I have never understood why such quality planes do not demand a
high price on the old tool market. A month ago I paid $10.00 for
the handled smoother at auction with about 60 tool dealers and
collectors present. I paid less than that for each of the other
Lignum vitae smooth planes were associated with wooden ship
building and their shape departs from British and American
Most have Lignum vitae bodies and some softwood for wedges.
Lignum vitae wood was imported from the Caribbean and the south
coast of Africa for use in making dead eyes, belaying pins, a
blocks, as well as other parts, for wooden sailing ships.
The U.S.S Constitution sports such fittings as well as many
other ships. Since Lignum vitae was common in shipyards,
craftsmen made tools, especially planes and mallets, out of it.
I have never seen one of these smoothers with a commercial
manufacturer's imprint. All three of my planes have extremely
high quality cutters in them and I was delighted to find a
Moulson Brothers blade in the handled one.
The blade and cap iron were seized in the throat of the handled
smoother and I had to work at length to free it and carefully
relieve the wedge slots to allow it to freely slide into the
Lignum vitae has natural oil in it and after 150 years the soles
still easily glide over a workpiece.
James E. Price
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