Lee Valley & Veritas
Woodworking Newsletter
  Volume 8, Issue 5 - May 2014    
From the Collection
Metal Heads Only, Please
From the Collection
It has been said that the period from 1830 to 1900 in the United States was equivalent to the English Industrial Revolution. From about 1870 until the 1920s, all of Europe, Britain and the United States were running in parallel, with each country attempting to outdistance the other in terms of technological advances. During that period, great wars were fought, the planet was explored by land and by air, and the rise of the chemical and communication industries created the base for modern society.

The Boston Metallic Plane Company of Massachusetts is not to be confused with the Metallic Plane Company of Auburn, New York; however, both companies exhibited distinctive designs with their planes. It could be argued that both tended to over embellish and add many trappings. The Boston Metallic Plane Company existed from 1872 to 1874. Cyrus H. Hardy, a principal of the company, filed a patent associated with the bench and block planes the company produced. The patent, among other features, claimed that the holes in the plane's sole reduced the overall weight. If needed, the holes could be filled with wood or any other lightweight material. While this feature was distinctive, it often led to cracking in the sole's web structure. The most obvious feature, and certainly the most important aside from the distinctive sole design, is that the plane is essentially a low-angle plane predating modern offerings.
From the Collection
When displayed showing the sole, this plane is visually striking. These bench planes were manufactured in sizes from 14" to about 22", with the largest size now being extremely scarce. The lever cap was a casting and had several variants — one with geometric designs such as those on the plane shown, and another with a stylized patriotic shield. The blade also came in a few different versions, the most common being with a bent-over lip that engaged the adjuster. This bent lip could either be the full width or equivalent to just the area of the adjuster. Another version has surfaced with a regular blade and a cap iron that uses the same bent piece to ride in the adjuster slot. The adjuster is basically a knob with a slot that engages the blade mechanism; the blade advancement is controlled by advancing or retracting the knob on a fixed threaded shaft. Though extremely simple in its construction, the adjuster does work satisfactorily and provides a direct connection to the blade assembly. Handles have been found in both rosewood (such as on the plane shown) and maple.
From the Collection
Planes by this manufacturer can be classed as scarce and are often found in more advanced collections.

As always, I extend my thanks for previous research done by Roger K. Smith and Patrick Leach.

D.S. Orr

D.S. Orr has been a collector, user and student of woodworking and metalworking tools and practices for more than 40 years. Recently retired, he has devoted even more time to these endeavors.
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