The Society for the Preservation and Study of American Wooden Planes 

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The Society for the Preservation and Study of American Wooden Planes

About Bruce Bradley


My interest in collecting tools, particularly wooden planes, came about rather slowly. Almost nineteen years ago I bought an old carpenters chest to use as a coffee table but it wasn't until about six months later I decided it would be nice to have a few old tools to put in it. I've always enjoyed woodworking, old things, and history. My first old tools were a couple of wooden bench planes that I bought at an auction and picked up a few other odds and ends over the next few years to supplement my "collection". Most of those early acquisitions are now long gone, making way for better specimens. However, I still have that first tool chest, and it is serving its' intended purpose, housing old woodworking tools. Actually my first love is tool chests, but as they tend to take up a lot of room and a lot of my tool budget, my collecting has turned to the wooden plane. I started collecting tools as many of us have, buying anything and everything. It took a few years to get myself settled into a direction for my collecting to take and of all the first tools I bought I liked the wooden plane the best. My collecting of wooden planes has changed directions several times. As Mike Humphrey has described of his own collection, it is fluid. I think this best describes my collection.

I would like to share with you my two favorite "finds". I say "finds" because I didn't actually find them, they found me. The first is a carpenters chest that belonged to my great, great, great grandfather. Not long after I started getting serious about collecting tools word got around to relatives and one of my uncles said he had a chest of tools that I could have if I wanted it. Boy, did I! It is an almost complete set of tools dating to the 1830s including 24 planes, most made by upstate New York makers. The chest is large with tiger and bird's-eye maple and walnut burl veneer inlay. It had been stored in a barn for years and everything was filthy dirty but after two weeks of cleaning and repairing I had a prize possession.  Don't ever expect to see this one come on to the tool market.

A couple of years ago I was at a local estate auction and an acquaintance of mine walked up to me and asked if I would be interested in a plane he picked up recently. He described it to me as best he could. He is not a tool person, but a dealer in general antiques. I couldn't believe what he was describing. We left the auction and went to his house. In the garage on top of a few boxes was a Tidey patent double beveling plane. He knew it was a good plane but didn't know how good. I gladly gave him his asking price and now it resides with me.

I became involved with this venture when I responded to an ad placed in another publication by mark Thompson. Mark was looking for information regarding planes marked M. CARR. As it happened I had just found a pair of match planes a few months earlier with that imprint. Realizing our collecting interests were very similar Mark decided we should start a little club. Had I known what I was in for...

Well here we are with a hundred plus members and a quarterly newsletter. Who knew?


Bruce E. Bradley


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Last modified: August 03, 2001. 
Copyright (c) 2001 by The Society for the Preservation and Study of American Wooden Planes. All Rights Reserved. No part may be reproduced by any means without express written permission.