From the Collection

A pair of side rebate planes  made of boxwood

Most people look with interest at reproductions that have been made at a much smaller scale but that retain all of the salient features of the full-sized object. It doesn’t matter what the source is, as anything can be the subject of an enthusiast’s fixation. The range goes from dollhouses to motorcars to architecturally significant buildings. We are all aware of the Lord’s Prayer being engraved on the head of a pin. Collectors have for many years attempted to own and build examples of reproduction-scale objects that remain absolutely true to the original inspiration. Amateurs and professional tradespeople avidly practice this craft, with final examples often being a feast for the eyes.

However, in the tool world sometimes smaller is better, especially when the full-sized object cannot be used. To that end, tradespeople often fashioned their own scaled-down copies of tools to facilitate a project. These creations were not done for pleasure, but were a necessity to finish a commission. Those who spent their time at the bench in an indentured agreement under a watchful and progressive master never shied away from making their own tools. Somewhere along their learning path, they were obligated to manufacture and use their own tools. In some cases, these examples have been recorded as test or certification pieces.

The side rebate (rabbet) plane comes in many forms. These examples were derived from the traditional form and are part of a group that included half rounds, snipes bill, side snipes and, finally, the side rebate. Not to be confused with shoulder planes, the rebate planes were eventually produced in metal in a variety of configurations, some presenting the blade in a different configuration. Most specialty planes had both limited use and limited success, which explains their rarity.

The planes are marked with “M. Warrilow” and are numbered 632JA and 632JB.
The planes are marked with “M. Warrilow” and are numbered 632JA and 632JB.
The planes are marked with “M. Warrilow” and are numbered 632JA and 632JB.
One of the side rebate planes shown in use.

At 4" long, 2-1/2" wide and finely constructed of boxwood, ebony and steel, these left- and right-handed side rebates are superb examples of a form that is solely English in origin. They are not truly miniatures, as most of these types of planes have no parent size to use as a pattern. We are also not aware of any commercial makers who used this form.

This pair is extremely well made and presents well. Handrailers (those who made or fitted only complex handrails) were a special subset of finish carpentry and often had a complete set of scaled down planes and tools made (by themselves) to practise their specialist craft. Bespoke furniture makers and tradesmen at the highest level of the craft might have had tools of this type in their tool chests to be used on occasion. This is a pretty pair that was also most useful.

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. Now retired, he has devoted even more time to these endeavors.

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