Saturday, January 9, 2010
Curious Rabbet Plane
This funky little rabbet plane arrived in the mail the other day. I saw it last week on eBay, and though I really didn't need it, there was something quirky about it that I liked. So I put in a low ball bid and won.
The first thing I noticed when I got my hands on it was that not all the decorative surface line carvings were actually carved. Some of them were drawn on in ink. And some were actually joints in the wood. Huh?
A closer look revealed that the top was composed of three layers of wood laminated together. The center layer is an extension of the bottom of the plane. I don't think you can see that in the following pictures, so you're just going to have to trust me:
So the body of this plane is really made of six separate pieces of wood. The lower section with the attached upper center layer was cut into two parts to create the mortise for the iron. Then the two cheeks were attached and the two parts of the sole "boxing" were added. For some reason I thought laminated planes were a relatively new idea. Hmm.
I also discovered that the "boxing", which I first thought was purpleheart, was in fact some strange material. Bakelite? Masonite? I'm not sure.
Here are a couple of shots of the throat area of the plane. You can clearly see the glue lines where the separate pieces of wood (birch?) are laminated:
At 8 1/2" long, it's shorter than my other rabbet planes, but works great after I sharpened the iron. With no maker's mark or owner's marks, it's hard to judge the age. My feeling is that it is on the old side, although the laminated construction is confusing. All my other rabbet planes are made from a single piece of wood. But, I did just see another old rabbet plane on eBay which looked like it might also be of laminated construction (and it too had a "boxed" sole), so maybe laminated rabbet planes are an old tradition and I just never noticed them before? And I did see a plane with very similar surface markings that also had a "Germany" stamp on it, so maybe this is European?
Overall, it's a nice little plane that arouses my curiosity. Anyone have any insights or ideas on this? I'd love to hear them.