It is not uncommon these days to see aesthetics take a role in tool design, but in earlier times, the onus was more on the utility of a tool, rather than its looks. There are exceptions of course. One of the most interesting time periods was likely the “atomic” age of the 1950s. This was the culmination of the age of streamlining, which began in the 1930s. A good example of this in design are the streamlined trains of this period, such as the Zephyr.
Probably the most recognizable streamlined tools were those designed by Garth Huxtable, of Millers Falls fame – and the most famous was the Millers Falls “Buck Rogers” planes. It is unfortunate that many of Huxtable’s designs never made it to the prototype stage. His block plane study of 1948 clearly illustrates the ergonomic lines of the planes.
It is a shame that none of these designs ever made their way to production. Likely the demise of interesting designs like these coincided with the overall decline in the production of hand tools in the late 1950s. Some elements of these designs have however been reimagined by contemporary plane makers such as Veritas.
Now if they just made them in fire-engine red!