Sunday, July 31, 2016

J W Farr & Co of New York

In my recent chocolate's run (Tm :-) I picked this little 3/8 dado plane, stamped J.W. Farr & Co New York.

A dado plane is similar to a Rabbet plane but characterized by the addition of a depth stop and a nicker ahead of the main cutter, which is normally skew since we are cutting cross grain

First time I ran into this planemaker,  so looked him up and this is what little I found about him.

We know from his indenture papers , when he was 16, he apprentices for 4 years, 5 months and 13 days under Emos Baldwin (in business 1817-29,  became A & E Baldwin 1830-41)

J.W Farr was in business from 1832-51
J.W. Farr & Co, no date given but presumably post 1851

He was one of the many NY plane makers that were trained by the Baldwins.
In those days, numerous wannabee planemakers were trained by either Balwin or Chapin, who were two of the biggest wooden planemakers of their days.

After their apprenticeship were completed, many left the immediate area and went to established themselves as planemakers.
Here is a list which contains no doubt many of these apprenticed under Balwin or Chapin

J.W. FARR & Co
N.York (inc)

The maker stamp & Co signifies it was made post 1851.

According to my copy of the Pollack's Guide to American Wooden Planes and their makers, his plane of this imprints (D) are rated 1 star for rarity meaning: Uncommon, denotes between 250 and 500 examples known.
Mind you my copy is from 1989, I'm sure that rating has changed since...

There are 5 imprints known for JW Farr.
Number 2 (B) is 3 stars, very rare, between 50 and 100 

Now lets see how this plane was made.

The depth stop is adjusted by a big brass thumb screw

The plane at parade rest (military term for stripped down)

There is a lot of work on this small body

To remove the depth stop shoe, simply unscrew (extend)
 the shoe until it separate. two screws release this assembly.
The adjuster knob is brass but the screw thread rod is steel.
It's a good thing :-) 

The depth stop shoe is a bit rough, will need some judicious filing

A bit rusty, but nothing serious. Cleaning it will make it operate smoothly.
Very typical mechanism BTW.

The two wedges and cutters, in good shape.
Yes the irons need badly to be sharpened but nothing serious 
and lots of meat left to sharpen

I was working on my kitchen table (Oups sorry Heather :-)
So I grabbed this glass top saver to quickly assess the condition of the body.
No need for machinist straight edge, just making sure there are no bow or twist in the body

The rear hole thru the body is a former user modification. 
It does detract from its collectible value but not as a users

Notice the skew mortise, tricky...

The recess for screwing the brass plate of the depth stop adjuster will require
some fixing in order to securely screw them in.
It does screw tight-ish, but I would not trust it, and will address that.

Overall a welcome addition to my stables of planes in my tills, will make a good user. Now I need to clean both the wood and metal parts. I am going to try a new product for the wood parts. I gave up trying to find Kramers antique improver here in Canada and it is rather pricey. Found this similar product here in Canada, Dr Woodwell's wood elixir,  that I will try. Will let you know how it perform.

Bob, with a growing accumulation of recent acquisition on my kitchen table. have to use the dining room table to eat :-)
Yes, Heather I will clean up my mess... What mess, it was Rudy :-)


  1. That is the way to do it, blame the dog.
    I wonder why the previous owner of the plane never filed the depth stop? There is a obvious wear pattern on one side.

  2. Bob,

    Looks like a savable user.

    I have a soft spot for woodies, I expect if I were to give free run to my collector jones the house would be over run with "em.


  3. In my case, I always blame the cat! There's one thing I don't understand about this plane. It looks like it has an integral fence, so it will only do cross-grain rabbets. But I think of a dado as going cross-grain anywhere on the board, not just at the end. Am I missing something?

  4. Hi Bob,
    nice find. Meanwhile I have found a heart for woodies too.
    Same confusion for me about the term Dado. I've thought it is a cross grain housing joint.

  5. Matt
    Dado planes never had fences. The lower portion you see sticking out is the sole. It is the width of the dado. If that was a plow or a No 45, that would be the skate.
    The top portion of the cutout act a depth stop, the plane is unable to cut deeper. The adjustable shoe act like a variable depth stop. For proper operation it is critical that the spur must be the same width as the cutter/bottom sole or a smidgen wider, never less.


  6. Stefan
    Yes a dado is a groove cut across the grain in any location on the board, most often used as a housing joint. A cut along the grain would be a groove, cut typically with a plow plane.


    1. Hi Bob,
      I fell for the same trick. I thought that the piece sticking out piece at the bottom is a fence and not the sole of the plane. Now everything makes sense. :-o

      Stefan, who sees clearly now.

  7. Hi Ralph
    Yes there is more wear pattern on one side of the shoe. But it work, so why bother?
    That would be my guess as to why it was never touch up??

    Bob, with parts soaking in Evaporust

  8. Hi Ken
    Yes i believe it would become a great user, which is why i picked it up...Said Bob with a straight face 😇