M78 Plane Study

Known as the ‘M78 Duplex Rabbet and Filister Plane‘ it was first listed in the 12/34 [December 1934] Pocket Catalogue and appears to have been in continuous production until c.1964. At that time MARPLES was under the control of C&J Hampton [RECORD] and so in the 1965 Catalogue the M78 single arm plane was replaced by the MA.78 Rabbet and Filister double arm plane having a removable wooden front knob attached at the front blade position. This front knob was no innovation by RECORD as they stole the idea from the WODEN W78, who in turn inherited the concept from WS TOOL’s A78 [see my site wstoolsbirmingham.com] who first introduced the front handle. The MA.78 was produced 1965-1969 and thereafter, through various Company name changes until it was designated #778 in October 1979. At this time it was purely a RECORD plane and was a MARPLES in name only. Even this RECORD #778 was only listed until 1990 and was then not listed in 1991. I do not consider the MA.78 a true MARPLES plane.

The catalogue text below is as it appeared in pocket catalogues of 12/34; 4/35 and 9/35 and it was only in the 3/36 Pocket Catalogue that we get a picture of the tool, and the spelling is changed to ‘Fillister‘. It is interesting to note that there was only the one picture of the M78 shown from 3/36 through 1964 and this had been perpetuated after the war even though the base casting and lengths were changed! Austere times indeed! After WWII the name was changed to an ‘Iron Rabbet Plane‘ and then changed again in the 1959 Main catalogue to ‘Iron Rabbet and Fillister Plane‘.

This is the only picture of the M78 shown in all of the catalogues.

Here are some prices of the M78: 12/34-3/36 10/6d 9/36-3/40 11/3d 12/49 24/3d 11/51-1955 28/6d 9/55 31/6d 12/59-8/61 34/6d 9/61-4/62 36/- 3/64 39/6d 4/65 MA78 45/- 11/69 MA78 50/- 3/86 Record/Marples 778 £36.43

By the time that the 1965 MARPLES Catalogue was issued the MARPLES Company had to march to the tune of their masters, C&J Hampton Ltd. So the single arm M78 was then replaced by the [admittedly much improved] double arm MA.78. I do not know why MARPLES clung tenaceously to the single arm plane when the Double Arm design had been around since c.1945 [WS A78]

1965 Catalogue listing.

To date I think that I can identify 5 different Types of M78, but it is difficult to assign specific colours to the base, fence, depth gauge and Lever Cap of the different Types because these items are all interchangeable, and to know that an example is ‘all correct’ is hard to judge.

Type 1: Although advertised as being 8.1/2″ long, they were in fact 8.5/8″long, nose to end of sole under the handle. The base colour is Black and the Lever Cap is Red. [But may have been Black!] The Depth Adjusting Lever was not painted, remaining as uncoated plain steel. The Black painted fence is 5.9/16″ long and always remained so. The Nickel plated bolt through the Lever Cap is 1″ total length with a fine parallel vertical knurling. The Lever Cap remains unpainted underneath and on the extreme lower ground side edges. The stampings on the 5/64″ thick blade are sideways and are 3/4″ wide. The blade has 9 notches underneath for adjustment using the 2 pronged Depth Adjustment Lever. The large Thumbturn screw that secures the side Depth Gauge remained always with no central ‘diamond’ motif, had a ‘shoulder’ and an accompanying washer. The Thumbturn screw that secures the fence to the nickelled arm is larger than on later planes and has no ‘diamond’ central motif. [see later]

The sideways stamp is 3/4″ long.
Lever Cap Screw is 1″ long and with fine vertical knurling.
Thumbscrew sides are smooth

Type 2: The only difference that I can find is that the Depth Adjustment Lever is now painted the same colour as the base [Black]. The Lever Cap lower edges are now painted. As with other MARPLES planes the conversion to a RED base may have occurred around 1944.



Type 3: This variety has a Black Lever Cap on a Red base, the latter of which is still 8.5/8″ long. The shoulders of the blade support casting are square. The Lever Cap again has the sides totally painted, and the Bolt that holds the Lever Cap now has a more coarse knurling. The Depth Adjustment Lever is painted Red. The Thumbscrew to hold the fence now shows a central Diamond pattern on both sides and is smaller than before. Blade markings are shown below. and are 9/16″ The blade is 3/32″ thick and has 8 or 0 notches underneath to engage the Depth Adjuster Lever.

Thumbturn Screw showing central Diamond Motif
Lever Cap bolt shows a more coarse vertical knurling


9 Notches on the left and 10 notches on the right..not definitive of the Type.


This is the casting on the right hand side of all M78 planes up to Type 4. See that of Type 5 below.

Type 4:

This is a VERY rare plane. It still has a Black Lever Cap [unpainted underneath] Red base with Red fence and Depth gauge. It still has square shoulders to the blade support castings and a ‘diamond’ motif to the small Fence thumbscrew. The blade has 10 notches underneath to engage the Depth Adjuster Lever [which is still painted]. Some Type 4 planes may have the round water transfer on the top of the handle, but on mine this is found just forward of the handle underneath the rear blade support [see below]. But what sets this plane in a different realm is the fact that the MARPLES SHEFFIELD ENGLAND raised casting on the body has been ground away and a Brass plate installed over it by rivets [see below]. 

Note the elegant brass name plate, why this was done is a mystery!

But it looks as though the actual stamp has a ‘House Roof’ on the top! This has now been seen on 2 planes. Unique to Type 4?

Type 5:

The Red body length now is really 8.1/4″ long. [actually 8.3/16″] The blade marking has changed and may be of either 2 as shown below. The Lever Cap bolt has been shortened 7/8″ long but is still Nickel plated. The 3/32″ thick blade has 10 notches on the back to engage the Depth adjustment lever . The MARPLES SHEFFIELD ENGLAND casting on the side of the plane is very different than before…..image below. The Box has the same old picture on the end label which still indicates that the plane is 8.1/2″ long, and’Filister’ is still spelled with only one ‘L‘. MARPLES therefore only used the one end box label print throughout the years of production of the M78.

Note the Rounded corners to the outline
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Compare this to the image above.

Below is a picture of a Record Marples 778 Box.

Below I note some differences between the pre-war Black M78 and the Post war Red M78…presently not ascribed to any one type, merely generalisations. More work to be done here.

Square top to blade support.
Rounded corner to blade support.
Thicker top support
Thinner Top edge.
Narrower top Horn
Wider Top Horn
Stronger handle support
Thinner handle support.
Note the thickened nose base.
Shows a much thinner nose base.


By the time that the 1965 MARPLES Catalogue was issued the MARPLES Company had to march to the tune of their masters, C&J Hampton Ltd. So the single arm M78 was then replaced by the [admittedly much improved] double arm MA.78. I do not know why MARPLES clung tenaceously to the single arm plane when the Double Arm design had been around since c.1945 [WS A78]

As previously mentioned the MA.78 was a double arm Duplex Plane produced under the control of C&J Hampton, but in direct competition to their RECORD 778. The MARPLES MA.78 had a painted Black Hardwood front Knob, a Water Transfer which lacked any artistic quality, and was identification stamped on the lower Right hand side of the body.

Nevertheless, a great functioning Plane.
Not pretty, basically austere. ‘Hampton‘ did not want to spend a lot of money on a different casting when they could use virtually the same casting as their RECORD 778.
The marking on the top of the MA.78 Plane blade.
So let us not spend a lot of money on a new Transfer when we know that the MARPLES line is going to be canned anyway!!
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