Metal-cast Rarity Planes and Uniqueness

My panel-raising planes

I’ve gathered some tools to my bosom over the years. Special ones in some cases, some simply beautiful in art form and then those that will never be made again. Some are more rare than good looking or even particularly old. I do like the rarer ones though. I’m not interested in collecting for collecting’s sake as such. But then again I suppose I do have one or two that pique my interest, the ones where a wooden plane maker used their long-term name to enter the cast metal arena and perhaps didn’t quite have enough remaining oomph to compete with Stanley and Record or perhaps the Prestons and Tyzacks.

Top two right, Tyzack, bottom two left the original Preston design.

The Preston-style router plane made also for Tyzack do not necessarily work much if any better than a Stanley, a Record, or for that matter Lie Nielsen or Veritas, at the end of the day. They just have slightly longer soles and additional blade relocation positions if needed that’s all. Add a wooden one and you have equality.

Regular position on a wooden sole

The Veritas router version copied the Stanley/Record router types  71 by placing the blade into the vee post for guaranteed vertical alignment and, more importantly, a more secure mechanical securement of the blade/cutter that doesn’t come loose as with square-on fastenings. I own them and use them more because I might just prefer the openness of the platen of the Preston type. That said, attaching the wooden sole negates that open aspect benefit if indeed it is a true benefit. That’s why you see me with two of them, one with wooden sole and the other without. A real luxury now that that they have quadrupled in price.

Outboard end position

Alternative positioning for Preston-type router cutter

Inboard end position
Outboard regular position

 

 

A few years ago I bought my first I Sorby jack plane. I bought it because it was such a  rarity that I had never seen one in my life, let alone after years of buying via eBay. I bought it for a song and I have bought others since . I have not seen another 5 1/2 jack like the one I bought. I really love this plane and a few years after my purchase John Winter, my then apprentice, saw one on eBay and bought it. Such is the scarcity. I have not seen one since. These are my collection of the same stable.

My rare I Sorby planes

I also like the Woden planes too. They were well made and more robust than either Record or Stanley and fewer more solid. Now these are not rare but less known and still very much available on eBay. Buy while you can.

Not rare but nice. I am reshaping this handle to fit my hand.

They will disappear in the future I am sure. I have all of the ones they ever made too. The handles always need reworking. It’s funny that people with large hands always say they need a larger handle when reality tells me you must make the existing handle smaller to make room for the hand in the limited space twixt tote and adjusters. I always wondered why they didn’t make the planes 10% bigger all over. I have large hands but fat-free ones—hillocks of muscle not hummocks of pudginess!

Oh, and all of the above just got rarer and doubled in price!

18 comments on “Metal-cast Rarity Planes and Uniqueness

  1. In imitation of Mr. Sellers, I purchased two Woden #4 planes on eBay. Reasonable price, but the first one came without one of the two screws to hold the frog to the body. That’s when I learned that they were (a) not interchangeable with any of the Stanley or Record planes I own and (B) I couldn’t determine the thread size. Anyone know of a source for Woden parts? Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Tom,

      Find yourself a model engineer nearby and he or she will be able to sort you out without much difficulty. The heads on the Stanley and Millers falls planes I have are what I’d call a “cheese head” screw and the threads can probably be sorted out by trial and error although they might be BSA threads or something other than a 60 degree included angle.

      Such simple screws can be made up quite readily by a model engineer and you only need a couple.

    • With a pair of calipers and a thread-gauge (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thread_pitch_gauge) you should be able to figure out the most important characteristics of the thread: diameter and pitch. Top angle (60 degree angle for metric thread, 55 degrees for many English threads) is less important here but can also be figured out with a proper gauge. If you don’t have these, your local hardware store (that sells to professionals) will probably have these gauges laying next to the cash-register – mine does, anyways. They should be able to figure it out for you if you feel daunted.

      With a bit of luck the screw may be a standard(ish) one that’s available over the counter.

      I feel your pain though. I thought I had a pretty good collection of old, used screws (metric, metric fine, BSW, WW, UNC, UNF) until I needed one that was missing for the tote of my Stanley #4 1/2… and was surprized it was unlike anything standard or standardish.

      Fortunately, nearby, there’s a group of people that collect and refurbish old handtools and ship them to Africa. Explained my problem to someone there, the man looked through a parts bin with a collection of screws and within seconds handed me the proper one… needless to say I was very happy!

      Happy hunting.

  2. Hi Paul. When I first saw the opening picture or wooden moulding planes I thought YES!! We are going to be treated to a bit of your magic teaching on their use, but alas no.
    I see a couple of dado planes in the rear…..I have three of these and do I see a tongue and groove set………if only you would just do a little ditty Paul ??
    Veritas have a very nice combination plane out. Costs £400 with one 1/4″ cutter and others at about £20. I can cut all the same moulds with my lovely old set of vintage tools

  3. Talking of rarities, I have the only Preston 1399 router that I have seen where the blade is mounted in a Vee-shaped stem – like Stanley/Record/Veritas. All the other Preston routers, such as the ones shown here, are in a square groove. Sadly the blade stem is slimmer than the others, so they’re not interchangeable.

    Preston routers were, perhaps, designed with an eye to pattern makers – relocating the blade at the end seems a gimmick, but it does allow access to unusual spaces.

  4. Would anyone with a background in finance care to write a Paul Sellers market impact model?

    Hats off to you, Mr Sellers: you punch well above your weight.

  5. Goodness, how clever!
    I’d never been aware that the Preston router’s handle posts could also serve as cutter locations.
    As YrHenSaer has commented above, such a feature could be handy at times for tight locations.
    Preston-made tools are a rarity here in Australia.

  6. I have trouble making my panel raising plane work well. I would like to see a YouTube video about sharpening and using a panel raising plane.

  7. Keep in mind, readers, that it’s all but impossible to find cutters for these Preston and Tyzack routers. What you get when you buy is likely all you will ever have.

    On the other hand I believe modern cutters (Veritas but not LN) fit the Stanleys and Records. Someone who has actually tried it might like to confirm..

  8. Haven’t come across a handplane that didn’t fit my hand like a glove. My hands are medium-sized and seem to fit the plane handles perfectly (when held correctly).

    Now saw handles… I sometimes wonder what size hands the people in the saw factories have – I assume they test the fit of the handles when designing them. I have more than a few saws (especially the plastic-handled ones) that seem to be made for people that are 2m10 tall and built like a sumo wrestler. One particular saw has room for 7 (!) fingers of mine, whereas only room for 3 is needed. Plain silly. I wonder if they size the handles for people that don’t know how to hold a saw, using all the fingers. I’m curious if anyone has a better explanation.

  9. Thank you for this blog post, finding and refurbishing old tools is a thing that I also love to do, and your tutorials on sharpening saws have been inspirational.
    What are your opinion of Millers Falls planes, as I suppose you must have come across them while you lived in he USA. We mostly see the little block planes here in the UK, however I recently bought a lovely old Millers Falls No 10 plane. Although similar to the ubiquitous Stanley and Record planes, I was impressed by it’s overall quality. I reckon they’re worth looking out for over here in the UK.
    A friend who knows of my fondness for old planes recently asked me to see if I could do anything with an old 20″ wooden plane that had been his grandfather’s and therefore had a sentimental attachment. It was very grubby with chips on the handle and a rusty blade and chip-breaker. Having cleaned the wood with a turps/linseed/meths mix, it revealed a lovely deep beech covered in myriad scratches. There was also evidence that it had had previous repairs with old home made dowels and a ‘new’ piece let in in front of the mouth. The old steel by Thomas Ward responded wonderfully to cleaning and sharpening, and even though it still wears all it’s old battle scars, I was once again astounded at how well these old tools can be made to perform with just a little attention. It was lovely to be able to bring this old tool back to life and so rewarding. While it has little financial value, I know my friend will love it and the pleasure it brought me to restore was also out of all proportion to the time it took. Most importantly it works wonderfully with that lovely swissshhhh sound that a freshly sharpened plane makes.

  10. So nice to hear you praise the Woden. I have my father’s No 5 1/2, which I can remember him using when I was about 5 (60 years ago). I gave it a birthday some time ago and had the sole reground, and put a new Clifton plane-iron in there. It works a treat. My 37 year old son has just taken his first baby steps in woodworking (fitting out his flat) and I gave him the original blade from the Woden fitted into a Stanley 4 1/2 I found in an antique market – rather a nice leapfrog continuity there I thought. It too took a superb edge (shaving sharp) By the way, I believe his to be quite an old Stanley, possibly rare(?), as it has an adjuster that works in the opposite sense. This had me foxed for a bit when doing the natural thing trying to adjust the shaving! – also there is no frog adjuster screw at all, was this a later addition? However it cleaned up a treat too and does a great job.
    Another pleasure for me is discovering an owner’s name stamped on old tools, as it seems to give me a connection with the past of both that tool and our craft. I was recently given and cleaned up a very dirty little bull-nose plane to find it was a solid bronze inlay job with a name stamped on the side.
    I love your tutorials and I frequently re-view them just to check I’m doing things right. You did give me the courage to lop out 24 Mortise and tenon joints for my heavy oak garage doors, and another 14 for a pair of doors for a local church. I ditched the power mortiser right away! I agree about the bandsaw though Hope you have a good Christmas!

    • I’m guessing the reverse adjuster results in a few US models so I am assuming the plane is an American version not England.I’m surprised that you retroed for an even thicker iron as the Woden’s are slightly thicker than both Record and Stanley.

    • John – re your Stanley plane; the frog adjustment screw was added roughly around 1902 (what’s termed as a “Type 10”).

      If the brass adjusting nut has a right hand thread then that would be much older; the left hand thread dates from around 1888 (Type 6); so that would put yours as a Type 5 or earlier (pre-1888).

      Likely there should be patent dates stamped into the lateral adjustment level; possibly 2-8-76 and 10-21-84. I would also assume the brass depth adjusting nut would have some patent information stamped on the inside.

      Quite a find. I love the feel of those really old planes (something about the shape of the rear handle, and the thin sole casting maybe).

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