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Posted On: 20 Jul 2021 by Ian Stanley

British Metal Woodworking Planes 1800-2000 By Jeffrey W. Warner

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   Review by Michael Swede

Some 30 years ago Jeff Warner  who was studying at the London College of Furniture in Whitechapel became interested in the history of metal plane making In Britain.   For the last 20 years he has been researching into the amazingly convoluted story of British planemakers and dealers. The result is this  mammoth  four volume set of books.

The books take us  from the beginnings of the British industry around 1800 with names  such as Robert Towell and Gabriel right through to the decline of British metal plane making in the the post war era up to the 1960’s

These books are lavishly produced and illustrated with multiple photographs of tools and adverts. It delves into the sometimes convoluted intertwined lives of these pioneers of the industry with much information about their lives and times.  Names which will be familiar to woodworkers such as Norris, Buck Stanley and numerous others.

Whilst there is a huge amount of detailed information about the design and manufacture this book is  never boring. Jeff takes us into the lives of these pioneers with numerous stories of their sometimes intertwined lives. Interviews with  family members such as Tom Ryan a descendent of the famous firm of Buck and Ryan  and with ex workers at the Norris factory  help us to understand the complexity of this story.

There is much fascinating detail about Scottish makers  such as Spiers and Mathieson and large sections devoted to the contributions of Stanley to the industry.

A full resume of the book can be found at  www.slatermetalplane.com

This book is not  cheap  but with over 1600 beautifully illustrated pages spread over four volumes represents great value and is surely a must for anyone interested in the history of plane making.

The cost is £250  approximately $350.. I believe that it can be paid for in instalments.

It should be ordered from  sales@gandmtools.co.uk

Tel.+44(0)1903892510