My dad has an incredible antique tool collection. I was hoping to photograph these tools to show on my blog but that wasn't possible without taking apart his display. I managed to pick up a couple of his planes and was surprised to find the bottoms weren't all flat.
Okay, some of you probably knew this but I didn't. My dad went on to explain that the various designs in the planes were for different cuttings, in much the same way we use a router today. This made me think back on the numerous door casings I'd seen over the years in older and Victorian homes and gave me a greater appreciation for all the hard work that went into making them. Think of the crown molding, the chair rails, etc. All of those curves were done by hand.
There's an article in American Woodworker Jun 1999 about Hand-Planned Moldings if you'd like to read further. There are a couple of photographs in which you'll see Wooden Block Planes.
I hope to have some photographs in the future but that will be quite a few months away. In the meantime you can search for Wooden Block Planes and find some images. Few show the bottom of the plane, the actual working edge, but you'll get the idea. And the articles gives you a greater appreciation for how the intrigue molding was made.
Wooden Block Planes have been around for centuries, in 1860 a cast iron bodied planes were developed by Leonard Bailey who sold his patents to Stanley Rule & Level in 1869. This design is still produced today.
If you'd like more information about Block Planes there is a great book out there "The Handplane Book" by Garrett Hack, John S. Sheldon, several pages of which are available for preview at Google books.
Here are a couple of pages from the 1894-1985 Fall Montgomery Ward Catalogue in full scan so you can read the details.
Pages 1 & 2