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Christopher Gabriel - London, UK


 
  Mother Plane of Christopher Gabriel by Jim Hendricks 1 of 3  


At the last Richard Arnold's annual charity event, I was just about to leave when Richard called me back
and said he had a little gift for me.

 

In a room full of hundreds of moulding planes he gave me the most beautiful one of all of them. It was made by Christopher Gabriel, Falmouth and London, 1770-1810.

Gabriel was the very first moulding plane I ever bought, a quid from a bootfair, and as I researched the master, the more I fell in love with this mark. Later I had the honor to see the iconic Seaton Chest and actually got to hold the tools within many of them by Gabriel. I was hooked from that moment on and set out to find copies of the tools from the chest and make my own collection.

Gabriel was a prolific maker and his planes are fairly easy to find, so what makes this one so special?

As Richard pointed out, there is a huge knot in the heel - something Christopher would never have allowed to be sold. But it was that knot and the strange profile that gave Richard a clue as to its purpose.

At this point I perhaps need to explain what mother planes are. These are planes used by the planemakers themselves for accurately and quickly perform repeated tasks in their workshop. This is indeed such a plane. Richard cut a chamfer with it and noticed it bore a close resemblance to the top chamfers on Gabriel moulding planes of a certain era!

A "not so ordinary" mother plane.

I am utterly gobsmacked and thrilled by this gift Richard gave me. So in honour of one of my dearest friends and one of the greatest master joiners in England today, I grabbed a bit of quarter-sawn beech, tickled the skewed Hildick iron and used a plane owned by the great master himself two centuries ago to confirm this theory!

The knot blemish that started the journey of discovery.

The mark and strange profile.

Skew iron, fence (right) and depth stop (left).


 
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