The MARPLES M120 was very similar to all other number 120 planes from other manufacturers as it had a screw feed blade adjustment but no lateral blade adjustment. The M120 had no predecessor in the MARPLES line, unlike the M102 and M110. It started life when other ‘M‘ planes were introduced by MARPLES around February 1933 when it was priced at 5/6d. This price was maintained, in a stable economy, until at least March 1940. Sometime shortly after this date it was omitted from production only to re-appear around November 1951 at a price of 15/-. In 1965, under the then ownership of C&J Hampton, it appears with a ‘Record‘ style Lever Cap, Alloy wheel and continued in this guise until at least November 1969 when it was priced at 23/3d. It was dropped from production shortly after and C&J Hampton then only manufactured their RECORD 0120 Block Plane.
The following M120 Type Study should be very close to the M110 Study on this site.
Like the 110 series of Block Planes, I have to assume here that the first Type of 120 plane, which was introduced in Feb 1933, may well not have had any cast number marks on the base, so the following is drawn from inference that the 120 would be similarly produced.
Paint: Black base with machined smooth sides.
Body: The Cross-bar is not painted and the mouth slope is similarly clean. There may be ‘V’ valleys at the sides of the mouth on each side.
Cap: Is painted RED except for the upper leading front edge slope and underneath from the leading edge to approximately the hole in the Cap.
Blade: At this stage I can only make a guess as to the possible stamp that would have been used on this blade, and that it may have been BM3 and it would certainly have had 10 milled out arc slots on the underside to mate with the Depth Adjusting mechanism.
Wheel: The wheel would be Black all over with Large castellations, as shown below.
Knob: Probably fixed with the now standard ‘hanger bolt’ and made of dark stained hardwood, or at this age more probably full real Rosewood.
Depth Adjuster: This was engineered exactly the same as the standard Stanley 120 mechanism, and this really needed no improvement. At this time I feel that the adjuster would have been nickel plated.
Box and Labels: The colourful top label would have included the words ‘Manufactured By‘ and the end box label would have had the Red line at the top of the label.
Paint: The Base is still painted Black and with clean machined flat sides.
Cap: Is painted RED all over, no exceptions.
Blade: Probably the same as Type 1 in having BM3 markings.
Wheel: Is 3/16″ thick at the perifery and painted Black.
Knob: Is 1.13/32″ high and again secured to the base by a hanger bolt. It may be either dark Hardwood or Rosewood, but it is difficult to tell.
Box and Labels: May well be the same as the Type 1.
Paint: Type 3 has the reverse colour profile, the base is Red and the Cap is Black. I believe that this would date this Type from about 1944 onwards. But as you can see in the ‘History” section the M120 was dropped from the Marples Plane line around this time and was re-introduced in 1951. Thus Type 3 is either the last Type issued prior to being dropped in c.1945, or the first to be re-issued again in 1951. But based upon my observation that the casting seems to be ‘cleaner’ than the next Type 4, I would suggest this Type 3 is approx 1944. There is a total lack of brochures or any other information on Marples Tools between 1940 and 1950. So the base is painted Red, the sides machined clean and square, and the front and rear ends are clean. The cross-piece is Red.
Body: The base is about 2″x 7.1/16″ but the actual length will vary according to the person who finished it. The mouth slope is cleaned of paint and has grooves each side. The mating surfaces of the blade support and sliding adjustment sled are similarly clean. ‘WM MARPLES & SONS’ and ‘SHEFFIELD’ are cast in raised letters in front of and behind the Knob and M 120 are cast either side of the knob. The cross-piece is inserted from the user’s Left and is screwed into the Right hand side piece. The Rear edge has a cast raised ‘half cone’ and the marks ‘ENGLAND’ and the Triple Shamrock appear just forward of it.
Cap: Is painted Black all over, all except for the lower half of the underneath towards the leading edge. [As shown in the example below]
Blade: The blade has markings [below] and these are 11.5mm wide and 4.5mm high with the blade having 10 milled slots on the underside for adjustment.
Wheel: Is painted Black, and still measures 3/16″at the perifery but now has a longer nose. [but this may have been at the finisher’s discretion]
Knob: Is now quite stubby at 1.7/16″tall, made of dark hardwood and finished with a yellow varnish. It is attached to the base with a 1.1/4″oval headed machine screw which is countersunk into the top of the knob. This is a different attachment method from that of the ‘Hanger Bolt’.
Depth Adjuster: Is Nickel Plated.
Box and Labels. The end label has the ‘Red Line’ at the top and the top label does not have the ‘Manufactured By’ line. The Type 3 box lid does not have the ‘thumb’ cutouts on the long sides.
This is the first M120 plane that was re-introduced around 1951.
Paint: The base is painted RED all over, this includes the cross bar and the back and front ends. However the sides remain machined clean as before.
Body: The body in this post war edition appears cast slightly rougher than pre-war Type 3, and it has no grooves at each side of the painted mouth slope. The cross piece is now inserted from the RIGHT and is therefore screwed into the Left cheek. Half a cone is still cast on the base at the middle of the rear end.
Cap: Is painted Black all over.
Blade: The blade still has 10 milled slots on the underside to engage the blade depth adjustment mechanism. But it now has the following stamped in markings.
Wheel: The wheel again is a rougher casting than pre-war but still painted Black. The nose may be stubby and ground off [finisher’s discretion].
Knob: The knob now shows a more shapely form at 1.1/2″ tall than is shown in Type 3. and is manufactured from a dark hardwood [mahogany?], finished with a clear varnish and affixed to the base by a hanger bolt.
Box and Labels: There are a few subtle differences between the top lid coloured label used on the Type 3 and that label used on the Type 4. Type 3 is shown below on the left and Type 4 on the right.
Paint: This Type is painted RED all over except the machined clean sides. The sloping mouth is probably painted Red too.
Body: This body casting is totally different to the Type 4 casting. The painted cross rail is inserted from the right but is only a wedged fit and therefore not screwed into the left cheek . It can therefore cannot be extracted. The front raised cast lettering has now changed to read ‘MARPLES’ and ‘SHEFFIELD’ with a wider font than previously. Also the M 120 letters have been spread wider away from the knob. The Major change is that there is no longer a half cone cast at the rear of the plane and that the plane body now only measures 6.3/4″long.
Cap : Is painted Black all over with the usual round water transfer applied to the palm rest.
Blade: The blade can now be identified as now having 11 machined slots for the blade depth adjustment and shows a BM3 marking.
Wheel: Is still painted Black and has a long nose.
Knob: Now appears to be ‘stubby’ like Type 3 at 1.1/2″tall. A thin light varnish has been applied over a dark hardwood and the knob is fixed to the body again with a hanger bolt.
Depth adjuster: This metal now seems to be not plated with anything.
Box and Labels: Are probably as the same as before.
This is what I shall call a Type 6 and it was put out under the ownership of RECORD tools (C.&J. Hampton Ltd) after this conglomerate purchased the tool making section of MARPLES in 1962. The plane is now named MA.120.
Paint: Naturally RECORD tools put their own colours onto the MARPLES brand at this time, which is why this Type is painted BLUE all over, except the mouth being clean as shown here:
Body: The body has now increased to a length of 7.1/16″. The cross piece is inserted and screwed in from the right and is now Nickel Plated. The top of the rails are painted BLUE and the outside cheeks are machined square and clean. On the front of the plane is cast ‘MARPLES’ in front of the knob and MA 120 is cast behind the knob. ‘MADE IN ENGLAND‘ is now cast behind the depth adjustment Knob and there is now again no rear half-cone.
Cap: Is obviously now painted BLUE all over and does not have any ‘windows’ on the underside. The Palm rest now has a very plain MARPLES yellow transfer.
Blade: The blade now seems to have been reduced in width to 1.5/8″ wide, but still retains the 11 machined adjuster slots on the underside. However it now carries the Record/MARPLES stamped in mark.
Wheel: Under RECORD control the wheel was automatically changed to the standard RECORD alloy wheel with a steel threaded central insert.
Knob: The knob is reduced to just 1.1/4″ high and is secured by a shorter hanger bolt than was used previously. There is a thick dark varnish applied over a probably hardwood knob.
Depth Adjuster: Now does not appear to be plated.
Box and Label: The internal box has been modified by the inclusion of a curved piece of cardboard intended to control the movement of the plane within the box, and therefore to reduce damage of the plane during transit. The label on the end of the top is similarly as austere as the new label on the Palm rest. It would appear that artistic merit was totally out of favour in the ‘design’ studio at RECORD.