How to Identify Norris Woodworking Planes

Written by chris baylor
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How to Identify Norris Woodworking Planes
Woodworking planes (wood planes from another era image by from

From the mid-1800s until World War II, the Thomas Norris & Son Co. in Britain made high-quality woodworking planes. These cast iron or steel planes with inlays of rosewood, ebony or walnut are highly sought-after by collectors today.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Magnifying glass

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  1. 1

    Look for the Norris Adjuster. Norris planes were renowned for their patented single-lever plane iron adjuster that could adjust both vertically and horizontally. Competing planes needed to be adjusted by tapping the mechanism with a hammer.

  2. 2

    Check the sole of the plane. Norris planes were made with either a cast iron or a steel sole. The steel sole was constructed using an unusual and specific double-dovetail joint in which the tails were intentionally cut long before being hammered back and filed smooth.

  3. 3

    Disassemble the plane and check for a wooden wedge blade clamp (typically made of ebony, rosewood or walnut). Norris believed using wood for the blade clamp helped reduce blade chatter, particularly on block planes.

  4. 4

    Look for a decorative knurled finial on top of the hold-down screw. Norris planes used a distinctive design on the top of the hold-down screw until the late 1920s.

  5. 5

    Remove the cutting iron and check for any identifying marks. Many Norris plane cutting irons have the words "Norris London" etched into the front.

Tips and warnings

  • If the plane is well-worn, some of the distinctive characteristics may be difficult to detect. Use a magnifying glass and good lighting to help with identification.

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