On a warm evening at the beginning of August fourteen members and one guest found their way to Richard Arnold’s workshop in Northamptonshire.

One piece of work in hand was the making of parts for a hand-rail in European oak for a geometrical stair passing through several floors of prestigious London shop. 

The development of the plough plane.  No one was sure when metal fittings were introduced.  A plough plane by John Rodgers (Westminster 1734-1765), fitted with a brass depth stop has just been found.  His death in 1767 is then an approximate starting point. William Squire (London c 1760) had made a steel-faced depth stop with a wooden core; a further complication might be that beech stops, along with uncapped stems, continued to be used in cheaper planes.  An example by Moodey (Birmingham 1755-1770) lacking a depth stop, had a wedge placed above the front stem, instead of the usual arrangement at the outer faces of the stems. Later developments included the bridle or bridge plough with a fence moving on fixed stems, avoiding winding and probably more easily adjusted than the conventional model.  ‘Improved’ ploughs with screw-threaded stems and adjusting nuts are often of Scottish origin. 

Sash windows.  How frequently were sash dowelling boxes, like the one on show, used and were dowels associated mainly with complex mouldings where much of the bar thickness had been planed off and the franking had further reduced the strength of vertical joints?  Late C18 manuals invariably show dowels but also include elaborately interlocked meeting rails and cills with complex weatherings which are rarely seen in surviving joinery.

Practical plane making.  Andy Brown from Hinckley had brought along a rare set of plane makers’ tools by Kendall (York 1795-1846). Besides ’mother’ planes, the reverse of the desired moulding, there were planes for producing chamfers and shoulders on the stocks of moulding planes and others used for shaping wedges.

Down to earth floorboards.  Before ready-made tongue and groove floorboards became available in the 1880s, pit-sawn timber had to be converted. The first steps were to plane the upper surface level and true and then to plane the edges square and to a constant width. The underside was only levelled where it rested on each floor joist.   To achieve this, a shallow rebate was planed along the edge of each board to the required thickness.  The board would then be fitted to each joist, hollowing out the material between the rebates. 

More sash windows.  Richard Arnold also demonstrated the use of the sticking board. The first two cuts with the sash fillister produced rebates for glass on each side of a prepared section.  Two cuts with an ovolo moulding plane on the inside of the bar produced a good length of sash stuff in a few minutes. 

We owe our thanks to Richard Arnold for his hospitality, enthusiasm, knowledge and patience which made for an instructive and enjoyable evening.