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John Walton Jr. Planes
(revised 8-9-2023.)

John Walton Jr. (1710-1785)

Reading, MA joiner and housewright

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(Note the corrected birth year of 1710.)

Editor's note 8-9-2023. Periodically, plane enthusiasts pose a question or forward an observation and in the process, challenge each other in their understandings and assumptions. This happened recently with the editor and Dave S. and Mike H. resulting in rethinking the plane detail date sequence observed in I Walton planes.

 

For this reassessment, I Walton planes in a least 5 collections have been studied. While only a limited number of planes have been studied so far (approximately 20), the planes seem to break out into three distinct groups (earlier, middle and later). The planes in each group are relatively consistent with respect to one another and the traits of each group seem to be distinctive.  

 

That being said, it is fully anticipated that planes with blended traits will be found as more planes are assessed and that information will be added to this presentation. In fact, as this material was being proofed, an early/middle "transitional" plane has been reported by Mike H. This plane is described as having an intermediate shaped wedge cut-out and an intermediate chamfer body angle. 

 

Thanks to Dave S, Mike H, Steve F and Tom E for sharing their collections and knowledge, as well as their posing questions/challenges in our back and forth discussions. (This is always the best part of researching as well as collecting.)

The following, is a reorganization of the previously assembled material into a new timeline.

 

Earlier Group (new material)

main traits:

Small wedge finial (approximately 0.7" high by 0.8" deep) and the cut-outs under the finial have a shallow curvature.

The body chamfers are very shallow ... approximately 10 degrees. 

secondary traits:

The body chamfers end with a tipped line followed by a faint flute. The flutes are often crude and uneven, showing variations between the toe and heel. One plane has been reported with chamfer ends similar to the middle group. 

Most planes have heels with a tight curve, but one has been reported that has a larger radius.

Middle Group (new material)

main traits:

Slightly larger finial somewhat oval in shape (approximately 0.75" high by 0.95" deep) and the cut-outs under the finial show a greater curvature.

The body chamfers have a greater angle ... approximately 25 degrees. 

secondary traits:

The body chamfers end with a tipped line followed by long tapered return. These chamfer ends seem to be better made and more consistent.

Most planes have heels with a tight curve, but one has been reported that has a larger radius.

Later Group (as previously reported)

main traits:

Same wedge design as the middle group.

Body chamfer angle matches the middle group.

Chamfer stops are defined by a bold step followed by a short turn-out.

secondary traits:

Heels with a larger curve radius

I Walton molders have lengths that are typically 10 1/8 to 10 3/16". A few of his molders are 10" but there doesn't seem to be a pattern between the plane details and the shorter length. 

A imprint, I Walton / In Reading

Earlier Group Planes

Earlier Group, A imprint planes have the shallow body chamfers with a fluted chamfer stop design: a tipped step followed by a curved return and a lower continuous flute. (Similar to elements of F Nicholson planes as well as those of early H Wetherel, early Ce Chelor and E Clark, among others from 18th C SE Massachusetts). John Walton Jr's "earlier" period chamfer stops tend to be rather crude.

Earlier Group, A imprint planes have wedges with small finials and shallow cut-outs under the finial.

Plow plane; A imprint, "earlier" period chamfer stops. (replaced wedge.) (See similarities with N Potter.)

Crown molder; A imprint, "earlier" period chamfer stops. (See similarities with T Evans.)

A imprint, I Walton / In Reading

Middle Group Planes

Middle Group, A imprint planes have the steeper body chamfers (roughly 25 degrees). The chamfers end with a tipped step followed by a long tapered return. These are more consistent and better made than the earlier flutes.

Detail of the "middle" chamfer stop design: a faint tipped step followed by a long straight tapered cut.

Middle Group, A imprint planes have wedges with slightly larger finials that tend towards oval and cut-outs that have a greater curvature under the finial.

A imprint, I Walton / In Reading

Transitional Earlier / Middle Plane

The body chamfers have a transitional angle, between "shallow" and "steeper". The chamfer end detail is more of a flute than a long taper. The plane is 10 5/32" long.

Wedges; early, middle, transitional presented top to bottom. On the transitional wedge, the finial is more of the middle form whereas the cutout is transitional, between a shallow and a greater curvature form.

A imprint, I Walton / In Reading

Later Group Planes

Examples of the A imprint with "later" period chamfer stops; a straight step followed by a simple turn out cut. The body chamfers match the higher angle of the middle phase planes. The "later" chamfer stops on John Walton Jr planes, match those found on planes made by his sons Benjamin and John III, giving them an approximate date of 1765 to 1770. The wedges also match those found on the middle phase planes and are similar to those found on those made by his sons. This amended sequence makes better "sense", in that the late phase planes have similarities (wedges and body chamfer angles) to those found on the middle phase planes. (In the previous sequence they were closer to the "earlier" planes.) A suggestion has been forwarded that perhaps John III made some of these later I Walton planes.

Additional details and planes

Period ink price found on the heel of a A mark crown molder.

B imprint, crown molder. The B imprint planes have the "middle" chamfer stop design as defined by a faint tipped step followed by a long straight tapered cut.

 

Admittedly, this new proposal regarding the B imprint is counter-intuitive as the IW planes had been theorized as Walton's first planes. The double stamped molding plane which follows, is being presented as a reason to question this proposal. (See the details) The question of the IW planes is not yet resolved and in the editor's opinion an open question.

B and faint A imprint combination, not in GAWP 5. Upon close inspection (with a hand lens) the earlier IW imprint (B mark) appears to over-stamp the later I Walton / In Reading (A mark) imprint. (This is most apparent with the "ON" of Walton and the (I) of IW). This observance remains an open and unresolved question.

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