Introducing the No. 141-1/2L
Back in June of 2007, I had the good fortune of meeting two people on my “list”– Jim Leamy and Paul Hamler. It was a little overwhelming – Paul had his brand-spanking new scraper plane insert – and Jim… well – he had an army of plow planes. Jim and I were set up beside one another – and after the 10th plow plane my jaw started getting sore from hitting the floor. They were amazing – and no offense Jim… but the pictures on your website do not even come close to representing your work. I was pretty smitten to say the least. A funny thing happened as I was standing there admiring them. I really wanted one, but not necessarily to use. It was a strange feeling. I love fine tools – but they have always been purchased because of their exceptional function as well as their aesthetic. I guess this is a testament to Jim’s work, because this time function was a secondary consideration.
During the show, I must have walked over to “planet plow” at least a hundred times –daydreaming of what I would want if I were to commission one. It was harder than I thought. The one plane that really captivated me was the Sandusky center wheel plow. Ok – that was the plane – now what were the specs in this little dream? The Rosewood version was fantastic. Brass fittings… or nickel plated? But ooh – the ebony and nickel plated version… sweet. Between visits 56 and 57 I noticed something else – these were all for right handed users. I wondered if plow planes could be made for us sinister folks? So shyly – I asked. Jim’s eyes lit up – a good sign. He told me he had never made a left handed plow – and seemed a little excited about me asking about it. Now this was starting to get really exciting – the possibility of Jim’s first left handed plane. And this seemed to open my mind a bit more – to other woods that might not be as common. The first one that came to mind was African Blackwood. Again – I asked Jim if he had ever made a Blackwood plow. He hadn’t. Hmmm… the plane was starting to spec itself!
Over the next couple of months, Jim and I stayed in touch quite regularly – talking about possible configurations of materials. Brazilian was still on the short list as was Ebony – but Blackwood has a special place with me, and in the end – won out. Jim really thought the fittings should be plated and not brass – and I was quite happy to go with what his gut was telling him.
On January 10th, the first email arrived – he was starting the plane! Shortly after, pictures started rolling in. The first was aptly titled “swiss cheese”. There was a great little touch happening in the background of all the pictures – there was a different CD case, and I am assuming to show me what he had been listening to that day. As the update pictures arrived – the CD case changed. It was amazing to watch the plane come together. Here are a few of the images Jim sent – in chronological order (starting with “swiss cheese”);
One of the coolest touches is the number stamped on the plane. Jim called several times during construction – and one of them was to discuss the number system. He explained that the Rosewood or Boxwood Center wheel with ivory tips was number 141. An Ebony center wheel without ivory tips was a number 142. Without missing a beat, he said “your plane can only have one number really – 141-1/2L” I wish he could have seen me beaming with excitement on the other end of the phone. My only comment – a resounding “perfect!”
I could wax on for several more pages, but I know enough to get on with the photos of the finished plane...