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JOEL Joel's Blog

Begin at the Beginning


Begin at the Beginning 4Before there was Tools for Working Wood, there was The Museum of Woodworking Tools, because I've always wanted to have some sort of display for our tool collection. What we call "The Tools for Working Wood Reference Collection" basically forms the core of our tool development and is the jumping-off point for nearly everything we do. And I personally am interested in how tools develop.

Whereas The Museum of Woodworking Tools provided a virtual look at the collection, our newly revamped showroom finally has given us some small exhibition space for tools. (In the past few months we have completely revamped out showroom and added Saturday hours (11-5). The reason for the additional hours is that a lot of people aren't able to visit during the week, and with the massive rent increases that are happening all across Brooklyn (and to us), we can't afford to let a scheduling conflict prevent visitors. But in order to make it worth your while we have been massively upgrading our showroom experience. More stuff, nicer stuff, and a much more elegant showroom. Come and visit!)

For our first exhibit, we wanted to start at the beginning and show some of the oldest post-Renaissance metal planes in existence. The five featured planes in this exhibit show the evolution of metal plane design from small brazed planes from Continental Europe, to larger proto-mitre planes that were used for marquetry, to the late 18th century fully formed English Box mitre plane. (this sample by Gabriel). Then we have two more planes: a wooden mitre plane (by Moon) that - as near as research can tell us - came after the English box mitre found its form. It's simply a less expensive approach to the genre. We have also included one later (but still early 19th century - possibly by Gabriel ) mitre plane in which you can easily see the dovetailed construction joining the sides to the sole, and the two pieces of the sole being joined together by a tongue and groove joint.

You may be thinking, I just saw the photo. Why why do I need to come see the planes in person? Good question! In the days of the internet, we all see a lot of pictures of interesting things. But seeing in person is different. I like to think that this is one reason why we collect tools: seeing the object itself, even behind glass, gives one a chance to draw some of their own conclusions about design.

It's a small exhibit and we had to leave out a least another half dozen early mitre planes that are also part of the story. But we also plan to have new exhibits every few months and tell more of the story of the history of woodworking tools.

We hope you will come and see for yourself.
Join the conversation
10/28/2015 Anthony
I'd love to see your display, but it is a long way from Cenrtal Oregon. I'll just have to be happy with the picture. By the way keep up your great blog, I always read and enjoy it. Thanks for all you do to support our work.
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The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the blog's author and guests and in no way reflect the views of Tools for Working Wood.