Vintage Rabbet Plane
My dad recently dropped off some more finds from the clean out effort at grandpa's house, including this, a relatively old skew rabbet plane:
What's a skew rabbet plane? Let's split up the term to make this real simple.
A plane is a wood-shaving tool. Long, wide planes are used for flattening lumber. Short, slender planes are used for edge or profile work. And, there's a whole world of planes in between that are, essentially, general purpose. Nowadays most plane bodies are made of metal but way back when they were made, exclusively, of wood.
A rabbet is a woodworking term used to describe a channel or recess cut along the edge of a piece of material. These are commonly confused with dados, which are the same thing but in a different location in the material.
Skew means some angle that isn't parallel or perpendicular to a reference line. In this case it's referencing the angle of the cutting edge of the plane iron, which sits a little cockeyed relative to the plane body and allows for cleaner, more controllable work than if the plane iron were square to the body.
So...a skew rabbet plane is a woodworking tool that's used to cut a little channel along the edge of a piece of wood, and 100+ years ago would have been prevalent in the construction of picture frames and casework, stuff where precision and detail were critical.
To the casual observer this may appear to be a homemade tool, like something somebody crafted in their basement or garage. But it's not; it was made sometime between 1869 and 1929 by the Sandusky Tool Company in Sandusky, OH. It's legit.
Aside from the Sandusky Tool Co. name, the plane is also stamped with the number "146", clearly identifying it - per an 1891 product catalog - as a skew rabbet plane. My (grandpa's) plane happens to be the 1-1/2" variety.
What do we know about the Sandusky Tool Company? They were located on Lake Erie at the very northern tip of Sandusky, OH, operated until 1929, and produced a variety of hand tools serving the carpentry and agriculture industries.
Per an 1888 book detailing Sandusky's industrial giants, the tool company employed several hundred people and brought in hundreds of train car loads of wood each year for use in the construction of various tools and tool handles. The plant covered 5 acres and by 1905, apparently, was producing 75% of all the wood body plane irons sold in America.
Unfortunately for Sandusky Tool Co., several things worked against them in the early part of the 20th century: the agricultural hand tool market was drying up as mechanization took over, the company failed to transition to more metal-bodied planes like their competitor, and recovering from the devastation of a 1924 tornado proved to be an insurmountable task.
The tool company was purchased by a competitor in 1926, and the "Sandusky Tool Co." name disappeared around 1929.
But...if one digs through enough dusty boxes of stuff in their grandpa's basement...it's very possible to find a tool keeping the company's name alive.
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