From its inception the Stanley Rule & Level Company was very attentive to its customers needs and desires. Their salesmen were instructed to listen carefully to comments and suggestions from their customers about the tools they manufactured and bring that information back to the foremen in the shop. Because of the nature of the “inside contracting system” the shop foremen were anxious to met the needs of their customers. A new or improved tool that appealed to Stanley’s customers meant more income for the shop foreman, his employees as well as the company . Based on the large number of variations of Stanley’s “transitional” wood bottom planes from the Stanley Model Shop that have turned up, the skilled mechanics at Stanley invested a lot of time and effort on improving these planes. Stanley manufactured and sold eighteen different models of their transitional wood body planes during the 74 years they were offered in their catalogs. Between 1869 and 1943, multiple patents were granted to Stanley employees relating to “improvements” in these transitional planes. Some of those “improvements” were incorporated into the Stanley transitional plane line, but others never made it into production. Those “improved” planes that didn’t make the grade were relegated to the shelves in the Stanley Model Shop. Fortunately, for plane collectors, many of these “improved” transitional planes have escaped from the Model Shop and have found their way into the tool collecting world. I’ve shown you a few of those planes in previous posts and I hope you will enjoy looking at a couple of more.
Holding the cutter and cap iron tightly in position to prevent “chatter” was a problem with transitional wood bottom planes. In addition, scratches, gouges, and damage to the beech wood soles of transitional planes were common problems as well. Often, much of this damage occurred near the mouth of the plane. Resurfacing the sole of the plane to restore a smooth surface was not difficult but would result in an increase in the size of the mouth of the plane. Justus A. Traut submitted a patent application on December 28th, 1901, and on October 7th, 1902, was granted patent No. 710,542 which attempted to solve some of these problems. The rather complex patent drawings shown in Figures 1 and 2 were accompanied with multiple pages of descriptive patent text to illustrate and explain Traut’s ideas.
In summary, the patent describes the body of the plane body as being made of “any suitable wood adapted to the purpose” with a throat cut into the body designed to accept the “operative mechanism” which is described in the patent as an “adjustable supporting frame” for the cutter, lever cap, cutter adjustment screw, and the lateral adjuster.
The “operative mechanism” also included a metal sole with a narrow mouth opening for the cutter. The patent drawing shows the “operative mechanism” held in place in the throat of the plane body by two wood screws. If the sole of the plane were resurfaced, this “operative mechanism” which included the metal mouth could be moved upward by loosening the two screws in the throat of the plane that attach the “operative mechanism” and cutter frame to the body of the plane. This would keep the metal portion of the sole flush with the wooden sole of the plane body. Traut wrote in his patent with a flourish of elegant prose that…“the opposing forces thus set up tend to the establishment of perfect equilibrium between the parts and result in a bench plane possessing the greatest stability and practicability and in which chattering of the plane iron is practically destroyed or overcome due to the inherent tension at which the frame is always held.” Traut was trying in this patent to eliminate cutter chatter and at the same time provide a means for maintaining the narrow throat width for the cutter. I’m not sure that his design completely achieved the goal of eliminating cutter chatter, but it certainly created an improved method of holding the cutter compared to what was then being used on Stanley wood bottom transitional planes. And, it simultaneously solved the problem of the cutter mouth being opened if the sole of the plane was resurfaced.
The Model Shop plane shown in Figure 3 is identical to the plane shown in the patent drawings and is likely the plane used to produce those drawings. There is no doubt that it was made by Traut and the men in his shop. It is assembled on the body of a #27 Stanley transitional jack plane. The beech bottom is 15 inches long and 2 and 11/16ths inches wide. While the cutter, cap iron, and lever cap on a standard #27 transitional plane are 2 and 1/16ths inches wide, the cutter, cap iron, and lever cap on this plane are narrower at 1 and 15/16ths of an inch wide. The cutter, cap iron, and lever cap are narrower on the Model Shop version of this plane to allow for the metal “operative mechanism” and the narrower width of the metal mouth. The Model Shop number “211” is painted on the front tote, on the upper surface of the toe, on the toe of the plane, and on the lever cap. The stamp on the toe, the Stanley logo stamped on the cutter, the single patent date of 7-24-88 on the lateral cutter adjusting lever, and the “B” casting mark on the bottom side of the frame of the plane are typical of Stanley planes made from 1900-1904 (See Figures 4 and 5).
Traut applied for the patent on this plane on December 28, 1901, so it’s very likely that this plane was produced during the last three months of 1901. Figure 6 shows the “operative mechanism” and cutter support frame removed from the plane. Interestingly, this mechanism is attached to the body of the plane with two pan head machine screws that are threaded into the wood throat of the plane rather than the wood screws shown in the patent drawings. I would think the machine screws wouldn’t have held as well as a wood screw had this plane ever been put to use, so the use of the machine screws on this plane is puzzling.
Figure 7 shows the sole of the plane with the metal portion of the sole and the cutter mouth. Note how the metal mouth fits snugly into the sole. While there are a few storage scratches and stains on the sole, the plane is in unused condition.
The “operative mechanism” and the metal cutter frame incorporating the metal mouth look like they would have worked very well and would have lived up to the claims Traut made in his patent. Figure 8 shows the “operative mechanism” and cutter frame inserted into the plane with the cutter, cap iron, and lever cap removed.
But despite the “improvements”, Stanley never put this plane into production. One of the major selling points of the Stanley transitional planes was their lower cost. Figure 9 is taken from a Stanley 1902 pocket catalog and illustrates the difference in cost between Stanley’s cast iron bench planes and their transitional planes. The transitional planes were priced fifty cents to two dollars less than a comparable cast iron plane.
The cost of casting and machining the “operative mechanism” and cutter frame on this Model Shop plane would likely have made these planes as expensive, if not more expensive than their cast iron counterparts. So, this nicely designed and interesting plane never got beyond the prototype stage and was relegated to a shelf in the Model Shop.
This next Model Shop transitional plane is shown in Figure 10 and also has a metal sole plate and mouth that extends through the body of the plane, but differs from the first plane in the nature of its cutter adjustment mechanism. This plane is 8 and 3/8ths inches long and 2 and ½ inches wide at the mouth. The cutter, cap iron, and lever cap are 1 and 11/16ths of an inch wide, equal in size to the cutter, cap iron, and lever cap used on a conventional #22 size Stanley transitional smooth plane. To accommodate the metal sole plate, the metal mouth, and the “faucet handle” cutter adjustment mechanism the wooden body of the plane is about ¼ inch longer in length and ¼ inch wider at the mouth than a conventional #22 size Stanley smooth plane. The cast iron frame that sits atop the wooden plane body has also been modified slightly to accommodate the cutter adjustment mechanism and the metal mouth and sole plate (See Figure 11).
There is no Stanley stamp on the toe. The trademark on the cutter for this plane (See Figure 12) is consistent with the years 1910-1920, and Model Shop number “3162” is rather crudely painted in white on the side of the plane (See Figure 10). This is one of four transitional planes of this configuration known. Two of the others were 15-inch long Stanley wood bottom transitional jack planes. The frame and cutter adjustment mechanism is nickel-plated on one example and on the other it is japanned. These planes carry the Model Shop numbers “3159” and “3160” painted with white paint on their sides in the same rather crude fashion as found on this plane. The fourth plane is a Stanley No. 35 size transitional smooth plane with the faucet handle adjuster and red japanning. Model Shop number “3161” is painted on the rear tote of this plane. It appears the men in the Model Shop were trying out this adjustment mechanism on a variety of transitional planes with a variety of different finishes. Who knows, there may be even more of these transitional Model Shop planes with faucet handle adjusters and metal mouths out there somewhere. If you have one, please let me know.
This little smooth plane captured my attention when it came up for auction for a couple of reasons. The first is the “faucet handle” cutter adjustment screw. This has been seen on a few other Stanley planes and was used in the Model Shop version of the Stanley #97 Cabinet Maker’s Edge Plane. For a good look at that plane check out Walter Jacob’s article in “The Chronicle”, Volume 69, Number 3, September 2016, pp. 128-129.
The “faucet handle” cutter adjuster appears to have been an attempt to correct the problem that plane users had trying to turn the conventional round brass horizontal cutter adjusting screw in the confined space between the planes frog and the back portion of the frame casting on the smaller sized transitional planes or other planes with a low cutter angle. Additionally, the cutter adjustment mechanism that utilizes this “faucet handle” is different from what’s seen on Stanley’s conventional wood bottom transitional planes. Turning the “faucet handle” moves a cast iron plate which rides in machined ways on the frog. The cutter fits over a raised tab on this cast iron plate and the entire plate moves when the ‘faucet handle” adjuster is turned thus moving the cutter in or out of the mouth of the plane.
This cutter adjustment mechanism which is shown in Figure 14 is an adaptation of Traut’s cutter adjustment mechanism illustrated in his patent No. 645,220 dated March 13,1900 (See Figure 15). While the cutter adjustment mechanism on this Model Shop transitional plane is similar to what is shown in the patent drawings, the sliding plate has been adapted to work on the cutter support framework that is similar to what is shown in Traut’s patent No.710,542 that was used on the first plane shown in this post.
The second interesting feature of this plane is that the adjustable metal mouth frame is secured to the cast iron frame rather than being attached to the wooden body of the plane (See Figure 14). If the sole of the plane were to be resurfaced, the screws holding the metal mouth in place can be loosened and the metal mouth can be easily raised to remain flush with the sole of the plane. Figure 16 shows the metal mouth mechanism removed from the throat of the plane and shows how simple it would have been to adjust the metal mouth mechanism.
The cast iron frame that supports the metal mouth mechanism is screwed to the upper surface of the plane’s wood body with a wood screw through the front knob and two round head wood screws placed through the frame just behind the mouth opening. Rarely, Model Shop tools are accompanied by their Model Shop tags and this is one of those rare instances where the tag was still present with the plane. The tag shown in Figure 17 allows us to know exactly when this little plane entered the Model Shop, May 25, 1916.
So, with that documentation, we know that the men in the Model Shop continued to experiment with modifications to Stanley’s transitional planes years after Traut was granted patent No. 710,542 and eight years after his death.
The plane is also in beautiful condition with just a few scratches and stains on the sole (See Figure 18). The cutter adjustment mechanism and the metal mouth make a lot of sense and it appears that this plane would also have worked very well. But, again, most likely because of the additional expense of casting and machining the frame and cutter support mechanism, Stanley put this one back on the shelf in the Model Shop one hundred and one years ago! Thankfully, these interesting planes were at some point “liberated” and have found their way into the tool collecting world for those of us who find them intriguing glimpses into the history of American woodworking plane development.
By Paul Van Pernis
 The Stanley transitional planes included the following catalog numbers: 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 27½, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, and 37. The number of Stanley transitional planes swells to twenty-three if you include the 122, 127, 129, 132, and 135 in the Liberty Bell series of planes.
 Transitional planes are wood bottom planes with a cast iron frame attached to the upper surface of the wood bottom. The frame supports the frog, and the rear tote and front knob are attached to the frame as well. The name “transitional” is a misnomer as they are not a chronologic bridge between the classic wooden bodied bench plane and a cast iron bench plane. Rather, they are simply a wood bottom plane with a cast iron frame mounted on the upper surface of the plane that incorporates the adjustment feature found on the similarly sized cast iron planes by the same manufacturer. Roger Smith does an excellent job of explaining the development of these planes in Patented Transitional and Metallic Planes in America, Volume I, pp. 25-39. For general information regarding Stanley transitional planes go to Patrick Leach’s Blood & Gore at http://www.supertool.com/StanleyBG/stan4.htm.
 Here’s the link to the previous post. http://eaiainfo.org/2015/03/14/stanley-model-sh…od-bottom-planes/.
 See Roger Smith’s type study of “Bailey-Stanley Wood Bottom Plane Types in Patented and metallic Transitional Planes in America Volume I, pp. 275-278.
 The plane discussed in this post was Lot #504 in the 42nd International Antique Tool Auction of Saturday, April 6th, 2013. The two jack planes described above were sold as Lot #342 in the 39th International Antique Tool Auction of Saturday, October 29th, 2011. The Stanley #35 size transitional smoothing plane with the faucet handle adjuster and red japanning on the cast iron was Lot #627 in the 41st International Antique Tool Auction on November 3, 2012. It also came with a Model Shop tag dated 5/25/1916. I am aware of one other Model Shop plane with a “faucet handle” cutter adjustment screw. It was sold as Lot #343 in the 39th International antique Tool Auction on Saturday October 29th, 2011.
 Justus A. Traut was born in Potsdam, Germany on June 12, 1839. In 1904, a celebration was held at Stanley commemorating his 50th year with the company. He died on March 9, 1908 just shy of his 69th birthday. So, he wouldn’t have been around to work on this Model Shop plane.
This post is a bit longer than those I’ve written in the past, but I hope you’ll enjoy the story that’s in here about another interesting plane from the Stanley Model Shop. 1873 to 1879 were tough years for the Stanley Rule & Level Company as well as the rest of the U.S. economy. The “Panic of 1873” began in September of that year when the Jay Cooke brokerage firm declared bankruptcy.[i] Five Thousand businesses failed in the first year of the “Panic” and over 10,000 businesses closed their doors before the country came out of the depression in 1879. Several factors contributed to the collapse but much of it was due to post Civil War inflation and over speculation in rapidly expanding railroads. Despite the tough economic times, Stanley kept most of its workers employed and the inventive minds working at Stanley continued to innovate, develop new tools, and worked to meet the needs of their customers and the expanding country.
In the midst of this severe economic downturn, Justus Traut and Henry Richards combined a couple of their patents, submitted the results to Stanley’s Operating Committee, received the committee’s approval, and as a result, developed a whole new line of planes that Stanley introduced to their customers in 1876 just prior to the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition.
The #120 block plane I highlighted in my last post (http://eaiainfo.org/2017/03/01/120-model-shop-prototype-block-plane-from-evolution-to-production/) was based upon the cutter adjustment mechanism patented by Justus Traut and Henry Richards on April 18, 1876. I included only one of the drawings that accompanied that patent because it most clearly illustrated the adjustment mechanism I discussed in that post. The original patent showed the cutter adjustment mechanism on a bench plane. Traut and Richards filed for a reissued patent and were granted that patent on March 20th, 1877.[ii] The re-issued patent also provided a very clear illustration of their adjustment mechanism on a bench plane. This drawing is shown in Figure 1.
Justus Traut and Henry Richards had also filed an earlier patent application on June 15th, 1875 for an “improvement in bench planes”. Their patent application stated that,…“The object of the present invention is to produce a plane with a wrought-metal stock or shell of suitable shape and form to possess all the needed strength and stiffness at the points of greatest strain, and yet be neat and serviceable in all the details and particulars of its construction; and to this end it consists in swaging or stamping said stock or shell from a blank of sheet or wrought metal, properly cut so as to afford strong sides and stiff angles…” The patent for this steel plane body, No. 168,431, was granted on October, 5, 1875 (See Figure 2).[iii]
These two patents came together to create the Stanley Model Shop bench plane shown in Figure 3. This may in fact be the plane that Traut and Richards submitted to the Stanley Operating Committee for their approval.
The plane is 9 inches long and 2 and 5/16ths inches wide (the same size as a Stanley #4 size cast iron plane). The cutter is 2 and 1/16th inches wide. The body of the plane is made of 1/16th inch thick cold rolled steel with a cast iron core riveted to the interior of the bed of the plane. The receiver for the rear tote and the frog are integral parts of the casting and are riveted to the area behind the plane’s mouth. The raised front knob receiver and the lip of the plane mouth are integral to the casting that is riveted to the toe of the plane. Both the rosewood rear tote and the rosewood front knob are held in place by a threaded rod and a brass barrel nut like those seen on Stanley’s Bailey style bench planes. Because of the arched casting on the rear portion of the plane, the rosewood rear tote has a concave groove on its bottom surface so it conforms to the arched shape of the casting (See Figure 4). All of the production models of these planes would have the concave groove on the bottom surface of the rear tote.
The interior of the plane is japanned, the sidewalls and sole are polished, and “PAT OCT. 5, 1875” is stamped on the left sidewall (See Figure 5).
The uniquely shaped and japanned cast iron lever cap is shown in Figure 6. It has a bell with the number “76” on its face and locks the cutter in place with a japanned lever cap screw (Later versions of the Liberty Bell Planes would have a nickel-plated lever cap screw). The cutter adjusting lever is “Y” shaped and this was used on the production models of this plane. This plane found its way out of the Stanley Model Shop and is in beautiful condition. The japanning is bright, the rosewood tote and front knob are pristine,and the steel body of the plane is in almost perfect condition except for a few fine scratches on the sole. The cutter has never been sharpened.
There are however, several features on this Model Shop Plane that make it unique and different from the production version of this plane:
The trademark stamp on the cutters seen on the first production models is shown in Figure 9.[v]
6. The Model Shop version of this plane and a very few of the early production models had cutters with the raised stud that fit into slot “g” on the cutter adjustment mechanism attached to the cutter so that when lever “j” was moved, the adjusting motion was applied directly to the cutter, whereas later production models had the raised stud that fit into slot “g” attached to the cap iron so that the adjusting motion was applied to the cap iron rather than the cutting iron. The effect was the same because in both cases the cap iron is firmly attached to the cutter (See Figure 12).
Once this steel bodied plane was developed, Stanley chose to introduce it as part of whole new line of planes in 1876 called “The Stanley Adjustable Planes” Stanley’s advertising stated that the planes were “adjusted by a compound lever and are equally well adapted to coarse or fine work.” The line included two sizes of this steel bodied plane, the #104 and #105. The #104 was the same size as a cast iron #4 sized Bailey plane and the #105 was the same size as a #5 size Bailey cast iron plane. Both of these planes featured rosewood totes and front knobs (See Figure 13).
It also included a series of transitional planes that used the same compound lever adjuster in a cast iron frames attached to beech wood plane bodies (See Figure 14).
They full line of Liberty Bell Planes offered by Stanley included the:
When introduced, all of these planes were priced at $1.00 less per plane than the comparable cast iron or transitional Bailey style planes also sold by Stanley. All of the planes in this new line of planes had a liberty bell with the number “76” on their lever caps, except for the #120 block plane which had a five-pointed star on its lever cap. The star and liberty bell were Stanley’s effort to honor the nation’s centennial in a very striking and appealing way. The liberty bell on the lever cap led to this series of planes being called “Liberty Bell” by collectors. In addition, Stanley repeated this patriotic theme on the first production models of the transitional planes in this line by having the Stanley eagle stamped on the toe of the plane (See Figure 15). The eagle stamp is only seen on the earliest of the Liberty Bell transitional planes and was discontinued in 1886.This stamp had also been used on the early Bailey style transitional planes from 1869-1874.
Stanley introduced these planes to their customers in early 1876 and featured them prominently in their display at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. The United States wanted to let the world know how far it had come in just a hundred years when it brought the world to Philadelphia for the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. Officially known as the International Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures and Products of the Soil and Mine” the Centennial Exhibition was the first “World’s Fair” held in the United States. It opened on May 10, 1876 and ran until November 10, 1876. Over 9 million people attended the fair. Probably the most significant result of the Centennial Exhibition was to demonstrate America’s new industrial prowess. Within a decade of the fair, the U.S. had eclipsed every other country in the world in innovation and industrial production.[ix] Stanley was part of the exhibition and had a large display of its full line of products in Machinery Hall. Figure 16 is a picture of that display.
It is the only known photo of the display and while it is not a great photo, it shows the wide variety of tools manufactured by Stanley at the time. Figure 17 shows a July 1, 1876 Stanley Pocket Catalog, the Cover is over stamped with information about where the Stanley display could be seen at the fair. The blue printing on the cover reads, “Your attention is invited to a full line of Samples of our Goods at the CENTENNIAL EXHIBITION, Main Building, N, 89. The Tools may be seen in practical use, in Machinery Hall Section A,4, Column 35.”
The Model Shop version of the Stanley #104 is unique and helps to reveal the story of a Model Shop plane that led to the introduction of an entire line of planes to Stanley’s stable of woodworking planes. The Liberty Bell planes obviously sold well and remained popular with Stanley’s customers for many years. They were phased out in 1918 after being part of the Stanley line of planes for 42 years. Despite the fact that the wrought steel bodies on the #104 and #105 Liberty Bell planes were prone to rust and pitting, examples of all of the planes in the “Liberty Bell” line in good condition are highly prized by collectors.
By Paul Van Pernis
[i] The Panic of 1873 and the long depression that followed had multiple causes. Chief among those was post Civil War inflation, large speculative investments primarily in railroads, property losses due to the Chicago fire of 1872, followed by another large fire in Boston in 1872, and economic disruptions in Europe caused by the Franco-Prussian War. The failure of the Jay Cooke brokerage firm set off a chain reaction resulting in multiple bank failures. The New York Stock Exchange suspended all trading for 10 days in September of 1873. 18,000 businesses failed between 1873 and 1875. The Panic of 1873 was called “The Great Depression” until it was superseded by the stock market crash of 1929
[ii] Traut and Richards, on June 28th 1876, just two months after receiving their patent for the compound lever cutter adjustment mechanism applied for and were granted a reissue patent #7,565, for this same adjuster on March 20, 1877. Once a patent is issued, the patent holder(s) may request a “reissue” of the patent to correct mistakes in the issued patent or make additional claims regarding the patent. Traut and Richards initial patent claimed only the compound cutter adjustment mechanism. In the reissued patent, they also claimed the inclined brackets on which the cutter rested, the slotted cutter, and the fastening nut used with the slotted cutter.
[iii] This same patent was applied to two other Stanley planes, the #80 and the #90 steel cased rabbet planes produced from 1877 to 1888.
[iv] To learn more about the trademark stamps on Stanley plane cutters see Roger K. Smith’s type study in Patented Transitional and Metallic Planes in America 1827-1927, Volume I, pp. 279-284. The circular Stanley trademark stamp shown in Figure___ was never used on the Bailey bench planes produced by Stanley, but was used on some block planes and the Liberty Bell series of planes
[v] Later versions of these planes would include later Stanley cutting iron trademark stamps.
[vi] These changes closely parallel the changes made in the cutter adjustment mechanism on the #120 block plane featured in my previous post. ( See http://eaiainfo.org/2017/03/01/120-model-shop-prototype-block-plane-from-evolution-to-production/).
[vii] I speculated in a previous post (http://eaiainfo.org/2016/05/23/more-rosewood-buttons-on-lever-caps/) that a block plane with a wrought steel body from the Stanley Model Shop may have been intended to become part of the Liberty Bell line of planes, but the plane was never put into production, and the #120 block plane filled that spot in the Liberty Bell line.
[viii] The Liberty Bell transitional planes are the same size as the #22, #27,#29 #32 and #35. Stanley chose to simply add a “1” in front of those numbers on the Liberty Bell planes so the size of each plane was clear to their customers.
[ix] 37 different countries sent exhibits as did 14,420 U.S. businesses. There were over 250 separate “pavilions” on 285 acres of land in Fairmount Park. There were 8000 operating machines on display in Machinery Hall. Over 9 million people visited the fair during the six months it was open. The Main Exhibition Hall was the largest structure at the Centennial and the largest building anywhere in the world at the time. The glass and steel frame was 1,876 feet long and covered more than 20 acres, or six football fields, with well over eleven miles of walkways.
It’s late in the year 1875, and Justus Traut and the men in his shop at Stanley Rule & Level Company are still diligently working on a cutter adjustment mechanism for the Stanley #110 block plane. Traut and Henry Richards, one of the “mechanics” working in Traut’s shop, produced the block plane prototype shown in Figure 1. [i]
This plane came from the estate of a granddaughter of a Stanley employee. It was found in a box containing several other early Stanley Model Shop tools. This intriguing block plane carries a Stanley Model Shop number that appears to be “1522”, although the 3rd digit in the number is very faint (See Figure 2).[ii]
The plane body is 7 and 5/8ths inches long and 2 and 1/16th inches wide. The plane body’s configuration is very similar to that of the #110 Type 3.[iii] However, it lacks the reinforced handrails on the side walls and the raised lug at the heel of the plane seen in #110 Stanley block planes of a similar vintage. The front knob is turned fruit wood and is friction fit into the cylindrical raised receiver on the toe of the plane. The shoe buckle lever cap with its two piece lever cap adjusting screw helps to date the plane to late 1875. The slotted cutter has no trademark stamp.
A machine screw has been filed to a square head with a slot that is designed to fit over the raised nib on the bronze portion of the cutter adjustment mechanism (See Figure 3 and Figure 4). This screw is held in position in the slotted cutter with a hexagonal nut. The location of this screw and nut in the slot can be changed to accommodate repeated sharpening of the cutter (See Figure 5).
The triangular cutter support ribs hold the cutter at about a 16-degree cutting angle (See Figure 8). Only the interior of the plane body is japanned. One of the most appealing features of this Model Shop plane is the evidence that this plane was a “work in progress”. On the right sidewall of the plane where there is a layout line scribed just above a plug that has been placed in the casting where a hole had been initially drilled (See Figure 6), and file marks are present on the adjusting lever and other parts of the cutter adjusting mechanism providing evidence to all the hand work that went into making this Model Shop prototype.
Traut and Richards submitted a patent application on December 27, 1875 for the compound lever cutter adjustment mechanism seen on this plane. They were granted patent #176,152, on April 18, 1876, for a “…device for holding and adjusting the cutting iron.”[iv] However, the patent drawings don’t show a block plane but instead show a bench plane utilizing this compound lever cutter adjustment mechanism. In my next blog post I’ll tell you how this patented cutter adjustment mechanism came to be used on the “Liberty Bell” series of bench planes, but for now let’s get back to what was to become Stanley’s #120 adjustable block plane. Figure 7 shows one of the patent drawings for this patent showing the compound lever cutter adjustment mechanism.
While not identical to the patent drawing, the compound lever mechanism on this Model Shop block plane operates using the same principle but with a modification of the location of the fulcrum points of the levers compared to what is shown in the patent drawings (See Figure 8).
The mechanism consists of two interconnected levers, “A” and “B”. Lever “A”, the primary lever, moves through an arc of 1¾ inches from its bottom most position to its top most position, while the raised nib “C” on the secondary lever “B” simultaneously moves through an arc of only 1/16th of an inch. This 28:1 difference in motion means that a ¼ inch movement of the primary adjusting lever “A” results in the cutter moving only 9 thousandths of an inch. This creates a very sensitive cutter adjustment mechanism .
With a few minor modifications, this plane became the Stanley #120 adjustable block plane and was first offered for sale by Stanley in 1876. The first production model of the #120 Stanley Block plane is shown in Figure 9.
There are differences between the Model Shop prototype and the first production model of the #120 adjustable block plane. Most notable are modifications made to the cutter adjustment mechanism. Figure 10 illustrates the changes made to that compound lever cutter adjustment mechanism.
The compound lever cutter adjustment mechanism was modified to reduce the number of parts and make production easier. The end of the primary adjustment lever “A” was redesigned to fit into a socket in a short cross rib that was part of the plane’s body casting.[v] The primary lever “A” is connected to a short shaft on lever “B”. Lever “A” and lever “B” would be assembled first and then the compound lever would have been inserted into the plane body and supported on a pin that enters through the right sidewall of the plane and projects through both of the cutter support brackets. The cutter adjustment lever “A” is shorter than the one seen on the Model Shop prototype and the cutter support ribs have been modified slightly and the angle changed so that the cutter is now bedded at about a 23 degree angle as opposed to the 16 degree angle seen on the Model Shop prototype. The plane is 7 and ¼ inches long, 3/8ths of an inch shorter than the prototype plane. The interior and exterior of the plane body are japanned except for the sole of the plane. The number “157” is stamped in the casting near the heel of the plane (See Figure 11).
The toe of the plane has the raised cast cylindrical receiver similar to the one seen on the prototype. It is ½ inch tall and 13/16ths of an inch in diameter. The turned fruit wood front knob is again friction fit into this receiver. The rounded cutter has an early Stanley Rule & Level Company logo stamped on its upper end, along with the April 18, 1876 patent date (See Figure 12).
A machine screw with a wide slot cut in the head is held in place in the slotted cutter by a brass barrel nut. The wide slot in the head of the machine screw fits over the raised nib on the cutter adjustment mechanism in a similar fashion what was present on the prototype (See Figure 13, Figure 14, and Figure 15).
The modifications in the compound lever adjustment mechanism reduced the mechanical advantage of the cutter adjustment mechanism from 28:1 to 12:1 As a result, a ¼ inch movement of the adjusting lever resulted in a 2/100ths of an inch movement of the cutter at the mouth of the plane. While not as sensitive as the prototype, the production model’s adjustment mechanism was still adequately sensitive. And finally, the rather fragile “shoe buckle” lever cap was abandoned in favor of a much easier to use side in lever cap with a cast iron adjusting screw bearing a five-pointed star in honor of the nation’s centennial which was being celebrated when the plane was released in 1876 (See Figure 16).
In 1876 when the #120 block plane was introduced, it sold for $1.00 compared to $2.00 for a Stanley #9½ adjustable block plane with Bailey’s cutter adjustment mechanism. It’s important to remember that Stanley was not trying to decrease the sale of Bailey’s block planes, but were looking to reach a broader audience with the introduction of the lower cost #120 adjustable block plane. Bailey’s planes had become widely accepted by carpenters and cabinet makers and Stanley certainly wanted to maintain and grow that market. With their lower cost, the #110 and #120 block planes were designed to appeal to the home owner and amateur woodworker. From the outset, these planes met with success and widespread acceptance. Stanley sold a lot of them and the #120 adjustable block plane became a staple in the Stanley lineup and remained in production until 1947(See Figure 17).[vi]
Next time I’ll tell you about how this same cutter adjustment mechanism came to be used on the “Liberty Bell” series of bench planes.
by Paul Van Pernis
[i] Henry Francis Richards was one of the “mechanics” who worked in Traut’s shop at Stanley. He was born on September 13, 1824. He died in 1912 at the age of 88. Census records list him as a “mechanic” or “machinist”. His residence in New Britain was in walking distance from the Stanley factory. He was the co-patentee with Justus Traut on at least three other patents between 1875 and 1876.
[ii] The adjustable Model Shop #110 block plane discussed in my last post carried two Model Shop numbers, #51 and #52. If this plane followed that one chronologically, one would assume that it would be labeled #53, or #54. But instead it’s got a four digit Model Shop number. As I’ve said before, the Model Shop numbering system is a mystery to me!
[iii] An excellent type study of the early Stanley #110 non-adjustable block planes by John G. Wells entitled, “Early Models of the Stanley #110 Block Plane 1874-1887”, can be found in Antique & Collectible Stanley Tools, by John Walter, pp. 750-756.
[iv] Traut and Richards on June 28th 1876, just two months after receiving this patent applied for and were granted a reissue patent #7,565, for this same adjuster on March 20, 1877. Once a patent is issued, the patent holder(s) may request a “reissue” of the patent to correct mistakes in the issued patent or make additional claims regarding the patent. Traut and Richards initial patent claimed only the compound cutter adjustment mechanism. In the reissued patent, they also claimed the inclined brackets on which the cutter rested, the slotted cutter, and the fastening nut used with the slotted cutter.
[v] This small raised cross rib was also cast into the Stanley #110 block planes of the same vintage. This allowed the same casting to be used for either the #110 or the #120 block plane. Please note the accompanying photo which shows a circa 1876 Stanley #110 block plane. With a few machining changes and the addition of the cutter adjusting mechanism this #110 block plane could have been easily converted to a #120 adjustable block plane.
[vi] The Stanley #120 block plane continued to evolve. For more information on the evolution of the Stanley #120 see, “Early Models of the Stanley No. 120 Adjustable Block Plane 1876-1947” by John G. Wells, The Gristmill, September 2006, No. 124, pp. 14-19, and “Stanley #120 Adjustable Block Plane, Early Development” by Paul Van Pernis, The Fine Tool Journal, Volume 48, Number 4, Spring, 1999, pp. 9-12
You may have looked at the 2017 Annual Meeting on the events section of the EAIA website or on the blog and wondered what is included in each of the workshops, tours and presentation as you try to determine which of them many activities you’d like to sign up for. So we’ve put together the summary below: a fairly complete albeit brief description of the activities, the leaders, and the capacity limitations.
But before you read on, consider the great contribution you could make by exhibiting pieces of your collection….or equally important….demonstrating a particular skill that will engage our participants during the Saturday morning activities. Old Sturbridge Village has an amazing number of crafts being demonstrated by their interpreters. However the membership of EAIA also has a great passion and expertise in trades and individual skills. You can sign up for tables or let us know what space and support you may need for a demonstration. Please let us know. YOU can contribute to the overall knowledge and excitement that will be generated by this meeting! Please do!
Now for the activity descriptions.
Tinsmithing Workshop (Capacity – 6 workshops @ 5 people/workshop)
This workshop will give the participants the opportunity to use a variety of 19th century tin machines and hand tools. The mysteries of the burring machine and pan swedge will be revealed! Each participant will make and take home a tin sconce.
Workshop Leader: Phil Eckert, Program Manager of Tin Production
Blacksmithing Workshop (Capacity – 4 workshops @ 8 people/workshop)
This workshop will introduce the participants to the basic tool and elements of blacksmithing. They will be able to apply their knowledge to forge a basic early American utilitarian object which they will take home with them.
Workshop Leader: Derek Heidemann, Coordinator of Men’s Crafts
This workshop will give you the opportunity to try out a variety of tin, iron, and ceramic cooking tools to prepare authentic 19th-century recipes. Working with skilled hearth cooking experts, you will learn a variety of hearth cooking techniques that utilize the bake oven and open hearth. Enjoy an afternoon snack together and walk away with a recipe booklet to use at home.
Workshop Leader: Emily Dunnack, the Director of Museum Education
Museum Education Tour (Capacity – 2 tours @ 15 people/tour)
Tour our unique Museum Education Center with Emily Dunnack, the Director of Museum Education. Learn about how the building is used for both kids and adults for workshops and other hands-on activities. Spaces include a blacksmith studio, wood shop, printing press, three large looms, four open hearths, and other surprises.
Workshop Leader: Emily Dunnack, the Director of Museum Education
Collections Tour of 19th Century Tools (Capacity – 6 tours @ 10 people/tour)
The groups will visit the extensive collections of OSV in the Collections Building. Some of the tools have been reproduced for use in the living Village, but most are not normally on view. In addition to commentary from the group leaders, the EAIA participants are urged to provide their own expert insight into the tools they view.
Tour Leader: Tom Kelleher, Curator of Mechanical Arts
Mills Tour (Capacity – 4 tours @ 25 people/tour)
Sturbridge has 3 operating mills: a gristmill, a saw mill and a carding mill. The tour will start with a general discussion of the importance of water power in New England in the 18th & 19th centuries. Visits to each of the working mills will include discussion of the operation as well as viewing the water-powered machinery that provides their power.
Tour Leaders: Justin Kennick, Program & Exhibit Lead, Mills & cooper Shop; Tom Kelleher, Curator of Mechanical Arts
Village Craft Tool Tour (Capacity – 4 tours @ 15 people/tour)
The tour will visit all of the active craft locations in the Village including the Print Shop, Shoe Shop, Tin Shop, Blacksmith Shop, and Cooper Shop. Expert craftsman interpreters and the tour leader will be available to describe the processes, and as appropriate to their work, demonstrate aspects of it and answer questions that the EAIA participants may have.
Tour Leaders: Tom Kelleher, Curator of Mechanical Arts; Derek Heidemann, Coordinator of Men’s Crafts
Machinery Storage Tour (Capacity – 4 tours @ 10 people/tour)
This is a behind-the-scenes tour through the Machinery Storage building in which a large pieces of the collection are stored. They include mill, metalworking, agricultural, agricultural and transportation items, some which were intended to be included in a more expanded “mill village” which would demonstrate other water powered processes.
Tour Leader: Tom Kelleher, Curator of Mechanical Arts
Farm & Garden Tools Tour (Capacity – 5 tours @ 15 people/tour)
OSV is a living rural New England village and as such includes agriculture as a focus, including fields, orchards, kitchen gardens, an extensive herb garden and livestock. The tour will go through the various agricultural structures and be introduced to their use, structure and the tools that were employed in and about them. Included will be the Fitch Barns, Salem Towne Barn, Freeman Farm Barn, and the associated fields and gardens.
Tour Leader: Dave Hruska, Coordinator of Agriculture; Amy Murray, Coordinator of Horticulture
Textile Collections Tour (Capacity – 3 tours @ 12 people/tour)
The art of quilting represented many things to a 19th century woman – a useful skill needed to make warm bedding and garments, an expression of skill and taste, and even an opportunity for social enjoyment. Learn about quilts, quilted garments, and quilt-making in the early 19th century New England.
Tour Leaders: Rebecca Beall, Collections Manager and Curator of Textiles; Jean Contino, Coordinator of Households and Women’s Crafts
Research Library Tour (Capacity – 4 tours @ 12 people/tour)
The Research Library contains more than 35,000 volumes and focuses on the history and material life in rural New England from the years following the American Revolution until the Civil War. The collection includes textbooks, juveniles, advice books, periodical literature, maps, broadsides, diaries, account books, letters, as well as copies of manuscript census schedules, property deeds, probate records, and town directories.
Tour Leaders: Caitlin Emery Avenia, Curatorial Director; Amy Hietala, Library Assistant
This will be the first Annual Meeting during which there will be daily activities and a reserved room for the Fiber Arts Group use throughout the meeting. In addition to the daily tours, the Fiber Arts Group participants will work with OSV Textile Staff on a traditional yarn sewing project. They will begin to stitch a yarn sewn piece suitable for a footstool cover, table mat, or doll-house rug. This practical and decorative technique was commonly used in the 18th and 19th centuries to make hearthrugs, coverlets and mittens. All materials will be provided. We will be using woolen yarn, dyed at Old Sturbridge Village with natural dyes.
Workshop Leader – Jean Contino, Coordinator of Households and Domestic Crafts
Plenary Presentation – “Color and Comfort: Textiles in the New England Home”
Presenter: Jane Nylander
Jane is an OSV Trustee, OSV Curator of Textiles and Ceramics 1969-1986, author of “Our Own Snug Fireside: Images of the New England Home 1760-1860”, President Emerita of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (now Historic New England), and former President of Strawbery Banke Museum. Jane will provide a look at textiles used for both clothing and household furnishings during the years 1790-1840: what they looked like, how and where they were made, and how they were cared for during a period of innovation, industrialization, and continuing tradition. It is drawn from years of research and illustrated by contemporary prints and paintings as well as examples from the unparalleled collections of Old Sturbridge Village.
Plenary Presentation – “The Importance of Preserving the Skilled Trades in the 21st Century”
Presenter: Norm Abram
Norm, an OSV Trustee, master carpenter and host of PBS’ This Old House, The New Yankee Workshop, many other TV appearances, and author of 8 books on carpentry, will speak on the critical importance of skilled craftsmen in the building trades. Norm is has been a great advocate of craft training for increasing the skill and capacity in the building trades. He is currently is using his reputation as both a skilled craftsman and a TV personality on This Old House to promote Generation Next which will help raise money from companies and trade associations serving the home construction and renovation industry to support scholarships for students pursuing careers as carpenters, electricians, roofers, masons and plumbers. There will be a question and answer period after the presentation
Plenary Presentation – “19th Century Cabinet Making: the Samuel Wing collection at Old Sturbridge Village”
Presenter: Tom Kelleher, OSV Historian and Curator of Mechanical Arts
Tom is skilled in a variety of historical trades including blacksmithing, coopering, gravestone carving, and timber-framing. He’s president of the international Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums (ALHFAM), and a long-time member of the Society for the Preservation of Old Mills and EAIA. Samuel was a cabinetmaker in the early 1800s and OSV is fortunate to have a collection of his tools, patterns, unfinished furniture parts, and manuscripts, which all remained in the Wing family for 150 years. Participants will have the opportunity to closely view a selection of those items which are not normally available.
Bristol County Documents Part Two
This fifth post of documents and deeds relating to Early American woodworking trades and craftsmen covers Part 2 of Bristol County, Massachusetts. Middlesex and Essex counties of Massachusetts were covered previously and Plymouth County will be next. As with Bristol part 1, most of these Bristol County documents are court records. All provide a name, a profession, a place and a time. It seems like these craftsmen were actively engaged in lawsuits….both as defendants and as plaintiffs. I have to wonder about Mr. Gallap being sued by a widow though.
1. The original spelling is retained if possible.
2. If the spelling or interpretation of a name is questioned, that entry is set apart using ( ).
|1743||William Gallap, NS||joyner||Bristol||Bristol||MA|
|1744||David Burr, NS||houswright||Rehoboth||Bristol||MA|
|1745||Ebenezer Cobb, NS||joyner||Taunton||Bristol||MA|
|1791||Joseph Burt, NS||shop joiner||Taunton||Bristol||MA|
|1791||Cyril Peck and Miles Shorey, NS||house rights||Rehoboth||Bristol||MA|
|1798||Isaac Drake, S and William Davis, NS||joiners||Taunton||Bristol||MA|
Table Note: NS denotes “not signed” and S denotes “signed”.
1743 Judgement against William Gallap of Bristol, in Bristol County Massachusetts, Joyner in a suit brought by Hannah Walker, widow for 3 pounds 11 shillings owed. Witnessed by Seth Williams and signed by Timothy Wales, clerk.
1744 David Burr of Rehoboth, Bristol County, Houswright recovered judgment against Claudia Dillis of Groton, New London County, Connecticut for 2 pounds 11 shillings and 3 pence. Witnessed by Seth Williams and signed by Timothy Wales, clerk.
1745 John Marshall of Freetown, Shipwright lost case against Ebenezer Cobb of Taunton, Bristol County, Joyner. 20 pounds old tenor is owed. Witnessed by Seth Williams and signed by Timothy Wales, clerk.
1791 A memorandum documenting Joseph Burt of Taunton, Shop Joiner as principal and Edward Burt of Taunton, yeoman as surety for 42 shillings. Complaint by Jacob Babbit of Taunton, Silversmith, charging that a silver bar worth 14 shillings had been taken by Joseph. Signed by Seth Padelford, Justice of the Peace.
1791 A complaint against Cyril Peck and Miles Shorey of Rehoboth, House rights and William Doggett of Rehoboth, yeoman. It is charged that they interrupted the public worship of God, and with force and arms assaulted John Ellis of Rehoboth, minister of the First Precinct Meeting House. This is almost as bad a being in a suit against a widow.
1798 Isaac Drake of Taunton, Bristol County, joiner with 40 dollars paid by William Davis of Taunton, Bristol County, joiner sells a small lot of land in Taunton. Signed by Foster (Levis), Joseph Swift and Isaac Drake with a seal. Signed on reverse by Foster (Levis) JP and James Williams Reg. Also mentioned: Robert Crossman, Gershom Holmes, Isaac Washborn and Esq. Fales. 12 3/8″ by 7 7/8″.
The EAIA Eastfield Historic Trades Sampler will be held on Thursday, July 27th through Sunday, July 30, 2017, at Historic Eastfield Village, in East Nassau, New York. The Eastfield Historic Trades Sampler offers a sampling of trades with an opportunity to learn about them while completing a small project related to the craft. The program includes making domed wooden boxes; carving fish decoys; crafting iron utensils in the blacksmith shop; decorative painting ; molding, painting and firing 19th century pearl ware plates in the pottery; rigging with pulleys, levers and gin pole to move heavy objects; and black power shooting. Each project is led by an experienced tradesman.
This year our instructors include Billy McMillen, domed boxes, decorative painting & black powder shooting; Bill Rainford, rigging & engineering; Scott Penpraze, ceramics & pottery; Olof Janssen, blacksmithing; and Joseph Brien, fish decoy making.
Each day begins at 9 A.M. with classes running until noon when lunch is served in the Yellow Tavern, at 1 P.M., the afternoon sessions resume. The workshops end around 5 P.M. The group generally goes together to a local restaurant for dinner at their own expense. The evenings are accented by traditional drinks, games of dominoes, and lively discussions of history, and perhaps some music at candle lit gatherings in the Briggs Tavern in front of a cozy fireplace.
Eastfield Village is not a museum open to the public. Its creator, Donald Carpentier, assembled the twenty or so buildings and the thousands of architectural elements, tools and artifacts specifically to serve as a study collection; the Village itself is an educational tool. Combine this unique preservation laboratory with gifted instructors who are eager to share their expertise and the result is a level of detail and depth to the program that only Eastfield can offer.
Students are welcome to stay without cost in several of these buildings which have been restored to their 18th and 19th century appearance, but they must bring their own bedding & 10 ten inch white candles. The experience is unique and immersive in that the buildings function as they did when they were new, so lighting is with candles; beds have rope supports, and straw & feather ticks; and out houses serve their original function. For those who rather have modern conveniences there are hotels, B & B’s, and other accommodations nearby. Please mark your calendar and plan to attend this year; the dates are Thursday, July 27th, through Sunday, July 30, 2017. Registration information and a full schedule are available on our Web site.
Seating is limited so classes are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. The cost is $485 for the four days and includes the daily workshops, morning coffee, & lunches. Some of the workshops will have a modest materials fee. Follow this link to register.
As I told you in my last post, Stanley Rule & Level Company introduced the #110 non-adjustable block plane sometime in 1874. The plane was derived from Justus Traut’s patent No. 159,865 granted on February 16, 1875. Traut had sent in his patent application on November 13, 1874 at about the time Stanley started advertising the #110 block plane for sale. Traut’s patent shows a plane with the design characteristics of the first production model #110 block plane and a cutter adjustment mechanism. The cutter adjustment mechanism was the major claim Traut made in his patent (See Figure 1).
Stanley was already selling the#110 non-adjustable block plane when Traut sent in his patent application. The #110 non-adjustable block plane was based on Birdsill Holly’s block plane as noted in my last web post which is available at http://eaiainfo.org/2016/12/26/copy-cat-blocks-and-one-from-the-model-shop/. Holly never patented his block plane and Traut was free to essentially copy Holly’s design and sell the block plane without any fear of complaints or legal threats from Holly. So Traut’s patent claim did indeed apply to the cutter adjustment mechanism described in the patent. However, this cutter adjustment mechanism was never used on a production model of this plane. I suspect that there may be one out there somewhere from the Stanley Model Shop with Traut’s cutter adjustment as shown in his patent, and if so, I’d love to hear about it and see some pictures! Figure 2 shows the image found in the 1874 Stanley catalog of the #110 non-adjustable block plane. It is interesting to note that the image is of a Type 2 #110 block plane and not the Type 1 version as seen in the patent drawings. This suggests that the Type 1 version was made for a very short time, possibly only one casting run, and that Stanley may have been producing these planes in early 1874 and started selling them several months before Traut applied for his patent.
Figure 3 is an example of a Type 1 Stanley #110 block plane. The tapered boat shaped body is 7 3/8” long and 1 15/16” wide at the mouth. The “shoe buckle” lever cap is held captive by a steel rod that passes through the right sidewall of the plane (when viewed from the heel of the plane) and is screwed into a threaded hole on the left sidewall.
The lever cap has a delightful filigree design on its upper surface. The lever cap adjusting screw is a steel screw with four wings (some examples are seen with a brass four wing adjusting screw). When the lever cap adjusting screw is tightened it secures the cutter in place and simultaneously applies pressure to the leading edge of the cutter via the front edge of the lever cap. The unmarked cutter with its semi-circular top is 1 and 5/8ths inches wide and is supported on a cross-rib cast in the bed of the plane (See Figure 4). A fruit wood front knob is friction fit into a raised cylindrical receiver which is cast onto the toe of the plane A raised lug rests on the heel of the plane and extends just a bit beyond the end of the plane bed.
The gently flared side walls include raised vertical ribs to aid in gripping the plane. The lever cap and both the inside and outside of the body are japanned. There are no marks on the plane or its cutter which would identify it as a Stanley product. This version of the #110 block plane was probably in production for less than six months.
By mid-1875, the boat-shaped body was replaced by a plane with parallel sides (See Figure 5). This is the version of the plane shown in the 1874 Stanley catalog. The “shoe buckle” lever cap remains but the winged lever cap adjusting screw has been replaced by a coarsely knurled brass adjusting screw. The vertical ridges on the side walls are gone and replaced by reinforced ribs on the upper edge of the side walls. The cross-rib cutter support has been replaced by two wedge-shaped ribs that run parallel to the long axis of the plane (See Figure 6).
The plane is slightly shorter at 7 and 5/16ths of an inch in length and slightly wider at 2 and 1/16ths of an inch. The cutter is still 1 and 5/8ths inches wide and has a semicircular top, but “Stanley Rule & Level Co.” has been stamped on the upper end.(See Figure 7). The raised lug on the heel of the plane is also slightly shorter than on the Type 1 version.
Leonard Bailey left the employ of the Stanley Rule & Level Company on June 1st, 1875 to start his own competing plane manufacturing company. All the plane patents he’d licensed to Stanley in 1869 remained by contract with Stanley, so Justus Traut and the men in his workshop were free to make any improvements or modifications to Bailey’s planes or their own planes without fear of any arguments from Bailey, and they didn’t waste any time doing so! The plane shown in Figure 8 is from the Stanley Model Shop and is one of Traut’s attempts to create an adjustable Stanley #110 block plane. This appealing plane is in superb condition. The japanning is bright, the cutter has never been honed, and the sole of the plane looks as if it has never been run across a piece of wood. Curiously, it has Model Shop #51 painted on the toe and Model Shop #52 painted on the lever cap (See Figures 9 & 10).
In my experience, Stanley Model Shop planes are labeled with only one number while this one has two consecutive numbers. We know that the Holly Block Plane I discussed in my last post carries Model Shop #47. We also know based on an article in The Fine Tool Journal that block planes #48 and #49 exist. The Model Shop tool #50’s whereabouts is not known and it might be a model of the plane shown in Traut’s patent drawing (Again, I’d love to see this one!). So, it is a mystery as to why this plane got two consecutive numbers instead of one, but the lever cap appears to have always been together with the body of the plane.
This plane has all of the same dimensions and characteristics of the Type 2 Stanley #110 block plane except for the ingenious cutter adjustment mechanism that’s been added to the heel of this plane (See Figure 11) and the use of a slotted cutter from a Bailey #9 ½ block plane. The style of the lever cap adjusting screw and the early Bailey cutter help to date this plane to mid-1875 to early 1876 which supports the premise that Traut and his workmen immediately started experimenting on adjustment mechanisms for the #110 block plane as soon as Bailey left Stanley. The front knob is missing and in fact there are no wear marks inside the cast cylinder on the toe of the plane which suggest that this plane may have never been fitted with a front knob. The cutter adjustment mechanism consists of a large 1½ inch diameter steel wheel which rotates freely on a partially threaded filletster head machine screw that is threaded into the sole of the plane (see Figure 12). This steel wheel has a coarse thread cut into its finely ribbed edge. This coarse thread engages a cylindrical gear that is supported on a pin placed between the two wedge-shaped ribs that support the plane’s cutter. A small groove has been filed into the right sideboard of the plane to allow the insertion of the pin and the cylindrical gear.
When the wheel is turned teeth on the gear are engaged in the coarse thread on the edge of the wheel while another of the gear’s teeth engages one of the slots cut into the back of the plane’s cutter. This combined motion of the wheel and the gear will either advance or withdraw the cutter (See Figures 13 and 14).
It’s a very elegant cutter adjustment design and works very well, but would have required a significant amount of precision machining and in the end offered no significant advantage over the cutter adjustment that was already in use on Bailey’s 9 ½ series block planes. There is no known patent associated with this cutter adjustment mechanism and it never made it into production. Instead, this fascinating plane was relegated to the shelves in the Model Shop until it made its way into a tool auction many years ago.
There is one more #110 block plane from the Model Shop that didn’t find its way into my collection but also demonstrates another interesting attempt at a cutter adjustment mechanism. It is shown in Figure 15 and is discussed in Clarence Blanchard’s Fine Tool Journal article I mentioned above. Although the Model Shop number is unreadable, the lever cap adjusting screw is a four wing screw (made of brass) which suggest that this plane probably predates the one discussed above.
The cutter adjustment mechanism consists of an “L” shaped bar and a vertically positioned wheel at the heel of the plane. The short arm of the “L” engages one of the slots cut into the back of the cutter. The long arm of the “L” is attached to the wheel that is fixed vertically to the heel of the plane. As the wheel is turned, the bar moves up or down moving the cutter in or out of the mouth of the plane. This too is an interesting method of cutter adjustment, but there is no known associated patent and this plane also spent most of its life in the Model Shop until it too found its way into a tool auction.
All of these cutter adjustment ideas were “food for thought” in Traut’s workshop. It is conceivable that these two planes were experiments in designing a cutter adjustment mechanism but were discarded in favor of the mechanism shown and described in Traut’s patent. Justus Traut appears to have been intent on producing an adjustable block plane of his own to rival Bailey’s #9 ½ so that he too could reap the economic benefits associated with an adjustable block plane. Traut persisted and next time I’ll tell you how later in 1876 his Stanley #110 non-adjustable block plane was adapted to become the Stanley #120 “adjustable” block plane.
by Paul Van Pernis
 Some of the early versions of this plane for a very short time (early to mid-1875) had a lever cap adjusting screw that consisted of two pieces, a filletster head machine screw and a circular brass disk locked onto the filletster head screw. See adjacent photograph.
 Other cutter seen on these early versions of the #110 block plane have a semicircular trademark stamped in them which reads “Stanley Rule & Level Co.” The Stanley #110 continued to evolve. For further information look up the excellent type study put together by John G. Wells entitled “Early Models of the Stanley No. 110 Block Plane: 1874-1887”. It was first published in The Gristmill, Number 81, December 1995, pp. 10-14.
 Blanchard, Clarence, “Birdsill Holly and the Stanley Rule & Level Co.”, The Fine Tool Journal, Volume 57, No. 2, Fall 2007, pp. 20-23.
 The numbering system used over the years in the Stanley Model Shop is a mystery. At times, it appears logical and sequential, at other times it appears totally random. I look forward to the day when someone can make sense of it all!
 Sales figures for 1876 indicate that Stanley sold 7,000 #9 ½ and 1,406 #9 ¾ Bailey block planes in 1876. Royalties were paid to Bailey based on the number of planes sold so Traut would have had a strong financial incentive to create a plane that could compete with Bailey’s so his royalty payments would increase.
Plymouth County Documents
This post presents documents and deeds relating to Early American woodworking trades and craftsmen and covers Plymouth County, Massachusetts. Bristol, Middlesex and Essex Counties of Massachusetts were covered previously. These documents cover nearly 100 years, from Queen Anne to King George the 2nd to President George Washington.
Each of the documents provides a name, a profession, a place and a time. Take note of the 1740 Stetson document as it probably links to the family of the planemaker Jonah Stetson. Also, two of the documents, while relating to court cases, provide contract details of barn and house construction … one as early as 1702.
1. The original spelling and capitalization is retained if possible.
2. If the spelling or interpretation of a name is questioned, that entry is set apart using (parenthesis).
|1714||Thomas Lambert, NS||house carpenter||Sittuat||Plymouth||MA|
|1731||Richard Church, NS||House carpenter||Rochester||Plymouth||MA|
|1737||Joseph Blackmer, NS||millwright||Rochester||Plimouth||MA|
|1738||Zebadee Chandler, S||house write||Plymouth||Plymouth||MA|
|1738||Richard Hill, NS||House wright||Hanover||Plymouth||MA|
|1740||Jonah Stetson, S||House wright||Scituate||Plymouth||MA|
|1755||Abiel Brettun, S||Joiner||Middleborough||Plimouth||MA|
|1795||Aseph Hayward, NS||Cabinet maker||Bridgewater||Plymouth||MA|
Table Note: NS denotes “not signed” and S denotes “signed”.
1714 A court document to the sherriff of Barnstable County commanding the attachment of the goods of Matthew Fuller, Barnstable, in a case brought by Thomas Lambert of Situatt, Plymouth County, house carpenter. The case references the summer of 1702 in which Thomas “gott the frame of a barn”, transported it and set it up for the defendant along with a stable. The barn frame measured 20 feet by 20 feet and additional “bords” and shingles were provided by Lambert. Witness John Cushing. Signed by the clerk William Little and the sheriff Shuball Gorham.
1731 Richard Church of Rochester, Plymouth County, House carpenter the defendant and Henry Barree of Newport, Trader the plaintiff for 200 pounds. In 1730 Henry had contracted with Richard to “procure and deliver a frame for a Dwelling house and other materials”.
1737 Another court case! Joseph Blackmer of Rochester, millwright and John Blackmer of Tiverton, husbandman in a case of 270 pound debt decided in favor of Christopher Almy of Newport, merchant. Witnessed by Seth Williams and signed by Timothy Fales, clerk.
1738 Zebadee Chandler, of Plymouth, house wright sells a tract of land in Barwick in the County of York to Thomas Gooden of Barwick. Edward and Ezrah Arnold are mentioned. Signed by Zebadee, Joshua Loring, Edward Thomas, Joshua Cushing JP and Jer Moulton Reg.
1738 deed in which Job Otis of Scituate, shop keeper, sells 6 acres plus of land in Hanover to Richard Hill of Hanover, House wright. Mentioned in the land description are Mitchell Wanton and Richard Bowkers. Signed by Job, Joseph House, Caleb Torrey and Elijah Cushing JP.
1740 Jonah Stetson of Scituate, House wright, agreement with William Stetson of Scituate, Cordwainer, that the line between their lands be clearly identified and access to a spring specified. Lemuel Dwelles is mentioned in the land description. The deed is signed by Joshua Jacob, James House and Jonah Stetson. In AWP 4th edition by Thomas Elliott, planes made by Jonah Stetson are thought to have been made by the Jonah born in 1722 and / or his son born in 1761. Based on the 1740 date of this document, the Jonah born in 1722 was probably not the signatory. Instead, it was probably his father who was born in 1691. It is interesting to note that another deed from the 1690’s surfaced about the time this one was found and it is signed by Samuel Stetson, the father of the 1691 Jonah. 9 3/4″ by 8 5/8″.
1755 Abiel Brettun of Middleborough, Joiner has obtained a judgement against Benanuel Leach of Bridgewater, Husbandman for the sum of 5 pounds 12 shillings and 10 pence. Witnessed by Nicholas Cotes and signed by Edward Winslow Cler. Sheriff Gideon Bradford and Abiel Brettun sign on the reverse. 12 1/4″ by 7 3/4″.
Note the Massachusetts 3 pence pine tree tax stamp. The colony of Massachusetts imposed a tax on certain documents by the Act of January 8, 1755 and the tax was in effect from May 1, 1755 to April 30, 1757. Stamps were issued in 1/2d, 2d, 3d and 4d denominations … with the 3d tax rate applying to court documents including writs requiring the officer to take defendants into custody. (Massachusetts tax stamp information from the dalessandris website.)
1795 Joseph Hayward of Bridgewater, yeoman sells land in Easton to Aseph Hayward of Bridgewater, Cabinetmaker. Signed by Joseph Hayward and witnessed by Desire Drake and Seth Smith. Also signed by Issachar Snell JP.
“What hobbies are you interested in?”
When I’m asked about hobbies and responds with “weaving” or “spinning,” there is usually a silence and/or a quizzical look. Recently, someone tried to explain to me that I could buy dishtowels at Walmart and wouldn’t that be easier? A response to “spinning” is usually, WHY? OK. There is a disconnect there and I am used to dealing with that. A new response I’m hearing, especially to “weaving,” is “How do I get into that?” and “When did you get started?” This is the stepping off point for anyone who enjoys sharing their particular interest and, especially, getting someone else started on the path.
So how did I get started? Lots of weavers and spinners got started in the 70’s in the “back to the land” movement. Yeah, I was there but my avenue to the “land” was cooking and assorted housekeeping things. Not artsy or creative for the most part. Eight years ago, when our daughter was expecting our first grandchild, I had a desire to knit for this baby. I had learned to crochet as a small child from my grandmother but had only accomplished a few afghans (in the 80’s) and put it down. Now I really wanted to learn to knit. I went to classes (most important for beginning in a craft) started to hang out in a knitters group. I was fascinated by the variety of yarns and wondered how this was done. That led into spinning and joining a weaving/spinning guild. Spinners there got me started with basic instructions and the guild rented me a wheel. I was hooked immediately. Creating anything is a big deal for me. Writing a story, baking a perfect pie, crafting a garment….something out of bits and pieces, folded around an idea and shaped into a new object. Wow. Soon a free loom came into the guild and eventually to me. Now I was weaving rugs and fabrics. Knitting scarves and sweaters. Out of yarn. MY HANDMADE YARNS. This was getting down to the essence of crafting and creating.
How d0 you get started? The nuts and bolts of it is really in seeking out both equipment and teachers. Some of my teachers were just friends who generously gave me their time and showed me the steps as I was ready to accomplish them. Guilds and organizations usually have both instructors and rental equipment so you can get started without the big commitment of buying a wheel or loom. Reading books and surfing the internet are great but the support and contact of crafters and hands on instructors is what continues to pass me on through the steps of learning. I participate in a local spinning/weaving guild and take classes at my favorite yarn shops. I even do demonstrating at fairs and shows occasionally. I meet lots of folks who are interested in fiber arts and, hopefully, I can spur one on to putting a hand in.
Lastly, to quote (unfortunately) a sports equipment provider……”Just do it.” Yes, you can ponder and think, plan and shop forever, but the final step over the line is to just do it. Go to a knit shop and PAY for the lessons (you are committed). Go to the next meeting of a weaving or spinning group, introduce yourself around as a “newbie” and wanting to learn. You will be inundated with suggestions and offers to help you. I’ll be starting a new project soon. Until then I’m,
Hangin’ by a Thread.
On July 6, 1852, Birdsill Holly was granted Patent No. 9,094 for a cast iron bench plane. In addition to his cast iron bench planes he produced and sold two models of a cast iron block plane. There are no individual patents for these block planes and they were manufactured for only about 8 years probably between 1851 and 1859. Two versions of his cast iron block plane are known. One of the variations on the Holly block plane is shown in Figure 1. This 7 ¾ inch long plane is probably the first version of Holly’s block plane.
Figure 2 shows the second and more commonly seen version of Holly’s block plane. This unused Holly block plane is from the Stanley Model Shop and has the Model Shop number “47” painted on the toe and the lever cap. It too is 7 ¾ inches long like the first version and is 2 and 1/16ths inches wide at the mouth. It has an attractive “boat tail” shape and is more narrowed at the heel of the plane than the first version. The captive “shoe buckle” lever cap is held in place by a pin driven through two holes in the sidewalls of the plane. The unmarked cutter has squared off corners and is supported on a raised casting 2 ¼ inches from the heel of the plane. A cast iron “horseshoe nail” wedge is placed between the upper surface of the cutter and the under surface of the captive “shoe buckle” lever cap. There are the remnants of a copper wash on the surface of the “horseshoe nail” wedge.
On many examples of these block planes, the metal wedge has been lost and had been replaced by a wooden wedge. The cutter’s depth of cut is adjusted by hand and the wedge-shaped pin is then pushed into position wedging the cutter in place and at the same time causing the front edge of the lever cap to apply pressure toward the front edge of the cutter (See Figure 3). The wooden front knob would have been simply pressure fitted into the round raised boss on the toe of the plane, but unfortunately, that is missing. The casting is of high quality and about 80-90% of the japanning remains on the plane. It’s a mystery how this unused version of a Holly block plane came to reside in the Stanley Model Shop more than 10 years after Holly stopped producing planes.
Holly’s block plane from the Stanley Model Shop captured the attention of two of the major inventors at Stanley in the years between 1869 and 1874; Leonard Bailey and Justus Traut. Both of them “copied” or maybe a better word is “appropriated” Holly’s design for their own block plane designs. Since there are no patents known that apply to Holly’s block plane and since he was no longer manufacturing them, and his 1852 patent had expired by 1869, both of these men could incorporate aspects of Holly’s planes into their own block planes without having to face any legal or economic consequences.
Leonard Bailey sold his plane business to the Stanley Rule & Level Company in 1869 and was hired by Stanley to manufacture his planes for them. He supervised the plane “shop” with his own group of employees. Justus Traut had been a Stanley employee since the mid 1850’s and was an accomplished inventor and mechanic like Bailey. He also ran his own “shop” with his group of loyal employees at Stanley . Almost from day one, Bailey and the management at Stanley had a contentious relationship, particularly in regards to the royalties he was being paid on his plane patents and his desire for total control of Stanley’s woodworking plane production. Bailey had developed his #9 ½ block plane in 1871 and Stanley first offered it for sale in their 1872 catalog (See Figure 4).
This first version of the 9 ½ utilized a lever and eccentric pin cutter adjustment based on Bailey’s June 22, 1858 patent No. 20,615. By 1875 Bailey had modified the 9 ½ block plane and incorporated a cutter adjuster that consisted of a right hand threaded vertical post with a brass thumb wheel and a forked wrench shaped adjusting lever. This adjustment mechanism is based on Bailey’s patent No. 67,398 of August 6, 1867. The plane worked extremely well and sold very well.
In an attempt to garner a larger share of the growing block plane market Stanley wanted to introduce a lower cost non-adjustable block plane for the casual user and hobbyist. They asked Justus Traut to develop this plane rather than Leonard Bailey. Traut proceeded to essentially copy Holly’s block plane with minor modifications. He filed a patent application on November 13, 1874, and was granted patent, No. 159,865 on February 16, 1875, which describes a cutter adjustment mechanism that is mechanically very similar to the cutter adjuster Bailey had patented on June 22, 1858 (See Figure 5).
Possibly because of this similarity in cutter adjustments Stanley decided not to produce Traut’s block plane as described in the patent, but instead introduced Traut’s block plane as a non-adjustable block plane, the #110 Block Plane in the fall of 1874 (a few months before his patent was granted). It cost 75 cents compared to two dollars for the Bailey No 9 ½ Block Plane. The plane shown in Figure 6 is an example of the #110 block plane as sold by Stanley in 1874. This plane is 7 3/8” long compared to the 7 ¾ inch Holly block plane and 1 and 15/16ths inches wide at the mouth. The 1 5/8ths inches wide cutter is unmarked and has a round top. The front knob is turned fruit wood and is friction fit into the round raised receiver on the toe of the plane. Traut added some vertical ribs to the sidewalls, a raised reinforcing nib at the tail, a nice filigree design to the lever cap, and replaced the “horse shoe nail” wedge with a winged adjusting nut, but, it is essentially the same plane as Holly’s.
The introduction of this plane by Stanley infuriated Leonard Bailey and contributed to his decision to leave Stanley on June 1, 1875, and strike out on his own. Bailey had been contemplating this move for some time and had been laying the ground work for his exit from Stanley and the establishment of his new business, Leonard Bailey & Company, in Hartford, Connecticut. Under his contract agreement with Stanley he couldn’t take his plane designs and patents with him, so he had quietly been working to develop a whole new line of planes. Bailey it appears, like Traut, looked at the Holly block plane in the Stanley Model Shop and also copied many of the features of this plane for his new line of Victor non-adjustable block planes. Figure 7 shows a Victor “0” non-adjustable block plane.
It is 7 and 1/16th inches long and 1 and 15/16ths inches wide at the mouth. The plane body is nicely boat shaped with the same raised nib at the tail as Traut’s version, but is a bit wider at both the toe and tail than the Traut or Holly planes. Bailey used a two-piece metal front knob, and substituted a slide in lever cap on these planes with a large lever cap adjustment screw at the top of the lever cap instead of the “shoe buckle” lever cap. The cutter has clipped corners and is unmarked.
When lined up next to each other, the similarities between these three planes are very obvious (See Figure 8). Holly would have no doubt been aware of both of these planes when they came to market and we can only wonder what he thought about all of this. He had no patent on his block plane so he had no real legal means to object. Little did he know that an unused version of his early block plane from the Stanley Model Shop would play such an important design role for these two inventors at a rather tumultuous time in the life of the Stanley Rule & Level Company.
by Paul Van Pernis
Next time I’ll introduce you to another interesting version of the #110 Block Plane from the Stanley Model Shop
 Birdsill Holly was born on November 8th, 1820 in Auburn, New York. His father died when he was only 10 years old and he was forced to drop out of school to help support his family. He became an apprentice in a cabinet shop and then apprenticed in a machine shop. By his late teens, he was a superintendent in a machine shop. He moved to Seneca Falls New York, in 1845 and became a partner in the Silsby, Race, and Holly Company which manufactured hydraulic machinery and steam powered fire engines. In 1851 he moved to Lockport, New York. The Holly Manufacturing Company was formed in 1859, so it may have been that Holly’s planes were made from 1851 until about 1859 in the years before the Holly Manufacturing Company was founded. His cast iron planes were a sideline business as his major focus was on cistern pumps, rotary pumps, fire hydrants and steam heating systems. He’s considered by many to be the inventor of the fire hydrant. He was granted over 150 patents in his lifetime. He was a personal friend of Thomas Edison and Edison asked him to become a research assistant at his Menlo Park laboratory but he declined, wishing to concentrate on his own business instead. He died on April 27, 1894. For more information on Holly’s cast iron planes see Roger K. Smith’s, Patented and Transitional Metallic Planes in America Vol. I, pp. 37-39 and Volume II, pp. 18-19.
 For further information on the Stanley #9 ½ block plane see John Wells & Jack Schoelhamer’s excellent type study titled “One Hundred Years of Bailey’s Excelsior Block Plane, The No. 9-1/2 Family”, in Antique & Collectible Stanley Tools, by John Walter, pp. 686-701.
 For more details on Bailey’s exit from Stanley and the beginnings of Leonard Bailey & Company see, “Leonard Bailey: The Years at Stanley Rule & Level Co., Part II” in The Gristmill, No. 136, September 2009, pp. 12-23, and “Leonard Bailey: In Hartford and Woonsocket, 1875-1884 Part I”, in The Gristmill, No 139, June 2010, pp. 10-22. Both articles are by John G. Wells and Paul Van Pernis.
 The non-adjustable Victor block planes were all the same size and were offered with two different finishes. The “0” has a japanned finish, the “00” has nickel plated trimmings.