Munks Patent Number 2 Size Smoothing plane c1884

This is a rare example of a Munks and Sons patented smoothing plane c1884. Not much known about the company or the plane except that they operated at the Norfolk Iron Works in Sheffield. (PTAMPIA Vol II; Smith). This is the only known size produced and it measures 6 7/8 inches in length and 2 inches wide. The depth adjustment is achieved by turning the threaded shaft through a collar riveted to the iron. The assembly is secured to the main casting with a wing nut mounted on the back of the frog. If you're familiar with the US patented Challenge plane, you will certainly note the intriguing similarity in the adjuster. Interestingly, the Challenge was patented in September of 1883 and the Munks and Sons in January 1884. (English patent #1511)

I found the mechanism difficult to adjust, iron difficult to sharpen and to maintain an accurate cut as the adjustment kept changing, even when the blade was securely tightened. I'll take some responsibility for lack of knowledge and experience with this one but I suspect that may have been a reason for the plane not being more popular. The cast iron frame seems a bit fragile along the ridge and curve of the handle and indeed this one has a through and through crack under the forward mounting bolt where the handle is attached to the main casting... The fate of Monks and Sons is not known but if anyone has additional information, please do let me know.

Munk's Iron Smooth Plane, Sheffield c1884

Munk's Iron Smooth Plane, Sheffield c1884

Interesting plane design, a seeming copy of the US Patented Challenge plane. This #2 size smoother was designed and patented by John Munks (Monks) and Sons (I've seen variations of the spelling) of Sheffield in 1884.

Munk's Iron Smooth Plane, Sheffield c1884

Munk's Iron Smooth Plane, Sheffield c1884

This 6 7/8 inch smoother appears to be the only size produced by Munks. I've never seen any reference to sizes other than the smoothing plane. Perhaps the advent of the common block plane precluded a robust sale and the other sizes never marketed. Interestingly too, the American plane from which this takes its shape, Challenge, was never sold in a size this small.

Munk's Iron Smooth Plane, Sheffield c1884

Munk's Iron Smooth Plane, Sheffield c1884

Not much more known about Monks and Sons, perhaps better known for other endeavors or just plain went out of the plane business.

Munk's Iron Smooth Plane, Sheffield c1884

Munk's Iron Smooth Plane, Sheffield c1884

Munk's Iron Smooth Plane, Sheffield c1884

Munk's Iron Smooth Plane, Sheffield c1884

Depth adjustment is achieved by turning the threaded shaft mounted on the front of the iron. The wing nut behind the frog holds the mechanism together and securely on the main casting.

Munk's Iron Smooth Plane, Sheffield c1884

Munk's Iron Smooth Plane, Sheffield c1884

I struggled to get a fine edge on the iron. I found adjustment imprecise, it was either on or it was off. Finding the "sweet spot" was a challenge. Even then, shavings tended to be too coarse or too fine...operator error notwithstanding.

Munk's Iron Smooth Plane, Sheffield c1884

Munk's Iron Smooth Plane, Sheffield c1884

I was able to finally produce some decent shavings but the time spent in adjustment made efficient use somewhat difficult.

Munk's Iron Smooth Plane, Sheffield c1884

Munk's Iron Smooth Plane, Sheffield c1884

Though not the easiest plane to use I found it fun to try. Admittedly, I'm not trying to make a living with it.

Munk's Iron Smooth Plane, Sheffield c1884

Munk's Iron Smooth Plane, Sheffield c1884

Rosewood (?) knob and screw

Rosewood (?) knob and screw

If you look at the photo of the plane's bottom you'll note two holes into which the handle bolts are screwed into. There is no corresponding hole for the knob screw. The base of the screw appears to be japanned with no threads on the bottom. Was the blank post for the screw cast with the plane and then cut afterwards? It would appear that be the case.

So, was it part of the casting?

So, was it part of the casting?