Friday, 7 September 2007

A “life list” item arrived yesterday.

We all have them – a list of things we want to do, places to go, and items to treasure before we pass on. One of mine arrived yesterday in this innocent looking box.

I had better explain.

Shortly after I started woodworking, I bought Garrett Hack’s Books “Classic Hand Tools” and “The Handplane Book”. It was page 184 & 185 of “Classic Hand Tools” that did me in, and in a lot of ways started me down the path of a planemaker. On page 184 is a photo of two very small mitre planes and a portion of a large jointer. Until this point, I had not heard of Bill Carter... but after this image and a few words, I needed to find out more. There is not much information out there – but what I found all had a common theme – that Bill is one of the finest infill makers in the world. Over the next few years I kept my eye out for more of his work – finding a few examples on Ebay, and in the collections of a few collectors and furniture makers. I also began to notice a few signature design characteristics in his work – which became the gensis for forming “The perfect Bill Carter plane” in my head. It was a small mitre plane, the sides made from the brass back of a tenon saw with a boxwood infill and wedge. Pretty specific I know - but that was the quintessential Bill Carter to me.

In 2005, I traveled to England to attend the Axminster tool show near Exeter. It was a great show… but the highlight of the trip was a chance meeting with Bill and Sarah Carter in the parking lot of a small David Stanley auction. It was a very cold November day, but we managed to visit outside for 3 hours. It was fantastic. After that meeting, I decided that some day, I wanted to own one of Bills planes. In the next two years, I saw a few more examples and really finalized the perfect plane in my head. There were a few that came up for sale, but if I was going to spend the money, I would rather it go to Bill than a re-seller.

Two days before I left for England, I happened to check Handplane Central to see if there were any new photos. As luck would have it, there was a little “new” beside Bill Carters name! I opened the gallery to find a dozen planes I had not seen before. I quickly scanned them and found two small mitres made from tenon saws – one was Rosewood infilled and the other was Boxwood. So there it was – my perfect Bill Carter plane. I quickly emailed Bill to find out if these were new planes or if he was just posting photos of some older work. But most importantly – if they were new – was the little boxwood mitre for sale?

While I was in England I was not able to check my email – so I had to wait until I returned home. And upon my return, found Bill's response... and the plane was available.


The plane arrived yesterday and I have to say – it exceeded my expectations. It really is a perfect plane in every way. Here are a few photos of the plane as well as a link to another site with photos of Bill’s work. The plane is 3-3/8" long, with a 1/2" wide blade, and the sides are from the brass back of a saw by Turtle.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also have some Bill Carter planes. I have the first metal plane that Bill ever made

21 March 2010 at 16:35  

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