Thursday, April 30, 2020

Two Wooden Jack Planes

I've already posted about the 8" wooden smoother that I bought at a tool auction recently.  In that same auction "lot" were two wooden jacks and a transitional plane.  This post will be about the two jacks.
Two new-to-me woodies
The smaller of the two is a 15 7/8" long plane from Greenfield Tool Co.  It has a 2 1/8" wide Humphreysville Mfg. Co. iron with a mild camber at its cutting edge.  The plane is 2 3/4" wide and about 2 5/8" tall (1/16" shorter at the heel).  Perhaps it was 2 3/4" tall when new and after having the sole flattened many times, ended up at its current uneven height.
Greenfield Tool Co. jack plane
Markings on the toe show a lot of wear
The Greenfield Tool Co. operated in Greenfield, Mass. (north central MA) from 1851-1883, according to the Davistown Museum.

There's not a lot of this laminated iron left, so this plane probably saw a lot of use, though probably not in the last few decades.
Humphreysville Mfg. Co iron and cap-iron
Slightly cambered iron
Humphreysville Mfg Co. operated in what was then called Humphreysville, Conn., present day Seymour, CN, in south central Connecticut, not far from New Haven.  From a thread on, it is unclear the exact years they operated, but it was mostly in the middle 1800's.

The plane has some issues.  The sole is not close to flat, though that's not a big deal for a jack plane.  The bed is not flat.  The wedge doesn't fit quite right.  A big chip came off the upper left abutment.
The wedge seems to fit OK, but look down deep
The tip of the wedge extends past the start of the curve of the cap-iron,
giving a place for shavings to get caught
The pic that follows shows a view through the mouth from underneath.  The arrow points to the tip of the wedge.  Not only is there a large space between the wedge and the side of the throat, but there's also space between the tip of the wedge and the cap-iron.  Both bad things for jamming.
Obvious areas for shavings to jam in the mouth
The throat is pretty messed up.  Both abutments are chipped.  There are cracks throughout the body.  The slot for the cap-iron screw-head is not quite deep enough at the top.
Throat with iron/cap and wedge removed
Not sure what I'll do with this plane.  So far it's been on display on my desktop bookshelf.  Not sure if I'll try to fix it up.

The second plane is an 18 1/8" long jack of unknown make.  It is 3 1/8" wide and 2 3/4" tall.  The 2 1/2" iron is from Auburn Tool Co., Thistle brand.
The unknown maker plane with Auburn Tool Co double iron
Auburn Tool Co. manufactured in Auburn, NY (central New York State) from 1864 - 1893 (reference).  They later became (or were absorbed by?) Ohio Tool Co.  They were known for using prison labor to manufacture their goods.
The iron with Auburn logo
Different light shows a little more
The iron is 2 1/2" wide and so is the mouth of the plane!  This leaves no side-to-side play to adjust the iron.  I don't know if this is due to wood shrinkage over the past century-plus or if it is a replacement iron.
View from below - mouth and iron are same width
The plane has some good sized cracks.  Up front, the strike button seems to have led to a long crack from toe to throat.
Big crack!
Front of the throat shows the crack was once filled with something
I had suspected that the iron was not original to this plane for other reasons.  It looks like the underside of the wedge was modified by a user to accept the protruding screw of the double iron.
Seems like a rough "hack" job of recessing the back of the wedge for the protruding screw
My other evidence is that the wedge doesn't fit quite right.  The points extend further down than the high point of the cap-iron, creating gaps that can jam shavings in the throat.
View from underside of mouth: see the tapered end of the wedge in there?
There is s huge gap between it and the cap-iron where shavings can jam up.
On the plus side, the sole is fairly flat, it has a comfortable closed tote, and the abutments are in great shape.
Throat area showing abutment in good shape
There's not much length left on the iron as you can guess from the pic of the whole plane.  Maybe I'll remake a wedge, file the iron sides a little to fit better side-to-side and give it a whirl.  Don't know yet.  But if I do, you'll be the first to know.

What follows are a couple odds and ends that I'm recording just so I have the info somewhere.

Characteristic:                            Greenfield Jack                            Unknown Maker Jack
Bed angle                                   46°                                                46°
Wear angle                                 95°                                                78°
Wear height                                1 3/8"                                            7/8"
Abutment / Wear Intersection    1/4" up from sole                          3/16" up from sole
Breast angle                                120°                                              116°
Toe to rear of mouth                   5 1/4"                                            5 3/8"
Wedge angle                               11°                                                 ~11°


  1. Typical measurements. You are right when new they were often 3 in thick, the majority of woodies. Transitional being of course lower.

    Bob, taking a break from homeschooling in new math my grand kid

    1. Very soon I'll be looking into the transitional plane that I got in the same lot of planes as these woodies. I'll post about it in a few weeks.

  2. Matt,

    Those will be a project to get in working order but jack planes needn't be perfect to work well.


    1. Totally right about that - a jack plane is a roughing tool. I'm thinking that I'll eventually rehab the larger of the two. But there's not much of the iron left. Makes me wonder if what is left of the iron should be re-hardened and tempered - most times the temper is done to get the right hardness at the cutting edge, so an inch or two back might not have the right temper. I guess I'll see if it cuts OK and redo it as necessary.

  3. It looks like the first one might be able to get a second life as a scrub plane. The second one looks to be suited to being revived as a worker with a different iron.

    1. Ralph, I don't see much or any difference between a scrub and a jack. These were jack planes originally and they should be good for that still. I may try to get the larger one working, but the smaller one might only ever be a decoration.