The Society for the Preservation and Study of American Wooden Planes 

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Mark's Bio
Mark's Bio Larry's Bio Bruce's Bio Dick's Bio


The Society for the Preservation and Study of American Wooden Planes

Mark R. Thompson


This is the first of four initial biographies which will introduce the founding members of our group.    Since this was my brainchild, a generous way to point out the biggest mouth, it was decided that I should be first.

I began collecting somewhat late and only after a bit of help.  Although she is loathe to admit it, Evelyn, my wife,  is responsible. When we met about 15 years ago, I had never been to a yard sale. In fact, when she suggested that we stop at one, the thought of buying someone else’s cast-offs was pretty unappealing. A couple of chisels and my first saw set later, I was hooked.  In fact, Ev recently uttered the words that indicate to every tool man that he has arrived--- “you’re  obsessed!”.

In the beginning, my collecting followed the usual pattern, with familiar objects such as Stanley. I naturally progressed to a broader view and made the standard attempt to collect every tool left on the face of the earth. When that failed, as it has for all of us, I did what everyone except Jim Bigham has done;  I resolved with a heavy heart, to focus my collecting goals.

At first, Stanley seemed like a good route. However, it quickly became apparent that there was an element missing for me.  The breakthrough came quite by chance. I was at a meeting of my local club, LIATCA, when I was approached by a new face ( I’m blessed and cursed by having an approachable face).  This was an unqualified blessing about to unfold.

It seems that this gentleman’s father had recently passed away, leaving his son to deal with a large collection of “Stuff”.  An offer was made for me to examine the contents of two sheds with the option to buy the results of a lifetime of untutored collecting.  Most of what was available was “Stuff”.  However, I did leave with about three milkcrates of tools, users, collectables and interesting.  Based on the fact that I enlisted Jim Bigham as a reference, I was left lighter by a fair portion of my tool budget.  Twice he raised my offers for certain groupings, as the seller stood by smiling,  something I had asked him to do if it were appropriate.

Later as we went through my newly acquired toys, there was one wooden plane that jumped out, calling for attention. It was a bit to low and the chamfers were a bit too wide, all good signs. I looked for the maker’s mark and told Jim that it seemed to be S:FELCH. That was unfamiliar to both of us, so we both looked again to see if there was something we’d missed. When we were satisfied that S:FELCH was it, the real fun began.

After quite a bit of phone work and reference book searching,  we discovered that there were a few planes by S. Felch around, including a beading plane with the exact same mark, whereas mine is a double bladed fixed sash.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Since that point, I have gravitated more and more towards wooden planes. They seemed to have the elements that had been missing from my earlier collecting interests. They each have a personality, they each have a bit of history attached to them. There is also the element of mystery with some of them. Who was S.Felch , when did he live, where did he work?  Why are there so few pieces with his name on them and why are there so many different configurations of his name?  Was this more than one man?

Then I bought an M. Carr.  But I will leave that story for Bruce to tell.

The other members of our initial group are Bruce Bradley of Newark NY , Dick Dickerson  of Cheynne, WY and  finally, kicking and screaming as I drag him in for his computer and tool knowledge,  is Larry Russo of Bohemia NY.

I look forward to introducing many more prominent members in the future.

Remember that this is mostly a club for doers. Watchers are welcome, of course, but the DOERS will choose our direction and speed as a club.  So come on board and make yourself heard.                                                                                                                                                                    

                                    Mark R. Thompson 

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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.