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Infill Planes


Plane of the Week with Ryan Sparreboom

  Unique Carved Plane 2 of 2  

On the side of the plane are rows of simply carved “pips.” In a book The Art of Fine Tools, author Sandor Nagyszalanczy shows a large cooper’s plane with the same carved “pips” and writes that they “...may have offered the user a better grip.” (Nagyszalanczy, 2000, p. 171). Interestingly, that plane also features a Christian themed carving on its side.

Looking closer at the photo above reveals three layout lines marked on the side of the plane. Two lines mark the angle for the wedge mortice and the third the front of the mouth. What is interesting about these lines is that planemaker put them there after completion of the carving. This order indicates that the carving was done before the wedge mortice and mouth were cut, and thus, before the block of wood was made into a plane. One explanation for this is that the carving was done by a different person than the plane maker, and for some reason, done first.

This plane is either German or Austrian origin. I believe the iron is original to the plane, and it is Austrian. The mark reads Franz Wertheim of Wien (German for Vienna). Wertheim was a tool manufacturer in the 1840’s before he had a large sum of money stolen from him. He then focused on developing and making safes. The Wertheim Company still manufactures high-end safes today.

This plane has a cambered iron and a slightly convex sole. It also has a very wide mouth indicating that its use is for coarse work. Below, I put the plane to work scrubbing a small board and it works very well.

We can learn a lot from studying planes such as this one, but some things remain left to the imagination. One can safely conclude that the maker or owner of this plane was a religious man and perhaps worked on fancy wooden church pews or altars with such a plane.

That is what is so intriguing about tool collecting. We may never know the exact use or history of a tool, but research and a little imagination can take us on a long journey.

This little plane is a unique addition to my collection and an interesting piece of tool history.

Ryan Sparreboom
April 09, 2018


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