Block Plane

DSC_0264I picked up this old block plane at a garage sale for $15. I figured that because it’s old, it’ll have a story to tell me. A very simple tool, one piece of wood with a tapered wedge to hold the blade in place. Since it’s a hand tool someone had to have put a lot of energy into it to make it work. Let’s see if there’s a thread attached that I can follow…


The first thing I see is someone using a wooden hammer to tap the wedge in place, tightening the blade.

A man, he’s wearing a heavy leather apron and has round spectacles on.

I see a shop, they make banisters there, other things as well. The plane isn’t flat, it doesn’t have a straight blade, it’s rounded to dish something out. He used it on the side of a banister.

There is a wooden sign hanging outside the shop. A horse and cart, the road is dirt. A small bell hangs from the jamb in the upper corner of the door. It jingles when someone opens the door and walks inside. There are round pegs sticking out of the wall, maybe where tools are stored or finished pieces are set. Inside the shop, there is a lot of sawdust on the floor, off to the side an old cash register sits on a small table or counter. The cash register displays numbers on something above the body, like around bar. (I drew a picture of this) There’s a crank handle on the side.

The shopkeeper writes things on a piece of yellow paper, a small pad that he keeps next to the register. “1920” comes as words.

Ok, I’m doing pretty good with this object. I’ll try to get some answers to specific questions.

“Where is this shop located?”   Cambridge Massachutesets. – This came easy, came as words. I didn’t even have to look.

“What id the name on the sign?” O’Rileys (woodworking) Thomas O’Riley. Tougher to get this, couldn’t see the sign, just heard the words. I also get the smell of horse shit outside the shop.

I see a canvas bag with woodworkers tools in it. It’s heavy. The word “Florence” comes. Could be a place or a person. Big, heavy wooden table inside. Made of four by fours. He made it. “2 August, 1914,” he writes it on the pad cash register.

I see some kind of a handle on the front of this plane. Kinda looks like a shovel handle, but different. It looks like a piece is missing.

I see a pile of logs, raw materials for him to use.

So I did some research. There were plenty of unpaved roads in Cambridge in 1914. There were also plenty of horses, people still used them to get around. The cash registers of the period had a crank on the side. I couldn’t find anything specific about O’Rileys, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t out there….