Grooving Planes

These planes were basic to any woodwork shop and can be found as far back as the 1861 Catalogue:

I am unsure what ‘with open eyes‘ and ‘with loose fences‘ mean but the latter may be an early term for Moving Grooving planes. It seems that even at this stage these planes were always of necessity sold in pairs [one for tongueing and one for grooving, in other words ‘matched‘].
The 1873 Catalogue shows that a numbering system had been introduced:

The 1897 Catalogue shows these entries with newly assigned numbers:

It should be noted that the sizes given above for the Match Grooving planes are for the width of the edge of the boards on which a Tongue and Groove joint is to be enacted. Each of these planes has, according to edge width, a fence cut into the base against which the board is in contact throughout the cut. The inch markings on the Heel are therefore not the width of the actual Tongue or Groove.  The width of the Tongue or Grooving cutters is set at close to 1/3rd the board edge width.

And by 1909 we see this [different item numbers again!] and note the introduction of the Double Match Grooving plane, which could perform both of the functions of the individual planes  [i.e. Tongueing AND Grooving].

Here is the 1921 entry showing little difference to 1909:

1928 shows that #2944 stays the same number, whereas the Moving Grooving planes now are numbered #2947 and are also now called ‘Match Grooving Planes with Moving Fence‘; the Drawer Bottom Grooving Planes are now #2948 and the Double Match Grooving Planes become #2949.  As shown here:

1938, note the reduction in variety offered, the Double Match Grooving is de-listed as is the Drawer Bottom Grooving plane:

1959, offering the same planes as in 1938:

The last listing for these planes appears to be November 1963 when #2944 were 39/9d per pair and #2947 were 63/- each


The ‘Grooving Planes for Drawer Bottoms‘  first appeared in 1861, when it is noted that they were ‘Boxed’.  They went through many Item # changes …#884 in 1873;  #1011 in 1897; #2945 in 1909 and #2948 in 1928. They are not seen in the 1938 Catalogue.  In none of the Catalogues is an actual picture shown, but I am assuming that the two planes shown here are ‘Grooving Planes for Drawer Bottoms’. The cutters are 1/4inch wide but I cannot fathom out why there should be 2 ‘mirror image’ planes for this task!

Filister Planes

These planes seem to vary in their spelling..Filister and Fillister.

MARPLES initially made them in all 3 forms, Standing Fillister; Moving Fillister and Sash Fillister.
The Standing Fillister was basically  a Rabbet Plane with a fence cut solid in the stock.
The Moving Fillister plane had a adjustable fence that moved under the stock so as to expose as much of the cutting iron as was needed for the rebate that was to be made.
When working sash timbers the rebates may be cut on either the left-hand or right-hand sides of the wood. The ordinary Moving Fillister can be used for the left side, but for the far side, a Sash Fillister plane is used that has the cutter, stop and spur mounted on the left-hand side of the stock, instead of the right. Thus the fence bears on the face of the work and is carried on two stems like a Plough Plane.  [This description is from Salaman’s ‘Dictionary of Tools’]

These planes are to be found firstly in the 1861 Catalogue:

The 1873 listings are here with item numbers, and it can be seen that the Standing Fillisters are no more [see 1909!]:

We then jump to the 1897 listings which again show new item numbers.
But you will see that the #1003 Sash Fillister image is numbered incorrectly, as in fact #1002 Shoulder Boxed plane is shown. This error was perpetuated until it was corrected in the 1921 Catalogue!

Here are the 1909 listings, again with a new item numbering system and the re-introduction of some Standing Fillister Planes.  [#2935 image is in fact #2934].

Here are the 1921 listings, but with the Standing Fillister planes no longer presented.  [#2934 image is now correct].

1928:  Sash Fillister plane shown as #2935 is AGAIN numbered incorrectly and should be shown as #2934 !


And then on to the last showing in 1959.  At last, again, the #2934 image is correctly numbered:

The last listing to all of these planes seems to be found in November 1963,
as around this time the last craftsman Moulding plane maker employed by MARPLES retired.


Sash Fillister Planes:

Below are 2 Sash Fillister planes, one is Shoulder Boxed and one Dovetail Boxed.

detail of the side:

I have found a variation on the ‘Dovetail Boxed’ variety and so it may be that the example above was also a ‘Shoulder Boxed’ plane that had dovetails securing it. [Shoulder boxed means that the lower left hand edge of the plane was boxwood and this could be achieved by either a dovetail method or a more simple joint as shown.]  The variation I have may be the true ‘Dovetail Boxed’ in that the lower portion of the Filister body has been replaced by double dovetailed boxwood that extended the whole length of the body. But there again it may be that the first example is an earlier version of ‘Dovetail Boxed’ ! See below:

The early Sash Fillister planes show a Patent number  [19943] on the Brass Screw stop thumb turn and the Brass fence itself, and also show that the steel threaded rod of the stop was held in place by 2 brass counter tightened nuts.   I do not know for how long this securing method was used or whether it was part of the Patent.[This Pat. Date was not a MARPLES Patent, so they must have been Licensed to use that Patent.]  The stamped MARPLES mark shows as being c.1880-90 which ties into the Pat. date of 1885:

Here is #2935 from the 1909 Catalogue and with a Boxwood Fence:

Moving Fillister Planes:

The first plane shows the Brass Slip Stop and Tooth [the latter being a single blade which is dovetail fitted into a groove in the side of the body.]

The second plane  shows a Brass Screw Stop and Forked Tooth, Dovetail Boxed:

Standing Fillister Planes:

The plane shown is my only example of a Standing Fillister and I assume that these came in different widths because this one is marked 1/2 on the heel? It does indeed look like a Standard plough plane with an integral fence cut into the sole.




Snipe Bills

These planes, used to start a moulding, were produced and sold in matching pairs so as to overcome grain direction.

The 1861 MARPLES Catalogue lists them as ‘Snipes Bill‘{singular}:

The 1873 Catalogue now gives them item numbers and changes the name to ‘Snipe Bills‘{pair} :

The 1897 listing, showing new Item numbers:

1909 shows another number change:

They are omitted from the 1921 Catalogue but re-appear in 1928 [below], but that was the last catalogue reference that I can find for Snipe Bills.

Shuteing Planes

Shuteing Planes, also called Mitre Shuteing planes or Mitre Planes seem to have entered into the production by MARPLES around 1903?.  They are not shown in 1897 but are in the 1909 Catalogue and presently I have no access to the 1903 Catalogue.

The initial showing in 1909 [below] indicates a range of sizes and blade configurations but this was short lived.

By 1921, admittedly just after WW1, when across the board there was a reduction in variety of tools available from MARPLES, it can be seen that fewer of these tools were offered. The planes numbered 2988: 2989; 2990 and 2991 are no longer to be found as available.

The 1928 and 1938 listings are exactly the same in availability and price and you will see that the short 12 inch #2985 is no longer listed:

The next entry is in the 1959 Catalogue which shows that by then the Square Mouth #2986 has been dropped from production [because the skew blade is so much more efficient for these cuts]. ALSO the remaining plane has been re-numbered from #2987 to #2988.

The last listing that I can find for this plane is in the November 1963 Price List, it is not shown in the March 1964 PL and I surmise that the last offerings were c.December 1963.

Spill Planes

This is a plane  that I cannot find in all of my extensive MARPLES catalogues!!

It was a tool that was designed to produce a spiral shaving , called a ‘Spill’ [as long in length as the wood from which it was worked] for helping to light fires or candles, before ‘matches’ were invented. The pictures below tell a thousand words:

The plane was butted up to the side of the wood and the skew blade [set very fine] was used to produce a thin spiral shaving that could easily be lit [from another flame] and used to light further fires/Candles etc.

At this juncture I cannot surmise when the start and finish dates of production existed!!  But there are no listings in 1861, 1873, 1888 or 1897.

So this study is far from complete and I will continue to search for further information.

Dado Grooving or Trenching Planes

Dado Grooving‘ or otherwise called ‘Trenching’ Planes are first noted in the 1897 MARPLES catalogue where they are listed under ‘Trenching Planes’.

They were always only made up to 1 inch in cutter width with an accompanying double slitter blade to score the edges for easier cross grain work.  The main blade was skewed.  The lesser quality of the two sorts of plane had only a wooden depth stop whereas the ‘expensive’ model had a brass screw stop.

In 1909 there was an Item number change, and the planes retained these numbers and with the same image  until no longer manufactured:

The 1921 catalogue entry shows the same:

1928 [immediate below] and 1938 [ below] catalogue entries were identical, except for prices.  You will note that they are now listed under ‘Dado Grooving Planes‘.

The 1959 listing is here:

The last listing that I can find is in November 1963, but by March 1964 they no longer appear to be offered for sale.

The photos below are of a 7/8″ Trenching plane #2941 with brass scew stop.






Necking, Nosing and Table Planes

I can only find one reference to these planes and that is in the 1909 MARPLES Catalogue.  They may have been shown in an immediately previous [1903?] or immediately post catalogue [c.1914], but I do not have those catalogues in order to draw that information.

As yet I do not know the difference between a Necking or a Nosing Plane!  I do know that Nosing planes had a semi-circular iron in order to put a rounded ‘nose’ on the front of stairwell treads.  Also Table planes were sold in pairs to cut the joints on drop leaf tables.

The measurement [e.g. 3/4″] on the heel of a Nosing Plane denotes the diameter of the semi-circle that will be put on the end of a board.  In other words the plane is matched to the depth of the stair tread.

Here is a great example of a 3/4″ Nosing Plane:

More to come….be patient!!

Thumb Planes

These very small planes can first be found in the 1897 catalogue.   {They probably had been introduced before then, but I have no access to an 1888 catalogue}  They are not in the 1873 catalogue so let us assign an introductory date of c.1895.  Here are the 1897 catalogue entries:

As can be seen above, these planes were produced in both Beech and Boxwood and it is more likely that you will find a Boxwood example today as it is more resistant to wear.

The 1909 catalogue entries are here:

You will note that in the 1909 entries there is an item number revision.
These rare planes are not to be found in either the 1921 or 1928 catalogues and so we must assume that they were de-listed just before WWI , as happened with so many tools, which did not re-appear after that War.

Here are some photos of the plane that I have.  It is Boxwood and has no markings on the plane itself or the blade.  The relatively thich blade is 15/16″ wide and 2.3/4″ long with a hardened steel cutting edge insert.  The body of the plane is 2.3/4″ long and 1.3/16” at its widest point with 1.1/4″ being the height.  The wedge is also made of boxwood.


Plough Planes


The first real entry I can find for Plough Planes is in the 1861 Catalogue and presently I strongly suspect that these planes [along with most other MARPLES wooden planes] were made for MARPLES by MOSLEY in London.


The 1877 Catalogue is a little richer, with numbered items:

Next is 1897:


In 1909 we again have a number system change:

The 1921 Catalogue entry is here:

By 1928 we have this:

Just before WWII in 1938 we have these listings:

Two decades later in 1959 the range certainly has been reduced:

The last listing that I can find is in the Price List of April 1962 wherein #2903 is listed at 160/-,
#2905 is shown as 176/6d, #2907 is 200/- and #2909 is listed as 220/-.
The March 1964 Price List shows no listings for any of these great planes, and the end of a 100 year old era.

Here is a table showing the availability of the MARPLES plough planes from 1897 onwards.
1909 saw an Item # change.  The option of having the front plate shaped as a ‘Skate’ was available up to 1921 and after then could only to be had on  #2910 and #2912 .

Below I will try to show the characteristics of the various planes over time. But trying to date these planes is, as always, very difficult.

1].  This plane may be the earliest that I have because it is stamped on the nose [ because the blade was adjusted by striking the heel of the plane] with a single Shamrock mark [<1875] but this mark may well have been used well into the 1880s, from my experience. What is odd about this tool is that the short 7.1/2″ body has a fence that is rivetted to the stems, when most older examples have a countersunk screw bolt connection [see later]. The Boxwood stem wedges appear to be less thick than later examples.
The stems are capped and the skate screws are flat counter sunk.  This may be an early #1037.


This plane is strange in that it has an ‘I.Sorby’ mark on the toe and a Marples transfer on the fence. It is very possible that this could have been on the cusp of the I.Sorby mark buy out of ‘Turner Naylor & Co Ltd.’ by MARPLES in 1909. The fence is rivetted to the stems from below culminating in a brass diamond cap on the top of the stems.  The skates are connected to the body by oval headed slot screws. this is probably plane #1040 or #2907 after 1909.


This plane has the ‘spiral figure of eight’  mark which I date to c.1900. It has Boxwood stems which have pointed ends and Counter sunk slot screws are used to secure the fence to the stems. The stem securing nuts on the fence side of the body are in Boxwood and smaller than on later issues. The Boxwood securing nuts on the other side of the body are also made from boxwwod.sThe cutters are not marked and are not polished. Note: the brass backing to secure the depth gauge stop.  I do not know when this thick brass U shaped insert was replaced with a thinner fancier brass plate, but it may have been in the 1890s.  This is plane #1042 [#2911 after 1909]

Another ‘spiral figure of eight mark‘, capped and with fence screwed to the stems. Plane #1039 [#2906 after 1909]

On this plane can be seen the early Wedged depth gauge, ‘Trade Mark‘ within the Marples mark and no caps being on the ends of the stems. Either #1034 or 1035 [#2901 or #2902 after 1909]. I suspect this plane is c.1910.

6].  This plane shows the Boxwood nuts and stems….note the elongation at the distal end of the stems. This is the same as Plane #3 above, but has a modified fancy brass plate at the depth securing bolt and larger boxwood stem securing nuts.

7]. This one has a rivetted fence, rounded nobs to the Beech stem ends, Beech nuts and a standard MARPLES stamp.  Plane #2909.

8]. This boxed plane is marked  with WD up arrow 19 on the cutters  [no other mark], which indicates that it may have been manufactured in 1919, or that it was marked on that date.  But since the Govn’t Inspectors/markers operated in a special room at the MARPLES factory, it is likely an accurate date. The skates have counter sunk oval headed slot securing screws to the body and the capped stems are rivetted to the fence. The stem wedges are from Boxwood, as are most of these planes, and the toe of the body has a standard impressed MARPLES mark.       { By ‘standard’ I mean that the mark existed for so many years that it adds nothing to our knowledge to enable us to identify a date of manufacture.}. You will see a repair to one of the stems because that stem, when I received it, had previously received the standard British army repair….a tosh job!!    It is plane  #2904 or #2905 in 1921 [there is no ‘extra’ work on the fence].

9].  You will never find a better example than this MINT plane.[#2903]  It has ‘I.SORBY‘ impressed into the toe of the plane and also a MARPLES transfer on the side. The fence is rivetted to the stems and there are oval counter sunk slot screws securing the skates to the body.  The ‘Turner Naylor & Co Ltd
[with the I. Sorby mark]  was purchased outright by MARPLES in 1909 and I presume that the stock on hand, including wooden planes in the process of completion and having already received the impressed I.Sorby mark on the toe,  could therefore have received the additional MARPLES transfer at that time.  Therefore could this plane be c.1909?

10]  This plane is marked on the toe with a WD up arrow 1942.  I also have an exactly similar plane marked 1944.  The skates are rivetted to the body and the fence is rivetted to the capped stems. Boxwood may have been in short supply during WWII, or were the Govn’t Inspector pencil sharpeners exercising their power by insisting that MARPLES use a cheaper African hardwood for the wedges that held the stems in place?
Plane #2905?



Bull Nose, Chamfer or Chariot Planes

These planes were very short lived as I can find them only in 1897 and 1909.   So maybe they were available slightly outside of those dates.

The 1897 catalogue lists these under ‘Bull-nose and Chariot planes‘.  Can we therefore assume that the Beech Bull-nose plane was offered before this date, but in a not Improved form??
You will see that the Beech Bull-nose plane has a different front to that of the Boxwood.

And the 1909 catalogue shows these planes, with Item number changes, under Bull Nose or Chamfer Planes.    A note here is that the Chariot Planes were only ever offered in Boxwood:


Photos of some planes:
The first plane is a Boxwood Chariot plane having a total length of 3.3/4″ , width is 1.3/8″ and with a 1″ blade.  The top of the nose shows the ‘W. Marples & Sons‘ mark along with ‘PRESTON    MAKER’.  Presently I do not know whether this indicates that Edward PRESTON made the plane for MARPLES.
The blade has the James Howarth mark.

And here is the Bull-nose plane in Boxwood:
The top of the nose is marked  ‘W. MARPLES & SONS‘ and the blade is marked ‘WARRANTED