M110 Plane Study

The MARPLES M110 plane really started in 1933, when the ‘M‘ line was introduced, but this plane transitioned from one named No. 3107 that had been manufactured since c.1925 [at least if not by MARPLES it was factored in by them]. The earliest recorded date that I can find for item No. 3107 is in the MARPLES Centenary Edition Catalogue of 1928. But I believe that this plane [as well as the smaller No. 3105 Block Plane (M102)] may well have been manufactured and offered for sale since c.1925. There is no indication in the 1928 catalogue that this [or the 3105] was being introduced as a New Tool.

In the 1928 catalogue the 3107 is shown at a price of 40/- dozen (an Ironmongers Cost Price, since at that time these catalogues were geared to the trade only.)  The picture below is of the 1928 catalogue listing.

Please note that the front knob is most unusual and therefore different to all other 110 block planes, of all makes. It is however exactly the same as shown on the box label and catalogue print. However  the Pressure Cap adjusting ‘wheel’ is more ‘coarse’ than shown in either illustration.

I am not able to exactly date the manufacture of the plane that is shown above but it is likely that the first 3107 planes had Black Caps (similar to #3105 [M102]). The length of the 3107 is stated as being 7.1/2″ in June 1930 but changed to 7″ in the Feb 1933 cat. [or maybe it was changed in the Sept/32 catalogue]  Therefore my 7″plane shown here is from 9/32? onwards.

Also my earliest example [shown] has the MARPLES logo and wording raised cast on the base in front of the knob, whereas the box label/catalogue picture shows no markings.

The February 1933(2/33) soft cover catalogue introduces a ‘New” line of ‘M‘ planes which included the M110.  This advert stated that the M110 was 7″ long and had a blade width of 1.5/8″.

The No. 3107 Block Plane in whatever form, persisted up to the 9/35 catalogue and was therefore a brief competitor to the M110 because it was priced 6 pence less than the M110 which sold for 3/6d.

{A similar situation existed with the M102 block plane and its’ rival the No 3105 [for which you may wish to visit the M102 page]}.  The 3107 was available for about 10 years 1925-1935 and it might appear that the only reason MARPLES continued this internal competition was to use up back stock of the old 3107 until that stock was depleted. There just seems to be no other plausible reason.
What follows will be my present attempt to put an order to the issues of the M110 style Block Plane according to date sequence.   Under these Type headings I will list any perceptible changes that I have found to be different from the previous Type. I will try to categorise the study according to the major notable physical differences which would occur in : Paint; Body; Lever cap;Cutting Iron and Markings; Wheel; Knob; Box and Labels.

Again, I have difficulty in differentiating the blade markings as MARPLES seemed to have had quite similar blade stampings on their planes that spanned some 20 years.   So faith should not be placed on these blade markings to identify a plane Type/Date.  Remember that the blade is the first item to be ‘swopped’.

Type 1:

Like the M102 (3105) the first type of M110 block plane was introduced named #3107 around 1925 when it was priced at 3/4d.   This price was maintained until at least March 1932 catalogue.  The Feb 1933 cat. shows the 3107 priced lower at 3 shillings and this price was maintained into the Sept/35 cat. which is the last listing of the 3107.

Paint: The base was always advertised as being Black japanned and the very first 3107 was probably supplied with a Black japanned Cap.  My early example has a Red Cap. The Black is found all over the plane body except the slope to the mouth and the top of the blade supports.

Body: As discussed above the body changed from an initial offering of 7.1/2″in 1925? to 7″ after 9/32?  The sides were left as they came from the casting process and were not machined flat. My pristine plane shows that a wavy line of Shellac was applied to the machined bottom surface as a rust preventative. I also believe that the first 3107s did not have any raised casting letters or symbols, but by 9/32? it did [my example].

Cap: The first caps were probably Black but changed to Red by at least 9/32? No paint was used in the groove for the cross piece[below left] or on the lower back of the cap below the cutout. Note the very early water transfer.

Cutting Iron: The blade was supplied slightly thicker than subsequent issues but still measured 1.5/8″wide and 4.1/2″long when new.   Only the bottom half of each side was cleaned from the original casting and the BM1 marking is feint.

Wheel: The japaned black cast iron wheel is 1.5/8″wide (across the largest diameter) and is 1/4″thick at the perimeter.   The finger grooves [castellations] may have been finer in the earlier issues, according to the box/catalogue illustration. See photo above under ‘Cap’.

Knob: A very different Red-Mahogany coloured hardwood front knob was issued, which was awkward to use because it had no top indentation in which to register the index finger.   The knob was screwed onto a cast threaded post arising from the base and it was 1.1/2″high with a convex top.

Box and Labels: Initially the end of box label [left below] would have read 7.1/2″ but I doubt that the label would have changed significantly in any other aspect. The box lid label is shown below.

Type 2:

The Paint and Body are the same as Type 1, but the Cap is Red all over except for the lower half of the underside. I am not sure whether the Cap received the same water transfer as Type 1.

Blade: Has BM2 markings and is cleaned bright on both sides.

Wheel: The wheel is what sets this Type aside from all others because it is made from solid cast brass and painted black and has the same dimensions as previously.

Knob: Is now  1.3/8″high and made from mahogany with a dark finish, but remains screwed onto a threaded post cast on the base. Rather than having a convex top as per Type 1, it has the more normal slightly concave indentation on the top.

Box and Labels: Unknown at present.

Type 3:

This Type existed until at least 2/33 and at a price of 3 shillings.

Paint: Is the same as Type 1/2 and is still japanned black on the sides.
Body: The one notable difference between this and previous Types is that this issue has cast in ‘valleys’ at each side of the sloping mouth [whereas previous Types had the sloping mouth extend totally from side to side.]

Cap: Is painted a Red/Orange colour over all surfaces and has a Water Transfer applied to the palm rest as shown.  NOTE: this is the ‘MARPLES‘ only transfer, not the ‘Wm.MARPLES and Sons‘ transfer.

Blade: Exactly the same dimensions as before with a bright clean surface all over . The BM3 blade as shown has letters 1mm high.

Wheel: Is as per Type 1, cast iron and japanned Black, but may be now thinner at only 5/32″ thick at the perimeter.

Knob: Is now attached via a ‘Hanger Bolt’, which is itself screwed into the base.  The top part of this bolt is a standard Wood Screw thread to hold the  Hardwood Knob. which is  painted Black and  1.13/32″ high.

Box and Labels:
The end label still shows that it is a #3107 plane, but has now been modified to read: ‘MARPLES BLOCK PLANE’.
The Box Top label is now the familiar coloured label, shown below.

Type 4:

This is the first issue labelled simply as M110 and was probably in production from Feb 1933 and priced at 3/6d.

Paint: Is still Black japanned, but the sides of the plane are now machined clean during production.

Body: The mouth slope still remains clean as does the crossbar and the ‘V’ grooves at the sides of the mouth are still present. However the base casting still has no letters to indicate that this is indeed an M110 plane.

Cap: Is painted RED all over, except that of the top leading edge and the lower half of the underside.

Blade: Has BM3 stamp.

Wheel: Has the same Black paint as previously but now again has a 1/4″ thickness at the perifery.

Knob: Has now assumed a brown finish over the hardwood base and at 1.5/16″high is still secured by a hanger bolt.

Box and Label: For the first time these show that this is actually an M110 Block Plane and presumably is now manufactured directly under MARPLES supervision, which is probably why there appear to be modifications made to the plane.

Type 5:

Paint : Is the same as before
Body: The same as before
Cap: Is now painted RED all over, back and front.
Blade: Still the same BM3 markings.
Wheel: Has now been reduced to 3/16″thick at the perifery, but is still painted Black.
Knob: Is still held by a hanger bolt and is probably hardwood [Rosewood is most unlikely although the finish has a Red/Brown tone] and is 1.13/32″ high.

Box and Labels: Presently unknown.

Type 6:

This Type shows a real difference to all the previous planes. I think that the colour changes occurred towards the end of WWII, approx 1944.

Paint: The Body is now painted RED [although the cross-bar and slope to the mouth remain cleaned] and the Cap is painted BLACK.  This is a total reversal of the previous Paint scheme and is also found on the Bench Planes.

Body: As above, the body is now painted Red but the sides are still machined clean and the body is now marked with raised letters WM. MARPLES & SONS and M 110 in front of the knob and SHEFFIELD behind the knob.   NOTE HERE: The words SHEFFIELD behind the knob and the word ENGLAND behind the blade supports are both 1.1/2″ across.

There is now no V shaped groove [valley] at either side of the mouth slope. and the cross-bar may be clean.
Cap: The Cap is painted BLACK all over.

Blade: This all bright blade may either be found to have the BM3 or BM4 blade stamp.

Wheel: Same as before.

Knob: A Hanger bolt still retains this dark mahogany coloured hard wood? knob which is approx 1.5″ high.

Type 7:

Paint: The Body is still painted Red all over [except the slope down to the mouth and the top bearing surface of the blade supports ] and the sides of the plane are still machined clear.
Body: Totally as before but now the word ‘SHEFFIELD‘ that is cast behind the knob is reduced to 1.1/4″across and the word ‘ENGLAND‘ behind the blade supports is now only 1.5/16″across. This is therefore a totally different base casting to that of the Type 6 plane.

The photo below shows the body castings of Type 7 on the left and Type 6 on the right and it is easy to see the differences in the sizes of the words indicated above.

The Black cap has a small MARPLES SHEFFIELD ENG. water transfer applied.

Cap: Is still painted Black all over.

Blade: This is probably BM3, but maybe otherwise [see Type 8]. As cautioned before, we cannot rely on blade stampings to date any plane, as these stamps are very hard to date and blades can be switched.

Knob: This knob now appears somewhat shapeless with a minimal waist. It was probably made from Mahogany and varnished a medium Brown but still secured via a hanger bolt.

Type 8 :

This type is exactly like Type 7 but the front Mahogany knob is held in place  by an oval head machine screw that is countersunk into the top of the knob and screws into the base.  A similar situation occurred with the M120 c.1945.  { the blade marking is the same as shown}.   Maybe this is of a similar date but it is not known for how long this modification existed before the hanger bolt method was re-instituted in Type 9.

Type 9:

Paint: The base is RED all over including the mouth slope, top of blade supports and the cross-bar.

Body: Has the same castings as a Type 8, but may show a small parallel valley at each side of the mouth slope beside the side vertical walls. The outer sides are still machined bright and clean.

Cap: Is still Black all over

Blade: May have BM3 stamp or as per Type 8, and is bright all over.

I have recently [10/17] purchased an MIB plane which is a Type 9 in most respects and is priced at 12/3d. This price puts the plane around 1953/54. The mouth and cross piece are as original and painted, along with the front and back edges. It has a BM3 blade, but the front knob looks to be of Mahogany and is grain-painted to look like Rosewood with a good shapely profile at 1.7/16″ high.
The Black cap has a small MARPLES SHEFFIELD ENG. water transfer applied. I do not know whether this plane was produced at the beginning or the end of Type 9.

Wheel: Type 9 like the Type 8 has more grooves on the perimeter of the wheel and the nose has been increased in length. Note below: Type 7 on the left and Type 9 on the right.

Knob: As seen here and made of Mahogany, but may have received a thick coat of light coloured clear varnish and still retained via a hanger bolt.

Box and Labels:
In all other respects the top label is exactly the same as previous issues except that this Type label seems to have the words…. ‘Manufactured By‘ missing. The end label now has a bar of RED at the top.

Type 10:

In 1962 half of the MARPLES company was sold to C&J Hampton Ltd (Record), and half to the company of William Ridgeway & Sons Ltd. I believe that RECORD continued to manufacture the M110 under the MARPLES banner until around 1970 or at least until the MARPLES Company was moved to Dronfield [just outside Sheffield] in Derbyshire c.1971/2.

When RECORD took over the manufacture of this plane it became almost identical with the RECORD 0110. It was named MA110 and was priced at 17/9d in Nov/.69.

Paint: The Body and Cap are now painted a BLUE all over, except the mouth slope, the now nickel-plated cross bar ; the sides and the front & back ends.

Body: Measures exactly 7″ long and the base is cast much thicker than before, which gives the plane more weight. The mouth slope has been cast having less of a bearing area for the blade, as shown below. V- shaped valleys can be seen each side of the mouth next to the side walls.

The casting shows MARPLES infront of the knob and the new designation MA110 behind the knob. At the heel is cast MADE IN ENGLAND.

Cap: Is painted the same Blue all over and can be seen to now not have the previous ‘windows’ cast on the underside. It is a somewhat rough heavy casting and is an example of the degradation in hand tool quality which occurred World Wide around this time. The palm rest shows a quite plain yellow transfer.

Blade: Machined clean all over and marked with the BM5 stamp.

Wheel: RECORD supplied their regular Block Plane wheel to the Type 10 MARPLES MA110. It is a solid Alloy casting on a threaded steel post, with Multiple fine straight knurlings as a finger grip around the perifery.

Knob: A Dark varnished Beech knob is secured by a hanger bolt, as before.


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