Lee Valley & Veritas
Woodworking Newsletter
  Volume 8, Issue 5 - May 2014    
Featured Patents
Plane with marking gauge
Illinois Stamping Company combination plane with marking gauge.
The components of modern house construction are different from what they were 30 years ago. As a result, the role of the carpenter is not the same either. The prefabricated assemblies that now come as a normal part of any house did not exist previously. Nowadays, almost all doors come with a jamb assembly, built-ins are assembled in a shop, moldings are bought by length, and any type of wood and profile is available from the pattern books. These off-site items reduce the time spent building and, in another way, degrade the worker's skill set. Carpentry has become a segmented trade, with framers, form workers, finishers and others all playing a part in the process. This is not, in any way, a comment on their skills, but it does seem that the time-and-money equation now drives the building trades. These divisions of labor create specialists who may never venture outside of their area of specialty.
Aluminum casting version and stamped version
The aluminum casting version (left) and the stamped version.
G.H. Palm of Chicago, Illinois, sought with patent # 2,750,973, dated June 19, 1956, to improve the usability of a woodworker's hand plane by creating a combination tool that also possessed a marking gauge. Somewhat confusingly, a second patent, # 2,869,599, was filed prior to the above being granted. The path for both of these patents began in 1952 and culminated in 1959 — a rather long process. The most obvious claim was that the tool could be manufactured as a metal stamping, thus making a lighter product of a size that could easily be carried in a pouch. There was a sliding marking gauge located on the front of the tool in both versions. With only minor changes, the two appear to be identical. The second patent had a provision for a separate, wider blade and the ability to fix a side fence onto the plane for a true rabbeting feature. As both patents are overly long and quite technical, we are showing only the patent drawings for the sake of brevity. The manufacturer, the "Illinois Stamping Company", identified both planes as the up-to-date version. We assign no ratings as to the usability of this tool. It should be noted that it is somewhat rare and is often found in its original packaging.

As always, there seem to be exceptions when talking about patent tools. A recent visit and examination of a collection brought forth an anomaly, a tool that is also called the up-to-date version and is branded with "Illinois Stamping Company" along with "Pat. Pend.", much like the one used as the focus of this article. Unlike the stamped version, this plane is a solid aluminum casting. While retaining the identical cutting assembly, the marking gauge is now on the side. It is also somewhat less refined in its construction. Was this the prototype? Was this style of construction too expensive to pursue? Is this version from before or after the stamped versions? Questions, questions, questions...
Both marked as up-to-date version   Both marked as up-to-date version
Both planes are marked as the “up-to-date” version.
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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