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The Use of Intermittent Boxing in Wood Planes

Bill Rigler

Intermittent boxing is the use of 2, 3 or 4 short pieces of Lignum Vitae, instead of solid strip boxing, to reduce wear on various wood planes. In the United States, in general, very few collectors were knowledgeable about 18th and 19th century plane makers of Philadelphia Penn who used short pieces of Lignum Vitae for making intermittent boxing.

In 1993 Jane and Mark Rees, rewriters of the British Plane Makers from 1700, had an innocent looking paragraph under Birmingham Plane Makers, chapter 4, page 28, that stated the 18th century makers of Birmingham used scrap Lignum Vitae to make intermittent boxing. It is assumed that they used scraps from other trades.

There are now sufficient examples from both countries to indicate that intermittent boxing was not a one-off or specially-made. However, logic says that there was more work, therefore cost, to make and install intermittent boxing, even if the Lignum scraps were free. I have come to the conclusion that it was a marketing gimmick that did not extend beyond the two tool making communities.

In conclusion, intermittent boxed planes being produced in England and the United States during the same time frame brings up a whole group of questions that will hopefully be answered sometime in the future.

Appeared 1996 – Toolshop Auctions Catalogue

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