• Richard Arnold

A plane from our "fore" fathers, to a "Jack" of all trades. Part 2

I now want to discuss how the changes may have occurred from the very early 18th, up to the middle of the 19th century.

My own opinion is that the economics of production had a big part in this transformation. The first thing to disappear was probably the stepped round topped wedge. From my own experience of making both types of wedge, the former will take me well over half an hour to form, whereas the simple tapered square type can be made in a fraction of that time. It is the same with the tapering of the main stock. Remove this feature and again a good deal of time can be saved.

The round topped iron eventually also disappeared by about 1800, again this was most likely down to production costs.

The only thing that I have yet to resolve is why the offset tote became obsolete. Having spent some considerable time using both forms, the offset pattern seems far more superior.

I have a theory that the length of a jack plane settled at around 17" as it became more of a universal plane, especially when it became coupled with a double iron. I have often wondered if the phrase "Jack of all trades" may have some link to this.

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