Leeds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Given the health risks around Old Row, its reassuring to know that John William Thackeray lived a full lifespan.

 

 

John W. Thackeray died 14 May, 1941.

Two months previous to John William Thackeray’s death was the Leeds blitz of 14/15 March 1941.  Armley was particularly hard hit.  It was a stressful time to live and work there.

 

 

INNOVATIVE NYC STYLE MITRE PLANES:

NY style (looks like cast iron) mitre plane with interesting infill and lever cap. Maker unknown.

NY style (looks like cast iron) mitre plane with interesting infill and lever cap. Maker unknown, but similar to Buchhop plane shown below..  Photo from Donnelly auctions 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A FANCY CABINET MAKERS MITRE PLANE by Henry Buchhop, New York, New York. This plane is nicely appointed with a brass locking screw for the cap and a rounded brass washer to secure the throat adjustment. It retains its full cutting iron by Shepherd Brothers and and is in excellent collector quality condition. Henry Buchhop was listed as a cabinetmaker in the 1867 New York City Directory, living at 133 Sixth Avenue. In 1872, he was listed at 147 Avenue A. In 1878 he had moved to 458 W. 50th Street, where he worked as a cabinetmaker. He worked as a cabinetmaker in New York City throughout his life. The plane is marked with the designation "H. Buchhop" on the bridge. Its unique configuration suggests that Buchhop may have made it himself." Martin Donelley auctions, April 2016.

A FANCY CABINET MAKERS MITRE PLANE by Henry Buchhop, New York, New York.

“This plane is nicely appointed with a brass locking screw for the cap and a rounded brass washer to secure the throat adjustment. It retains its full cutting iron by Shepherd Brothers and and is in excellent collector quality condition. Henry Buchhop was listed as a cabinetmaker in the 1867 New York City Directory, living at 133 Sixth Avenue. In 1872, he was listed at 147 Avenue A. In 1878 he had moved to 458 W. 50th Street, where he worked as a cabinetmaker. He worked as a cabinetmaker in New York City throughout his life. The plane is marked with the designation “H. Buchhop” on the bridge. Its unique configuration suggests that Buchhop may have made it himself.” Martin Donnelly auctions, April 2016. Here’s my succinct research: Buchhop was born in Germany in 1824; arrived in N,Y. August 16th, 1850; was naturalized June 1, 1857; died January 23, 1900 in Brooklyn.

Buchhop mitre plane. Photos from instagram.

New York mitre plane with adjustable blade angle and Bailey type lever cap. Martin Donnelly Sept. 2017 auction.

Mitre/Rabbet plane. New York style design, with adjustable mouth. English badger/rabbet/mitre planes exist, but this example may be a one-off.  Photo from Ebay, December 2017.

New York mitre, unmarked. Dovetailed.  Possibly made by L. Brandt or a contemporary maker.  Photo by Paul Blanche, Ebay.

Interesting adjustment feature.  Photo by Paul Blanche.

Miniature New York style mitre plane marked Tollner (1851-1861). 3 5/16″ long, with 15/16″ iron. Dovetailed construction. Some debate exists regarding who made this plane, an early effort by N. Erlandsen being John Wells’ assertion. From estate of John G. Wells. Photo by Jim Bode.

Another view of the miniature Tollner plane. Photo by Jim Bode.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ORGAN BUILDER’S PLANES

“A very rare and early organ pipe makers combination voicing plane, a steel soled brass mitre plane with rosewood infill and wedge 10″ x 2 1/4” used for thinning the surface of the tin or lead alloy sheets [spotted metal] used for the metal organ pipes, the iron can be changed to the vertical position and becomes the thicknessing plane (see SAL p287) when vertical the iron is held firm by the front infill being tightened with a brass screw, chip to wedge, most unusual.” –From David Stanley auctions,Sept., 2014.

View of the Great windchest, showing pipes made variously of lead, tin, copper and spotted metal. This is the organ’s primary division and stands at the top of the case immediately behind its facade of polished tin 8′ Principal pipes. From http://upcch.org/music/sanctuary-organ/

“View of the Great windchest, showing pipes made variously of lead, tin, copper and spotted metal. This is the organ’s primary division and stands at the top of the case immediately behind its facade of polished tin 8′ Principal pipes.”  From  http://upcch.org/music/sanctuary-organ/

Organ builder's mitre/panel plane, 18" long. From ebay, 2013.

Organ builder’s mitre/panel plane, 18″ long. From ebay 2013.

‘Smiths’ organ pipe plane. Photos by Paul Blanche:

Pianomakers plane, from France. David Stanley Auctions.

Pianomakers plane, with radiused bone sole, purpose unknown, from France. David Stanley Auctions.

BENCH PLANES

Norris A1 panel plane with 1922 patent adjuster.  Design closely follows that of a Spiers no. 1 panel plane, but with an added lateral and depth blade adjusting mechanism

Spiers’ early wholesaling of planes to dealers like Buck, provided another indicator of production dates: 247 Tottenham Court Rd. (1867-79)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below are four smoothing planes.  Top row shows a Norris no. 3 parallel sided smoother with mahogany infills, and built in the 1930s.  Next to it is an equivalent Spiers parallel smoother with mahogany infill, also made in the 1930s.  Quality in the Norris shop during the 1930s exceeded that of the Spiers Paisley shop in the 1930s, but the Spiers is still a workable tool.  Bottom row shows an unhandled Spiers coffin smoother circa 1870s and 1880s.  Next to it is an early 20th century Norris parallel smoother, no. 3.  Similarity of designs from these two makers exemplifies the great extent to which Thomas Norris ‘borrowed’ from Stewart Spiers for his entire product line-up.

Craftsmen would sharpen several plane irons, in a single session, for each plane every day.  By doing so, workers would not have to interrupt their work flow at inopportune moments, and would instead enable consistent optimal production.  Because of that, all four smoothers have replacement irons and would be be considered user planes rather than collector’s items.

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Under Construction:

Early English mitre with Barber iron (Albany, NY) and adjustable bed.

Early English mitre plane.  This plane showed evidence of having been in the USA from the 1860s or 1870s.  The Barber iron dated from that time, and it looked like the rosewood wedge was made for the replaced Barber, Auburn, N.Y. iron in that time frame.  The rear infill bed was converted to adjustable by fitting a captive bolt into a mortise on the bottom side of the infill.  Inspiration for the alteration–19th century hardware was used–likely came from a period craftsperson who was envious of the new adjustable N.Y. mitre planes, and made his own mitre adjustable as well.  The front infill on this example had very early features, such as the lack of a moulding at the back, and having been made of beech.

I consigned this plane to an auction, and it sold to a collector who approached it as a project plane.  He removed the front and rear infills, and started to make a new infill bed.  Then he died.  The project plane, now shined up, was again consigned to auction without a front infill.  I did not bid.

Early English mitre plane. Lost history.

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Buck wire gauge and tuning hammers ILL. Weekly Journal, Jan. 12, 1895.