Thursday, December 29, 2016

Toothing Planes - Part 1

There was an ad on Craigslist for some old planes and I had to check it out.  The seller said that a friend's father passed away and they had all these old handplanes to get rid of so they went to the only woodworker they knew.  There was a Stanley #45 that I really wanted, but someone beat me to it.  But there were some other interesting things.  I would have bought just one but the seller was selling two planes together for $20. This post will cover the plane that I cared more about.

This is a coffin-shaped toothing plane.
As found - A. C. Bartlett's Ohio Plane Toothing Plane
View of the other side
Toothing planes are used to help smooth woods with particularly gnarly grain that are prone to tearing out.  But it will leave a surface that looks like the iron (see below).  What I'm not sure of is what one does after using this plane to get a final smooth surface.

The plane is 7 1/4" long, about 3" at it's widest and 2 9/16" tall (without iron and wedge).  It's got a very high bed angle, about 80° (plus or minus a couple degrees).  The name on the plane is A. C. Bartlett's Ohio Plane and there appears to be the number "36" stamped on the front.
Front view
Back end, complete with hanging hook of prior owner
The toothed iron is about 2 1/8" wide, but (oddly) tapers to about 2 1/6" at the back end.  Maybe that's the result of many years worth of hammer taps when setting it.  It's tapered in thickness too, measuring 3/16" at it's thickest and about 1/8" at the back end.
The iron as found
Closer view of the engraving - the apostrophe is apparently in the wrong place!
Closer view of the toothed end
The bevel is approximately 25°
The iron's taper profile after a little clean-up
The wedge appears to be in pretty good shape.
Front side of wedge
Back side of wedge
Note how the toothed iron has left its mark on the back of the wedge
A little internet searching gave the following info.  Credit here goes to a website called  A.C. Bartlett was a president and/or partner of the hardware distributor, Hibbard, Spencer & Bartlett of Chicago.  Their in house brand of planes was A. C. Bartlett's Ohio Planes and were made for them by Sandusky, probably between 1882 and 1917.

According to the Early American Industries Association (EAIA) Directory of American Toolmakers,
"Planes made by the Sandusky Tool Co. were marked as indicated for sale by Hibbard, Spencer & Bartlett Co., a hardware firm which Bartlett was president of 1904 -17.  Bartlett was a salesman for Hibbard, Spencer & Co. before becoming an unnamed partner in 1872; his name was added in 1882."  For anyone interested, a history of Hibbard, Spence & Bartlett can be found here, thanks to "The Hardware Companies Kollectors Klub".

The next entry will cover the steps I used to clean and get the plane to a working condition.  I'll also show some (hopefully minor) issues with it.  Never having used a toothing plane before I don't know what to expect.


  1. What I know about toothing planes you could fit in a thimble and have room left. But I do know they were used to prepare the ground for veneering and they were left that way.
    I think on the gnarly grain stuff maybe you scrape it or use a high angle frog plane afterwards.

    1. I'm doing a bit more reading about these planes. Glad I did because I'm getting pointers on sharpening and usage. You are right about using it on veneer and substrates. But I also see it is used for squirrelly grain. Can't wait to try it out.