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Leonard Bailey and his Woodworking Planes

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Found in Departments: The History of Tools and Early Technical Processes
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Code: AQ-1222
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AQ-1222
An Unrecognized Genius of the American Industrial Revolution
by Paul Van Pernis, John G. Wells

Many of the most fundamental designs of hand planes can be credited to Leonard Bailey, a 19th century cabinetmaker and tool designer who worked independently and for Stanley Rule & Level Co. Bailey's design ideas continue to be used by Stanley and other plane manufacturers to this day.

Bailey planes, collectable and still used nowadays, made the transition from wooden carpenter’s planes to fully adjustable metal planes. This transition took the tools from super-skilled small scale work to products that reflected the Industrial Revolution. As suggested by its title, “Leonard Bailey and his Woodworking Planes: An Unrecognized Genius of the American Industrial Revolution,” seeks to gain recognition for Bailey and his work. As this book claims, “Leonard Bailey’s early patents for woodworking bench and block planes led to the development of a series of planes that became the standard for which other competing planes were judged. His continuous improvements in the design and performance of his planes left an indelible mark on the world of tools and were a significant factor in the United States replacing England as the world leader in manufactured hand tools. The woodworking bench and block planes produced worldwide today are fundamentally unchanged from those produced by Leonard Bailey in the later half of the 19th century.”

The authors (one an architect and the other a physician, united in their passion for antique hand tools) state their claim simply: Bailey “deserves more credit than he has received among America’s great inventors.” The book covers the three decades of Bailey’s professional life (1852-1884) - from his beginnings as a tool innovator making spokeshaves and split frame bench planes through his work at Stanley (1869-1874) and his own company, L. Bailey & Company, and the sale of his Victor Tool business to Stanley.”

Bailey ultimately left the tool world entirely and began a new career as manufacturer of copy presses under the name Bailey Manufacturing Company. At the time of his death he held 46 patents (granted or assigned to him) for tools and copy presses.

This lavishly illustrated book features photos of Bailey’s tools, sketches from his patent applications, images from Bailey’s catalogues and other contemporary advertising. It was clearly a labor of love and will be of interest to tool collectors and anyone interested in the history of technology.

Hardcover. 206 pages.


Pages: 248
Binding: TP
Publisher: Astragal Press

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