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View Full Version : Any info on M.W.H. Co. Zenith mystery plane?



Brandon Davis
07-01-2014, 12:37 PM
When I recently bought an 8 inch jointer through C/L, the seller (a really nice guy), threw in some freebies.

One was a mystery plane (well, to me), that I had no idea about, but was fascinated by because of the "weird-to-me" mounting of the frog. There were two "top-side" (locking???) screws (along with the familiar frog-adjusting screw), that I'd never seen before (I'm mostly a Stanley guy: all I can afford lol).

It wasn't until I cleaned it up (light rust, mostly ...it cleaned up quite nicely tho': see pix) that I saw it had been engraved on both sides and the plane iron with "Zenith" and "M.W.H. Co. Trade Mark" ...it's a pretty spiffy insignia, actually. The only other marks are "409" on "414" on the under-side of the lever cap. It's about a Stanley No. 5 in size (maybe a bit smaller?), but I haven't measured it's dimensions.

I found a few online references that the "M.W.H. Co." part referred to the old Marshall Wells Hardware Company (interesting note: M.W.H. Co. had a major warehouse locally here in Spokane), so that part of the mystery was solved.

But I haven't found much of anything about the plane itself ...if this is a collectible for someone, I don't want to screw with it any further. Otherwise, it goes into "user" rotation (and no, I haven't used it yet: we still aren't totally moved in, so my work-shop is still mostly a plan lol).

Any thoughts, comments, pointers would be appreciated. (I have a ton more pix if you think it would help.) TIA.



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David Weaver
07-01-2014, 12:46 PM
It appears to be sargent manufacture based on the frog with the exposed screws at the back, the lateral adjuster shape and the markings under the lever cap.

No collector's value that I'm aware of, probably just a private label plane made my sargent like many other hardware store marked planes.

Brandon Davis
07-01-2014, 12:48 PM
It appears to be sargent manufacture based on the frog with the exposed screws at the back, the lateral adjuster shape and the markings under the lever cap.

No collector's value that I'm aware of, probably just a private label plane made my sargent like many other hardware store marked planes.

Wow, that was quick lol.

Thanks, Dave. User rotation it is.

:)

David Weaver
07-01-2014, 1:07 PM
It is, by the way, an awfully nice plane to get for free!

Brandon Davis
07-01-2014, 1:22 PM
It is, by the way, an awfully nice plane to get for free!
Oh yeah! It's pretty purty lol.

...actually, he also threw in what turned out to be the bones of a Stanley 5 [probably] Type 9 (sorry: no pix, yet ...and there's entire sites devoted to what I don't know about "type studies", so take that "9" under advisement lol), that I think will clean up nicely too.

It's missing the plane iron and some small parts (that are common enough that I prob'ly have 'em in my parts stash lol), and the frog has a broken upper corner (but I think might work just fine). But I was pretty excited about it once I figured out what it was, as I've never had a 5.

Phil Stone
07-01-2014, 1:32 PM
I have a corrugated jointer with the same markings. Picked it up at a yard sale along with a Bedrock 604 with a cracked tote. $20 for the pair.

Mel Miller
07-01-2014, 3:28 PM
That plane is desireable to collectors. It has the Shaw's patent frog, more or less Sargents answer to the Stanley Bedrock planes. The Zenith markings show it was made by Sargent for the Marshall Wells Hardware Co.

David Weaver
07-01-2014, 3:43 PM
Shows what I know about collecting (not much). A search of completed listings shows a shaws patent sargent 5 sized plane sold for $100 recently. That makes free even better.

Dave Anderson NH
07-01-2014, 3:55 PM
Even without the collector value, to my mind Sargent made better planes than Stanley. Much better machining and quality control. Feel free to disagree.

David Weaver
07-01-2014, 4:02 PM
Todd Hughes used to extoll the virtues of the sargent planes. And on the other side (with less nice handles and with paint instead of japanning) was millers falls in Todd's discussion.

I have only ever had one sargent, and I can't remember what the frog was like, but I don't like any frog where the bedding surface terminates prior to the sole of the plane. It may be that the casting was thick enough for the iron to bed on the casting, though. My plane was a wreck and I threw it away. Someone had sold it to me and been less than honest about condition, so I never used it.

Those were the days, too, when we were told to move the frog as far forward as possible to control tearout, which made the "hanging" iron worse if the frog did not reach down close to the iron itself. We know better than that now, so I might have more love for those planes with a gappy frog.

don wilwol
07-02-2014, 5:31 AM
Zenith were Shaw patent. They were good users and have a collector value. Anything with the Shaw patent is pretty hard to find.

You will also see quit a few with a broken frog.

Brandon Davis
07-13-2014, 11:21 AM
Okay, I was away from the discussion for awhile.

So this is than, a collectible that someone would want to have?

Or, hmm, it is a "Bedrock class" equivalent plane (something I've been unsuccessful at acquiring, since I'm poor lol)?

So I lucked onto a Bedrock class plane?

Well. That changes matters (i.e., it just went from user rotation to "prized possession" lol).

I'm gonna have to buy that guy lunch woot!

Update i. I see that Superior Works' Blood and Gore has a blurb on the Shaw's patent (http://www.supertool.com/StanleyBG/shaws.htm). And yeah, you really do need a 90 screwdriver to comfortably get into those top frog screws.

Update ii. And there's a discussion at LumberJocks on a restored "Shaw" Sargent (http://lumberjocks.com/donwilwol/blog/31744) that pretty much resembles mine in all major features.

Update iii. And this is kind of funny. After examining the pix at Lumberjocks of that Sargent, and comparing the casting in front of the mouth, you can see that Sargent had imperfectly ground off the "SARGENT" logo for the Zenith OEM sourced plane, as the tops of some of the letters are still visible. Cool.

Update iv. And a last update, a reply by Daryl Weir to another Sawmill Creek thread (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?219366-Fettlin-Advise-Needed!) linked to a Sargent planes page (http://www.sargent-planes.com/sargent-no-7-smooth-plane/) that might be useful to someone else who googles this thread for more info on Zenith, M.W.H. Co., and Shaw's patent Sargent planes.