A mystery solved

A while back I posted about a odd looking plane I’d found in an old painting by Jacopo from 1574.  Recently I posted about a painting of building the Ark by Kaspar Memberger the Elder that had some great shots of workmen and tools.  Yesterday I found another painting by Jacopo that I hadn’t seen before that showed nearly the same exact scene that Kaspar had painted, but with different tools.  One of the paintings is a copy of the other for sure, but I wasn’t able to find much on the painting itself.  The newly discovered Jacopo painting looks like it had been damaged either by cutting or folding, which might explain why it’s much less popular than the other ark painting he did.

Plane from Tintoretto painting

The really cool thing about this new painting though, is that it shows one of the workmen clearly demonstrating how that strange looking plane with the roman style handle in front of the blade, rather than behind, is used.  The fellow is clearly pulling the plane!  And there are a couple other planes in the foreground as well.

Jacopo - Building the Ark

It’s a little mystery solved, phew!  It’s odd though, most European planes were designed to be pushed.  The roman style handles are very rarely found due to ravages of time, but there are few examples still around due to volcanic action (Pompeii has a few).  The cut out style was seen in the known examples as both ends of the plane, or behind the iron as seen below in these scans from Goodmans book on History of Woodworking Tools.

Roman Planes - Reconstruction and Extant examples

Interesting stuff.  One of these days I’d love to make a reconstruction of these planes to see how they work, but I think I have a few more challenges to get through first.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *