Stanley Tools Combination Planes at the MacLachlin Woodworking Museum


Precursors to Iron Combination Planes

Once you could purchase any of several hundred different wooden planes, each with a slightly different profile and each meant for a different task. In addition to the "standard" designs, permutations were offered in different combinations of woods, handles, and boxing. There were also regional differences in style to choose from. The samples below just provide a small percentage of once was readily available.

Combination Side Snipe Bill Pane

Normally snipe bill planes were provided in left and right hand pairs to enable smooth planing no matter which direction the grain went. They were used as trimming planes to improve mouldings and with hollows and rounds to create new mouldings from scratch. There were two types, side snipes and sinking snipes. This combination side snipe acts very much like a side rabbet plane, and is used for trimming the edges of rabbets and dadoes. This plane can be stamped "Currie, Glasgow" and was made sometime between 1833 - 1844.

Unhandled wooden plow plane with five cutters, wedge-type fence

This plane is stamped "A. Mathieson & Son, Glasgow", the maker, and "J.B. Ryan, 114 Yonge St., Toronto" the hardware company that sold it, sometime between 1857 - 1867. This is a true combination plane and this design in one form or another existed from at least Elizabethan times. A single iron skate regulates the cutting action and this plane can take up to nine different widths of interchangeable cutters.

1/4 inch boxed side beading plane by Thos. Machin

This plane is pitched, which refers to the angle of the blade with respect to the sole of the plane, at 62 degrees, for use on hardwoods. Planes designed for softer woods, woods that plane easier, are typically pitched at 45 degrees. The "boxed" designation is a reference to the piece of boxwood that was inserted into the sole of the plane to reinforce the area of greatest wear. Boxwood is a very hard dense, tight - grained, brittle wood that takes a high polish and was commonly used at wear points on good tools.

Boxed fillister plane by A. Mathieson & Sons, Glasgow and Edinburgh
(ca. 1883 - 1895)

This particular plane was sold by the Bertram and Co. hardware store in Toronto. The Stanley 41 was intended to replace this type of plane as well as a plow plane and a 1/4" tonguing plane. Mathieson was one of the largest manufacturers of woodworking tools in the nineteeth century world.

3/4" Wooden dado plane by J. Dawson, Montreal

Note the extra large "eye" for shavings. This plane has warped at the eye, putting the front and back of the sole out of alighment by 1/8". Up until around 1890 or thereabouts, depending on how you count, when iron planes in general and Stanley in particular dominated the market, there were many hundreds of regional planemakers who made wooden planes. Tools in general were always a specialty craft and a cabinetmaker would typically buy planes from a toolmaker. Hundreds of planemakers marks have been documented , some from large scale operations that sold hundreds of styles of plane and others that just made a few styles to fill regional demand. Note: the difference between a dado and a groove is that a dado is always across the grain of the wood and a groove is always with the grain.

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