Way Before James Krenov


While researching some crazy bit of something, I stumbled on this description and drawing of Silcock and Lowe’s Patent Planes from the 1844 edition of Mechanics’ Magazine in England.

I read it. Then I read it again. Indeed. They are describing a laminated plane with an adjustable mouth. You adjust the mouth by loosening some screws and moving the rear part of the plane’s body, which rides in grooves in the sidewalls.

I can’t think of another reference to this sort of laminated bench plane that is this early. Check it out.

— Christopher Schwarz

The fourth instrument is a trying plane, suitable for both rough and fine work, and constructed in manner following:—

“Figure 17 is a side elevation of this plane, and figure 18 an end view. Instead of being formed of one piece of wood, as usual, it is composed of four or more separate pieces peculiarly combined together. The part A, which forms the centre, or heart of the plane (lengthwise), is made out of a piece of beech with the grain of the wood running crosswise, as usual. The proper place for the bed and mouth of the plane having been determined, these are cut out, and the two pieces into which the piece of wood is thus separated, are connected together by two side pieces, B B, also of beech, or of any other suitable sort of wood, placed with the fibre running longitudinally and tennoned to the central part A, by means of the tongues and grooves, a b. The tongues and grooves should fit closely the one into the other, particularly at top and bottom. The side pieces, B B, are attached permanently to the forepart of A, either by means of screws, as represented in the engravings, or by glueing, or by both screws and glue. At the back part the sides are secured by screws, c c, to the inside piece A in such manner that they may be shifted occasionally. W W, are two oblong metal washers, with oblong slots, w to, in them, which are let into the side pieces, B B, to such a depth, that when the screws, c e, are passed through the slots into the wood, their heads shall be below the surface of the wood. As the sole of the plane becomes worn down by use, and the mouth becomes consequently wider, by slackening or undoing the screws, the back part of the body A can be pushed forward and readjusted, so as to keep the mouth of the plane always of the best working width. The plane iron and its cover are united to each other by means of a nut and screw D, the nut being inserted in a bevelled-sided slot, so as to be nearly flush with the back of the iron; and thus united they are secured to the body of the plane by means of a screw, E (instead of by wedges, as usual), which is passed through the irons into a metal seat F, let into the back part of the centre piece A. C is the handle, which is made like the other handles before described with the grain of the wood at right angles to the length of the plane, and let into and secured in the wood in the manner represented by the dotted lines in figure 17. At the front it is cut away, so as to leave a shoulder, d, which rests upon the top of the centre piece A, and at the back there is a sufficient space left to allow of the insertion of a wedge e, by driving in which, the handle is firmly secured in its place.

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4 Responses to Way Before James Krenov

  1. amvolk says:

    I’ve built a few Krenov-style planes myself and I find this description very fascinating. Two questions pop up in my mind. First, the specification states that the grain runs “crosswise, as usual.” Do the inventors mean the grain is orthogonal to the length of the plane? Is this usual? I’ve never seen it that way, The second question relates to the choice of making the front versus the back half adjustable. The back is longer and might give more bearing surface for the sliding joint to grip, but the back gets more force applied to it. Again, I’ve never seen a rear adjusting plane. Since this version does not have a wedge to hold the iron, I guess the inventors didn’t have to worry about having to tap the pack of the plane for blade adjustments.

    • jenohdit says:

      I’d guess that what that means is that if you look at the end of the plane (the view in the drawing where A is readable) that the growth rings run from side to side, across vs. up and down. From an illustrators, designer’s, or writers perspective in a situation like that there often is no object, only an image of an imagined or otherwise unviewable object. Considered in that light and as the product of someone who was more likely connected to the trade of filing patent applications or publishing magazines than to a wood related field, it makes some sense to describe lines of grain (growth rings to the more initiated) running across the image as it relates to the page in those terms.

  2. drewstout says:

    It’s kind of funny how we attribute this style to James Krenov because he popularized it, even though in the foreward to David Finck’s book Making & Mastering Wood Planes he explicitly states, “Many readers and people working with wood are familiar with it [the laminated plane]; it sort of assumed my name, which is all wrong, because I didn’t invent anything. I just changed the shape and size of a plane that was already made…”

    I love that in woodworking there is nothing new under the sun, yet it still provides us the opportunity to flex our creative muscles.

  3. Vaughn Webber says:

    I’ve recently figured out that… human ingenuity is repeatable. I’m sure others have figured this out as well.

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