Premium Bench Plane Type Study

One of the problems encountered in a study of the company’s bench planes is that catalog illustrations could be as much as twenty years out of date. Texts describing the tools were often astonishingly inaccurate and descriptive errors could remain uncorrected for a decade or more. I’ve also come to the conclusion that the company never threw a spare part away, a parsimony which muddies classification considerably. This type study is based on the premium bench planes manufactured by Millers Falls. As such, it will not be particularly helpful for the study the firm’s economy and mid-quality planes.

Type 1. (1929 - ca. 1936)

Millers Falls type 1 plane

Type 2. (first production: ca. 1936 - ca. 1941)

Millers Falls type 2 plane As Type 1, except:

Variations: treatment of inverted triangle on cutter stamp.

Variations: substitution for brass components.

Type 3. (ca. 1941 - 1949)

Millers Falls type 3 plane As Type 2, except:

Variations: lever cap

Variations: cutter stamp

Note: An example of a type 3 bench plane in the original box with the sales receipt inside has been observed on an online auction site. The receipt was dated 1942. The changes in fittings and finish found on the type 3 were likely the result of war time shortages.

Type 2. (second production: 1949-1953)

Millers Falls type 2 plane Note: The Millers Falls Company announced the post-war return of “solid rosewood” (i.e. cocobolo) knobs and handles to its bench planes on page 161 of the May 5th, 1949, issue of Hardware Age. Since the change marks the return to an earlier design, a new type designation has not been created for these planes.

The post-war era also marked the return of brass adjustment nuts and brass attachment nuts for tote and knob. During the transition, older steel components were used on some planes.

Variations: treatment of inverted triangle on cutter stamp.

Variations: substitution for brass components.

Type 4. (1953 - 1966)

Millers Falls type 4 plane As Type 3, except:

Note: The earliest known illustration of a type four plane appears on the cover of a 1953 Christmas promotion titled: Gifts Men Want. The company's Catalog 49: Hand Tool Section, Revised to April, 1955 is the first catalog to illustrate the type. Although decades-old illustrations represent the bench planes in the main part of the catalog, artwork for the new No. 1100 plane display unit depicts the re-design. Descriptions for the bench planes are identical to those used in 1949 except the word “goncalo” replaces the word “rosewood.”

Although red frogs continue to be mentioned in catalog descriptions through 1967, a type 5 plane with other than a black frog has yet to be reported. (The company was often slow to update catalog texts.)

Type 5. (1966 - 1978)

Millers Falls type 5 plane As Type 4, except: