Wooden Routers

These planes can be found as being available from William MARPLES going back to 1862 when they are listed for sale at 1/8d each.   At that time there is also listed an Old Woman’s Tooth plane [OWT] described as – ‘Smoothing Plane  Way‘, but I have no idea what the ‘Way’ meant.
By 1873 the basic plane [London/Router Pattern] has been numbered as #904 at 2 shillings a piece.

The 1897 listing shows both a #1032 OWT [Smoothing?] at 2/9d each and a #1033London Pattern‘ at 2/9d each.  The ‘London Pattern‘ was synonymous with ‘Router Pattern‘.  They are both here listed under ‘Sundries‘.

The number changes in the 1909 Catalogue having the ‘Router [London]Pattern’ as #2861 at 3/3d and the ‘Smoothing Pattern’ #2860 at 2/9d.

The 1921 Catalogue only lists the #2861 ‘Router Pattern’ plane at 3/3d.   Maybe WW1 affected the production of the ‘Smoothing’ OWT, as it is not shown.

But by the 1928 Catalogue both varieties are shown, only that the ‘Router Pattern’ is still listed as #2861  6/6d with a 5/8″ iron and the ‘Smoothing Pattern’ is again now shown, but as a new number #2862 at 5/6d with a 5/8″ iron.  { I do not know why the 2862 should be sold for less than the 2861, because to me the former looks to be the more labour intensive to produce.}

The 1938 Catalogue only shows the #2861 ‘Router Pattern’ as being available.
By the 1959 Catalogue this below is the only listing, and you will note that the blade(s) supplied have been increased to both 5/8″ and 1/2″.

The last listing of these planes can be found in the Price List of April 1962 to the 1959 Catalogue , wherein the #2861 is shown as still being available at 31/6d.

Here is a ‘London Pattern‘ or ‘Router Pattern‘ Old Woman’s Tooth Plane:

The ‘Smoothing‘ Pattern:


Metal Routers

The very first pictures of the M71 and M71.1/2 metal routers first appeared in the March 1936 mini catalogue, [as shown below] but were heralded initially, although not then shown, in the December 1934 mini catalogue wherein they appear as ‘ Also Routers, Scrapers, Spokeshaves etc.
The March 1936 mini catalogue describes them as being of ‘Best Grey Iron Castings, Handles & Knobs of ‘Selected Rosewood’ with all adjustments ‘Smooth and Precise’.
Each were sold with 1/4″; 1/2″; and a smoothing [V] blade.  The M71 had an ‘Open throat’ and included an Adjustable Depth Gauge as did the  M71.1/2  which had a ‘Closed Throat’and  each with a totally flat base . The initial planes were probably Cadmium plated [Type 1].   I can find no information that these Router planes were ever issued with a fence [to enable grooves to be cut parallel to an edge straight or curved] on the base as were the’RECORD Tools’ equivalents.

Here are the prices asked over time:

Date                    M71     M71.1/2
March 1936       15/-     12/-      and these prices were stable <March 1940 and beyond.
In the 1949 Price List these items are not shown as being available, so they must have been de-listed during the war.  But an Addendum dated November 1951 to this 1949 Price list indicates that they are ‘now in production’.     I cannot find any listing for the M71.1/2 after this date, and must therefore infer that it was dropped from production c.1952.
Similarly the M71 seems to have been dropped from production  c.1963.
I have information of an M71 [Red paint] being priced at 32/- [c.1946?]

Date                                 M71                      M71.1/2
November 1951            38/-                      35/6d
January 1955                 36/-               not listed
December 1959           39/-                        —
April 1961                      39/-                        —
April 1962                     42/6d                      —
March 1964             not listed                    —

Type 1:  

I have a good example that shows a price of 17/6d and a date of 2/42.  Is it therefore possible that these planes were initially issued with a Cadmium finish until c.1942, then changed to a Black finish and then to a Red finish around 1944


Type 2:

I have only found 1 picture that shows this rare Type which had a Black painted base .  The base casting looks exactly like the picture shown in 1936, with the MARPLES wording readable from the front. The blade clamping ring and associated Thumbscrew were probably Nickel plated, but I see that the handles are NOT of Rosewood! Therefore pre-war?

Type 3:

The next type that I have found shows the more usually seen RED base and this may be from 1944 onwards.  It is possible that they may still have been available then with Rosewood [old stock] handles, but these are more probably Beechwood with a stain and varnish.


Type 4:

This must be the issue with stained and dark varnished Beechwood handles. The MARPLES transfer is still seen on the Left hand side, as seen from a users point of view. But I really do not think that the ‘water transfer applicator people’ really cared on which side the transfer was placed!!!

Above is an M71 and below are M71.1/2 examples:


And here is a strange one that I cannot fit into this study.  It is a M71.1/2 plane that has the word MARPLES cast on the base in the reverse position….readable only from the back and with no surface paint or other!

Here below is another  example [with no water transfer] again with the reverse name on the base!

Could these be early examples of the 71.1/2 Router plane??
So, obviously this study is not complete and I will add to it as information is found. 6/22