The Superior Works: Inner Sanctum

The name Thomas Norris immediately gives handplane lovers heart palpitations, and rightfully so. While several of his competitors made planes of similar quality and design, Norris went one step farther by designing and patenting an adjuster that performs both lateral adjustment and depth adjustment of the iron. Norris received his patent on July 24, 1913, a relatively late time for an innovation in plane design. Great Britain still had a relatively thriving woodworking trade that relied heavily upon handtools and the tradesmen were ready, willing, and able to pony up the pounds it took to own a Norris plane equipped with an adjuster.

The example pictured here is an A1, the Norris designation for their jointers and panel planes. This one measures in at 22 1/2" long, but was offered up to 28 1/2" long! Norris jointers are very scarce when compared to the panel and smoothing planes - it just didn't make good economic sense to use a plane of this quality for jointing when a common Bailey plane, followed by a fine infill smoother, would yeild the same results.

The plane is a dovetailed construction with the steel sides dovetailed to the sole. The dovetailing on planes such as these can be difficult to see as the joints are peened together to prevent them from coming apart. The cavities of the plane are stuffed with select rosewood, the wood of choice for quality tools. The lever cap is gunmetal and has the company's name and model number incised in it. The mouth is but a few pieces of paper in width, a sign of a premium infill plane. The tool's appreciable mass - the thing could easily double as a horse weight - makes it slice through the nastiest wood with nary a slowing of motion.

This example retains its full length iron, original lustre on the metal, and finish on the rosewood. It's a serious plane for warped souls who only want the best that money can buy.

[ START ] | [ PREV ] | [ NEXT ] | [ END ]

pal, February 17, 1998