• Richard Arnold

Musings from the bench.

28/06/20 Early 18th century bench plane design.

Why do I prefer an off set tote, and does it make any difference? Up until the beginning of the 19th century, bench planes tend to have their totes off set and this is a design feature I chose to use myself. When we plane wood at the bench we are obviously not standing directly behind our plane, or the workpiece, so in the case of a right handed person, our right hand is forced across the bench. I feel that the off set of the tote helps to give a better posture while planning, and overall gives a more relaxed feel in the upper body. At first you may imagine moving it a mere 1/2" or so from centre would make very little difference, but if you try the extreme, and move it the other way, i.e. use a left hand plane, the effect is extreme, and feels most uncomfortable.



Fore planes.

One of the most fundemental, and basic tasks an unplugged woodworker is the initial preparation of the wood itself, and for me, the one go to tool for this task is a fore plane. I was just looking at some old photos of a fore plane build and it struck me what a simple uncomplicated tool it actually is. When you break it down into it's individual components, there are only four (five if you add a strike button).


26/06/20 Moulding plane by Francis Purdew?

This early 10 1/2" moulding plane is a bit of a mystery, and a conundrum. The plane was purchased at auction, and was once part of the late David Russell collection. The plane has the makers mark of Robert Wooding of London (1705-1739), but when I first saw the plane at the auction viewing, I immediately thought it was more likely to be the work of Francis Purdew (1704 -), and on close inspection I realised that Purdew's distinctive oval mark could just be made out on the side of the plane. The plane also has it's original iron by Thomas Hildik of Rushsall, Warwickshire. These irons often crop up in planes by Purdew, and Wooding. It has been suggested in the past that there may have been some collaboration between these two makers, so my initial thought was that perhaps the plane had been made in Purdew's workshop, and then retailed by Wooding. The problem with this hypothesis is that this could be an example of a plane that as we now know, some unscrupulous dealer who didn't spot the Purdew mark, may have took the plane to be a nice early unmarked example and added the Wooding mark, so, at the time, greatly increasing it's value. This is one of the reasons I find this practice so abhorrent as If this is a genuine double marked plane it would be of great historical interest in relation to the beginnings of plane making, but because of this unscrupulous practice we may never know the real truth of the matter.

103 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All