Rogers' Patent Mitre Planer.

Not too long ago, a local auction that I look in on once in a while was advertising a bunch of whaling-related items (photos, journals, books) and some other things of interest to me.  One of these was the lone tool mentioned in the auction listings -- a Langdon Mitre Box.  Well, ho hum.  I'm not really a fan of mitre boxes.  I have all I need (one) for personal use, and because the usual sizes are so large and bulky they are not worth my while to pack and ship them to customers.  So I ended up going to the auction for the whaling stuff.  Actually, I bought a number of interesting books, including a couple on Arctic Exploration (something that I do collect), and a quite nice journal of a legal dispute over the condemnation and sale of a whale ship in Hawaii in 1874.  But before I could look at the whaling stuff, as I hustled through the pouring rain from parking lot to the auction house door, there was the "Langdon Mitre Box" sitting outside the door--in the rain.  And, of course, it wasn't the mitre box as advertised, it was the Rogers' 1882 patent mitre planer, produced initially by the Langdon Mitre Box Company (and later by Millers Falls) as a professional grade mitre machine, capable of producing extremely accurate mitre joints in picture frames, or for mitering at any angle, with any shape of stock, with great accuracy.  It is not a commonly found tool, and this was the first one that I could remember seeing.

I spoke to the auctioneer before the action started and mildly rebuked him for letting the thing sit out in the rain.  His response was that it was very dirty, and could use a washing off.  It was pretty clear that he was completely unaware of the scarcity or value of the machine.  As the auction dragged on I bought a couple of whale ship pictures, including a nice one of a cooper dealing with an oil cask on a New Bedford dock, and whaling related journal--which proved to be the most valuable thing sold in the auction.  As the auction dragged on, I finally requested that the "mitre box," in the rain, be auctioned.  Still sitting outside it came up with a first offered price at about a tenth of its value.  When no one bid, I cut the suggested opening bid in half.  No other bid followed, so I found myself with a good deal, and 60 pounds of soaking wet cast iron.  By then the rain had stopped.  So it was loaded into my pickup, and came home with me.

The next day, with the tool dried off, I began to find what a good deal I had.  Except for a little rust on the back stanchions of the plane body support, and some grease to clean, the machine was in excellent condition, retaining most of its original red, green and black paint, and even retained most of the gold highlights on the cast patent information, and maker (Langdon Mitre Box Company).  The plane body carries two hefty (3 1/2" wide) blades marked by the Simonds Manufacturing Co. of Fitchburg, Mass), which are proper and clean.  The plane body glides effortlessly in its track, and cuts precision mitres in each direction.  With all of the proper stops, knobs, and adjustments.  This is a spectacular machine.





With this in the shop, you can throw away the Stanley 51/52 and competing chute board planes, as well as the clunky and time wasting mitre trimmers and mitre jacks.  This remarkable machine was patented by David C. Rogers (whose brother was treasurer of the Langdon Mitre Box Co. in Northhampton, Mass) on Sept. 19, 1882.  The machine was sold by the Millers Falls Co. for a few years before Millers Falls acquired the Langdon firm about 1890, and added the Millers Falls name to casting.  You can read the relevant history on Randy Roeder’s website here and here.  A good description of the work and capabilities of this tool is found here.

   This machine was produced in three sizes, with blades of 2", 3 1/2" and 4" widths.  This is the middle size.  The sole of the plane body (that is 22 ¾” long) has the original linushing marks.  This is also true for the bearing surfaces of the down side cheek and the groove that supports the plane as it moves on the track.  Weighing 60 pounds, the base and machine have great inertia, and the back and forth movement of the plane works very easily. 

Return to Interesting Tools Index

Return to HOME

Tools For Sale List