I love razee woodworking planes because they’re just a little different and their design is a little more advanced than normal wood planes. Razee is taken from the French words vaisseau razé which means a “razed” or cut down ship with fewer decks, and razee planes are cut down behind the blade. Razee planes were common in ship building and were often user made, so it would be natural to give it’s construction style a nautical name.
This beech wood razee jack plane is 15″ long, just over 2-3/8″ wide, and has a 1-7/8″ wide blade (iron). As shown below, L. Ruggles stamped his name into the toe of the plane. He may or may not be the maker of the plane.
This user made plane has single iron (no chip breaker) factory made by William Greaves & Sons. The blade is made like so many others in that it is wrought iron with a thin piece of steel laminated onto the cutting edge. This yields a tough blade body with a hardened, edge-holding cutting edge. The end of this steel lamination can be seen in the center of the picture below.
The plane saw a lot of use, and the bottom has been re-flattened during it’s life. Because of the angles of the throat of the plane, re-flattening the sole opens the mouth making it less efficient. Instead of re-soling the plane, the mouth was patched to narrow the opening. This patch can been seen below along with the wedge and iron.
The rear handle or “tote” appears to be laminated mahogany and the mouth patch is made of the same wood. Mahogany is not a hard wood and is a poor choice for the mouth patch. I believe the handle was replaced and the mouth patched at a later date probably by someone other than L. Ruggles.
This plane is user made and was owned by more than one user. Someone made the plane out of hard beech wood, and this same person would not have used a soft wood like mahogany to make repairs to this plane. Therefore, there was more than one owner/user. L. Ruggles may or may not have been the original owner and may or may not have been the maker of this plane. Single iron plane blades were made prior to the invention of double irons which had chip breakers. However, single irons were still made and sold as a cheaper alternative to double irons well into the industrial revolution, so the maker’s name is key to this investigation.
The iron fits well and is most likely the original iron, so it can be used to date the plane. According to “Some 19th Century English Woodworking Tools” by Kenneth D. Roberts, William Greaves & Sons operated from 1833-1849, so at the very least the blade is from that time period, and the plane is most likely from that same time period as well. I’m glad I could share this plane with you and do a little sample investigating.