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Halving And Halv Not Planes

The question arose on a woodworking forum of why the nomenclature for the various forms of rabbet, fillister, fillaster, fillester, fillester or whatever you want to call it, planes are called what they are called and have there been references to standing fillisters before 1800? Plus, what was a 'common fillister'?

My brain cells worked for the moment and came up with this answer:

"Halving, errr, sorry, Having unearthed myself from pain killer fog, the result of contact between a rib and ice, which fight the ice won, I bestirred myself to consult references secure: Wooden Planes In 19th Century America by Kenneth D. Roberts. which copy of mine is signed by Mr. Roberts to Lee Murray, 1975 and will never be sold. Lee Murray was the less public side of Richard Crane Auctions and the guy who knew more about old tools than most of us will ever forget.

And Henly's Encycolopedia Of Practical Engineering

Henly: Standing Fillister: A fenced rabbet with an integral depth stop.

I add that a rabbet becomes a fillister when a depth or width stop is added, otherwise it is just a simple rabbet or a skewed rabbet with or without a nicker. If it had a nicker and has lost it, it is then rated PG-17, unless it was Pre-Code in which case no one cared.

A Standing Fillister is, thus, a double fixed fence rabbet plane that "stands' rather than 'moves'. I kid you knot.

WPINCA: pg 104: Halving Plane; "This was a special rabbet plane for 1" thick boards for cutting a rabbet half the thickness; hence the term 'halving plane'. The right edge serves as a fence and the rabbet cut into the left edge serves as a stop equal to the width of the middle step. This is believed to be the only size made (referring to the H. Chapin Union Factory Tool Catalog 1853). Probably the principal use of such a plane was for making ship lap rabbet cuts in 1" boards for flooring."

Robert's quote refers specifically to the Chapin catalog. I'ld extend that description to any plane of this configuration that has two fixed fences and cuts a rabbet that, in height and width, is equal to one half the depth of the board.

I can't say that I have seen earlier references but now that my interest is piqued, I'll see what I can find.

As for what was or is a 'common fillaster', at present I don't know for sure what would differentiate a 'common fillaster' from a rabbet plane other than the addition of an immovable fence to the sole, transforming the rabbet into a 'common fillaster'. Lacking the depth stop, it would be 'common' and not 'standing'.

That's my guess, lacking hard evidence to the contrary."

You'll notice I quote myself. That is the first sign of impending Orsen Wellsishness.

Till next, Gary