Plane Making in Scotland

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By Tom Strader


These plow, or plough planes are all Wedge Arm plows

Plane making in Scotland was an honorable profession and passed down through generations.

These plow, or plough planes are all Wedge Arm plows. Probably the most numerous. There are four basic types that will be discussed at a later date. See pic below.

Here you see three almost identical planes in size and shape. The one to the Left, a 5B, was made by Alex Mathieson & Son. They manufactured planes in Scotland from 1822 to 1924. Evidence shows that Mathieson was the most prolific British maker of all time. Many apprentices from his shops went on to start their own companies. In the Center, what would be called a 5A in Mathieson’s catalogue, was made by John Dryburgh. The “B” meaning it has an extended skate for better mobility while cutting grooves. On the Right another 5B, is made by James Lumsden (b. 1826, d. 1918) immigrated to Canada as a young boy with his father James but Returned to Scotland in 1843 aged 17 years. His uncle, John Dryburgh, was working as a plane maker in Murraygate, Dundee and it is most probable that Lumsden learnt his plane making skills from his uncle before joining Alex Mathieson as manager of the Dundee Works from 1867 to 1870. He then established the business of James Lumsden Plane maker and Tool Dealer (later to become James Lumsden and Son) at the shop in 20 South Lindsay St, Dundee.

The 1899 Mathieson Catalogue offered two different lengths of skates or (Plates) for their Plow Planes.  The “A” being a flush Plate and the same length as the body.  Or the “B” Long Fore Plate which extended passed the toe by 1″ or more.

Planes numbered 1 thru 4 were the economy models and did not offer the Long Fore Plate.

The numbers 5 and 7 do so and were numbered as 5A or 5B  and 7A or 7B. 

When a Solid Handle was added to the 5’s and 7’s they now become 8A or 8B  and 9A or 9B. 

The more expensive Plow Planes 10 11 & 12 came with only the Long Fore Plane.

Plane Making in Scotland

Note the uper left image is from Mathieson Tools: A Guide to Identification and Value by Hans Brunner 

The only other significant differences in the planes is where the arms attach to the fence. Dryburgh’s design was very common for most Canadian plane makers during that time. See collage.

Mathieson - Lumsden - Dryburgh - Cantin

Since Dryburg was a relative he has been added to the lineup. (Dryburg was the Uncle to James Lumsden)

Also note that the No 5B stamp is identical. Lumsden may have taken it with him when he left Mathieson.


James Lumsden 5B

Alex Mathieson 5B

John Dryburgh 5A

Plow Planes

Then there is the Friction Fit. This one is by an unknown maker (possibly  by I Cox)

a Friction Fit unmarked

No. 7B Screw Stop

No. 8B Solid Handle, Ferruled

No. 10 Brass Slide Stem

No. 11 Steel Bridle

Mathieson 1899 Catalog of Plough Planes 1-12

1899 Mathieson Catalog Diagram of Plough Planes

Pages from Mathieson 1899 catalog, A Ken Roberts reprint from 1975

Smoke Print from the book: British Planemaker from 1700 by W.L. Goodman, showing both Alex Mathieson & Son and J. Lumsden on the toe of a plane.



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