Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 7, Issue 4
   March 2013
 
   Featured Patents
 

Let's Accessorize Our Tool Hoard
Traut patent
A set of hollow and round bottoms for attachment to a Stanley 45 combination plane

It's not often that one gets a chance to examine the thought process of an inventor who created substantial and lasting patented items. After his arrival in America in 1854 to join his father, Justus A. Traut, aged 14, embarked on a journey that saw him develop, design and patent more than 300 usable items. Traut was employed by the Stanley Tool and Level Co. as a contractor during its major growth years from 1870 to 1908 following the American Civil War. From 1903 until his death in 1908, he collaborated with his son Frank L. Traut on the majority of his patents. It is alleged that J.A. Traut was the most successful inventor of any time who specialized in woodworking hand tools.

By 1865 manufacture of the wooden plane was starting to wane, as hand production of the various types and styles was too laborious and required numerous skilled tradespersons. The American industrial machine was starting to reach its zenith during that period. With the modernization of the manufacturing process, machines were created that could do the work faster, resulting in the elimination of independent wooden plane makers. Bailey's patent of 1856 had proven that a metal (cast-iron) tool could be mass produced and sold at a much lower price, giving more consumers a chance to own and use good, affordable, workable tools.

Traut's patent #206,507, dated 1878, was for a series of attachments to fit a purpose-built carrier body that allowed the user to create beads as well as hollow and round profiles. No longer would a craftsperson have to carry an assortment of planes to do a job. In 1884, Traut took it one step farther with patent #294,825 for the basic version of the Stanley 45, advertised as "seven planes in one". Presumably, this later patent supplanted the earlier plane, which is not commonly found. The model 45 combination plane was continually produced (with improvements) until about 1962.
 
 
               
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