Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sandusky Tool Company Special Planes - Rabbet & Grooving

OK, so we've stumbled across an interesting pair of Sandusky Specials from our friend Mr. Clark at Hyperkitten. Or as they're known a little further south, Especiales. These planes are essentially designed for a single purpose, as many great tools & men were. We get more detail on these planes from both the engravings and description in the later common catalog, 1925. There they are known by the sexy name of 'Weather Strip Planes'. Makes you want to run right out and corner the market, huh?

I bought these because I have a problem, and assumed them to stink at everything other than helping weather strip. It turns out, we've got a couple of real minty planes, and useful ones too. Minty because weatherstripping was probably horrible even back then and people stopped wanting to do it once we were done fighting indians. I know a lot of you are thinking 'this guy is a historical tack driver'.

Whats interesting is that as late as 1925, STC felt they were onto something with these weatherstripping planes, offering them in flavors divinated down by 16th on the rabbets, and 64th of an inch on the Grooving planes.  Yeah, you heard that right. Apparently, weatherstripping in the twenties was less forgiving than a Honduran Dominatrix. All of you are nodding because you know weatherstripping.

This explains to me while silicone caulk cornered the market as fast as you can say 'GOOD GOOGLIE MOOGLIE I MEANT eleventeen sixteenths not thirteen', chucking down your Special Plane as your weatherstripping flopped embarassingly in the breeze.

Anyhoo, a whole page was dedicated to them, at the expense of Coopers tools which must have been flying off the shelf in 1925. 3/11/12 Update: In reading the beyond excellent history by Schwer & Risley in EAIA Chronicle 1993 III, which will be deserving of at least twelve-teen of its own future posts, this was likely due to new management (fall of '24) focusing on remaining specialty business & some new iron-bodied planes and steel spindled clamps; a recognition that the basic wood plane biz was on the decline at this point.

Whats interesting is that in that catalog, they are given stock numbers 182, 183, 184, representing the following:
  • #182 - Special Rabbet or Meeting-Rail Plane
    • 1/2 to 13/16 by 16ths
  • #183 - Special Grooving Plane, with Adjustable Metal Fence
    • 7/64 to 1/4, by 64ths
  • #184 - Special Grooving Plane, with Adjustable Metal Fence, and Solid Handle
    • 7/64 to 1/4, by 64ths
They also offered 'Extra Special' Grooving bits for all the above, to match their 'special' nature.

In the 1877 Sandusky catalog, the only mention I can find is one of them, grouped in at the end of  some pricey self-regulating sash planes and one cheaper model called a Tuscan:
  • #170 Sash Plane, Brass Screws, Self-Regulating; Boxed, Beveled or Ovolo
  • #171 Sash Plane, Brass Screws, Self-Regulating; Boxed, Gothic or Ogee
  • #172 Sash Plane, Brass Screws, Self-Regulating; Dovetailed, Boxed, Beveled or Ovolo
  • #173 Sash Plane, Brass Screws, Self-Regulating; Dovetailed, Boxed, Gothic or Ogee
  • #174 Sash Plane, Tuscan, In two parts
  • #174 1/2, Meeting Rail Plane, for Sash
Enough Cataloging, lets meet the stars today. We have what appears to be a 182, or 'Special Rabbet/Meeting Rail Plane', Our 182 has the following stats: It cuts a 3/4 wide rabbet 3/16 deep, a quarter-inch in from the board edge (that the fence runs on).
woodworking, smoodworking - this thing is a piece of art however you slice it. A nice view of the lower edge of the escapement flattenning as it completes it curve back towards the blade.

This plane escapement can't figure out which way to go. Its center cut, which makes for pretty lines, but when you are running it rank on softwoods, it can bind quickly and easily. A lighter cut may seem go slower at first...

...but if you find the right balance, the plane cuts wonderfully, and spills out goldielocks curls. The worker was a bit off the mark on the last two fence screws, allowing them to drop into the top of what is essentially this planes depth stop. You can see the more potruding one on the left has been filed/sanded to not interfere with clearance.

No trick photography here; this plane was sharp enough and the pine so straight grained, I was able to run the plane in both sides/directions. You may not always be able to do this. A single pass would give you the same depth, but only 3/4 width.
Last but not least, a 183 'Special Grooving Plane with Adjustable Metal Fence'. It's a peach, with original finish in some spots and an odd red hue, some nice striping as opposed to flecking on the finial makes me unsure it is beech. It cuts a 5/32 wide groove 3/16 deep, 3/8ths in from the board edge.
By the way, neither of these are numbered, but both match the engravings in the 1925 catalog.
5 screws for the plow fence, the 2 higher screws penetrate the plane and have wingnuts to hold on the...

...Outside Fence. This can be raised, lowered, or removed and flung about wildly. Appears Aluminum, or a very lightweight steel. definitely not turning that into a blade.

We are busy down here in the south, we dont have time to find scrap wood in a wood shop. Or Special is Cajun for SawSet. Choose your pick - our guy got on the bad side of a saw, way back when.
Heres some details on the blades; interesting to note that it looks like the rabbet blade came factory hand ground from slightly oversize stock, seen below. I guess thats what you gotta do when you start offerring planes in 16ths and 64ths!
Camera angle makes it look like 23/32s, its a true 3/4 though.

A scant 5/32 groove. at its deepest, it gets a little bindy in all but the straighest grain softwoods or lighter hardwoods. As always, the sharper the better.

Two really nice planes, a special thanks to Josh for them. I got to use the grooving plane on some beech and cherry this weekend, letting in a groove for a thin quartersawn oak lid. It'll be a little keepsake box for Christine. That plane is really a blast to use! I hope you guys can find these, and a use for them, in your shop.

Thanks for sticking around for the ride. Back to the bench,


1 comment:

  1. I bought a carpenter's chest recently with a set of 3 sash planes in great shape. Wish I could post a pic here for you. They're beautiful.