The block planes of Record.

When one thinks of metal planes from the U.K., it is hard to ignore those made by Record. The British company C. & J. Hampton Ltd. registered the trademark “Record” in 1909, but it wasn’t until 1931 that the company began manufacturing planes, based on the the patterns of Stanley. As such, there is nothing inherently innovative about these block planes – their main selling point may have been the “TUNGSTEN STEEL cutting irons” (high-speed steel). These blades made of tungsten carbide were supposedly harder, more resistant to wear, and produced a keener cutting edge. The Tungsten also prevented grain growth in the steel, producing a small grain size, and making the steel more resistant to shock.



One of the interesting things about Record planes is their colour – painted surfaces on the body or lever cap are usually blue. The blue used in the original colour specification was known as “BS110 Roundel Blue”, yet it apparently varied in shade over the years, from a dark blue pre-war to light blue in later years. Record produced a number of block plane models, like many other plane manufacturers of the same era. This is quite astounding considering the smaller British market. Conversely Millers Falls, who started manufacturing planes a little earlier than Record, had a much larger repertoire. The numbering of the Record block planes suggests a direct correlation with the Stanley numbering system. There are some slight differences in the mechanisms used on some planes, but the planes are doppelgängers.

No.09½ – adjustable (lateral, depth), 6″ (1934-2004)
No.015 – adjustable (lateral, depth), 7″ (1934-1943)
No.016 – adjustable (lateral, depth), 6″ (1934-1943)
No.017 – adjustable (lateral, depth), 7″, nickel-plated lever cap (1934-1943)
No.018 – adjustable (lateral, depth), 6″, nickel-plated lever cap (1934-1967)
No.019 – adjustable (lateral, depth), 7″, nickel-plated lever cap (1934-1943)
No.0101 – non-adjustable, 3½” (1935-1943)
No.0102 – non-adjustable, 5½” (1932-1974)
No.0110 – non-adjustable, 7″ (1931-1994)
No.0120 – adjustable (depth), 7″ (1931-1982)
No.0130 – double-end non-adjustable, 8″ (1931-1982)
No.0220 – adjustable (depth), 7″ (1931-1994)
No.0230 – adjustable (lateral, depth), 6″, nickel-plated lever cap (1932-1943)


The initial four block planes increased to 13 by the late 1930’s, but wartime restrictions saw six of those models disappear (although some appeared in catalogs up until 1962). By the mid-1980’s there were three block planes left, augmented by the addition of a fourth:

No.60½ adjustable (lateral, depth), 6″, low-angle (1982-2004)



Tools of the Trades – Fall 2014 show roundup

There was excitement in the air, as usually precedes a tool show – but I have to say I was somewhat disappointed this show. It was probably because I didn’t exactly find anything truly bizarre or something that made me go “WOW”. I cruised   around the stalls for a couple of hours but ended up with a few block planes and a MF hand drill. Like always there were some tools in abundance – but seems like few were selling. This time I noticed quite a few vises – including vintage Record woodworking vises, and an abundance of Millers Falls hand drills. There were some reasonably nice infills, and a few Victor block planes that I had my eye on – but didn’t end up buying any. For the starter-collector/user there is always a lot of stuff.

Here are some snap-shots of the show.

ToT14_pics1 ToT14_pics2

I ended up buying four block planes: a Record 220, a Birmingham Plane Co. plane, a Keen Kutter K120, and a Stanley 120 (in excellent condition).


Stanley 120, Keen Kutter K120, Record 220, and Birmingham Plane Co. block planes

.. and a yet to be determined model Millers Falls hand drill. Oh and a very rusty Stanley 102 which was basically free when I bought the Keen Kutter – it will become fodder for the de-rusting experiments (which will progress soon).


The MF hand drill.



The block planes of Birmingham

The Birmingham Plane Company (also known as Birmingham Plane Mfg. Co.), located in Birmingham Connecticut, manufactured planes from  1884-1900, although the company existed from 1855 to 1891. In 1891 the company changed its name to the Derby Plane Co., and continued manufacturing until 1900, although many of the blades continued to carry the Birmingham markings. They made a variety of planes, yet little is known of the company beyond the interesting all-metal planes they made.

They produced five block planes:

  • Iron block plane: 3-1/4″, 4″, 5-3/8″
  • Adjustable iron block plane: 5-5/16″, 7″

I managed to pick up the 5-3/8″ plane at the Tools of the Trades this past weekend. Not in super exceptional example from the perspective of Japanning, but solid, and containing no cracks or other structural problems – which is always good considering the plane is over 100 years old.


The 5-3/8″ Birmingham block plane

The blade has the following marking : “B PLANE”, and otherwise the plane has no other markings (ED. on closer inspection with a magnifying glass, there is a faint 102 on the heel of the plane) . The body retains some Japanning, but the lever cap is almost bare. The blade depth adjustment mechanism is a simple lever pivoting on post, with two teeth that mesh with grooves on the rear of the blade, moving the blade up and down.


Blade support and depth adjustment, the BPLANE marking on the blade.


Parts of the plane

What is unique about this plane are its flared sides, which may have been designed this way to help the user maintain a grip on the block plane. The sides of the plane are bevelled 85º from the base of the plane. The plane also has a lever cap with a prominent hump.


Frontal view showing the flared sides, and profile showing the humped lever cap