Monday 3 June 2024

The medieval toolchest: the plane (part 7): another ship-like form plane

Recently I could borrow the book 'Antique woodworking tools' by David Russell, a photobook lavishly illustrated with all kinds of antique tools from his collection (but mainly, too modern Norris planes to be interesting for this blog). A few medieval woodworking tools were depicted, among them an early medieval plane I had not seen before.

The 'Russell' plane, dating between 250-400 AD. Probable origin Scandinavia. Photo scanned from the book 'Antique woodworking tools', ISBN 978-1898565055. 

The problem with archeological find at collectors is that the finding location is obscure. The same here: probable origin Scandinavia. The origin is likely based on the finds of similar looking planes from bogs in Denmark (see the plane part 5). This one however is much larger in size. Its length is 50.1 cm (the sole measures 45.7 cm), and the gap for the blade is 3.2 cm. The angle for the blade stands at 50 degrees. The sole of the plane is flat. The iron was secured with a wedge (of which a part remains) against the iron pin.

Compared to the Vimose and Nydam planes (I do not have the actual sizes of the Nydam plane, but a replica was shown along a ruler of 10 inch) this plane is about double their size.  Also the function is different, as the Vimose planes are moulding planes with a hollow sole, contrary to the flat sole of this plane. 

A medieval pump drill

The 'Russell' pump drill dating from the 15th century or earlier. Photo scanned from the book 'Antique woodworking tools', ISBN 978-1898565055. 

The book also contained a pump drill of medieval origin. These kind of drills were used for woodworking, but also for boneworking (see the Libro the Juegos of Alphonso X the wise) and surgery (trepanning). This drill measures 58,2 cm by 54.6 cm and has a granite flying wheel. The shaft is adze cut and passes through a carved crosspiece before it is fitted into the flywheel. A (modern) thong passes through the V-shaped notch in the end of the shaft and is knotted though each end of the cross-piece. The thong is would round the shaft and pressing down the crosspiece starts the motion. The flywheel action rewinds the thong, and pumping continues the motion.