A Norris ‘A31’ Thumb Plane that nearly graced my shelf before being sold on. Lovely little plane, in the hard-to-find adjustable configuration, with rosewood wedge and front bun. Apologies for the poor-quality pics, (they’re not mine). Plane is 5 1/2″ by 1 1/2″, with iron of 1 1/4″.
On eBay right now. Doesn’t seem right and I find no reference anywhere to a scraper plane having been produced. Not for me to say, but if you’re going to invent something, maybe invent something that’s never been seen!
Well. This is a tale of one plane actually, but the second image may as well be a second plane, for all you will recognise.
I sold this Norris A5 a couple of weeks ago. Straight from a master carpenter’s toolchest. I ‘ummed and ahhed’ about selling it, because it had just the right amount of wear, no damage whatsoever and a full original iron.
However, I tend to keep only tools I really need, or don’t have, and decided to sell it to cover the outlay of buying a large job lot. The plane went to a buyer and all was good on the transaction.
The plane is now back on the market, with what I can only describe as a ‘makeover’. It has been buffed to oblivion, all trace of it’s history, the marks from it’s owner and it’s own patination removed.
Not a hint remains that this plane has been lovingly used and cared for, for well over a hundred years. The buyer is flipping it on eBay in it’s freshly polished, preened and shellaced state. The poor owner must be turning in his grave.
It’s my personal opinion that only grime should be wiped from quality tools, (and there are other methods for sensitively removing other problems such as rust).
These quality tools will likely outlast us all if kept properly, doing this sort of terrible work to a good plane not only ruins it in the short term, but denies future owners the chance of seeing how time has worked it’s magic.
A recent tool hunt turned up an early Norris ‘5’, with lovely rosewood infills. I found a proper Norris iron too, so I’ll have to swap that and give this plane a try.
For many, the work of the London firm Norris represents the height of planemaking, and even in their day the price the planes represented a fair portion of a craftsman’s salary. Nowadays however, you can’t ignore the incredible work of people like Konrad Sauer at Sauer & Steiner and, of course, Raney Nelson at Daed Toolworks. There are many other new planemakers building on the work of infill makers like Norris. Shortly, I’ll write a big post about Norris, but in the meantime a fairly new site has sprung up which gives a good type study of Norris planes, should you wish to do more research.