Monday, September 19, 2011

The mystery No 7 Stanley Plane.

What a beautiful plane!

I had been looking for another No7 Jointing plane for my group participants to use. I came across one at my local markets recently, which I snapped up for AUD $50. A good price for a "user"- but there was something about this plane which seemed odd, and I just couldn't put my finger on it at the time. There were several indicators which told me this was an old plane.

Stanley bought the patents for the adjustable metal plane from Leonard Bailey in the 1860s. The name Bailey was later cast into the plane bases in front of the knob in honour of Mr Bailey. The name Stanley does not appear anywhere on the plane, except for on the plane iron. The iron (blade) lettering says it was made in Australia by Stanley. The Stanley Works in Australia was located in the southern state, Tasmania.

By digging around on the internet across a range of sites, I was able to put together a few clues as to the age of the plane. While I can't claim to be 100% accurate, I reckon the following information is pretty close to the mark.  It may be of interest to you. I am always fascinated with old tools and the stories behind them. Of course, there is no way of knowing that all the parts are the original! Hence it is worth checking out a range of attributes of this mystery plane. Let's have a close look at it...
There are three patent dates on the plane base:
March-25-02; August-18-02; April-19-10.

The frog design and the frog receiver cast and machined on the plane base was Stanleys third design, and was patented in 1902. This type was made between 1902 and the end of WWII. The first two dates relate to this improved design patent.
The third patent date was added to plane bases made between 1910 and 1918.

There is a low profile front knob.

Stanley started making the tall knob we are most familiar with about 1920, so this plane dates sometime before that.

The blade is laminated.
The laminated blades were made for decades right up to WWII. That piece of steel laminated onto the cutting end of the blade is incredibly hard! Re-grinding the bevel on my wet stone grinder took forever. Stanley called these "composite" blades. This one is of the version where the entire end of the blade was of the hard steel, rather than a thin layer bonded to the lower end of the normal steel of the plane iron.

The lever cap has a key-hole shaped hole.
During the 1930s, the lever cap was re-designed and patented, from the key-hole shape to the kidney shape.
That dates this lever cap before then.

So what is the verdict? The plane was made between 1910 and 1918. Is the iron the original one? Not sure - but I reckon everything else is original.

While I knew it was old when I spotted it at the markets, there was something odd about this plane. When I got it home, I worked it out - when I put it next to my No7 (which was given to my Dad by his Father in 1945 when Dad started his Carpentry/Joinery apprenticeship.) Bingo!

The US made Stanley No7 in the background, and the "sawn off" No7 in the foreground.

The mystery No7 was over 3 inches shorter than the other No7! I can only assume the plane was dropped on its tail at some stage, and the cast iron base has snapped across the tail. The owner did a fantastic job of re-shaping the end, just behind the "No 7" cast on the base. Such a good job that I didn't pick it. It's a bit short! That's why there was something odd about it... but it is still an absolute beauty to use!
Henceforth it shall be known as the "Sawn-off Seven".

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Another Fantastic Earthcarer's Program.

A recent Saturday was a big day but a great day. I had been lined up to run two workshops with a whole bunch of Earthcarers, in the big shed at Perth City Farm. There were 20 places in the morning session, making Kitchen Chopping Boards, and 20 places in the afternoon session, Carving Wooden Spoons - and all 40 places had been filled ahead of the event. I don't usually work with groups that big, and pulling together the extra benches, tools and materials was a huge job. Aah, but we created some wonderful stuff!

Peg warms up the morning group as they gather with anticipation.
Earthcarers are keen recyclers, and the purpose of the program was four fold:
  1. To help the participants learn about trees, understand about wood, and appreciate the importance of wood as a low-energy renewable recyclable sustainable carbon-sequestering material.
  2. To help the participants understand the potential of "waste" wood and its usability.
  3. To empower the participants with some basic skills to be able to utilise some "waste" wood.  
  4. To discover the joy of wood and woodworking, while being creative and having fun.  
Morning Workshop:  Kitchen Chopping Boards from "Waste" Wood.

The proud makers of two chopping boards - One of highly figured jarrah (formerly a piece of hanger beam) and the other of european oak (formerly a piece of pallet).

Nice wood! A lovely board made from Silky Oak - once part of a discarded bookcase.

Delicious board made from european oak - another piece of that pallet. 

Once a piece of pine crate from New Zealand - the mechanically imprinted APSM 15 Mark here cleverly utilised.

Unknown tropical hardwood from a packing crate - now a very nice board.

A beautiful jarrah board taking shape - previously a piece of pergola timber.

Another good lookin' piece of recycled jarrah.
That was just a sample ... so many great chopping boards created from "waste" wood. For many it was the  first time they'd used saws and planes. That was the whole idea - to learn about wood, learn how to utilise it with some basic tool use, and to get excited about the possibilities each piece of wood offers. 

Afternoon Workshop: Wooden Spoons from "Waste" Wood.

There's something wonderful about hand making wooden spoons. Each person needs to establish a working relationship between themselves, the tools and the piece of timber. As you are shaping the wood from so many directions in relation to the grain, with a range of different tools, it is a great way to learn to work with the grain rather than against it. For each person it is an individual journey. For first time woodworkers, it is rare that the finished spoon is just as the maker envisaged or planned at the beginning of the process. Lots of things happen along the way which bring about design changes on the run!  However, the resulting spoons are fantastic expressions of their creator and their journey with the tools and their chosen piece of timber. The makers are normally very very proud of their spoons.

WA Blackbutt makes such beautiful spoons. This piece once lined the ceiling of a bathroom!
Each wonderful spoon is designed and crafted by it's creator. There's plenty to smile about!

A spokeshave is used to shape the back of the spoon bowl. Using all hand tools, you can feel, hear, and smell the wood responding to the tools. It's talking to you all the time. Listen and engage...
A great number of beautiful spoons were made that afternoon. I didn't get many pictures of the finished products, but the beaming smiles on the faces of the participants remain etched on my mind.

There are a few more EarthCarers out there now who have had a small taste of the joy of wood. 

...Yeah, I just love doing this stuff!