The innovations and inventions of
the Edward Preston and Sons Company of Birmingham, England
are some of the most remarkable in the history
of tool making.
Edward Preston began as a plane
maker reportedly in 1825 but was first listed in a Birmingham
directory in 1833. Over the next 100 years, Preston and his
following generations built an impressive legacy of tool making.
By the end of the 19th century, Preston was a leader in
innovation in tool making. With no less than 26 individual
patents and 37 registered designs, Edward Preston was one of the
most enterprising toolmakers and designers in Europe at that
The No. 2500P “Preston Patent
Adjustable Iron Grooving or Depthing Router Plane” as it was
advertised, was designed under Patent No. 17792 in 1910. As
such, it did not make it into the famous 1909 Preston Catalogue
No. 18 (reprinted in 1995) but was offered as an available tool
in the 1912 amendment to the same catalog.
The 2500P (P was for plated as the
entire tool is nickel plated) was an improvement on the Preston
No. 1399P, which was patented in 1907. The Preston catalogs list
three improvements over its predecessor: An adjustable milled
head screw pin and lock in front of the cutter, An adjustable
sliding front, and left and right-handed moveable fences. Let’s
have a look at the features of this remarkable and finely
The “adjustable milled head screw
pin and lock nut” can be seen in the photo above as the large
threaded vertical post (pin) on the left.
The knurled lock nut is near the
bottom of this post just above the plate and locks the pin into
position. When the lock nut is backed off, this pin can be
adjusted up or down to any depth. When set to the same depth of
the cutting iron, it provides downward pressure on the wood
fibers in front of the cutter, the same as the bed in front of
the mouth on a bench plane would. The bottom of this pin and its
relationship with the cutting iron we can see in the photo
The second feature, the “adjustable sliding
front,” allows for the movement of this pin to be closer or
farther from the cutting edge of the iron. In the catalog,
Preston cites that this feature can also be used to compensate
for the wear of the cutting iron.