As I began getting into more
traditional woodworking, and reading a lot of stuff
about what tools to get, I decided that I needed a
So, I went into research mode and
tried to find out what I should buy.
A lot of the books I was
reading talked about the fancy screw arm wooden planes,
which were often said to be the most decorated and coveted
tools in a workman’s tool chest.
"The Office of the Plow is, to plow a narrow square
on the edge of a Board", Joseph Moxon, 1694.
Later, Stanley tried to take
over the market with their highly sought after 45’s and
other combination planes. These also were quite fancy tools
that a workman would have been proud to have in his
possession. These days there are even modern manufacturers
that sell beautiful screw arm plow planes.
But what of the lowly, simple
wedge arm plow plane? They are a simpler form to be sure,
and are cheaper to manufacture. Would buying one of these be
like buying a moped instead of a Harley? Joseph Moxon
describes a wedged plow plane in his Art of the Joinery from
the late 1600’s, as does his French contemporary Andre Roubo
in his work, “To Make as Perfectly as Possible.”
So with the endorsement of
Moxon and Roubo, I felt better about buying a wedge arm
plane, if I found one. The final issues for me, and the ones
that ultimately led my decision were cost and condition.
the screw arm planes that were in my price range had really
messed up screw threads, and I was not interested in a
repair job like that. One benefit to shopping for wedge arm
plane became readily apparent. If the wedges are missing
they are much easier to replace than chewed up screw
And so it was, that I found a
nice little wedge arm plane at an antique dealer one day for
It was missing all the irons,
except for a rounded iron the dealer had found. I fell in
love with it and vowed to bring it back to life. It has no
maker’s marks on it and a face that only a mother could
Ok, well I actually think it’s
a pretty good looking plane, and it seems to be of pre 1850
British origin. It was obviously used a lot, which told me
it must have been a good plane.
Luckily, all the wedges were
present; the pressure fit depth stop was there, and it had
potential. I was also able to find some suitable irons on
eBay, a mixed lot, but they work.
I used a bench plane to flatten
the fence where it had been worn, and also squared the fence
to the arms. I then oiled and waxed the wooden portions of
the plane and cleaned the rust off the metal skate.
It turns out the mortise that houses the blades was only
1/2” wide and the only blades I could find were 5/8”. So I
modified the throat of this plane slightly to allow for the
5/8” blades to slide in.