I don’t make sausage meat myself…

PF fore plane
PF fore plane

Our friend Martha is studying local ceramic history for some degree or other. She sent this note the other day. Me, I’m a vegetarian. But I do use a fore plane from time to time, so in the interest of tool-use, I will post it here…


“I was reading in an 1851 New England Farmer journal (as they frequently preach against the evils of lead glaze there). There was a sausage recipe submitted by “a subscriber” who makes sausage meat by freezing it, then “I take a fore plane, set rank, and plane it to shavings” Apparently the meat needs very little chopping after that.  It wouldn’t hurt the blade, only add some grease- rust prevention through sausage! Yikes! They didn’t actually leave a name so you don’t really know if it’s by a man or woman, but they put the recipe in the “Ladies Department.”  What exactly is a “fore plane” ? 


So – we all use Moxon’s description to understand this tool:

It is called the Fore Plain because it is used before you come to work either with the Smooth Plane, or with the Joynter. The edge of its Iron is not ground upon the straight, as the Smooth Plane, and the Joynter are, but rises with a Convex-Arch in the middle of it; for its Office being to prepare the Stuff for either the Smoothing Plane, or the Joynter, Workmen set the edge of it Ranker than the edge either of the Smoothing Plane or the Joynter; and should the Iron of the Plane be ground to a straight edge, and it be set never so little Ranker on one end of the edge than the other, the Ranker end would (bearing as then upon a point) in working, dig Gutters on Surface of the Stuff; but this Iron (being ground to a Convex- Arch) though it should be set a little Ranker on one end of its edge than on the other, would not make Gutters on the Surface of the Stuff, but (at the most) little hollow dawks on the Stuff, and that more or less, according as the Plane is ground more or less Arching.  Nor is it the Office of this Plane to smooth the Stuff, but only (as I said) to prepare it, that is, to take off the irregular Risings, whether on the sides, or in the middle, and therefore it is set somewhat Ranker, that it may take the irregularities the sooner off the Stuff, that the Smoothing Plane, or the Joynter, may afterwards the easier work it Try. The manner of Trying shall be taught, when I come to Treat of the use of the Rule. 


10 thoughts on “I don’t make sausage meat myself…

  1. There’s a joke about sausages and foreplanes in there somewhere…And I can’t help but wonder what bench appurtenances are used to hold the meat while planing…

    • I thought about that too, but erred on not mentioning it. Being a woman, it might have caused a ruckus.

  2. Sounds very “rank” to me, but then in 1851, one had to improvise for almost everything in the kitchen! Now if our friend Martha had asked for a scrub pane, I wonder if in 1852, a person would use it for literally scrubbing the kitchen (wood) floor! Your’s, Peter, is doing a fab job on that oak. Thanks for sharing. I got a good laugh with that one. Trust your friend Martha to ask you. Wise woman. . . saw three large turkey hawks today trolling over my backyard waiting for something dead to show up. Ugly looking creatures, I hesitate to say “birds.” Saw a bluebird pair yesterday in the high wind. Unusually early and must be finding it hard to find something to eat. Be well. Be blessed.

  3. Oops “cutting” to be corrected with two “t”.
    Thank you to the moderator to make the correction on my previous comment.

  4. I’m part vegan with a big nose and I can say honestly that my fore plane is long than Peter’s one. Though not so beautifully formed. It is converted from a smooth plane and does have a capacious gob (or mouth as the couth might say) I call it my scrub plane.

    Were I preparing frozen meat I would be tempted to use dogs for holding it – but there might be risks of said dogs absconding with said meat and eating same.

  5. Not crazy, that’s how chipped beef was made years ago, and let’s not forget the ubiquitous slaw shavers, which resemble a cooper’s jointer. I’ve never seen a slaw cutter with legs like a cooper’s jointer, but it’s not impossible that there might have been a table-top version.

  6. thanks Peter that’s a fun way to kick off the day. Probably not so hard on the plane as the meat would have been well hung so wouldn’t have excess water and as I dice beef when it is almost frozen I know that there is no residue to mess up the board or bench. All the same I wouldn’t take kindly to that kind of use of my tools.
    Gotta give her credit for resourcefulness though.

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