This photo was recently sent to me by antique tool dealer Jim Bode. We were having a conversation at a local tool museum last Sunday when he mentioned a photo that was given to him by one of his customers. The image shows seven carpenters posing in a field with their tool chests circa 1910. These were full service country carpenters who could build a house from the foundation to the roof. They have the usual selection of handsaws, planes, bit braces, breast drills, augers, spirit levels, hammers, steel squares, mallets, chisels, etc.
The specialty tools reveal the range of their carpentry activities. The boring machines, framing chisels, lifting jack, and adzes show that they were still building mortise & tenon timber frames during an era when most of the country had long since converted to balloon framing. The expensive miter boxes and combination plane show that they were also doing exterior trim, cornice work, and possibly interior trim & flooring as well. The slate ripper is only used for roofing and siding.
The planes are a mixed group of cast iron and transitional. The wooden soled planes were often preferred by site carpenters because they dramatically reduced the weight of the traveling tool kit. Most of the transitional planes in this image are stock models, but one of them appears to be a user modified plane. It looks like somebody took the hardware off of a Stanley No. 26 Jack Plane and added their own custom four foot sole to make a super jointer.
As for the date, I suggest circa 1910 because the miter boxes in this photo appear to be Stanley models with patents issued in 1904. For that reason the photo can not be earlier than 1905. Several years ago I put together a research paper on miter box patents. If you need help with the identity or age of a miter box, then this document can help.
Miter Box Patents – (2812 pages – 160MB pdf) Right Click – Save As
– Jeff Burks