History:The Woden W78 was the first plane sold by The Steel Nut & Joseph
Hampton Ltd. (SNJH) following the takeover of W.S Manufacturing.
An early advertisement from 'The Woodworker' of February 1954
highlights the main features of the newly introduced plane.
“A THOROUGHLY TESTED AND PROVED PRODUCT”
This must refer to the Stanley 78 pattern of which this plane and the
earlier W.S A78 were modified copies.
“improved” because the plane has a twin arm fence, superior to
earlier Stanley planes and a front knob to facilitate use as a
smoothing or trimming plane.
The earlier W.S A78 had these same features, but the Woden was
further improved (see comparison below).
W78 nearside view
W78 offside view
W78 lever cap, cutter and adjustment assembly
Cutter and lever cap, rear view
W78 fence, guide rods and locking screws
Table 1, W78 screw threads
late W78 advert from 'The Woodworker'
The W78 Rebate Plane in detail:This is one of the most complete examples in my collection,
c.1957. It has all the features most commonly found on
examples of this plane.
Many lack some parts, particularly fences (which break easily),
knobs, depth stops and washers (which are easily removed
The body casting is 10 inches long overall (255 mm); the sole is
machined smooth to 8-1/2 inches long by exactly 1-1/2 inches
wide (38 mm).
On the nearside, it has the casting number “B07” inside the
knob and the mark “2” in front of the mouth, below the depth
stop screw inside.
The body space underneath the depth adjuster lever is cast
marked “W78” and “MADE IN ENGLAND”.
On the offside rear, there is a 1 inch deep by about 2-1/2 inch
long inset panel with a knurled face. On this face is a 1-1/2 inch
by about 11/16 inch “WODEN” brand cast mark which is
painted red. The latter two body marks are the most common
found on this plane.
The nearside and offside working faces are bright and finished
smooth. All other surfaces apart from the two cutter seats are
painted in Woden blue stove enamel.
The handle is an integral part of the body casting. On the top
surface is the Woden brand transfer slide, as on bench planes.
The clamping plate or lever cap is a bright chromed brass
casting, with a 15/16 inch long fixing screw having a
½ inch x ¼ inch fluted cheese head which is also chromed.
The lever cap is approximately three inches long by 1-3/16
inches wide. There are no marks on this part.
The bright steel finished cutter is 1-17/32 inches wide and
3/32 inches (2 mm) thick and has the Woden printed brand
mark on the top. Cutter pitch is 45 degrees.
The cutter sits bevel down on the centre (normal) seat, or with
the handle removed, the forward (bull nose) seat. It is secured
through the lever cap by a 15/16 inch long raised headed and
chromed machine screw.
The cutter is adjusted by means of a chromed pivoting lever
and notched cam which engages with one of eight projecting
ribs on the back of the cutter.
Press down to retract the cutter and press up to advance.
The lever is riveted to the body casting but is free to move
easily to effect adjustment. There is no depth adjustment when
the cutter is fixed on the forward seat.
There is no lateral adjustment; the cutter is aligned with the
offside outer body side and then loosely secured with the lever
cap screw prior to normal adjustment. Tighten the lever cap
screw after adjustment.
The fence is 8-1/4 inches long (210 mm) with the working face
machined and polished. The two fence arms are 1-3/4 by
9/16 inches and have short central ribs on top. These slide
underneath the sole and keep the fence face parallel with the
There is a slight countersink on the inside of the
fence guide rod holes to facilitate insertion. The locking screws
are 11/16 inches long with ½ inch diameter by 3/16 inches deep
fluted cheese heads which are chromed.
On the underside is the casting number “B08” and the mark “5”
on the top face of one fence arm.
Apart from the working faces and locking screws,
the fence is painted Woden blue.
The two fence guide rods are 3-1/4 inches long, 5/16 inches in
diameter with just over ¼ inches of thread. These screw into
either side of the body casting to locate the fence. The chromed
rods have rounded ends and small through holes to facilitate
tightening of the rods in the body.
The depth stop is a small 2-1/2 by 1-1/2 inch casting which fits
into the offside of the plane adjacent to the knob. It has a bright
and smooth finished lower face.
There is a small mark "2" on the top inside face. The front rib
of two on the inside face is shaped to match a vertical channel
on the plane body. The rib guides the stop in the channel, whilst
the other (rear) and flatter shaped rib keeps the stop clear of the
plane body. This, in conjunction with the shape of the stop
bottom, avoids the possibility of fouling the cutter.
The stop is adjusted and secured by a ½ x ¼ inch chromed
round fluted cheese headed screw with a wide flanged inner
face, and plain washer.
The washer may not have been an original part.
The disc cutter or spur on the lower offside body, is a small
hardened steel D-shaped part secured by a ½ inch long
countersunk machine screw with a blued finish. The top of the
part is missing on this example.
The spur is shown in the normal position (not in use). For cross
grain work, release the locking screw to let out a corner of the
spur, before re-tightening the screw.
The knob can be fitted if the cutter is used in the normal
It is dark brown/mahogany lacquered beech and secured by a
raised headed screw through the front cutter seat. There is a
shaped metal washer/ferrule inside the knob so that screw head
wear on the wood is minimized.
The plane is packed in a shallow L1 labeled box with blue and
buff printed Woden Plane Instructions. There is also a Woden
brand label tag, (See packaging in Dating Page).
The screw threads used on this plane did vary over
time. This plane and other early examples used a coarse
BSW thread for the lever cap and fence locking screws.
Later planes used a finer thread. See table 1.
Comparison with earlier W.S A78 planes:It is evident that the W78 was derived from the earlier W.S A78.
The most obvious difference is the diameter of the fence guide rods,
much thicker on the Woden plane, 5/16” compared to ¼” on W.S.
The W.S body has its brand identification cast marks and transfer slide
brand label on the handle. Otherwise, there are no numbers or marks,
the same as early Wodens.
The cutter bed of the W.S is longer, extending higher up than Woden
and the depth adjuster fits through a slot in the bed to engage the
underside of the cutter. Cutter mouths on W78's are cut slightly
further forward than W.S, by up to 1/8 inches on very early examples.
The W.S fence has no marks but it does have longer ribs on top of the
fence arms, as seen on early Wodens.
The Woden lever cap or clamping plate is identical to W.S but has a
bright chrome finish.
The Woden knob is slightly more substantial than W.S and is beech
with a mahogany coloured finish, the same as the bench planes.
The W.S knob has a slim waist and a natural beech finish.
The W.S cutter has a stamped W.S intertwined brand mark between
“SHEFFIELD” and “CAST STEEL”. The Woden mark is printed and has
“MADE IN ENGLAND” at the bottom. The W.S cutter is thicker than
the Woden. The Woden cutter has wider adjustment ribs on the reverse.
W.S paintwork was lighter in shade with a hint of purple.
Woden blue paintwork was darker.
On W.S planes, the bases of the body, fence and depth stop are
linished, whereas Woden have a bright and polished finish.
Generally, as with the bench planes, original Woden paintwork and small
part protective finishes were superior to W.S.
The depth stop is missing but is exactly the same as Woden.
User instructions and workshop tips:The W78 is described as a versatile tool, as claimed in the
last section of the Woden Plane Instructions:-
The plane can be used as a rebate plane or, with the fence
removed, a narrow soled smoothing or trimming plane.
The knob is intended for the latter use; it has little advantage
when rebating and must be removed for bull nosed work.
When used as a bull nosed plane, it is possible to work up to
about 3/8 inches from the end of a stopped rebate or face.
When using the plane as a fillister with the fence and
depth stop, care must be taken to avoid pushing the stop
upwards when approaching the rebate bottom. A depth stop
washer may not have been supplied originally but the security of
the stop setting is improved by using one.
A disadvantage of these planes is wear on the tips of the cutter
adjustment lever. The metal is soft and tends to ‘round over’ with
time. Similarly, the ribs on the underside of the cutter are also
liable to wear.
As with most vintage grey iron castings, the plane body and
fence are quite brittle. If dropped, the body casting is likely to
break, typically in line with the cutter.
The fence could break at any point if not carefully handled.
This also applies to storage or packing. When boxed, ensure
both the body and fence are well padded and isolated from
Record (Woden) W78 planes:These planes are essentially the same as SNJH examples,
with the same bodies and fences apart from the markings and
usually with a Woden stamp marked cutter.
They were either assembled at Sheffield from
a mixture of original Woden and Record small parts,
or made using Record specified parts, with or without
Later planes have a different finish to the knob, lever cap
and small parts. Please see the Dating Page for more information
on these planes.
It is notable that in the early 1960's, Record were selling three metal
rebate and fillister planes - its 078 pattern; its improved 0778 pattern
introduced in 1959 and the Woden W78.
a Record-Woden W78