Here’s yet another tool that has been lost to history — The 1875 Pike & Dean’s Patent No. 4 smoothing plane. This particular item is exceedingly rare; there is one for sale right now at Jim Bode Antique Tools for about $5500.00. Holy crap..
There is no more information about Pike & Dean’s to be found, at least with my ten-minute search session, but this is another example of the ingenious ways manufacturers in the latter 1800’s got around the Stanley/Bailey patents of 1867. Their solution was the very cool steam punkish device featured today.
I’m not about to spend anywhere close to $5500.00 for an old tool, no matter how rare it is. So I’ve done the next best thing — I sat down at my laptop and modeled it using a free program called Blender. Here’s a photo of the real thing.
The patent work-around these guys came up with involves how the cutting iron is clamped into position. The piece with the ring-shaped detail is called the lever cap. When the thumb screw at the top is tightened, the lever cap bears down on the iron, securing it in place snugly enough to stay put while cutting, but loose enough so the iron’s cutting angle and depth can be adjusted (By tapping either side or the end of the iron with a mallet — This was before cutting iron angle and depth adjustment mechanisms came along.
The lever cap is installed and removed by loosening the thumb screw and sliding the cap assembly to the left, as shown below. The left vertical side is contoured to provide clearance for the lever cap to slide in and out. When installed with the thumb screw tightened, the ring on the left side of the lever cap and the arc-shaped detail on the right side engage with the corresponding holes and channels on the plane body casting, acting as a fulcrum. The thumb screw and the bottom edge of the lever cap provide clamping force to the iron/chip breaker assembly.
The cutting iron assembly seats against the 45 degree machined surfaces on the plane body casting and the rear wood handle. The slot in the wood is clearance for the screw that holds the iron and chip breaker together. The front knob and rear tote are secured from beneath with three wood screws countersunk into the sole.
Overall, with the exception of the uniquely oddball lever cap and means of attaching the wood bits, this is a conventional smoothing plane, measuring nine inches long and about two and a half inches wide. Once tuned up, it should perform on a par with most of its modern counterparts. It works, but the manufacturing costs for that fancy lever cap system had to be pretty high compared to the competition of the time. I don’t know if the $5500.00 is a good investment or not, but I trust the eventual buyer will enjoy their new acquisition.
That said, I have purchased a vintage tool from Jim Bode Tools and I’m completely satisfied with it. I paid $75.00 for a nice user-grade 100+ year old Ohio Tool Co. wood bodied smoothing plane. It’ll never be a collector item, but that’s not why I bought it. It’s one of the sites I check every few days to see what’s new.
So there it is — One of a handful of these tools known to exist. If you see one in a strip mall antique shop or at a garage sale, don’t pass it by.
A few words on the modeling process: Making the model itself is pretty straightforward once you’ve mastered enough of the basics. But texturing and coloring (AKA shading) that model to make it look realistic is a whole different deal. A little weed helps. Maybe not so much with the creativity but more with patience and perseverance. For the beer can, I copped a generic image off Google, imported it to Blender, and wrapped it around the cylinder I had created. Crude but it sorta works. But, if you rotate the can, the text on the opposite side is mirrored and backward. Heh, I’ll confess, a bit of weed did play a part in that inspiration..
Lastly, the busted arm continues to heal — It’s been a month since the accident and three weeks since the surgery. That four-inch titanium plate is holding everything together pretty good. I started physical therapy this week, and it hurts! I guess it wouldn’t be effective if it was painless.. Mobility is returning, but the doc says I’ll be wearing this sling for at least another month. Oh, and the scar is awesome. It curves a good six inches down from the shoulder to the bicep. I’ll tell strangers I got it in Afghanistan and I can’t say more about it because it’s still classified. I’ll tell little kids I was attacked by one of those raptors from Jurassic Park (and the raptor lost). I’ll tell MAGA Republicans I got it at D.C on 1/6, personally shielding Mitch McConnell from the Trump mob. This is going to be fun..
Don’t forget — Call your mom!