Friday, July 25, 2008

Carriagemaker Planes

I am NOT a tool collector*.

At right is a photo of all my antique tools. Rather paltry when compared with some folks’ stockpiles. I love antique tools, but I only buy ones that I plan to refurbish and use.


Every so often
, I come across a little beauty that begs to come home with me, regardless of whether or not I’ll ever use it. One such tool is this carriagemaker—also, coachmaker— plough plane (photos 3-5) that I purchased from Lee Richmond at The Best Things. A friend who knows way more about antique tools than I do, reckoned it was 18th c. because of the wedged, rather than screw, arms.

The more ornate and unusual carriagemaker planes (such as those in the second photo**), at least from my limited antique tool shopping experience, are hard to find. And the only information I’ve ever found about the planes have come from short paragraphs in a few ww books and articles.

The one I bought isn’t very fancy, but other carriagemaker planes are among the most exquisite planes I’ve ever seen. Those are the ones I can’t afford. One such plane is the Falconer Plough Plane, of which only 3 or 4 exist. I witnessed one being sold at auction a year ago for $33,000.

The skate on my plough plane is shorter than a regular plough plane because carriagemakers worked primarily with curves. The thumbscrew works the depth stop. The blade has little “wings” that I’m guessing act as nickers, but someone correct me if I’m wrong. Because of the thin width of the blade, I’m also surmising it was used to cut grooves for inlay.

The only other carriagemaker tool I have is a little router (last photo) that cuts a delicate profile. Again, it came home with me because I liked the look and feel of it. But, you never know....maybe I’ll build a carriage someday and I can reinforce my claim of being a tool user, not collector.

*I do not mean to imply that there is anything wrong with tool collecting.
** Photo is from Sandor Nagyszalanczy's book "Tools: Rare and Ingenious".