Hand Tools Archive

Re: Plough Plane repair advice

John Aniano in central NJ
Hello Dave,

I personally like Matthieson tools. I have a lot of them. The steel was good and the quality of the planes generally excellent. I own an exquisite steel bit brace and a large set of excellent bits made by Matthieson. I wouldn't dismiss them out of hand...

That said, I don't own a Matthieson plough plane but I'm sure the original quality when sold was good. Especially if it was the top of the line grade. If you can share an image of the end imprint we can determine what grade it was sold as.

Being a toted plough is a plus for ease of use and if I owned it and really wanted to make it work correctly, I'd try the 3/4" tap and die you have access to to make a threaded rod and nut. You will have to do a bit of turning for all these parts, but it could be a nice project. Also, don't worry about having mismatched thread sizes on the two arms as you will be using a ruler to set the fence-to-skate distance and keep them parallel anyway.

On that topic, I would suggest you first look at the metal skate on the plane (the bottommost two steel pieces) and check to see that they are solidly attached to the wooden body (or by tightening some screws it can be made solid - sometimes they are riveted) and that they are in line with each other and the two of them are more or less flat when checked on a reference straight edge. In my experience, plough plane skates should be stable, inline and flat. Don't need to be perfectly flat, although this helps. Face it, the tool cuts grooves, has a fence and a depth stop (which you should also check for proper operation-it may need oil) -it's not a smoothing plane or a super precision tool like a table saw. It can be used for most furniture making operations and it should work fine. And be fun to use in the process.

So, in closing, I wouldn't toss the tool. If you can repair it, you might learn some good techniques (like threading wood) and wind up with a usable tool in the process. Or, if you don't think you're up to it, try to find a plough in better condition.


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