Chisels Marples & Sons Sorby Ward

Gathering chisels

Group vintage chisels
Six various makes and sizes of bevelled chisels, two larger paring chisels, and far right, a mortise chisel.

Chisels come in a variety of guises. Bevelled, mortise, gouges, cranked gouges, cranked bevelled, paring, , the list goes on and on.

Two things I love about vintage chisels though, are beautiful boxwood handles and the fact most of the good makes were made from ‘carbon steel’, or what was known as ‘forged’ or ‘crucible steel’. Meaning the blades were forged, ie hammered under heat, and the resulting edges and steel composition reflected that in the quality of the blade and the edge it can hold. And these old chisels really do hold their edge. Put a standard bevel of approximately 25 degrees on them, with a further honed edge, and they are sharp!

There are many different modern varieties of chisel out there now, some of them excellent, like the Lie Nielsen range. The debate over A2 steel or O-1 steel really comes down to whether you want to sharpen your blades more or less often. O-1 steel can be sharpened to a higher degree, with a more shallow bevel, but you will have to sharpen more often.

I’ve started here collecting decent English makes with boxwood handles. Basic bevelled chisels will be good for the majority of jobs, and various sizes will allow you to work on variously sized work, such as finer dovetails. If you really want to get specialized, you can get special ‘dovetail chisels’ which have almost non-existent shoulders, ie the narrow flat along the edges of the chisel. This allows you get right into the dovetails to pare very cleanly. If you’re really smart, you can make your own!

There are a million videos about creating your own dovetails on the web if you want to experiment. I’ll be doing a long post on this at some point when I start making my own. However, here’s a decent video on ‘Woodtreks’ of Craig Vandall Stevens doing a decent job.

Paring chisels are, well, for paring. They are much flatter in profile, which allows you to run flatly along the workpiece much more easily, paring away small amounts of stock.

Mortice chisels are obviously for making mortices. Here’s Frank Klausz, doing it properly. They are designed to be hammered, they’re much more solid, with a square section blade, rather than flattened.

For the time being, I’m collecting bevelled and mortise chisels, the types and sizes I think I’ll use the most for my particular work. From then I’ll move onto a couple of in-cannel gouges, for cutting out small curved sections, such as overlapping mouldings.

Vintage bevelled chisel by ‘Ward’ of Sheffield, UK.

Vintage bevelled chisel by ‘Marples & Sons’. Note ‘shamrock’ logo.

Vintage bevelled chisel from ‘Sorby’. Note ‘Mr.Punch’ logo.

Vintage ‘Marples & Sons’ bevelled chisel, with grinder marks put on by previous owner for identification.

John Moseley & Sons People Planes Tool Makers

Being John Moseley

John Moseley moulding planesJohn Moseley moulding planes

Last month’s tool haul included some beautiful John Moseley ‘side-bead’ moulding planes. I’m always interested in moulding planes, but these are in particularly good condition.

John Moseley is a name that creeps cropping up in my various web searches for tools. He’s synonymous with good plane making and he’s of particular interest to me because his business address, and indeed his common maker’s mark, is usually listed as ’54-55 Broad St, Bloomsbury, London’.

Now it just so happens I cycle through the streets of London to get to work every day, and my current route takes me through the heart of Bloomsbury, so I thought I’d try and find out where his premises used to be.

The first problem I encountered is that Broad Street does not exist in Bloomsbury any more. There’s a Broad Street in neighbouring Soho, (home of the Broad Street pump, which John Snow identified as the source of the 1854 cholera epedemic), but nothing in Bloomsbury.

However, Broad Street is clearly shown on Greenwood’s famous London map of 1827, (you can see it down in the lower left corner of a section reproduced below).

Greenwood’s map of 1827

Some searching later, and it’s clear there’s been a name change. Broad Street is now just an extension of High Holborn. This is confirmed on the UCL website. Of Broad Street and the area of St.Giles, they quote:

Thomas Beames, writing in the middle of the nineteenth century, described the whole area of St Giles as the type of “the lowest conditions under which human life is possible”, but he was at a loss to explain why: it was not on the river (at that time a haunt of criminals), had not had sanctuary areas (which often became criminal rendezvous places) and had been a rich area in the seventeenth century (Thomas Beames, The Rookeries of London: Past, Present, and Prospective, 2nd edn, 1852)

I’ve been searching online for some good photos of Broad Street before it turned into High Holborn. I’m hoping the wonderful people at the Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre will be able to find something. They’re very knowledgeable about the local area and think some photos might exist in a London Transport archive. If so, and if I find a picture of John Moseley’s premises, I will certainly post it on the blog.

I also found reference to a chap named Jeff Warner, who uses 19th century Sun fire insurance records, to find out a bit more about Moseley. Seems at some point, the family business moved to Covent Garden.

‘The records also helped to establish that another tool dealer, John Moseley and Son of 16-17 New Street, Covent Garden, was taken over by William Moseley in October 1828 after the death of John Moseley on 10 June 1828. More importantly, the Sun insurance records show that John Moseley was the possessor of a horse mill in the yard of his premises, which means that some kind of manufacturing was taking place, as the mill would have provided power to run a saw or perhaps a grinding wheel. This important piece of information had not been recorded in any other source.’ Link

He cites Christopher Gabriel and the Tool Trade in 18th Century London as a book which was a big help in finding out more about John Moseley and his family. And in another book that comes up as containing this information, Eighteenth-Century Woodworking Tools by James. M Gaynor,  I find a picture of the Covent Garden premises, as used by William Moseley on his trade card.

‘Fig. 5. Trade card of John Moseley, New Street, London, showing the retail shop in New Street. Although this card probably dates from the 1820’s, this is the same premises (renumbered) that he had occupied since the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Image courtesy Guildhall Library, Corporation of London.’

Horwood map

I then found a few old maps of Covent Garden, including a section reproduced above from Christopher Horwood’s 26 inch to the mile Map of London, Westminster & Southwark 1799, which clearly shows New Street. However, looking at our modern day Google, the road has been renamed as New Row, although the building still seems to be there. Number 16-17 still looks the same, except for the hideous slice of retail that now underpins so many beautiful London buildings, in this case, a Costa Coffee shop.


At some point, New Street was re-named as New Row


17 New Row as it now looks today. (2012)

What changes have I not seen in the line of route not many hundreds of yards in length between the eastern corner of Pall Mall and Garrick Street itself. The last-named thoroughfare was not constructed when I was young, and it owed its existence very much to the untiring efforts of Albert Smith, who did much more as a social reformer than his contemporaries gave him credit for, and who was continually protesting in the newspapers – he was the “London Scoundrel” of the Times – and in his own books and magazine articles, against a narrow and inconveniently crowded little thoroughfare called New Street, running out of St. Martin’s Lane, towards Covent Garden, which New Street is still existent, but the traffic in which has been much lightened by the building of Garrick Street, which obviously derived its name from the Garrick Club, which migrated thither from its original home, King Street. (From Victorian London – Publications – Social Investigation/Journalism – London Up to Date, by George Augustus Sala, 1895 – Three P.M. : At the National Gallery) Link

A poster gives news of a move for John Moseley & Sons, from their established premises in New Street, further east along the adjoining King St.

1892 William Marples & Sons acquired the business of John Moseley and Son, plane makers, London.

At Hackney Tools, we buy tools as well as sell them. If you have any planes in very good condition, with John Moseley or Moseley & Sons stamps, get in touch.

Record Shoulder planes

Record 042 shoulder plane

Record 042 shoulder plane
Lovely old classic Record 042. No chips around the mouth and in a half-decent wooden box, (although not the original one it would have come in from the factory).

I finally scored a Record 042 shoulder plane, which came in from a seller who had seen my website.Very pleased that my home-made website actually works and buoyed with childlike enthusiasm, I thought I’d post a few pics.

Record 042 shoulder plane
Sexy ‘as though reclining on chaise-longue’ shot, showing the clean, square soles of these planes.

The Record 042 is specifically designed for cutting rebates, or ‘rabbets’. It’s also very useful for cleaning up tenons and for any other joints that need to be kept very square. This is due to the fact the tool’s square sides can be laid flat as you cut against perpendicular edges. It can of course, be used in the left or the right hand. The iron of the tool not only projects by some 10-thou through the mouth of the plane, but should also be set to project by around half that, from either side of the plane. With this set correctly, movement of the tool means you cut square on all three sides.

Record 042 shoulder plane
The cantilevered top lever pushes down on the iron, to keep it in place. The pressure is adjusted by an adjustment screw at the other end of the lever pushing down.
Record 042 shoulder plane
This image shows iron in mouth of plane. Need to work on getting this set up correctly. With no mouth adjustment, it’s a case of gauging it, depending on the stock you’re working I guess.
Record 042 shoulder plane
With the iron out, you can see the mouth from inside and decent bed to hold it secure.
Record 042 shoulder plane
Previous owner had a pretty steep bevel on the iron, and for me, it’s not even projecting enough to cut. Will have to check bevel angles for the irons on these planes, but with the compound angle of the bed, I should think this needs to be shallower?

This particular model was manufactured post-1938, as the ‘Made in England’ casting  would have previously read ‘British Made’ before 1938. The plane is 8″ long with a 3/4″ wide sole. It’s a classic design and modern shoulder planes from well-known tool makers show that the design has lasted. Lie Nielsen’s shoulder planes for one, are basically Record 042’s with mouth adjustment. The Record 072, 073 and 074 do have mouth adjustment. I’m going to spend some time adjusting and honing this blade to get the right projection. I think I may even have to get a new blade, we’ll see how it goes.






Compass planes Hields

Hields wooden compass plane

Hields wooden compass plane
Wooden compass plane, made by Hields of Nottingham.

Picked up this beautiful compass plane as it cost next to nothing and I was so intrigued as to whether it would still work well. I can’t find much about Hields of Nottingham online, so if anyone has more information, I’d be pleased to know more. I need the right job to come up to try this plane out, but something will come up at some point no doubt. (Observe the deluded reality of the vintage tool collector).

I’m also slightly in the dark about how far the blade should protrude from the sole on these planes, and how the plane should be set-up. Again, if anyone has more info, beyond what for me, will be plain trial and error, please get in touch.

Hields wooden compass plane
Mathieson blade held in place by wooden wedge.
Hields wooden compass plane
Image shows blade protruding though sole and the basic curve of the sole, allowing work on a concave work piece. The adjustable front piece can be raised or lowered, effectively altering the radius the plane will work in.

Hields wooden compass plane

Hields wooden compass plane

Planes Stanley

Meet the Baileys (Part 2)

Revel in the beauty that is the Stanley No.7 Jointer plane.

Stanley Bailey No.7
Stanley Bailey No.7

Stanley Bailey No.7
The blade that’s in this plane isn’t the original, although it’s a Stanley blade. I’ll switch it out when I get round to finding an original.


Stanley Bailey No.7
Coquettish ‘look at my bottom’ shot, shows small adjustment nut, and that steel lower bolt, that allows the whole frog to move forward and backward.


Stanley Bailey No.7
3rd-gen Bailey frog receiver, as seen on my other No.4 smoother. You can’t moan about these, they’re solid.

[notice]Tool Nerd Alert! The following information is reserved for people who, like me, probably should get out and socialise a bit more.[/notice]
I believe this plane is a Type 11. It has rosewood handle, and the front knob is a ‘low’ version. Manufacture date is therefore 1910-1918, and the blade should carry a pretty wacky ‘V’ ‘Stanley, New Britain, Conn, USA’ logo. It has a small brass depth adjuster nut and it has the ‘APR-19-10’ patent date added behind the other dates on the plane casting, behind the frog. Please let me know if I’ve got this wrong. You learn by your mistakes!

Stanley Bailey No.7
I could, and at some point will, write a long post about repairs. One of the things that attracted me to this plane, was the beautifully repaired handle. To me, a nicely done repair is as interesting as a makers mark. As with a lot of these finds, you can’t help but wonder who did this and exactly how he went about it. What a lovely job.


Stanley Bailey No.7
Someone wanted to make sure this didn’t get nicked!


Stanley Bailey No.7
As previously mentioned, this isn’t he original blade, and a close up shows it’s a bit crappy. However, this shot is just to show how a chipbreaker exaggerates the angle of the cut shaving, once the blade is slicing the wood. The chip breaker lifts the shaving a little more, making it break out.

Jointer planes like this one, are used to true an edge, so that successive pieces butt up against one another very closely, or they’re used to get the face of a piece of wood very flat. At 22″ long, it’s one of Stanley’s biggest planes, being only secondary to the No.8, which is 24″. Jointers are long planes because the ‘sole’ of the plane is less likely to follow the ups and downs of the wood, but will instead remove the high and lows, ready for planing with a smaller-sized plane.

I think these planes are just beautiful, and for not much money, you can snag one on an online auction site, and have a killer tool working in no time. If the one you find is rough, rusty and looks like crap, this is the sort of thing you need to do.

So there it is. The second of my Bailey family.

I buy old, good quality woodworking tools. If you have any tools you would like to sell, please get in touch using the contact form on the home page.