Joiner’s Toys

Catalogue of Chandler and Farquhar, Boston, 1900. Smithsonianphoto 55798.

Catalogue of Chandler and Farquhar, Boston, 1900.

Like many male dominated pursuits, there is a degree of kit fetishism involved with joinery; which in the case of class 111 seems to be centred around planes. There’s a lot of interest in older planes in the group as they can work as well as, or better than new products. Beautiful new planes can be bought from companies such as Lie-Nielsen and Clifton, but the basic principle of operation hasn’t really changed for hundred of years. The earliest known planes date from the 1st century AD, and modern planes would probably be recognisable to a Roman carpenter. The iron bodied Bailey planes shown in the Chandler and Farquhar catalogue on the left were first introduced in the 1870s, and most of them can still be bought as Stanley or Record products with exactly the same design, dimensions and product numbers.

It’s amazing what you can do with a plane. I started off with a cheap no. 3 smoothing plane that occasionally saw the light of day when a door was sticking. Because I never sharpened it, it generally did more harm than good. Now I’ve built up a bit of a collection of old planes; some have been given to me by friends that have found them in sheds, some have been bought for a few pounds at tool sales and some cost a bit more. In the joinery shop we’ve used them in a variety of different ways in the past 12 weeks to create flat surfaces, perpendicular edges, angles, curves, bevelled edges and sometimes just to get rid of waste wood. We’ve used them to make boxes, mallets, bench hooks, oars and even more planes.

The latest addition to my plane collection - a bollow plane

The latest addition to my plane collection – a bollow plane

I’ve just finished making a bollow plane in beech, which will be used to scoop out the blade of a spoon oar, which is my next project. With my bench hook, mallet, dovetail gauge and spar gauge, I’ve now got a small collection of tools I’ve made myself, which provided a feeling of self sufficiency until I remembered that I needed a plane to make the plane and a mallet to make the mallet. So now I’m just wondering how they made the first one.

Zac using Andreu's old wooden jointer plane

Zac using Andreu’s old wooden jointer plane

My plane collection

My plane collection

Edward's Mathieson plane with precision adjustment tool

Edward’s Mathieson plane with precision adjustment tool