Another vital part of Australia's tool making history belongs to Carter Tools Pty Ltd Australia.
The building boom following World War 2, and the worldwide shortage of tools, led to the establishment of several Australian tool manufacturing companies.
Carter Tools Pty Ltd was a Sydney company that provided bench planes, G clamps, sash cramps, vices, hatchets, brass plumbobs, pipe cutters, bench screws, hand routers, vernier centre finders, and much other urgently needed tooling to a market hungry for them. Only in business for a little over 20 years, Carter's products came and went quickly.
Several Carter handplanes have come my way over the years, and it seems appropriate to give them a short review, as they still surface (heh heh) at markets and garage sales.
Carter planes - even those of the same model.
Even the frog castings show differences in design - perhaps reflecting the variations from the different foundries. The Number 06 fore plane at the top shows a different frog and base casting from the others.
All frogs have the looped lateral adjustment lever - a simple and effective design.
None of them have the frog fore and aft adjuster screw that was found on Stanley planes, and copied by both the Falcon Pope and Turner handplanes that were also made in Australia. Just like Sargent hand planes in the United States, Carter decided that their planes didn't need them.
This simplified the castings for both frog and base.
Three of these planes have brass depth adjuster wheels, while the number 06 fore plane has an aluminium depth adjuster.
All handles are made from Australian hardwood - normally coachwood - and all are painted with black enamel.
The handle on the 4-1/2 has been through the wars, and has lost its spur - as well as showing a crack across the middle. These wounds were not uncommon, given the tough lives that these tools often led. Bouncing around in a tool box from one building site to the next, can cause damage and always takes a toll on appearance.
All have their original Carter blades except for the 4-1/2, which has one made by John Shaw of Sydney.
John Shaw produced plane blades, HSS tip bronzed to the main body of blade. There isn't much left of this one, but a comparison with other similar blades shows how long it probably was when new.
The reason for this is probably to be found in the design of the frog. All Carter frog castings have support for the blade only at the very top, and the very bottom.
Compare that to the bedding for the blade provided by Falcon Pope and older Stanley frogs. There is blade support there - all the way from the top to the bottom of the frog.
The thought occurs to me that the Carter design allows for less exactitude in casting, since only the top and bottom faces need machining to the one plane in order to bed the blade. This would save time, and allow the frog castings from different foundries to be finished off with minimum grinding. A simple solution to the obvious quality control issues attached to multiple castings from multiple foundries.
The bodies of the Carter planes are robust, and usually of thicker and heavier dimensions than the equivalent Stanley.
Here are two number 4 planes - one Carter, the other a Stanley. The differences in length and thickness are obvious. The Carter is significantly larger, even though it has the same width blade as the Stanley - 2 inches.
All of this translates into extra mass - the Carter is nearly a pound heavier. It is also not as refined as the Stanley. Here it is up close:
Carter handplanes were made to fill a niche in the building industry, at a time when anything was better than nothing, and they were turned successfully to cabinetry as well. In these tasks they performed creditably. They are a mixed bunch, with some examples being very well made, and others a little rough and ready. Time has moved on, and consistently better made examples of handplanes have appeared and become commonplace.
For all that, Carters are somewhat rarer than others, simply because they were manufactured for such a short time. A good one is well worth having as a working tool in any workshop - others may only be added to collections as historical footnotes.
The blades are something else again.
I have never come across a bad one, and the extra thickness is appreciated by hand plane enthusiasts, and those who want good performance from their plane - no matter the brand. If you get a chance to own a Carter blade - jump at it.
Are Carter planes worth buying?
It may end up being a good one - or - it may just be your little part of Australian toolmaking history.
Either way, the blade alone will be worth the purchase.
For more on Carter Tools including other planes, follow this link to the
Hand Tool Preservation Association Of Australia
...... and happy woodworking to all ...............