Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 4, Issue 3
   January 2010
   Featured Patents

B.F. Haley Rabbeting Plane

B.F. Haley Plane

Rabbets or rebates are an integral part of cabinetmaking and the other associated woodworking trades that create casework. The ability to make a slot with uniform depth and width in the middle or on the edge of a workpiece is a very important skill. Numerous versions of this type of tool have been used for more than 400 years. Methods used could be something as simple as a chisel or cutter fixed in a block, a wood or metal plane with scoring irons and a depth stop, or a different version of the tool with an adjustable fixed-width blade, as shown. Typically, in the modern shop, this type of work is done with an electric router or perhaps on a table saw with a special set of blades.

B.F. Haley, of West Palm Beach, Florida, with his patent of May 5, 1925 (#1,536,096), claimed to have invented certain new and useful improvements to the rabbeting plane. A close read of the patent specifications shows that his provable claims were based on a small outrigger part that allowed the blade mechanism to be moved outside the body. It is not clear if the intent was to use the side of the main body as a registration point for cutting longitudinal slots. Sliding the collar up reveals a through hole, as per the patent specifications, for the extra bar to extend the cutter outboard of the main body. The small hole in the base is perhaps for a registration pin to locate the extra bar. This piece was not included when this tool was obtained for the Lee Valley collection, and remains missing.

Through hole   V-shaped blade holder
Through hole to attach the outboard cutter.   V-shaped blade holder.

Although much discussion in the papers describes a V-shaped groove for the cutter, this feature had already been used by Stanley in its popular 71 and 71-1/2 routers, with that same basic blade-holding concept patented in 1884. No mention is made in the patent claim of the material used to manufacture the router.
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