My first blog post


By Jeffrey W. Warner


Anyone who has started research into the history and development of British metal planes will very soon begin to realize that some extremely challenging and awkward questions need to be answered before any further progress can be made.

I started to compile material for this book in about 2004 although I had hoped someone else would have done something in the years following the publication of Rodger K Smiths pioneering works on USA made metal planes ‘Patented and Transitional Metallic Planes in America Volumes I & II’, published from 1981 however, nothing about metal planes made in the UK, containing any depth of research, had surfaced.

One of the challenging and awkward questions referred to, was that, surprisingly, there were very few patents or design registrations taken out for English made metal planes and if any are found, they mostly occur after all the major developments had already taken place empirically, without recourse to these institutions, there was very little to research to be found, in this direction.

There are however, a few books about the British made wooden woodworking planes, which were generally made by apprenticed trained or Guilded makers. Nothing like this happened with the makers of metal planes, they had to find their own methods of producing workable tools, useful to those craftsmen who used them. Consequently very little evidence of any kind of ‘paper trial’ was left for anyone to research.

Where possible I have used available research resources and have spent many a happy day in London at the British Library, British newspaper Library (now moved), National Archives, London Metropolitan Archives, Family Records office (now closed), the London Guildhall, Lambeth Local studies, and a few other holders of researchable material. But none of this mountain of paperwork really gave me a true picture of who was actually making and buying these planes.

Some other awkward questions are apparent, even to the novice collector, especially if they have managed to find a rebate, chariot or shoulder plane in good condition, questions like what was this plane used for? Why if this plane is a hundred and fifty years old is there very little wear? Who would have paid almost a week’s wages for a plane he never used? In these books I do not profess to have the concise answers to all these questions, but all I can do is put forward the best possible educated guess.

Over the previous 15 years I have pondered on the lives of these makers and recorded the evidence left in the form of the metal planes themselves to tell this story. In these four volumes I have set out to do justice to this intriguing subject hopefully coming to conclusions, it would be difficult to argue against.

The history of metal planes, by its very nature is subjective and is open to reinterpretation, especially in light of yet to be discovered reference material. Perhaps a family has some unknown important information about their ancestor, which could change the whole section on that particular person, time will tell. After many dedicated years of research this is the best interpretation I can do at this time. I hope at least some of the information herein the pages of my books, will hit the target and give food for further research. In this blog I hope to be able to answer any questions you have about how and when these British metal planes came to be, and a little of who made them. These books are printed and published in full colour by YOUCAXTON Publications.