Fales' Patent Variable Bench Planer: Constituting Plow, Dado, Filletster, Matching Sash, Hollows, Rounds, Beads, Rabbets, Nosings, Case Mouldings, Quarter Rounds, Bevel Planer, Snipper Bits, etc., etc.
The greatest time and labor saving combination of tools ever invented. Universally endorsed by carpenters.
Otis. A Smith advertisement in Carpentry and Building Magazine, December 1888
This plane has been in my mother's family for years. I used it once, when I was a teenager, to cut the groove in the bottoms of some "long board" skis that I attempted to make. I think it had two cutters then, I used the widest one to plow with, both cutters have since disappeared.
Just the other day I was surfing eBay looking for a plow plane and I was a little shocked to find that this plane with most of its parts was up for auction! I think the bidding was at $1200 when I saw it, I have no idea what the final price was.
I was pretty happy to discover that I owned an Otis A. Smith Variable bench planer, Fales' Patent 1884, and to find out that Amos Fales was living in Denver, Colorado (just down the hill from me) when he received the first patent.
I pulled it out of a tool chest and cleaned it a little this morning. As I was wiping off some of the grime, I thought that maybe some of its parts once resided in an old Fordson tractor tool box that was in my grandfather's garage. I am pretty confident that those parts and cutters where thrown away by my grandmother and mother during different cleaning episodes, plus it would been hard for those parts to survive the mauling they must have received from my older cousins who ransacked the garage whenever they went to visit our grandmother.
There's the patent dates.
After some research on the internet, I realize now how rare this plane is and that it will cost me some really shiny pennies to start buying parts for it. I have a few contacts with a local tool collectors club, maybe I will start my search there.
I do have four nice Disston saw handles with screws and medallions that I would be willing to part with for some parts or even a reprint of the owners manual for this plane.
I am not selling this plane!
My mother always told me that this plane belonged to my great grandfather, John M. Wilson (1847-1906) and that my grandfather, Rufus Wilson (1881-1952), used it in his carpentry work. My great grand father was a photographer and farmer, but my grand father was known for his carpentry skills, I suspect that he was the one who acquired it.
While cleaning the handle I discovered the name of someone who once owned this plane - R.C. Jensen. I wonder who he was.
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