Tuesday, September 25, 2007


So to the bench planes - a voyage through the sublime to the not at all sublime perhaps. This blog entry will be done with considerable reference to the third edition of British Planemakers.

From top to bottom:

17 1/4" jack with 2 1/4" Ward & Payne iron. No obvious maker's stamp as yet and my notes give a tentative craftsman-made? because it doesn't seem to be beech. Neatly patched possibly with boxwood, so evidentally much-loved.

17" Marples "BB" brand jack. A modern abomination introduced by Bill and His Boys c.1938 and helping killing wooden plane making quality right through to 1968. Yes, folks, machine made (boo hiss). BPMs laconically says "those examined by the editors are coarsely finished" - the editors are right on the money. The cut out bit of the wedge is positively hairy with tearout. For the record; Marples 2 1/4" iron. Just think, if it hadn't been for Stanley wanting to rationalise their iron widths we'd still have proper 2 1/4" wide irons instead of these 2 3/8" things. Shame on Thomas that LN didn't make their #5 1/2 after the original pattern. But I digress...

I'll come back to that one.

Bottom, 22" try plane with 2 1/2" Marples iron and monstrously heavy. It's not as if the iron isn't well-worn, but the body seems to be a good deal less so. Small handle too, so quite awkward to hold even for my smaller fists. By squinting a good deal I believe I can make out "Moseley" and "Bloomsbury". Readers with good memories will recall me mentioning that John Moseley and his descendants have a fulsome and precise entry in BPMs and thus a combination of those two names gives me John Moseley & Son's wholesale branch at 54-55 Broad Street, Bloomsbury, London. Dates 1862-1880.

So back to exhibit three. 14 3/4" jack plane showing considerable wear; the bottom of the wedge is almost touching the sole. Can you see it tapers being lower at the front? It's also got a trifle of lean from left to right too. Have you spotted what I totally failed to see at first? Yep, single iron. No cap iron here, and the 2" Thomas Ibbotson iron is thus uncut. Another small rear handle, unfortunately loose where the screw head at the toe no longer has any wood to grip. So does a single iron mean old? Not necessarily. Although double irons were the option of choice way back, they were still offered as a (cheaper) option much later. Buck & Hickman still have them in 1935 f'rinstance. Golly, but the thing's been used for a good long time though, to get like that. Feels lovely in the hand - compare its worn round edges to the Marples BB's harsh chamfers. Just need to work out a sensitive way to fix the handle and then I'm definitely going to take her for a spin...


  1. Ah, No. 3 is definitely a lovely thing. It may have also been shortened a tad since it began life. Iron seems a touch forward, large spacing between the iron and tote--and the tote also seems a triffle close to the back end.

    But it has been used much, which perhaps means it was well liked.

    back to hiding from Alf...so she doesn't tell me to go away and work more...[g]

  2. Al
    Yes, the third one looks like a lovely thing :)
    What timber is the first one made from - from the pic it looks like Oak or similar?

  3. Good lord, is that "The Wenz" as Phil describes you? (Makes me think of a saw-wielding version of "The Fonz"...) Yeah, the tote is a little close to the back, but comparing it to the "BB" it doesn't seem so off elsewhere?

    Enough of that (cracks whip) back to the treadmill with you! Oh, and there should be a package showing up there some time this week or next.

    Phil, I wondered Oak at first but then wondered Ash. But I'm such a klutz at wood identification wouldn't like to really say either way.

  4. Nope, not *him*...well, maybe on certain days.

    OK. Back to work with y'all.



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