17th-century planes, etc

planes, chisels, etc
Stent panel: planes, chisels, etc

Here is another detail from the Stent panel I posted the other day. (see https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2009/01/22/seventeenth-century-joiners-bench/)

This time it’s a view of the tools hanging behind the joiner’s bench. There are four planes; all seem to be molding planes of some type – the side escapement for the shavings, and the shoulders that serve to reduce the thickness of the stock where the joiner holds the plane are the evidence for these being molding planes. To my eye, one point worth noting is the varied length of these tools. Later on, molding planes reached a uniform length, but not these.

For most of the seventeenth century it seems that workmen made their own planes. In his Academy of Armory, Randle Holme, (published 1688, but begun in 1649) discusses joynter planes, and the caption for one of his illustrations states: 

“…a Joynter, which of some is made after this manner, contrary to that described in chap. 9 numb. 19 but all the difference is in the Tote or Handle, which every Workman maketh according to his own Fancy, all other parts in the stock agreeing.”


The plane on our left is a little different from the other three – not sure why. It’s missing its wedge for one thing, and the upper section as well.  I speculate that the carving went wrong – you can’t put the wood back once it’s cut.  


The chisels are mostly blocked from veiw, but we see one is skewed, and another has a flared end. On the right of the row are two gouges, and inbetween the gouges & chisels is the joiner’s compass.


An 1633 inventory for John Thorp, carpenter,  of Plymouth Colony, includes among other tools, some unspecified molding planes.

John Thorp, Carpenter


1 Great gouge £00-00-06; one gr brush & 1 little brush at 00-00-10; 1 square 00-02-00 one hatchet 00-02-00; One Square 00-02-06; 1 short 2 handsaw 00-02-00; A broade Axe 00-02-00; An holdfast 00-01-06; A handsaw 00-02-00; 3 broade chisels 00-01-06; 2 gowges & 2 narrow chisels 00-01-00; 3 Augers Inch & ½ 00-01-00; 1 great auger  00-01-04; inboring plaines 00-04-00; 1 Joynter plaine 00-01-06; 1 foreplaine 00-00-00?; A smoothing plaine 00-00-00?; 1 halferound plaine 00-01-00; An Addes 00-02-06; a felling Axe 00-03-00


I find the study of planes fascinating, and we are lucky there are so many good researchers working on it. The most recent book I have seen on early English planes is Don & Anne Wing’s Early Planemakers of London: Recent Discoveries in the Tallow Chandlers and the Joiners Companies. A wonderful book.

4 thoughts on “17th-century planes, etc

  1. Peter,

    I would have to go with you on that the carving went wrong with the plane to the left, the top part of the body is angled down and missing.

  2. Peter: I suggest that when there is period evidence, we choose period terms for joiner’s tools. Holme illustrates the identifies the marking tool hanging in the rack behind the Stent joiner as “a Pair of Compasses.” He then illustrates and defines “a Pair of Sliding or Circle Dividers.These are Compasses which open upon a Brass semi-circle, and by a small Screw is made fast at any station.” Lastly, he illustrates and defines “a Pair of Screw Dividers.These are Compasses opened with a screw, so that there is noe danger of their moving from their station.” Holme concludes: “By all these forsaid Compasses, are described Circles Ovals &c. and also Distances are measured and set off from the Rule, or from any other divided Rod or Staffe, to the thing to be wrought upon.” Yes, each of the three devices is a kind of a pair of compasses, but the pair on the wall are simply called a Pair of Compasses, not Dividers. The distiction between compasses and dividers has contiued. See Audels Carpenters and Builders Guide #1, Theo. Audel & Compaany (1939) p.135.

  3. Homes because of, plenty of live?A credit file, The people who.Determine your audience, concerns The laws.Well as review joiner, these pages to to each companies.List of around, need them done.,

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