Rabbet plane, ca. 1789

Contributed by Davistown Museum


This plane is signed "J. METCALF" and was made by Joseph Metcalf of Winthrop, Maine. The style and the wedge is distinctly 18th century. Joseph Metcalf was Maine's earliest documented planemaker, working slightly earlier than Thomas Waterman. This late 18th century example may have been made in Massachusetts before Metcalf moved to Winthrop, Maine in 1789. Emil and Martyl Pollak have him listed in "A Guide to the Makers of American Wooden Planes". On page 277 they state "Joseph Metcalf (b. 1756 in Franklin, MA, d. 1849 in Winthrop, ME) was apprenticed to his brother Luther. He went to Hallowell, Maine, by oxcart in 1789 then on to Winthrop, ME, where he was a cabinetmaker." His simple center chimney Georgian home in Winthrop was finished in 1792.

A plane is a tool consisting of a flat-bottomed stock with a cutting iron held in a fixed position relative to the bottom of the stock. The purpose of this tool is to shave small pieces from the surface of a workpiece, reducing it to the desired thickness. A Rabbet Plane (also spelled Rebate) is a plane where the cutting iron extends to the extreme edge on one or both sides and it is used for cleaning out of rebates. A rebate is a rectangular recess or step along the edge of a piece of wood or other material such as you would find in window making.

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About This Item

  • Title: Rabbet plane, ca. 1789
  • Creator: Joseph Metcalf
  • Creation Date: circa 1789
  • Subject Date: circa 1789
  • Location: Winthrop, Kennebec County, ME
  • Media: Beech wood
  • Dimensions: 24.46 cm x 1.59 cm
  • Local Code: TBW1009
  • Collection: Historic Maritime II (1720-1800): The Second Colonial Dominion & the Early Republic
  • Object Type: Physical Object

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For more information about this item, contact:

Davistown Museum
PO Box 346, 58 Main Street #4, Liberty, ME 04949
(207) 288-5126

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