Carpenter’s plane, early 18th century

© Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
© Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
© Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Production Technology
before 1800
At the moment this object is not published in the museum.

A king’s head for a handle: whenever the craftsman applied his plane, he would necessarily close his fist around the monarch’s head and neck to achieve a stable planing action. An instance of lèse-majesté perhaps?

The plane is the typical tool used by joiners and cabinetmakers. And, traditionally, carpenters, coopers and wainwrights have also used this implement. Depending on their intended purpose planes come in many variations. But they nearly always consist of a plane body in which an iron with a sharp blade is secured at a set angle. Depending on the chip thickness required, the iron protrudes more or less from the mouth of the plane.

In the pre-industrial age joiners usually made their own planes, and many would embellish these tools with carvings. Often the handle or ‘knob’ at the front of the plane used for guiding the tool would be designed as an animal head or a two-faced Janus or grotesque face. Animal and floral ornamentation as well as religious motifs were also carved into the plane’s surface; one series of planes was engraved with initials and year dates, allowing older pieces today to be accurately dated.

This exhibit is thought to date back to the early 18th century. The Technisches Museum Wien acquired the plane from Heinrich Count Lamberg in Steyr in 1912. The purchase may well have coincided with the death of Franz Emmerich Count of Lamberg; indeed, that same year, the extensive and valuable cutlery collection of the deceased had come up for auction at Vienna’s Dorotheum. The Technisches Museum Wien also has several special planes invented by Heinrich Weilhöfer in Vienna around 1821. He designed the plane iron with several holes that allowed him to extract long wooden sticks out of a smoothly planed plank. They were then cut to size to produce a large number of evenly shaped matches.

Date of origin: early 18th century

Inv.Nr. 9239

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