Did the Router Beget the Handplane?


At any idle moment, I dive into editing our massive Charles H. Hayward project. Unfortunately, I am the bottleneck in this project. Megan Fitzpatrick has edited the entire thing and entered most of her changes, but I am far behind her.

Perhaps I’m getting slow because I’m not on the front lines of editing a magazine any more.

In any case, I am deep in the book’s section on planes and enjoying the heck out of it. Maybe that’s the problem.

One of the articles sent me scurrying to my library to check a few sources on the history of the handplane, including a suggestion that the plane evolved from the router. That’s odd. Many other sources have suggested the adze was the stepping stone between the chisel and plane. So I had to look at some early routers (maybe this is what is slowing me down?).


Take a look at the entire article (minus final edits) and get a preview of the nice vintage look we’re using for this massive project, which is weighing in at 891 pages.

And now I’ll stop blogging tonight, which is surely slowing me down.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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22 Responses to Did the Router Beget the Handplane?

  1. toolnut says:

    What’s the stepping stone between the chisel and the adze? Maybe it’s time for bed and leave the editing until tomorrow.

  2. beshriver says:

    nope…i’m not buying it…all planes router or otherwise essentially started as a shop jig for chisels, gouges, and knives. from the days of out flint napping ancestors we have been seeking out and innovating ways to hold out blades to do what we want without cutting ourselves. in certain regions, i’m sure its possible, but to my mind, the router is an advanced form that must surely have come later. my money is on the rabbet being the granddaddy of them all. i’m not going to say hayward is wrong, that would take giant stones for anyone in the woodworking community, let a alone a novice like myself, BUT (you knew it was coming) i think i disagree.

  3. waltamb says:

    Well done, I found one typo but very well laid out. Nice look too.

    • fitz says:

      I don’t need the challenge…just tell me please!

      • tsstahl says:

        Ooo, I’ll play editor for a minute:

        “The Plane a Form of Chisel”
        The Plane: a Form of Chisel
        The Plane is a Form of Chisel
        The Plane as a Form of Chisel

        “When steep the shavings are forced uphill”
        maybe: When steep, the shavings are forced uphill

        “…compromise for allround purposes…”
        British anachronism to an American? I’ve seen it as all-around, or all-round, but not as a single word.

        “…the cutting edge ceases to cut until it catches up the shaving, when it severs or breaks it…” No typo, just a bit of an epiphany for me. Never thought about the planing action like this before; makes so much sense now.

      • waltamb says:

        “Back Iron. If now we add a back iron, and set it near the cutting edge, the shaving, in being forced against it, will…”

        in being forced

        shouldn’t that be “is” ?

        • fitz says:

          Ah. I’ll have to go to the original files to check that. Note: As much as possible (which is to say 99.99% of the time), LAP decided to stick with the original wording, syntax, spelling, Oxford commas, etc. Sometimes it does look and sound a bit strange to contemporary readers (and non-British spelling readers), yet is correct 🙂

          • waltamb says:

            OK then… now having read it several times, my one brain cell kicked in and it sort of makes sense. Is there a warning in the Preface of the book that you need to read and comprehend this in the Queens English, not the language of the Colonies?

      • flatironjoe says:

        p. 164, third column. He refers to “A, Fig 7,” but is describing A, Figure 8.

      • davekemp1963 says:

        Also I believe in last paragraph on page 164 the sentence should read

        “Glance at A, Fig 8.”

  4. therealdanh says:

    Although you and other writers have covered the mechanics of how a plane works in various books and articles, Hayward’s illustrations in this excerpt really expand the material and add an additional layer of information. Illustrations 6, 7 and 8 are especially effective at explaining how a plane works. This is really good stuff! I am looking forward to this book.

    • waltamb says:

      I especially love the fact that someone has finally pointed out how the plane is an imperfect tool. With a perfectly flat sole, and a projecting cutting iron it should be doomed to fail.

  5. Josh says:

    This book is going to be awesome. This is a terrific teaser on both the style and content. All I can think now is: Must get hands on pages 1-162 and 166-891 asap…

  6. Tim Raleigh says:

    Thanks a lot…started the next article, now I just have to read page 166…clever…

  7. waltamb says:

    “Back Iron. If now we add a back iron, and set it near the cutting edge, the shaving, in being forced against it, will…”

    in being forced

    shouldn’t that be “is” ?

    • proclus153 says:

      No, in this context “being forced” is a gerund that serves as the object of “in” to form a prepositional phrase qualifying the main verb “will be broken”. The reason it may sound odd is that modern (especially American) English seems to be pretty allergic to gerunds and participles outside certain idiomatic contexts, while authors a hundred years ago, especially English ones, loved the hell out of them.

      • proclus153 says:

        I should maybe qualify my comment by saying that we modern Amercans don’t have any difficulty with participles used simply as adjectives, but more stand-alone uses seem less familiar. So, I think, nobody would have a problem with “the joiner dressing stock needs to sharpen his iron”, but might think “the joiner, dressing stock, chipped his iron on a knot” sounds odd.

  8. waltamb says:

    You both do a great job presenting accurate articles and books.
    As for me, I believe if a 4th grader in any english speaking country cannot understand it without looking something up, then it less than helpful other than being an accurate literary work.
    Maybe this is why (or is it “that is” ?) I have never written a book.

  9. momist says:

    “A good plane, well sharpened and set, is a joy
    to use. A faulty one is demoralising”
    Sooo . . . succinct!

  10. Typographical commentary:

    – Fig. 1 sub-figure letters should be kept w/ their text

    – no ending period for Fig. captions which are complete sentences?

    – three hyphens in a row? (second para. middle col. top pg. 165)

    – last paragraph at top right of pg. 165 — stack, is // is and 45 deg. // 50 deg. If you tighten up that paragraph and one other by a line the columns will balance

    – the rules on the heads might look better shifted down a bit.

    – can you not keep the number and abbreviation together in Fig. // 1 — bottom left paragraph of pg. 165

    • We are merely reprinting the typography and style used in the original articles. Many of their rules are different (and inconsistent). But our goal is not to “correct” them.

      If that bothers you as a reader, you are going to really really really dislike this book.

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