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Reporting New Imprint and Plane Information

The reporting of new imprint / plane information is best done following a few basic guidelines to help ensure accuracy and uniformity.


It is assumed that reporting of new imprint / plane information will be done electronically using digital images.* Thus, knowing and managing the scale and sizing of imprints, drawings, photos is imperative.


  • Take quality photographs of the imprint in good light with a ruler/scale directly adjacent to the mark. Be sure the ruler or scale has a minimal thickness. Take the photograph in the same plane as the imprint, avoiding skewed distortions in the image. (This can be especially problematic if taking a close-up of the imprint.) Sometimes it's helpful to take several photographs of the imprint, turning the plane with respect to the light, in order to better capture and enhance the details of the imprint.  (I use a 1/2" wide metal ruler which balances on the end of the plane. You can also construct a scale by drawing two marks exactly 1" apart on a strip of stiff white paper.)

Drawings / Tracings

  • In general, what's good for imprints is good for drawings and tracings. Instead of taking photographs with varied light positionings, the use of a copier with a scanning capability can be a very useful tool.

Wedge Outlines

  • On molding planes, please provide a 100% to scale outline of the wedge, noting the plane of intersection with the body. On bench planes, please provide two outlines of wedge; the breadth as well as the side. 

Tote Outlines

  • Tote outlines can be helpful for early bench planes, noting that it is often difficult to obtain an accurate tracing.


  • Lighting and image distortion concerns still apply. At a minimum, please provide photographs that capture: the toe of the plane, the heel of the plane, the escapement side of the plane and the reverse side of the plane. Capturing the reverse-side chamfer stop construction details on the heel and toe is important, especially for pre 1820 examples.

  • Please note what wood species are used in the planes' construction, noting that a good photograph can often capture that information.

  • Independently provide the planes' dimensions to within a 1/16" of an inch; length, height and thickness.

  • Note the construction details, especially on planes dating to about 1820 or before as these features are often not "uniform". These details include layout lines, tote offsets, chamfer and chamfer stop details.

  • Note the maker marks on the iron if present.

  • Please note if the wedge might be replaced. If there are questions with a wedge, document any patina variations, misalignments, modifications, etc.

  • If possible, provide details on where and when the plane(s) was found, especially if found with planes made by other period craftsmen. 



* In years past, taking a tissue paper rubbing was the standard tool for recording and reporting imprints. This can still be an effective method and can certainly be done as a supplement to having good photographs. But, if a photograph of the rubbing is employed, the above guidelines still apply. (There are write-ups on how to best take rubbings.) 

























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