The Rare & Early Planes of the Bailey Tool Company

by Harold Unruh

(Webmaster's note: This article was scanned from the September 1995 issue of ToolTalk. To view the patent, you can click here to visit Google patent search, then enter the patent number 112675.)

The earliest known woodworking planes manufactured by The Bailey Tool Company were made under Patent No. 112,675. granted to Joseph R Bailey on March 14, 1871. Manufacturing of the planes began after the formation of The Bailey Tool Company in 1872 by Selden A Bailey. The following year, on November 11,1873. an improvement of the 1871 patent was granted to William H. Brown and David F. Williams. This patent provided a revised design for the cutter clamping mechanism of the planes. No doubt. production of the earlier planes manufactured solely under the March 14, 1871 patent did not extend beyond the patent improvement date and therefore were made for less than two years.

The purpose of the March 14, 1871 patent was to protect the method of securing the cutter in placing using an eccentric lever bar combined with a plate that slides at right angles between the bar and the cutter. This combination is Joseph R Bailey's patented feature that sets his plane design apart from earlier plane designs that may have used a curved rod to hold the cutter in place. The clamping bar extended through the plane side rails and the lever was located on the outside of the rail. A cap iron was included which had no provision for attachment to the cutter, a feature that is quite different from most other planes. The planes were manufactured such that they require cap irons with the original cutters to make up the space between the cutter and the clamping plate. The March 14, 1871 patent also introduced the plane side rail shape that was characteristic of all planes manufactured by The Bailey Tool Company.

The outside lever arrangement and non-attaching cap iron was similar to Joseph R Bailey's July 26, 1870 patent for box scrapers. The box scraper design, however, did not provide for a sliding plate between the clamping bar and the cutter. In addition, he stated that the cutter on the box scraper could be used with or without the cap iron. Box scrapers observed do not have enough space between the bar and the frame to allow for inclusion of the cap iron. During the production period of the box scrapers, they were basically manufactured without modification.

Bailey Tool Company bench planes underwent several modifications during the relatively short period that the company manufactured woodworking planes. No doubt. the outside level location on the early planes interfered with its use during some operations. This may have been a contributing factor to the short production period of the March 14, 1871 patent planes and provided inspiration for design of the 1873 patent improvements.

Surviving planes made under the 1871 patent are rare. Planes manufactured under the 1873 patent also used a lever mechanism to secure the cutter; however, the lever was located within the confines of the side rails. This patent improvement in conjunction with later improvements were used to make planes that are somewhat more abundant than the earlier ones, but they are still scarce. Later lines of Bailey Tool Company planes are yet more plentiful, but they are also rather scarce. Anyone interested in obtaining more information on The Bailey Tool Company planes should refer to Patented Transitional & Metallic Planes in America, Vol. I & 11 by Roger K Smith.