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Plane of the Week with Ryan Sparreboom

  Mathieson in March - Part 3 1 of 4  

Alex Mathieson and his son Thomas built a successful business over a long period. The foundation of that success was a company started by Alex Mathieson. Over time their expansion was supported by the acquisition of other Scottish planemakers.

One of these businesses, headed by David Malloch and acquired by Mathieson in 1913 has an interesting thread connecting to the first business acquired by Mathieson in 1849 - the James and William Stewart Company.

I mentioned briefly at the end of last week's article that the Stewarts employed David Malloch in their planemaking shop. It appears that Malloch left the Stewarts in 1849 and took over the business of John McGlashan, another Scottish planemaker.

John McGlashan started his business in Perth, Scotland, in 1827. Perth is a city in central Scotland, approximately 67 km north of Edinburgh.

McGlashan was listed as a “Wright’s Toolmaker,” similar to David Arthur, whom we also discussed in last week’s article. Between 1837 and 1848 he was also described as a “toolmaker,” “planemaker,” and “tool manufacturer.” Between years of 1827 and 1849, he was listed at four different locations in Perth. In 1849, at the age of 55, John McGlashan passed away.

Here is the bridle plough (plow) plane made by John McGlashan sometime between 1827 and 1849.

The bridle plow plane is a remarkable design. We do not know who invented or first made the bridle style plow plane. Keeping the fence of the plow plane straight and parallel to the skate and the cutting iron is a task not always easily achieved on plow planes with wedged or screw style arms.


With either style, the fence can end up skewed to the skate, resulting in an inaccurate cut. It often requires the use of a ruler or a setup block to set it accurately. The bridle plow plane takes this error out of the equation.

With the bridle, named after a horse bridle, the fence is controlled to be parallel to the plane. In this particular model made by McGlashan, the arms of the plane have a V-shaped bottom in which the fence, with V-shaped grooves, is guided.


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