® ® ® A Journal of Tool Collecting published by CRAFTS of New Jersey ® ® ®
An Unusual Gage Block Plane
by Greg Welsh
A few years ago I attended one of the Brown Auctions and spotted an unusual block plane. I was quite pleased when my bid was the winner at hammer fall. Upon close examination the plane was apparently a low angle block plane, and at, as near as I can measure an angle of 6 degrees, it must be one of the lowest angle block planes ever made. The throat opening measures 5/16”. The overall length is 7 1/8”, and the width is 2”. Underneath the iron the body is stamped with the patent date of Apr. 15, '13.
When I got a copy of the patent papers I saw that it displayed a wooden front knob. Whether the original few planes that appear to exist were offered with the knob or not is purely conjectural. Thinking it would show better I turned one from apple to match the patent illustration. None of the extent planes appear to have ever been finished as the castings are all in a rough condition. No polishing or finish applied. The iron adjustment mechanism is very similar to the wood bottom bench planes made by the Gage Tool Company, Vineland, N.J.
Carl Bopp, who has researched the Gage family, said that this plane was patented in France, England, and Canada as well as the United States. They must have had some big plans for this plane, but they never came to fruition. Why? We will probably never know.
Ironically, The exact same model plane was offered the following year at Brown's auction and thankfully sold for a bit more than I had paid the prior year. It made me feel a lot better knowing that I hadn't overbid the year before for my plane. There may be others known to exist, but these two and two others are the only ones known by Carl to have survived.
If anyone has any additional information regarding this plane please contact me, Greg Welsh.
Origonally published January 2005