|Project by YorkshireStewart||posted 04-09-2010 07:59 PM||3121 views||8 times favorited||14 comments|
In the 1950s, W. L. Goodman, author of the 1964 book: ‘The History of Woodworking Tools’ did a conjectural reconstruction of a Saxon plane from around 600 A.D. The original had a body made of horn, set in a bronze soleplate. Here is my attempt at a similar re-construction. It’s made from beech with a sheet brass sole-plate & an iron cut from a ¾” chisel. I’m delighted with how it feels and cuts. This plane will go to a private collector in West Yorkshire, but I’m thinking I’ll do one for me! Here, here, and here are my other plane replicas.
I quote from his book to give the full story: “Surviving woodworkers’ tools from the Dark Ages are so rare that it was hardly surprising that the small object found in Sarre grave No. 26, when first published in Archaeologia Cantiana, VI, p. 161, was described as an “iron lock, with bronze plate containing a hole for its bolt”, and later in George Payne’s Catalogue of the Kent Archaeological Society’s Collections, p. 19, No. 775, as “lock-plate, bronze, attached to wood”. Closer examination has since revealed that this is indeed a small plane, with features relating it to roughly contemporary Frisian examples, and to their similar, but somewhat larger, Roman predecessors. It may be dated to about A.D. 600.
The body is of horn, 53/8 in. long, 1¼ in. wide and 1¼ in. high, with a bronze sole 1/8 in. thick projecting at both ends to make the total length exactly 6 in. The turn-up at the front appears to have been cast, while that at the back has clearly been folded to shape, probably to accommodate it to the piece of horn used for the stock. The sole is fixed with three iron rivets passing through the stock and fastened at the top to small bronze plates, of which the middle one, immediately behind the iron, has disappeared.
The plate at the back is roughly heart-shaped, while the front one is square with rounded corners. A finger grip is hollowed out behind the iron, which was probably about ¾ in. wide, with a slope of 43 degrees. With the help of detailed drawings (Fig. 1) made by Mr. L. R. A. Grove, Curator of the Maidstone Museum, the writer has made a suggested reconstruction, in wood and brass, of the original tool (Plate 1). The rivet across the mouth is the only conjectural feature, but is well-vouched for by the Frisian and Roman examples previously referred to.
This little plane is remarkably easy to use, and although the setting of the iron is rather tricky, it takes off quite a respectable shaving. The nearest modern equivalent would be the so-called “thumb planes” used by coachbuilders, or the small “violin planes” still listed in the specialised catalogues. This has prompted the suggestion that some such tool as this may have formed part of the kit of the craftsman who made the famous Sutton Hoo harp.”
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