Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 6, Issue 6
   July 2012
 
   From the Collection
 

Birmingham Planes

Birmingham Planes

It has been said that having one of a particular item is decorative, having two can be pleasing to the eye, but any more than that constitutes a collection. In the woodworking world, there has been much debate between users and collectors as to the importance and validity of the preservation of older tools. It is easy to get caught up in the acquisition of woodworking planes, in this case, because of the never-ending variation of types that were produced by certain manufacturers. That said — you have our assurance that the planes shown here were obtained for research purposes only and Lee Valley has not fallen into the trap of collecting just to have the biggest or the best pile. I also have it on good authority that in the future, there will be strict enforcement of the catch-and-release program for antique tools. Well, maybe.

George D. Mosher of Birmingham, Connecticut, took out patent #309,400 in 1884 which claimed an improvement in the method in which metal-bodied woodworking planes were made. However, earlier patent #296,207, held jointly by Mosher and W.H. Ford, outlined the prototype for this style of plane. The Birmingham Plane Company (1885 – 1900) boasted an impressive list of principals, including Solon R. Rust and O.R. Hayworth, all of whom were inventors with their own respective tool patents; they formed the governing body of the company. Given the highly sophisticated molding and casting abilities of the American foundries during that period, it is easy to see how these designs could be ably executed and also a striking departure from the conventional style of planes produced by the other American manufacturers. They were, quite simply, distinct and appeared to be more robust and to have fewer parts that could break.
 
 
         
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