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JOEL Joel's Blog

Plane Spotting for the Deeply Curious


Plane Spotting  for the Deeply Curious  1
First of all, thanks to everyone who met us in Amana for Handworks 2017, and to Jameel and Father John of Benchcrafted for putting on another great event.

Thanks as well for the great reception our poster has gotten. For it I have to thank Tim, TFWW's designer, and Kate, our poster designer. And I want to thank our favorite woodwright for this photo.

I constantly get asked which plane is which, and while our limited edition poster on plane spotting(update: no longer available) has some basic profiles (and get the poster while we still have some - it's a limited edition and we are almost out), I thought it might be worthwhile to give you some links on how to do serious plane spotting.

Most of these sites don't go into the minutia of different versions of the same tool, but some sites do. If you're spotting planes because you want to use them, the most important aspect of plane spotting is figuring out if the version of an old tool you are about to get has the right features.

For Stanley planes, Patrick Leach's Blood and Gore is the gold standard on the web.

For the anti-Stanley folks, here is a link to Miller's Falls plane info.

For Record planes, try these two sites: and

For an overview of wooden planes, including illustrations of just about every permutation of wooden planes, John Whelan's book is the way to go. If on the other hand, you want to get more information on the dates and manufacturer of a wooden plane you already own, then "Guide To The Makers of American Wooden Planes, 5th Edition" is the way to go.

We stock a reprint of several Norris Catalogs with come commentary by yours truly. On the web has loads of info.

This site, which has a ways to go, is a good place to start learning about Spiers models and planes.

I know I have missed a fair number of great sites, so let me know about any omissions and I will add them to the list.

Join the conversation
05/24/2017 Rex Wenger
Thanks for a very good source for planes. Have been collecting and restoring for about 60 years. I am always trying to find info on ols planes with odd names.

05/25/2017 Rich Marton
I didn't think I was that slow. The email for Joel's Blog was delivered Wednesday evening and by Thursday morning the Plane Spotting poster is no longer found in your catalog. Reprints please!
Sargent planes are common, have only a few basic types, and are therefore not easy to date precisely. There used to be a good website on Sargents, but I can't find it right now.
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