Sargent Model Shop Tools: Prototype Successor to Shaw’s Patent Planes?

Sargent prototype plane

Here it is at only the second post of this blog and I’ve gone off the subject of Stanley Model Shop tools in my collection to discuss a Sargent prototype plane that joined the collection recently.  This plane (Figure 1) suggests that Sargent was considering a successor to its Shaw’s Patent line of planes.  As with the Shaw’s Patent planes, this plane allows the frog to be moved forwards and backwards to adjust the size of the mouth.  The frog adjustment mechanism is different from that of the Shaw’s Patent planes and the body profile is unique among Sargent planes.

Figure 1 Sargent prototype plane

Figure 1 Sargent prototype plane

Before proceeding, a quick review of Shaw’s patent Sargent planes.  John H. Shaw was issued Patent No. 824,954 on July 3, 1906, assigned to Sargent and Company for “a plane in which the frog may be adjusted longitudinally and clamped in place after the bit is clamped to the frog” (Figure 2). The primary claim of the patent is for “a novel construction by which the adjustment of the frog may be made from the rear after the bit is secured to the front face of the frog.”  As seen in Figure 2, an advantage of the Shaw’s patent configuration is that the frog may be adjusted to narrow or widen the mouth without affecting the depth at which the cutter (“bit” in the words of the patent) setting or requiring it to be removed.  According to the patent his is done by loosening two vertical screws “O” shown in the lower part of the figure and turning the horizontal adjusting screw “No 3” shown in the upper part of the figure and then tightening the two vertical screws.  There are two disadvantages to this configuration:  First, there is a screw through the frog under the cutter into the body of the plane (not shown in the figure, but approximately at “E” in the upper part of the figure).  When this screw is secured tightly, a great deal of force is required to move the frog.  The cutter must be removed to loosen this screw, negating the claimed advantage of not affecting the cutter setting.  Second, the two vertical lock screws “O” at the rear of the frog are awkward to access with a regular screwdriver.  The screwdriver must be inserted at an angle into the slots in the screws with the consequent danger of slipping out of the slots and damaging the screw heads.

Figure 2 Shaw’s patent plane
Figure 2 Shaw’s patent plane

Sargent Shaw’s patent planes were manufactured from approximately 1906 to 1918 in sizes from the 7 inch long No. 7 with 1 5/8 inch wide cutter to the 24 inch long No. 24 with 2 5/8 inch wide cutter [1].

Returning to the Sargent prototype plane (Figure 1), its sole is 9 inches long from the toe to end of the lug under the handle and 2 1/8 inches wide.  It has a 1 ¾ inch wide cutter.  The sole is 1 inch longer than that of the typical Sargent bench plane with a 1 ¾ inch wide cutter and is the length of the typical Sargent bench plane with a 2 inch wide cutter.  The mahogany handle and front high knob, the Sargent logo on the lever cap and on the cutter, and the 1 1/8 inch cutter adjusting nut suggest that this prototype dates from the 1920s or 1930s.  The cutter adjusting nut appears to be solid brass; most standard Sargent cutter adjusting nuts are brass coated steel.  The threaded rod for the cutter adjusting nut is loosely threaded into the frog and has a left hand thread.

Figure 3 shows the body and bottom of the frog of the plane.  The frog is mounted to the body with two screws rather than three as on Shaw’s Patent planes.  Similar to the Shaw’s Patent planes, a slotted pedestal on the body engages a slotted adjusting screw in the frog to vary the mouth width.  The base of the frog rests in a milled channel on the body, a feature absent from the Shaw’s Patent planes.  This prevents the frog from moving side to side or twisting and the milled channel is the same concept used for mounting the frog on Stanley Bed Rock planes.

Figure 3  Prototype plane body and frog
Figure 3 Prototype plane body and frog

The inside of the body and the frog of the Sargent prototype plane are japanned with a thin coat of japanning.  The front of the top of the handle has been clipped, apparently to provide clearance for the frog and lateral adjuster; but this was unnecessary because there would have been no interference even if the handle had not been clipped. The prototype frog is compared with a Shaw’s Patent frog in Figure 4 and Figure 5.  Primary differences between the two aside from the more modern profile of the prototype frog are in the configuration for mounting the frog to the body.  The Shaw’s Patent frog is mounted with three screws, two in the rear of the frog, and one under the cutter.  The prototype frog uses two screws through brass pads under the cutter.  Each brass pad is fastened to the frog with a steel screw and brass washer.  Loosening the screw and twisting the pad allows it to be removed from the frog.

Figure 4  Upper sides of Shaw's Patent frog (left) and prototype frog (right)
Figure 4 Upper sides of Shaw’s Patent frog (left) and prototype frog (right)

Perhaps the function of these pads was to provide a low friction bearing surface so that the frog could be adjusted fore and aft using the frog adjusting screw without having to remove the cutter and loosen the frog mounting screws.  However, the brass pads are tapered to match the roughly 15 degree downhill slope of their bearing surface on the frog (see the inset in Figure 4 for details of the brass pads).  This would have allowed only very limited fore and aft movement of the frog without the frog either being wedged in place when adjusted forward or becoming loose when adjusted backward.  This binding or loosening of the frog during adjustment would have happened even if the screws holding the brass pads to the frog were loosened.  Note that this problem would have been eliminated if the frog had been built to have the portion under the brass pads parallel to the mounting surface on the body of the plane.  One wonders why Sargent chose this sloped configuration for the frog and brass pads when a parallel configuration combined with the milled guides for the frog would have resulted in a more readily adjustable mouth opening without danger that the frog would be twisted sideways.

Figure 5  Under sides of Shaw's Patent frog (left) and prototype frog (right)
Figure 5 Under sides of Shaw’s Patent frog (left) and prototype frog (right)

The cutter of the prototype plane is marked with the trademark shown in Figure 6, which was used by Sargent in the 1920s and 1930s.  This generic trademark does not indicate a plane number as is common on many original cutters.  The lack of a plane number is common on Sargent replacement cutters.  The letter B is overstruck on SARGENT.  I believe that I have seen this before, but cannot remember where and am curious about its significance.

Figure 6  Markings on cutter
Figure 6 Markings on cutter

An observation:  There are several prototype and salesman’s sample planes by Sargent and Stanley in my collection.  Almost all of those by Stanley are in pristine condition and show few signs of use.  All of those by Sargent have been put to use as user tools, and some none too well cared for, as evidenced by general wear, paint spatters, dings, worn japanning, and occasional rust.  A speculation on this observation:  Perhaps Stanley held their prototypes and salesman’s samples more closely before they got into collector’s hands while Sargent let theirs go out the door to users when they were done with them.  Or, maybe, just the effects of a small sample size.

If you have additional information or comments about this or other Sargent prototypes, please contact me at or reply to this blog.  I look forward to hearing from you.


[1] D. Wilwol, The Sargent Hand Plane Reference Guide for Collectors & Woodworkers, Don Wilwol, 2017, p. 40.

Who Gets The Credit?

Bailey Chisel Plane and Traut Prototype No. 97 Chisel Plane

The Stanley No. 97 Cabinet Maker’s Edge Plane

In late 1869 or early 1870, shortly after Leonard Bailey started working at the Stanley Rule & Level Company, he produced the “chisel plane” shown in Figure 1 below.[i] This heavy bodied plane is 9 15/16” long and 2 3/8” wide and the body is a cast box with substantial cross ribs running from side to side and front to back.

Bailey's Chisel Plane
Figure 1. Bailey’s Chisel Plane

This braced box construction is identical to what Bailey used on his early No. 9 cabinet maker’s block planes (See Figure 2), and the 2 3/8’ wide cutting iron has the trademark used by Bailey and Stanley during the years 1867-1872.

Photo, Bailey's No. 9 Cabinet Maker's Block Plane Lower Half of Photo
Figure 2. The Bailey Chisel Plane in Upper Half of Photo, Bailey’s No. 9 Cabinet Maker’s Block Plane in the Lower Half of the Photo. Note the Similarity in Construction of Both Planes

The cutting iron adjusting mechanism is identical to that seen on the No. 9 cabinet maker’s planes of the same vintage. A rectangular steel plate is attached to the 1/16th inch thick cutting iron with a screw.  The plate fits over the end of the lever on the yoke shaped adjustment mechanism. The cutting iron bedded at a 27º angle with the cutting edge facing upwards and is held firmly in place by a #7 size cam lock lever cap that is 2 15/16ths inches wide(See Figure 3).

Bailey's Chisel Plane Disassembled
Figure 3. Bailey’s Chisel Plane Disassembled

When the brass adjusting screw shown in Figure 4 was turned to advance the cutting iron just slightly ahead of the plane’s body, a thin shaving would be removed and the plane could trim up a rabbet or be worked into a corner.

Adjusting Screw on Bailey Chisel Plane
Figure 4. The Adjusting Screw on Bailey’s Chisel Plane

This plane has all of the characteristics of a Bailey made plane, but it’s easy to see why it got put on the shelf; it’s just too big and too heavy for most applications.  Bailey put this one on the shelf, but not in the Stanley Model Shop as there are no Model Shop numbers on the plane.  It was likely kept in Bailey’s shop within the Stanley Rule & Level Company but got left behind when he departed Stanley in 1874.  From there it made it into the Stanley Model Shop but was never assigned a Model Shop number.

Stanley Model Shop Prototype Chisel Plane
Figure 5. Stanley Model Shop Prototype Chisel Plane Made by Justus Traut

Fast forward about 35 years to 1905 when Justus Traut decided to produce a chisel plane of his own design. He may well have taken Bailey’s version off the shelf and been inspired or at least stimulated in his thinking by Bailey’s plane.  The plane shown in Figure 5 appears to be the prototype from which Traut eventually developed the Stanley No. 97 Cabinet maker’s Edge Plane.[ii]  The Stanley Model Shop #337 is present in two places on the japanned lever cap.  At 7¾ inches long and 2¼ inches wide the plane is much smaller than the one made by Bailey.  The 2¼ inch wide cutting iron is designed to rest on the two sloped sidewalls of the plane and is unusually thick at an eighth of an inch. Bedded at a 17º angle, the cutting iron is held firmly in place by the screw down lever cap. The curved hood at the back of the lever cap provides a nice place to rest your hand when using the plane.  The cutting iron adjuster has a “faucet handle” design and is based on Traut’s March 13, 1900 patent No. 645,220 (See Figure 6).[iii]

Traut's Patent No. 645,220
Figure 6. Traut’s Patent No. 645,220 Describing the Cutting Iron Adjusting Mechanism

In the patent description, Traut describes the “slide” as being supported by the “guide” “g” (I’m using the numbers and letters in the patent drawings to attempt to coherently explain the adjustment mechanism, so  reviewing Figures 1,2,3, and 4 of the patent drawing may be helpful!). An adjusting screw, “f” with two different diameters and two different thread pitches is inserted into the threaded hole “13´” in the guide “g”. The narrower portion of the screw which is near the end of the screw can pass through the threaded portion of the guide “g” without difficulty.  The narrower portion of the screw is threaded into the threaded opening on the slide “S”. When the adjusting screw “f” is turned the slide “S” is drawn up towards the guide “g”.  The movement of the slide up towards the guide is due to the fact that the threads at the forward end of the screw are of a steeper pitch than the threads near the head of the screw. A series of parallel transverse grooves or “nicks” on the back of the cutting iron are designed to fit over the short-raised rib (“16” in the patent drawing) on the slide. 

Stanley Model Shop Prototype Chisel Plane
Figure 7. Stanley Model Shop Prototype Chisel Plane by Justus Traut

With the cutting iron in place, fine adjustments can be made with the screw adjustment mechanism. Once the depth of cut has been set with the screw adjuster, the lever cap is screwed into place to secure the cutting iron (See Figure 7). This cutting iron adjustment mechanism is a clever design and was used on multiple different planes in the Stanley line.[iv]  This prototype version of the chisel plane feels good in my hands and appears to me to be a tool that would have functioned well.  While this version didn’t make it to the manufacturing stage and ended up on the shelf in the Model Shop, many of its features were incorporated into the production model of the Stanley No. 97.

Stanley No. 97 Chisel Plane Type 1
Figure 8. The Stanley No. 97 Cabinetmaker’s Edge Plane Type 1

Figure 8 shows the Stanley No. 97 Cabinet Maker’s Edge Plane Type 1 which was first pictured in the Stanley Pocket Catalog and the Stanley No. 34 Full Line Catalog in 1905 priced at $2.00.  It was initially labeled as a “Piano Maker’s Edge Plane”, but by 1907 Stanley had changed the name to “Cabinet Maker’s Edge Plane”. Stanley described the plane as, “A useful tool for Piano Makers and all Cabinet Workers, for trimming inside work where space prevents the use of any other Plane.” (See Figure 9)

Ad for the Stanley No.97 Piano Maker's Edge Plane from the 1905 Stanley Catalog
Figure 9. Ad for the Stanley No.97 Piano Maker’s Edge Plane from the 1905 Stanley Catalog

The plane might be best described as a wide adjustable chisel blade held at a constant angle by the body of the plane. The No. 97 plane is 9 13/16ths inches long and 2¼ inches wide.  The rear portion of the plane bed has been extended to allow the addition of a rosewood knob which provides a hand hold.[v] It’s curious that Stanley chose to use a knob rather than a rear tote.[vi]  The half circle cut outs in the sidewalls of the plane allow for easier access to the faucet handle cutting iron adjusting screw. Like the prototype shown in Figure 5, the cutting iron rests on the sidewalls of the plane body at an angle of 17º with the beveled side of the cutting iron facing upward. There is a 5/32nds inch wide vertical groove milled into the center of the cutting iron on its upper end which accepts the end of the lever cap screw. Tightening of the lever cap screw into the groove not only holds the cutting iron firmly in place, but prevents lateral motion of the cutting iron as well. For some unknown reason this useful feature was only seen on the Type 1 No. 97 plane.[vii]  The hooded lever cap seen on the prototype plane was eliminated and replaced with a japanned lever cap with a rounded top (See Figure 10).

Stanley No. 97 Chisel Plane Type 1 Disassembled
Figure 10. Stanley No. 97 Cabinet maker4’s Edge Plane Type 1 Disassembled

Based on the relative scarcity of remaining examples of the Stanley No. 97, the plane met with only moderate success. But there was enough demand for the plane to remain in production until 1943 and went through several design changes during those years. A type study done by John Wells in 2005 does a great job of outlining these changes.[viii]

Because the production models of the Stanley No. 97 Cabinet maker’s Edge Plane have an adjustment mechanism based on Traut’s patent #645,220 these planes are generally ascribed to Justus Traut. However, it appears that Leonard Bailey was the first one to come up with the idea and perhaps both Leonard Bailey and Justus Traut should share the credit for this interesting plane.

by Paul Van Pernis

Bailey's Chisel Plane
Figure 11. Bailey’s Chisel Plane. Note the Small Hole in the Right Sidewall of the Plane Which Allows for Insertion of the Pin for the Cutting Iron Adjustment Mechanism

[i] This plane came to auction on April 2, 2005 as lot 639 in the 26th International antique Tool Auction.

[ii] Lot #502 in the 27th International antique Tool Auction, October 29, 2005

[iii] Traut submitted the application for this patent on December 10th, 1897.  The patent was not granted until March 13, 1900, 14 months later.  This is an unusually long time between a patent application and the granting of a patent especially for someone as well known to the Patent office ad Justus Traut. Traut and Stanley Rule & Level Company began using this cutting iron adjustment mechanism starting in January of 1898 on the No. 60, No. 65 and No. 220 block planes.

[iv] This same adjustment mechanism was used on Stanley No. 60, 60½ 61, 63, 64,65, 65½, 90, 90A,92,93, 94, 97, 118, 131, 140 (after 1898), 203, and 220 planes.

[v] The knob on the No. 97 planes is the same size as those seen on the No.5 thru No. 8 Stanley bench planes.

[vi] There is a circa 1907 Stanley No. 97 Cabinet Maker’s Edge Plane produced by Stanley with a typical rear tote and a level lock lever cap that came from the Model Shop.  Apparently, this version was never put into production. See image below taken from the article cited in footnote viii.

Prototype Stanley no. 97 with a Traditional Rear Tote

[vii] The Type 1 No. 97 was made for only a very brief time in 1905.  Examples of the Type 1 No. 97 are extremely rare.

[viii] Wells, John G., “The Stanley No. 97 Edge Plane”, The Gristmill, No. 119, June, 2005, pp. 30-33.

Ten Things You Might Not Have Known About Lowell, Massachusetts

Lowell Mill Girls in the early 1900's

With the 2019 Early American Industries Association Annual Meeting coming up in a few months, here are some interesting tidbits of information about Lowell, Massachusetts that will hopefully entice you to join us for our Annual Meeting next May. The young mill girls in the title photo above invite you to learn more about them and their interesting lives during the Early American industries Associations’ Annual Meeting May 15th thru May 18th, 2019. So, here are ten things you might not have known about Lowell, Massachusetts.

  1.  Lowell, Massachusetts is named after Francis Cabot Lowell who never actually stepped foot in the town that bears his name. Francis Cabot Lowell spent two years in England between 1810 and 1812.  While he was there, he toured the textile mills of Manchester and some say, engaged in industrial espionage.  He apparently memorized the workings of the power looms that were common in England at that time.[1]  Upon his return to America, Lowell and an inventive mechanic named Paul Moody developed a power weaving loom in 1814 based upon what Lowell had seen in England.  With financial backing from a group of Boston investors he formed the Boston Manufacturing Company and developed the first fully integrated weaving mill on the Charles River in Waltham, Massachusetts that started with cotton from the bale and at the other end produced bolts of cotton cloth. You can learn more at ([2]  The mill at Waltham was a great success and it soon became apparent that the company needed to expand.  But, the three mills that had been built in Waltham were using all of the available power from the Charles River.  So, the Boston Manufacturing Company sought a new site.
Mill-workers photo

Figure 1. Early Photo Inside One of the Lowell Mills

They settled on East Chelmsford, Massachusetts on the Merrimack River just 30 miles from Boston. Construction began at the site in 1822 and the investors decided to name the new town they built Lowell in honor of Francis Cabot Lowell who had died in 1817.

2. At its peak in 1850, the city of Lowell had 40 mill buildings powering 320,000 spindles on almost 10,000 looms and employed more than 10,000 workers in the textile industry.[3]

Whistler's Mother

Figure 2. Whistler’s Iconic Painting of his Mother. Its Correct Title is “Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1”

3. Lowell is the birthplace of the American painter James McNeill Whistler. He was born on July 11, 1834 and achieved worldwide fame  as a painter.  His most iconic image is the painting of his mother shown in Figure 2. But his father, Major George Washington Whistler, was a fascinating character in his own right.  His life story is at least as interesting as that of his famous son. (

Major George Washington Whistler

Figure 3. A Not Very Famous Portrait of Whistler’s Father, Major George Washington Whistler, Not Painted by His Son!

George Washington Whistler supervised the building of the first locomotive in the Lowell Machine Shop in 1835.  He took apart a locomotive imported from England to learn how it was constructed and then fabricated patterns from which the Lowell Machine Shop built one of the first locomotives manufactured in New England.  Within three years, the Lowell Machine Shop had turned out 32 more locomotive engines. The Lowell Machine Shop was established to meet the machine tool needs of the weaving mills, but expanded to be one of the premier machine shops in the world.  Many of the master mechanics of the American Industrial Revolution got their training at the Lowell Machine Shop.

Locomotive Engine built by the Lowell Machine Shop in 1852

Figure 4. Locomotive Engine built by the Lowell Machine Shop in 1852

The Whistler House Museum of Art ( is worth a stop at some point during your visit to Lowell.

4. By 1846, the mills in Lowell where turning out almost a million yards of cloth a week! Until the Civil War, Lowell was the largest concentration of industrial production in America and was New England’s second largest city with a population of 33,000.

5. Lowell, in 1879, was the first town in the United States to get telephone numbers just three years after Alexander Graham Bell had patented his telephone.

Jack Kerouac Book Cover

Figure 5. Jack Kerouac Most Famous Book

6. Lowell is the birthplace of Jack Kerouac (March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969). For those of us who lived through the 60’s, his name will be a familiar one.  As the author of, On the Road, and several other books, he is considered a literary iconoclast and alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsburg is closely identified as one of the members of the Beat Generation and a progenitor of the “Hippie Movement”. You can learn more about this literary icon at

Moxie ad

Figure 6. An Early Moxie Ad

7. Moxie originated as a patent medicine called “Moxie Nerve Food”, which was created around 1876 by Dr. Augustin Thompson in Lowell, Massachusetts. Thompson claimed that it contained an extract from a rare, unnamed South American plant which is now known to be gentian root. Moxie, he claimed, was especially effective against “paralysis, softening of the brain, nervousness, and insomnia”. Thompson claimed that he named the beverage after a Lieutenant Moxie, a purported friend of his, who he claimed had discovered the plant and used it as a “panacea”.  After a few years, Thompson added soda water to the formula and changed the product’s name to “Beverage Moxie Nerve Food”. By 1884 he was selling Moxie both in bottles and in bulk as a soda fountain syrup. In 1885, he received a trade mark for the name. He marketed it as “a delicious blend of bitter and sweet, a drink to satisfy everyone’s taste”. Thompson died in 1903. Moxie was purchased by the Coca-Cola company in 2018.  The name has become the word “moxie” in American English, meaning courage, daring, or determination. Our Executive Director John Verrill is a big fan of the stuff. You might want to try some while you’re in Lowell.

Lowell Mill Girls

Figure 7. Some Lowell Mill Girls

8. One of the features that distinguished the Lowell mills in the 1830’s was that workers were paid in cash once a month. Most other employers paid workers with credit at a company store or settled their worker’s wages once every 3 months.  In the 1830’s, a woman working at one of the Lowell mills could earn between $12-$14 dollars per month (that’s equivalent to about $320 – $370 in 2017 dollars)[4].  The mill girls paid $5 a month for their room and board in one of the company’s boarding houses.  These young women experienced economic independence that was unknown before the development of the Lowell mills. They likely had more ready cash than their farmer fathers.  It was not unusual for these young women to return home after a year in the mills with $25-$50 in a bank account. But these women worked long hours (as many as 14 hours/day) with only brief breaks for their breakfast and dinner (See Figure 8).  Their hours were shorter during the winter months, but the working conditions were dusty and dangerous throughout the year.

Work Schedule at the Lowell Mills

Figure 8. Work Schedule at the Lowell Mills

9. The women in the Lowell Mills formed the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association in 1844 with Sarah Bagley as its first president. The Lowell mill girls were not hesitant to express their opinions about working conditions and wages in the mills.  The first protest came in 1834 just about a decade after the mills opened. Subsequent protests and strikes followed resulting in the organization of the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association. The LFLRA is noted as being the first organization of working women to come together and bargain collectively for better working conditions and higher pay. You will learn more about these women and their labor reform efforts during out visit to the Boott Mill National Historical Park.

Charles Dickens photo

Figure 9. Charles Dickens

10. English Author Charles Dickens (See Figure 9) visited Lowell in February of 1842.  He specifically wanted to see America’s first industrial city.  He toured the mills, the tenement housing and the city of Lowell. He later wrote a book about his travels in the United States titled, American Notes.    In the book Dickens wrote favorable descriptions of both the Lowell mills and the Lowell mill girls. He said of the mill girls, “They had serviceable bonnets, good warm cloaks, and shawls… They were healthy in appearance, many of them remarkably so, and had the manners and deportment of young women, not of degraded brutes of burden.”

So, come join us for the 2019 Early American Industries Association Annual Meeting, Wednesday, May 15th thru Saturday, May 18th, 2019 in Lowell, Massachusetts for a meeting filled with friends, fun, workshops, lectures, demonstrations and a variety of opportunities to learn. Maybe a glass of  Moxie to avoid “paralysis, softening of the brain, nervousness and insomnia!  The 2019 EAIA Annual Meeting maybe just the “panacea” you need! I guarantee you’ll find out some more interesting things about Lowell! We’ll be based at the Westford Regency Inn & Conference Center in Westford, Massachusetts (  Registration forms will be mailed to you and will also be available right here on our website in mid-January 2019.

by Paul Van Pernis

Moxie ad

Figure 10. More Moxie!

[1] After the Revolutionary War, England passed laws prohibiting the export of textile machinery or the emigration of those who could operate it.  Samuel Slater an overseer in an English textile factory introduced British cotton technology to America when he left England posing as a farmer. He had committed the details of the Arkwright spinning machine to memory and in 1790, while working for Moses Brown, he started the first American cotton spinning mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island

[2] Waltham and the Charles River Museum are only 22 miles from Lowell and would make a great side trip before or after the 2019 EAIA meeting.

[3] At Pawtucket Falls just above the junction of the Merrimack and Concord Rivers, the Concord River drops more than 30 feet.  The system of canals and gates built in Lowell harnessed the kinetic energy of this water flow and produced over 10,000 horsepower of energy to turn the turbines that powered the mills.

[4] The average daily wage for a female working in the cotton or wool manufacturing industry in 1830 was 38-40 cents/day! (https://www​

Leonard Bailey’s Last Vertical Post?

Stanley Model Shop Vertical Post Plane Title Image

Leonard Bailey appears to have begun experimenting with  and manufacturing vertical post planes sometime in 1860. These planes are called “vertical post” planes because of the two vertically positioned threaded rods located behind the rocking frog. The rocking frog is held in place by a pin that is inserted through the sidewalls of the plane and the frog.  As shown in the schematic drawing ( See Figure 1), the first threaded rod is screwed through a threaded hole in the frog casting. As this short threaded rod is tightened it applies pressure to a flat leaf spring that rests in two grooves cast into the bed of the plane. Tightening this screw against the leaf spring creates back pressure on the frog.  The second threaded rod fits through an open collar on the rear of the frog casting and is screwed into a threaded hole in the plane’s bed.

Bailey Vertical Post Schematic Drawing

Figure 1. Schematic Drawing of Bailey’s Vertical Post Plane. Drawing by John G. Wells

The cutting iron is adjusted by pivoting the frog and cutting iron together around an axis parallel to the mouth of the plane with the use of this threaded rod and the large brass adjusting screw. The large brass adjusting screw is threaded onto the second rod.  When turned, the brass adjusting screw changes the angle of the rocking frog and thus moves the cutting iron in our out of the mouth of the plane.  Figure 2 is an image of the rocking frog and cutter adjustment mechanism on a Bailey vertical post plane. The large brass adjusting screw clearly identifies Bailey as the maker, his location in Boston and his August 7th, 1855 and August 31, 1858 patent dates (See Figure 2 and Figure 10).

Bailey Vertical Post Plane Showing the Cutting Iron Adjustment Mechanism

Figure 2. Bailey Vertical Post Plane Showing the Cutting Iron Adjustment Mechanism

On the production versions of these vertical post planes, both the rear tote and front knob  are attached in the same way.  They are slipped over a threaded rod that is screwed into the plane bed and they are held in place by a cylindrical brass barrel nut inserted into  a shouldered hole in the rosewood front knob or rear tote (See Figure 3) .

Production Version of the Front Knob from a Vertical Post Plane on the Left, Model Shop Version on the Right

Figure 3. Production Version of the Front Knob from a Vertical Post Plane on the Left, Model Shop Version on the Right

At the time it was introduced, the Bailey vertical post plane was a quantum step forward in plane design. Vertical post planes are lighter, more responsive, and less expensive to make than the split frame planes Bailey was producing previously. They utilize the same basic principles used on the split frame plane, but now the plane body is a single casting and the pivoting frog fits inside the body. This significant design change required less precision in manufacturing, and made it possible for less skilled workers to assemble the planes. The vertical post plane has all of the visual and construction characteristics of the modern carpenter’s plane except for Bailey’s third and most effective cutter adjustment mechanism for which he received a patent on August 6th, 1867. After Bailey was granted this patent, he appears to have quickly halted production of his vertical post planes.

Bailey Vertical Post Lever Caps. Early Version on the Left, Later Version on the Right with the Banjo Spring

Figure 4. Bailey Vertical Post Lever Caps. Early Version on the Left, Later Version on the Right with the Banjo Spring

Early versions of the vertical post planes were made with a cam lock lever cap without a spring and were fitted with a tapered double iron, usually by Moulson (Cutting irons from other manufacturers are seen on Bailey’s vertical post planes).  In later years Bailey added a “banjo spring” to the back side of the lever cap on his vertical post planes.  The spring rests in a recess in the back of the lever cap and is held in place by a single rivet (See Figure 4). In 1867 or 1868, when Bailey began producing planes with his third cutting iron adjustment mechanism and patented thin parallel irons based on his August 6th, 1867 patent (i.e. Boston Bailey Type 1 Planes), he still had unfinished castings and parts for vertical post planes that he wanted to sell and decided to offer them with his new patented thin parallel irons. So he made up the remaining castings for his vertical post planes with a smaller mouth opening suitable for the thin parallel irons.  When he machined the castings for these planes he cut the mouth opening slightly smaller and installed the frog a little further forward so the thin irons fit in the planes leaving an appropriately tight mouth opening. A traditional tapered iron is too thick to fit though the mouth opening in these planes (See Figures 5).

Early Version of Bailey's Vertical Post Plane on the Left with a Wider Mouth to Accomodate a Thick Tapered iron, Later Version on the Right with a Narrow mouth To Accomodate a Thin Parallel Iron

Figure 5. Early Version of Bailey’s Vertical Post Plane on the Left with a Wider Mouth to Accommodate a Thick Tapered iron, Later Version on the Right with a Narrow mouth To Accommodate a Thin Parallel Iron. Also Note the Difference in the “Ears”  of the Frog Between the Early and Late Models.

He used lever caps with banjo springs on a few of these planes when he ran short of lever caps without springs. Although rare, a fair number of these vertical post planes with the smaller mouth and Bailey’s thin parallel cutter have survived.  Bailey offered the vertical post plane is sizes No. 1 through No. 8. The No. 1 size is 5½ inches in length and has a 1¼ inch wide cutting iron (See Figure 6) and the No. 8 size is 24 inches long with a 2 and 5/8ths inch wide cutting iron.

No. 1 Size Vertical Post Plane

Figure 6. No. 1 Size Vertical Post Plane only 5½ Inches Long

An example of a vertical post No. 5 size jack plane in virtually unused condition with a banjo spring lever cap is shown in Figure 7.   Interestingly, no example of a No. 2 sized, 7 inch long vertical post plane has to date been found.

No. 5 Size Bailey Vertical Post Jack Plane

Figure 7. A No. 5 Size Bailey Vertical Post Jack Plane

When Bailey sold his business to the Stanley Rule & Level Company in 1869, his vertical post planes had been replaced by his planes with his patented adjuster that became the industry standard.  But, his existing stock of vertical post planes was also part of the deal.  Stanley appears to have sold off the remaining vertical post planes shortly after acquiring Bailey’s business.  However, an intriguing Bailey #3 size vertical post plane that is slightly different  from the earlier versions of the Bailey vertical post planes came to light in 2011. It apparently resided in the Stanley Model Shop for most of its life and is in unused condition.[1]  The Model Shop number “368” is painted on the toe of the plane in two spots.  Like Bailey’s earlier production models of his No. 3 size vertical post plane, this one is 8 7/8ths inches long, 2 1/8th inches wide and has 1¾ inch wide thick tapered cutter.  Because of the thick tapered cutter, it also has the wider mouth seen on the early versions of Bailey’s vertical post planes. Figure 8 shows this plane along side a production version of Bailey’s No. 3 size vertical post plane.

No.3 Size Model Shop Vertical Post Plane in the Foreground, Production no. 3 Size Vertical Post Plane in the Background

Figure 8. No.3 Size Model Shop Vertical Post Plane in the Foreground, Production No. 3 Size Vertical Post Plane in the Background

While clearly a Bailey vertical post plane, this “model shop” version differs from the usual Bailey vertical post planes in several respects (See Figure 9 below):

  1. The lever cap is a later version with a square spring.
  2. The rear tote is a slightly different shape and is more characteristic of the rear totes seen on the Bailey planes made at Stanley starting in about 1874.
  3. The front knob is a little taller and lacks the bead at its base that is present on earlier version of the vertical post planes.
  4. The front knob is attached with a ¼ inch diameter flat head machine screw as opposed to the standard version of the Bailey vertical post plane where the front knob is held in place with a brass barrel nut screwed onto a 3/16th inch diameter threaded rod.(See Figure 3 above) Using the larger diameter flat head machine screw would have required drilling and tapping a larger hole in the low post on the toe of the plane bed.
  5. The cutting iron is unmarked and is a thick tapered cutting iron. The cap iron is also unmarked.
  6. And probably most interestingly, the large brass cutting iron adjusting screw is stamped L. BAILEY & CO., BOSTON, which to my knowledge, has not been seen on any other vertical post planes (See Figure 10).
Stanley Model Shop No. 3 Size Vertical Post Plane Disassembled

Figure 9. Stanley Model Shop No. 3 Size Vertical Post Plane Disassembled

This unique stamp on the cutting iron adjusting knob suggests that the plane was made by Bailey in Boston just prior to the sale of his plane business to Stanley.  But the front knob with its flat head screw, the rear tote,  and the later style lever cap suggest that this plane was possibly  assembled by Leonard Bailey after he joined Stanley Rule & Level Company in 1869. Bailey constantly strove to improve his planes not only in terms of their function, but also in terms of ease of manufacture, so this may be what he had in mind with  this vertical post plane. It’s very conceivable that he brought this plane with him when he went to work for Stanley.

Vertical Post Brass Cutting Iron Adjusting Nuts, Production Model on the Left, Model Shop Version on the Right

Figure 10. Vertical Post Brass Cutting Iron Adjusting Nuts, Production Model on the Left, Model Shop Version on the Right

Maybe he hoped that Stanley might want to continue production of his vertical post planes. Or was this plane made at a later date by a workman at Stanley after Bailey left the employ of the Stanley rule & Level Company in 1874? Could Stanley have been considering re-introducing the Bailey vertical post plane at some point? All of these are possibilities, but without more information one can only speculate on the story behind this mysterious and unique vertical post plane from the Stanley Model Shop. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

By Paul Van Pernis

If your interested in more information about Leonard Bailey, an in-depth book co-authored by John G. Wells and Paul Van Pernis about Leonard Bailey and his woodworking planes will be released in a few months.

[1] When this plane was “liberated” from the Stanley Model Shop is not known, but the plane came to auction in the 38th International Antique Tool Auction on April 2, 2011, as lot #296.

The 2019 EAIA Annual Meeting – Put It On Your Calendar!

Early Image of the Mills at Lowell, MA

It’s time to start thinking about the 2019 EAIA Annual Meeting Wednesday, May 15th thru Saturday, May 18th, 2019!  We will be based at the Westford Regency Hotel in Westford, Massachusetts (  Room rates at the hotel are $125/night.  Come and join us for another great meeting full of great activities and great people.

Westford Regency Inn & Conference Center

Figure 1. The Westford Regency Inn & Conference Center in Westford, MA

On Thursday we’ll visit the Lowell National Historic Park (  The park is the site of the Boott Mills which were part of an extensive group of cotton mills built along an extensive series of canals town. The Boott Cotton Mills complex is the most intact and houses the Boott Cotton Mills Museum.  The History of Lowell is closely tied to its location along the Pawtucket Falls of the Merrimack River which provided water power for the factories that formed the basis of the city’s economy for a century. The city of Lowell was started in the 1820s as a money-making venture and social project referred to as “The Lowell Experiment”, and quickly became the United States’ largest textile center.

Boot Cotton Mill, Lowell, MA

Figure 2. The Boott Cotton Mill

The Merrimack Manufacturing Company opened a mill by Pawtucket Falls, that began weaving cotton in 1823. Within two years a need for more mills and machinery became evident, and a series of new canals were dug, allowing for even more manufacturing plants. With a growing population and booming economy, Lowell was named after Francis Cabot Lowell, and was officially chartered on March 1, 1826. By 1850, Lowell’s population was 33,000, making it the second largest city in Massachusetts and America’s largest industrial center. The 5.6-mile-long canal system produced 10,000 horsepower, to ten corporations with a total of forty mills. Ten thousand workers used an equal number of looms fed by 320,000 spindles. The mills were producing 50,000 miles of cloth annually.

Interior of the Boott Cotton Mill

Figure 2. Interior of the Boott Cotton Mill

Other industries developed in Lowell as well: The Lowell Machine Shop as well as other machines shops served the large number of weaving mills. Moxie which was created around 1876 by Dr. Augustin Thompson in Lowell, Massachusetts. originated as a patent medicine called “Moxie Nerve Food”. He claimed Moxie was especially effective against, “paralysis, softening of the brain, nervousness, and insomnia.”. In 1880, Lowell became the first city in America to have telephone numbers.

Uriah A. Boyden installed his first turbine in the Appleton Mill in Lowell in 1844. It was a major improvement over the old-fashioned waterwheel. The turbine was improved at Lowell again shortly thereafter by Englishman James B. Francis. Francis had begun his career in Lowell working under George Washington Whistler, the father of painter James Abbott McNeil Whistler, and his improved turbine, known as the Francis Turbine, is still used with few changes today. Francis also designed the Francis Gate, a flood control mechanism that provides a means of sealing the canal system off from the Merrimack River, and completed the canal system by adding the Northern Canal and Moody Street Feeder, both designed to improve efficiency to the entire system. We’ll get a first-hand look at the canal system and the turbines on a narrated boat tour of the canals.

Mill Worker's Tenements, Lowell, MA

Figure 3. The Mill Worker’s Tenement Buildings in Lowell, MA

The Lowell Mill Girls were young female workers who came to work in industrial corporations in Lowell, Massachusetts, during the Industrial Revolution in the United States. The workers initially recruited by the corporations were daughters of propertied New England farmers, typically between the ages of 15 and 35. By 1840, at the height of the Industrial Revolution, the textile mills had recruited over 8,000 women, who came to make up nearly three-quarters of the mill workforce.  While their wages were only half of what men were paid, many were able to attain economic independence for the first time, free from controlling fathers and husbands. As a result, while factory life would soon come to be experienced as oppressive, it enabled these women to challenge the then existing gender stereotypes. As the nature of the new “factory system” became clear, the Lowell Mill Girls joined the American labor movement.  In 1845, after a number of protests and strikes, many of the mill girls came together to form the first union of working women in the United States, the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association. The Association adopted a newspaper called the “Voice of Industry“, in which workers published sharp critiques of the new industrialism. The “Voice” stood in sharp contrast to other literary magazines published by female operatives, such as the “Lowell Offering“, which painted a much more sanguine picture of life in the mills. We’ll spend time at the Boott Mill, tour the canal system by canal boat, and visit the tenement houses where the Lowell Mill Girls lived.

The New England Quilt Museum

Figure 4. The New England Quilt Museum

We’ll also take the time to visit the New England Quilt Museum ( which is less than a block from the Boot Mill site. The New England Quilt Museum, founded in 1987, is the only museum in the Northeast solely dedicated to the art and craft of quilting. Their collections are strong in 19th century quilts, with a geographic focus on New England and the museum staff are planning a special display of their early quilts just for our group.

The New England Quilt Museum

Figure 5. The New England Quilt Museum

On Friday, we’re going to feature a wide-ranging series of hands on workshops, lectures, and demonstrations.   You’ll have a chance to try your hand at blacksmithing, rigid heddle loom weaving, cross stitching, 19th century candy making, and decorative plaster molding.  We’ll have a demonstration on bookbinding. More workshops and hands on activities are in the works so stay tuned.  You can take a tour of the Starrett factory and museum in nearby Athol, Massachusetts. You’ll get to see some very early Native American tools from the extensive collection at the Peabody Institute of Archeology ( and be able to try your hand at flint knapping. . You’ll hear about Civil War Soldier’s quilts.  We’ll be entertained at our banquet by Doctor and Doctor Noah (yes there are two) and their “Amazing Mechanical Magic Lantern Astronomic Slide Show.” Both the Fiber Interest Group and the Blacksmith’s Interest Group are helping to put together this meeting.

Bob Roemer's Forge

Figure 6. Interior of the Moses Wilder Blacksmith Shop Where the Blacksmithing Workshops Will Be Held

And of course, we’ll enjoy tailgating, our annual Whatsit’s session, the ice cream social, displays, and tool trading as well as the Silent Auction, our Annual Meeting, and Banquet. The theme for the displays is Fiber Arts Tools and Machine Tools.  So, start thinking about a display. They’re a great way to share your knowledge and some of your tools with the rest of us. The more displays the better! Also, don’t forget the Silent Auction.  Items donated by members help support EAIA’s annual budget.  Share your creative talents with the rest of us and bring an item or two for the auction.

Bill and Alyssa Rainford and Eileen and Paul Van Pernis are co-hosts for this meeting. Put the dates, May 15th thru May 18th on your calendar. Think about your display, and an item or two to donate to the Silent Auction.  Bring a friend or your family and come enjoy a great 2019 EAIA Annual Meeting in Massachusetts. Watch for more information about the 2019 Annual Meeting in Shavings and on the EAIA web site (

By Paul Van Pernis

EAIA’s BIG Sponsors Regional Meeting

The Blacksmith Interest Group (BIG) of EAIA held a regional meeting at the reconstructed Moses Wilder Blacksmith shop in Bolton, Massachusetts on July 28th.

The purpose of the meeting was to provide hands-on demonstrations and give participants an opportunity to try basic blacksmithing using coal forges. There were 30 participants which was the number that the shop and grounds could reasonably accommodate. The event lasted the entire day with demonstrations and presentations in the morning, followed by lunch and an afternoon of opportunity for participant forging with coaching from master smiths at one of the four available blacksmithing stations (forge, post vise, anvil and tools). The day ended with an hour or more of participants’ stories and networking about blacksmithing. The participants who were not already members were introduced to EAIA; several became members as a result.

The meeting started with a brief introduction to EAIA and the Moses Wilder blacksmith shop, the original of which was moved to Old Sturbridge Village in 1957 and an accurate reproduction built in the early 2000’s by the Roemers on the original foundation at their home.

Bob welcomes the participants to the event and provides introductory comments. (Photo – Marc Sitkin)

Derek Heidemann, Coordinator of Historic Trades at Old Sturbridge Village, demonstrated the forging of blacksmith’s tongs from a single piece of mild steel, first by forging jaws at either end, then diagonally slitting the piece to form the reins, and finally punching and riveting the hinge joint. Rob Lyon, Derek’s former mentor, was the “striker” for the project, an interesting reversal of roles.

Derek Heidemann holds a top swage while Rob Lyon, his striker, uses a sledge hammer to drive it to form one of the jaws of the tongs. (photo – Marc Sitkin)


Derek holds the slitting chisel while Rob Lyons drives the chisel through, splitting the bar into the two sides of a pair of tongs.


The audience watches Derek and Rob with rapt attention.


Derek holds up the partially split bar which shortly became the two pieces of the tongs.


The final forged and pinned tongs. They will be smoothed out further before use.

Dirk Underwood, Blacksmith and edge tool maker, demonstrated blade making from large coil springs. Dirk is well known in the area for his knives made from a wide range of materials and processes including lamination of chainsaw chain and ball bearing races!

Dirk at his portable forge on the lawn starting to form a knife blade from the alloy steel of a very large diameter industrial coil spring.


The blade undergoing the initial forging. (Photo – Marc Sitkin)


The final forged blade. The blade will be then ground, polished, and fitted with a handle. (Photo – Marc Sitkin)

Rob Lyon, the former Master Blacksmith at Old Sturbridge Village discussed early iron production from bog iron, a process that was very important to the trade and economy of New England in the 18th and 19th Centuries.

Rob explains how to differentiate steel and wrought iron. Each sample was partially cut through with a hacksaw. When they were broken at the saw kerf, the wrought iron (left hand) showed a very fibrous structure while the steel (right hand) appeared uniform and somewhat crystalline.  Pieces of bog iron are on the table.

Tom Kelleher, Historian and Curator of Mechanical Arts at Old Sturbridge Village, discussed the economic aspects of early blacksmithing using early account books and journals to illustrate the discussion. His talk was particularly interesting as it highlighted the use of “virtual money” to value transactions either in English pounds or American dollars even though very little actual cash changed hands. The talk also underscored the importance of bartering goods and services as well as the wide range of tasks of the typical rural blacksmith, often done in between tending for his farm which was often his primary source of food and income.

Tom explains the economics and financial transaction of 18th Century and early 19th Century blacksmiths, augmenting his talk with copies of day books and account books,

Bob & Max Roemer, owners of the reconstructed shop, demonstrated the use of a restored antique Champion tire and axle upsetter to shorten the circumference of an iron wagon tires which had come loose from road wear and/or shrinkage of the wooden parts of the wheels.

The behemoth Champion No. 1 tire shrinker and axle upsetter weighing in at about 870 lbs.! The hand wheel drives a large gear attached to an eccentric which drives two jaws with an enormous mechanical advantage.


A sample piece of wrought iron being upset as the two jaws are driven together by hand wheel, gears and the eccentric. The heated region is hammered to prevent buckling.

The meeting was considered a success at several levels. EAIA’s Blacksmith Interest Group looks forward to having a similar event for the 2019 EAIA Annual Meeting in Lowell, Massachusetts (May 16 – 18, 2019).  Please come join us, either as one interested in trying your hand at the forge or as a presenter/demonstrator.

Little-Known Anvil Makers

By Clayton Ray

Postman’s 1998 book, Anvils in America, is a landmark in the study of American anvils. He documented all of the major makers and many minor ones. It would, however, be too much to expect that he could have exhausted the subject, but not too much to suspect that some among the varied membership of EAIA might have knowledge of obscure brands, from advertising, brochures, catalogs, or other scattered contemporary sources. A few examples may serve to clarify the subject. All are late nineteenth or early twentieth century cast anvils.

Postman, page 140, recorded one “GEM” anvil but found no information on the maker. It is a cast iron anvil, unusual for its lugs for anchoring it, otherwise known almost exclusively on Fisher anvils.  My example is shown below.

Detail of “GEM” anvil with scale

Postman, pages 197-203, documented the American Star anvil, made in Trenton, NJ, the outstanding feature of which is its patented so-called “tempering cavity,” a cylindrical hole extending from the bottom well into the core of the anvil. The logo is a 5-pointed star centered on its right side.

Star was a popular logo and name of a wide variety of manufactured products, including one or more little-known anvils in addition to the American Star. Among these is the Swedish North Star brand, with a 5-pointed star. I have two anvils of about 100 lbs. each with embossed stars, about 2.5 inches in diameter, on the right side. These stars are unusual in being 6-pointed instead of the common 5-pointed stars. The only other mark is the weight on the front foot.

6-pointed star anvil. Although not very clear, the top scale on the ruler is in inches.


I have two anvils, one 8 lbs. and one 58 lbs., marked “U.S.A.” in large embossed letters on the right side. The letters are set in a recessed rectangle with rounded corners. They have hardy holes, but no pritchel holes.

Overall view of the anvil marked “U.S.A.”. Again. the top scale on the ruler is in inches.


Detail of the “U.S.A.” cast in the anvil.


Last, and to me most interesting, is an 18-lb. bench anvil, with no name, but with “chilled semi steel” in embossed letters along the right side near the bottom. Most unusual are swales on the underside, four linear crosswise and four circular, one at each corner.



18 lb. anvil with “CHILLED SEMI-STEEL” embossed on foot.


Detail of 18-lb anvil with embossed “CHILLED SEMI-STEEL” and swales evident on the underside.

Your help is needed in filling out information on these and many other obscure makers of U.S. anvils.

Clayton Ray

EAIA’s 85th Anniversary Annual Meeting Was A Great One!

Bling from the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

After over a week of heavy rain, the skies began to clear on Wednesday morning May 23rd in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania just in time for the tailgating activities in the Comfort Suites University Hotel parking lot, signaling the start of EAIA’s 85th anniversary Annual Meeting. It didn’t take long for the rather vigorous tool sales to begin.

Pat Lasswell ponders an early plow plane while Jane Rees and Tom Elliott watch, 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Pat Lasswell ponders an early plow plane while Jane Rees and Tom Elliott watch during the tailgating at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Everything from a spinning wheel, to planes, to hammers, to books, and even an early 5 key clarinet found new homes before the day was over.

Pam and Ron Howard are pleased to see Cory Warner reach for his wallet, 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting tailgating

Pam and Ron Howard are pleased to see Cory Warner reach for his wallet during the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting tailgating

The registration table was busy as 158 people signed in for the meeting including 21 first time attendees.  Registrants were thrilled to find the complimentary gifts in their registration packets, particularly the 11th in the series of commemorative medallions designed by EAIA member Tom Elliott and the beautiful limited edition “libella” produced specifically for this meeting by Lee Valley Tools.[1]  EAIA Board member Robin Lee’s generosity made sure that EAIA’s 85th anniversary Annual Meeting will be memorialized in grand style.

A first look at the Bethlehem Steel Stacks during the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

A first look at the Bethlehem Steel Stacks during the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Thursday morning the sun was out and the EAIA members in attendance left the hotel for a very busy day with tours of the Bethlehem Steel Works, the Moravian Museum, the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts and lunch in the Colonial Industrial Quarter. You can check all of these interesting sites out at,

Bethlehem Steel Stacks

The Bethlehem Steel Stacks

1848 fire engine named "Perseverance" at the Moravian Museum in Bethlehem, PA

1848 fire engine named “Perseverance” at the Moravian Museum in Bethlehem, PA

Lunch at the Luckebach Mill in the Colonial Industrial Quarter in Bethlehem, PA, 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Lunch at the Luckenbach Mill in the Colonial Industrial Quarter in Bethlehem, PA, during the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

It was a day filled with history, learning, new knowledge and camaraderie.  The Fiber Arts Interest Group met back at the hotel in the late afternoon for a presentation on “rug punching” presented by Becky Densmore.

The Fiber Interest Group meeting at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

The Fiber Interest Group meeting at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Members of this group also displayed their project from last year at Old Sturbridge Village, as well as other works in progress, and made plans for activities at the 2019 Annual Meeting.

Nell Semel, Eileen Van Pernis and Alice Roemer show off their "Cricket" covers they completed from the 2017 EAIA meeting at Old Sturbridge Village

Nell Semel, Eileen Van Pernis and Alice Roemer show off the “Cricket” covers they completed from the 2017 EAIA meeting at Old Sturbridge Village

Dianne Carpenter made sure that anyone who wanted some wonderful raw wool sheared from her own sheep went home with all they needed.

Dianne Carpenter and Nell Semel at the 2018 Fiber Interest Group gathering at the 2018 EAIA annual Meeting

Dianne Carpenter made sure anyone who wanted some got raw wool sheared from her own sheep to take home!

We convened after dinner at the National Museum of Industrial History just a few blocks from our hotel for the Ice Cream Social and “Whatsit’s” session.  While enjoying Moravian cake, Tandy cake and Shoofly pie as well as ice cream with all the toppings, EAIA member Bob Muhlbauer entertained us with his singing while accompanying himself on his Martin guitar (he’s really good!).

EAIA Member Bob Muhlbauer entertains EAIA members at the ice Cream Social during the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

EAIA Member Bob Muhlbauer entertains EAIA members at the ice Cream Social during the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting singing and playing his Martin Guitar

The museum had been closed to the public for our event and members had the opportunity to view the exhibits at their leisure. This relatively new Smithsonian affiliated museum (see  is located in a restored building on the Bethlehem Steel grounds and is well worth a visit if you’re in the Bethlehem area.

National Museum of Industrial History, Bethlehem, PA

National Museum of Industrial History, Bethlehem, PA

Terry Page and his crew once again did a fine job with the interesting “Whatsits” brought in by members.  We managed to figure out most of them at this always popular part of our annual meetings.

Whatsit's Session at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Whatsit’s Session at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Everyone went to bed tired but happy on Thursday night and were ready and raring to go again on Friday morning. We carpooled to nearby Nazareth, PA in the morning and visited the Moravian Historical Society Museum and then enjoyed a fascinating tour of the Martin Guitar Company.

Handwork at Martin Guitar, Nazareth, PA

Handwork at Martin Guitar, Nazareth, PA

Martin Guitar has been making beautiful handcrafted guitars and ukuleles in Nazareth since 1845. Many commented that this tour was “the best industrial tour” they’d ever taken ( The Martin Guitar Museum located at the factory is filled with fascinating exhibits and fabulous guitars.

The Martin Guitar Museum

The Martin Guitar Museum

Friday afternoon we enjoyed the sunshine and pleasant surroundings at the Jacobsburg Historical Society, home of the Pennsylvania Long Rifle Museum.

The Pennsylvania Long Rifle Museum

The Pennsylvania Long Rifle Museum

The wonderful all volunteer staff put on a fabulous program as we learned about the five generations of the Henry family who made long guns at the site.  The afternoon provided a relaxing time to view the Henry’s carriage house, the blacksmith shop, the boat shop, the summer kitchen, as well as the family museum and the Pennsylvania Long Rifle Museum.  This group of dedicated volunteers have made the Jacobsburg historical Society a great place to visit if you’re ever in the area (

Lunch at the Jacobsburg Historical Society, 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Lunch at the Jacobsburg Historical Society


The summer kitchen at the Jacobsburg Historical Society

The summer kitchen at the Jacobsburg Historical Society

Friday evening, many members enjoyed the face paced antique tool auction put on by Mike Urness and Sara Holmes of the Great Planes Trading Company.  It was another full day of learning and fun!

Walter Jacob's display at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Walter Jacob’s display at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

On Saturday morning the tool exchange started as soon as the doors open and we enjoyed 23 displays brought by members with the theme, “Tools that Cut and Tools that Measure.  The displays were varied and showed great ingenuity.

Charles William's display at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Charles William’s display at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Cheryl Fox's display at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Cheryl Fox’s display at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting


Roger Bourgeois display at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Roger Bourgeois’ display at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Many members also attended the Saturday morning workshops which included blacksmithing, a great lecture and tasting by Historic Bethlehem’s own beer historian.

Blacksmith at Historic Bethlehem in the Colonial Industrial Quarter

Blacksmith at Historic Bethlehem in the Colonial Industrial Quarter

We learned how to make Moravian stars, had a behind the scenes textile and doll house tour at the Kemerer Museum and even heard about the history and making of the Polly Heckewelder doll, the oldest continuously made doll in the U.S. But there was still more!  On Saturday afternoon, Henry Disston Jr. gave a wonderful lecture on the history of the Disston Saw Company.  At the conclusion of his talk Henry and his brother Michael paired up with Henry on his Martin Guitar while Michael played his Disston musical saw.

Michael Disston playing the musical saw while accompanied by jenry Disston jr. on his Martin guitar at the 2018 EAIA annual Meeting

Michael Disston playing the musical saw while accompanied by jenry Disston jr. on his Martin guitar at the 2018 EAIA annual Meeting

We also discovered that one of our own EAIA members, Tal Harris also plays the musical saw and we were treated to a wonderful spontaneous concert!

Saturday evening concluded with the always fun Silent Auction with items donated by EAIA members in attendance, with many of the items made by EAIA members.  All the money raised goes to support the EAIA budget and lots of people went home with one or more items from the auction.  Our banquet and Annual Meeting followed with good food, great conversation and fond farewells as the evening wound down.  The Lehigh Valley proved to be a great location for a memorable meeting to help celebrate EAIA’s 85th Anniversary!

We’ll meet again next spring in Lowell, Massachusetts May 15th thru May 18th 2019 for EAIA’s next Annual Meeting.  Mark those dates on your calendar and join us for a great time!

Historic Bethlehem's blacksmith discussing a classic moravian style hinge

Historic Bethlehem’s blacksmith discussing a classic Moravian style hinge

 Stay tuned for a picture gallery of the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting coming soon!

by Paul Van Pernis

Please check out this online photo gallery from the event which you can find here.

[1] A libella is a plumb level. The Assyrians and Egyptians were probably the first users of the libella.  It consists of an “A” shaped frame with a plumb line suspended from the apex that coincides with a mark on the lower crossbar when the instrument is level. Archeolo­gists are of the belief that the horizontal foundations of the great pyramids of Egypt were probably defined by using a libella. It was once a standard piece of equipment for the woodworker, carpenter, stone mason and surveyor. It can determine plumb and level, be used as a square and even serve as a ruler if needed. The modern toolbox has replaced the libella with three tools; a spirit level, a plumb bob and a framing square.

EAIA’s 2018 Annual Meeting Photo Gallery – 85 Years Young!

Moravian Architecture in Bethlehem, PA

The Lehigh Valley was a great place to celebrate the Early American Industry Association’s 85th Anniversary during our 2018 Annual Meeting!  Beautiful weather, fantastic historic sites and museums to visit, great workshops, ,demonstrations,tool trading, and member displays. All done while we enjoyed lots of learning, friendship and fun in and around Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  Watch the slide show below and enjoy the memories.  Can you find yourself?

Thanks to all of you for coming and special thanks to my co-hosts – David Lauer, David Pollak, and Eileen Van Pernis who helped make it all possible.  We hope to see all of you and many more EAIA members in Lowell, Massachusetts for the 2019 Annual Meeting May 15th thru the 18th, 2019!

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Stanley Model Shop Tools: A Transitional Furring Plane Prototype

This is the first of what is intended to be an occasional series describing some of the Stanley Model Shop tools in my collection and sometimes giving opinions and historical tidbits relating to them.  Many of the Model Shop tools are prototypes and, thus, are either one-offs or very limited production models.  Although information about a number of Model Shop tools has been published in journals such as The Chronicle, The Gristmill, and Fine Tool Journal and in various blogs, information about many others is not generally available to the tool collecting community.  I hope this series will help spread information about a few more of these very interesting tools.

Stanley maintained the Model Shop from the earliest times [1].  The Model Shop gave Stanley inventors an opportunity to try out new ideas and develop prototypes for new tools, to test prototypes and production parts, and to evaluate competitor’s products.  The Model Shop also stored prototypes for future reference.  Stanley actively solicited ideas for new tools from users at least as early as 1900 with the August 1900 Catalogue No. 26 stating on page 2 “We are frank to state that the design of many of the special tools which we show originated in the suggestions of our customers.  We are always pleased to receive suggestions from the tool-user.” [2]  I have heard, but I can’t remember where, that Stanley held regular Tuesday morning meetings to consider ideas and prototypes for production.

There were a number of authorized clean outs of obsolete prototypes, casting patterns, and other material from the Model Shop over the years with the largest happening in 1964 and 1974.  Typically, the removed materials were designated as “junk” and employees were allowed to take what they wanted.  This accounts for many of the prototypes seen today.

Many of the model shop tools share characteristics that differentiate them from production tools.  First, they are very limited production tools or one offs, some of which are unlike any regular production Stanley tools and some of which differ from regular production tools only in minor details.  Many Model Shop tools use mostly stock parts, but have specially made unique features.  The stock parts may be parts pulled off the production line or may be unfinished, imperfect, or seconds not of acceptable quality for sale.  Cutters may or may not be marked.  Lastly, many (but not all) of the Model Shop tools have Model Shop identifying marks painted or scratched on them, often in several places, or have tags identifying them as model shop prototypes.  Most of the identifying marks are numerical, although some are alpha-numeric.  These Model Shop marks don’t seem to have any particular chronological order and may have been put on at the whim of whoever was cataloging the prototypes that day.  Most Model Shop tags I have seen have dates which are useful for telling when the prototypes were made.

With that introduction, we now turn to the subject of this piece, a transitional furring plane prototype (Figure 1).  This is one of my favorite prototypes because of its simplicity and its self-documenting provenance.  As with many Model Shop planes, this one shows no signs of use.

Figure 1 Stanley prototype transitional furring plane

Figure 1 Stanley prototype transitional furring plane

The prototype is based on a regular production Type 10 (1893-1899) Stanley No. 35 transitional plane.  Features of Type 10 include an S casting mark on the lever cap, left hand threads on the adjusting nut, three patent dates on the lateral lever, and a STANLEY / PAT AP’L 19 92 stamp on the cutter.  The stamp on the cutter is quite weak on this example.  The patent date refers to Edmund A. Schade’s Patent No. 473,087 “Plane Iron” of that date for placing the large hole in the iron at the bottom of the slot in the iron rather than at the top as had been done previously on Stanley bench planes.

Although the patent for the “Schade slot” was not issued until 1892, Stanley had been producing and marketing the feature in 1890 [3] [4].  These dates became important because features made publicly available more than two years before the patent was granted rendered the patent void.  Among others, the Ohio Tool Company copied the large hole at the bottom of the iron (Ohio Tool used a hexagonal hole rather than a round one).  Stanley sued for patent infringement with the trial beginning in 1901.  Ohio Tool asserted that the low hole was a prior invention available to any company.  The court agreed with Ohio Tool, noting that the patent was an obvious solution to a simple problem, and Stanley lost the case.

Edmund A. Schade was born August 29, 1855, in Saxony Germany [4].  The family immigrated to America about 1864 and Edmund apprenticed in the Sargent & Company machine shop prior to 1873, when he was employed by Stanley Rule & Level Company.  Shortly thereafter he rose to foreman of his department and by 1900 became Mechanical Superintendent and remained so until his death in 1932, ending a 59 year career with Stanley.  The April 19, 1892, plane iron patent was Schade’s first known plane related patent.  Other notable Stanley plane patents by Schade include the design patent for the No. 20 circular plane (1893), patents for the No. 55 combination plane (with Justus Traut, 1895), the early Bedrock plane frogs (1895), the tilt handles on the No. 85 and 10 ¼ planes (with his brother Albert, also employed by Stanley, 1905), the new style Bedrock planes (1911), brass bushings and machine screws to secure the frog on transitional planes(1912), Gage iron planes (1920), the design patent for the No. 144 plane (1925), and the patents for the No. 164 plane (1927) and Ready Edge Blades (1927).

Returning to the prototype furring plane, it was made by modifying the sole of a No. 35 plane.  As can be seen in Figure 1, Figure 2, and Figure 3 the sole has been by hollowed out ahead of and behind the mouth, leaving small bearing surfaces at the mouth and heel (the purpose of the two small bearing surfaces is to allow the plane to follow the contours of rough sawn lumber when planing the “fur” off rather than to produce the flat surface that typical smooth planes produce).  Figure 3 shows that the hollowing out at the toe was not done very carefully; the cut is slanted across the toe of the plane.  Figure 3 also clearly shows the markings on the nose of the plane:  the Model Shop number 3706 and STANLEY / RULE & LEVEL COMPANY / NO. 35 with the last line being cut in half. 

Figure 2 View of sole of prototype plane

Figure 2 View of sole of prototype plane

Figure 3 Detail of nose of plane

Figure 3 Detail of nose of plane

Details of the markings on the sole of the plane are shown in Figure 4.  I have observed the I15 mark on other Model Shop prototype planes.  Its significance is unknown to me.  The sole behind the mouth also contains the signatures of E. R. Van Vleck and Boyer Lilpho(?) and the date March 26 / 04.  The toe of the sole is signed “Made April 9/04 by E. A. Schade.”  I have seen other examples of Schade’s signature and this appears to be in his hand.  It is interesting that Schade, who claims creation of this prototype, signed it two weeks after the other two.  E. A. Schade has been discussed above, but the identities of E. R. Van Vleck and Boyer Lilpho(?) are unknown to me.  Were they employees of the Model Shop or did they have other positions with the Stanley Rule and Level Company?  If anyone knows, let me know.

Figure 4 Details of markings on sole

Figure 4 Details of markings on sole

The date this prototype was made raises a question about its intended purpose.  It was made more than a year after Jefferson Allen’s “Plane” Patent No. 721,771 of March 3, 1903, but before the cast iron bodied Stanley No. 340 furring plane was marketed in 1905 (Figure 5) [5].  Was this intended to be a quick and dirty prototype of the No. 340 or did Stanley consider making a transitional furring plane.  If the latter, one suspects that the time of consideration must have been very brief because the wood sole of the plane with its small bearing surfaces near the mouth and heel would have worn away very quickly when used on rough lumber.

Figure 5 Stanley No 340 furring plane

Figure 5 Stanley No 340 furring plane

It should be noted that the transitional prototype furring plane and the production No. 340 plane resemble the plane shown in Allen’s patent (Figure 6) only in broad concept.  The patent states “This invention has for its object the production of a novel plane in which the cutting edge of the plane-iron is situated some distance below the sole of the stock, whereby the plane may operate upon portions of the surface to be planed which are below the level of the higher portions thereof.…  [S]ince the sole of the plane is above the level of the surface being operated upon it is possible to plane or smooth the depressed portions in the surface.… My improved plane is especially useful in such operations as smoothing up the boards of a floor.… My improvement is of such a character that it may be applied to any type of plane.”

The primary feature of the plane is “a gage rib [6 in Figure 6] which extends across the sole thereof adjacent the mouth through which the cutting edge of the plane-iron projects. Preferably this gage-rib will be constructed to be detachably secured to the plane, so that the plane can be used with or without it, as desired.”

The plane also features a detachable nose piece (nose-plate) (8 in Figure 6) and a rocking support toward the rear of the body (13 in Figure 6):  “I have herein illustrated said rib as being formed integral with a nose-piece 8, which is detachably secured to the front end of the plane, whereby said nose-plate and rib may be removed whenever it is desired to use the plane in the ordinary [w]ay…. I will also preferably provide the heel of the plane with a detachable half round or semispherical projection 13 to form a sort of rocking support for the plane when my improvements are applied thereto. This rocking support provides means whereby the plane may be regulated slightly to better accommodate it to uneven surfaces.”

Figure 6 Jefferson Allen's “Plane” Patent No. 721,771

Figure 6 Jefferson Allen’s “Plane” Patent No. 721,771

The Model Shop prototype furring plane (Figure 1) and the production No. 340 furring plane (Figure 5) resemble each other closely in concept and design and are a great simplification of the rather complicated design described in Allen’s patent. Allen promotes his plane as “especially useful in such operations as smoothing up the boards of a floor” while Stanley recommends the No. 340 plane “[f]or preparing lumber as it comes roughly sawed from the mill.  The construction is such that it will remove the fur, grit, dirt, etc., and in fact “clean up” the surface and get it ready for the bench plane quicker than any other hand tool.” [6]

If you have additional information or comments about this or other Stanley Model Shop prototypes, please contact me at or reply to this blog.  I look forward to hearing from you.


[1] C. Blanchard, “The Stanley Model Shop or Barrel Days,” Fine Tool Journal, vol. 50, pp. 22-23, Fall 2000.

[2] Stanley Rule and Level Company Catalogue No. 26, August, 1900.

[3] J. Walter, Antique & Collectible Stanley Tools, Guide to Identity & Value, Marietta, Ohio: The Tool Merchant, 1996, p. 806.

[4] R. K. Smith, Patented Transitional & Metallic Planes in America–Vol. II, Athol, MA: Roger K. Smith, 1992, pp. 224-229.

[5] J. Walter, Antique & Collectible Stanley Tools, Guide to Identity & Value, Marietta, Ohio: The Tool Merchant, 1996, pp. 457, 809.

[6] Stanley Tools Catalogue No. 110, 1911, p. 38.