Preston Irish Pattern Chariot Planes
The Preston name has long been associated with quality early
English toolmaking. Founded in 1825 and continuing until 1932,
the business recorded more than 25 patents and 35 registered designs.
The early years focused on wooden plane, rule and level manufacture.
By 1865, Edward Preston Junior joined his father's business
and the company started producing a variety of metal tools and
castings that won it the respect of other English toolmakers.
Its metal products exemplified superb design elements and the
distinctive Victorian embellishments found on some may never
be replicated. Today, some of the more practical designs are
being successfully copied by other tool companies, more than 100
years later. The Preston firm was located in Birmingham, unlike
most of the other metal-trade manufacturers, which were established
The Irish Pattern Chariot, as described in the 1909 Preston
catalog, was technically a bevel-up block plane, but was classed
as a chariot. It's clear that conventionality was tossed aside
when it was categorized as Irish; whether this was an advertising
gambit, a product of innovative marketing research, some sly
humor, or the result of numerous Irish customers asking for
such a tool will never be known. The accepted and usual length
of a chariot plane is in the 3-1/2" to 6" range. In
this case, the length advertised in the catalog is 7-1/2"
long with a 1-3/4" wide blade. With its swept-back sides,
the intention of the design, in some way, may have been to replicate
the look of an early Roman chariot, hence the name. The large
wedge placed between the sides gives a place for the hand to
rest. The plane was advertised as having an adjustable insert
mouth and came in two versions, malleable iron and bronze. The
recessed areas of the malleable iron version were usually painted.