Lee Valley Tools Woodworking Newsletter
Vol. 3, Issue 5
June 2009
What Is It?

William Henry Phelps of Stamford, Connecticut, was granted patent #312,012 on February 10, 1885. Phelps' patent claim was that this type of file-holder handle was an improvement on the conventional, commonly used round handle. This holder type enabled a user to file large flat surfaces without encumbrances and to get beyond the reach of a file using an end-type handle. The papers also claim that, with the insertion of a suitable block, the file can be used in a vertical mode, perhaps to work a slot.

What Is It?

Phelps was most gracious in giving credit to previous patentees for this type of holder and even lists them in his patent application. This example differs from the drawing and patent claim only in the clamp screw type and the fixed handle, which Phelps described; however, he stated that his preference in practice was for a removable handle. No patent model was ever submitted to the patent office. Cast-iron commercial examples have been found with the patent date marked. It is interesting that this handle is described in the patent papers as "which is also like that of a hand plane".

D.S. Orr

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