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Skip Helms
03-22-2016, 2:04 PM
Hi All,

I recently restored a Sargent VBM 410C heavy-smoother purchased on Ebay. I got it cheaper than I might have because it had a hairline crack next to the mouth. Other than that it wasn't in bad shape. I drilled a relief hole at the end of the crack, hogged-out some iron and silver-brazed it shut. Past that I de-rusted it, stripped what was left of the Japanning and shot it with three coats of Duplicolor Ford semi-gloss black. It also needed a new horn for the tote. Came out well.

This is the third Sargent and second VBM I've put back in circulation and I like them. My research wasn't conclusive, though. I can't tell from the archives whether the VBMs were made from 1908 to 1918 as a premium line alongside their standard offerings or if this was their standard line. They're highly regarded but I don't know if that's because of extra care made in manufacturing or if this was just the golden age of Sargent hand tools.

If anyone knows the story, I'd love to hear it. Thanks, sh

Allan Speers
03-22-2016, 3:03 PM
AFAIK, the "VBM" logo was used on all Sargents from 1908 - 1918.

Their "400" series was the upscale line, and "Hercules" was their bargain line.


I have several 400 series, and they are extremely fine tools. The casting is heavy & the blades are thicker than on Stanleys. The adjusters are also a little tighter feeling. The finish is a bit rough, though. They didn't seem too concerned with aesthetics.

Jim Koepke
03-22-2016, 3:29 PM
The casting is heavy & the blades are thicker than on Stanleys.

That could be a good reason why some prefer the Sargent over the Stanleys.

jtk

Skip Helms
03-22-2016, 3:32 PM
Thanks Allan, That's what I figured.

The castings and markings are identical to the later VBMs in this Lumberjock thread by HorizontalMike:

http://lumberjocks.com/topics/47039

The corrugations aren't precise -- makes me think some poor guy was grinding them one groove at a time. I hadn't seen Indian mahogany before. I had to prep the tote to scab in a new horn. It's supposed to be a cousin of Padauk. The color is right but the grain is finer. I subbed in some Honduran mahogany for the tip and dabbed it with Potassium Dichromate until the top and bottom looked close.

My other two Sargents are a VBM #39 dado plane and a later-model 414. I'd put the latter up against any jack plane I've used. No chatter and it glides well. I get these as users so I won't be making a hobby of fixing them but it's nice to know how they got here. sh

don wilwol
03-23-2016, 6:58 AM
VBM was on all lines of Sargent tools. It wasn't put on planes though until 1910. http://www.timetestedtools.net/2016/01/26/typing-sargent-bench-planes-400-series/

Skip Helms
03-23-2016, 2:25 PM
Thanks Don, looks like VBM hay-hooks can be had as well.

There must have been a fierce market for homeowner tools a hundred years ago. With handmade doors and windows, you would have needed a plane or chisel to fix all the moving parts in your house. As long as they didn't bury it or turn it in as scrap during the wars, those tools will keep turning-up through the generations. Unlike the phone competition of today, my 410 won't be obsolete for a while.

I've added a few chisels to the tray too. My motley collection of survivors needed some longer firmer chisels to reach crannies on an upcoming project. I did way more research than I needed to but the brands and steel quality over the years has as much backstory as the planes. Not that I hit a lot of yard sales but if there's a 1907 Witherby socket chisel next to the exercise cassettes, I'll have a second look. A lot of my chisels are repurposed files or car springs.

Cheers, sh

don wilwol
03-23-2016, 2:35 PM
Thanks Don, looks like VBM hay-hooks can be had as well.

There must have been a fierce market for homeowner tools a hundred years ago. With handmade doors and windows, you would have needed a plane or chisel to fix all the moving parts in your house. As long as they didn't bury it or turn it in as scrap during the wars, those tools will keep turning-up through the generations. Unlike the phone competition of today, my 410 won't be obsolete for a while.

I've added a few chisels to the tray too. My motley collection of survivors needed some longer firmer chisels to reach crannies on an upcoming project. I did way more research than I needed to but the brands and steel quality over the years has as much backstory as the planes. Not that I hit a lot of yard sales but if there's a 1907 Witherby socket chisel next to the exercise cassettes, I'll have a second look. A lot of my chisels are repurposed files or car springs.

Cheers, sh


Digging up the History is half the fun!!

Allan Speers
03-23-2016, 3:35 PM
VBM was on all lines of Sargent tools. It wasn't put on planes though until 1910. http://www.timetestedtools.net/2016/01/26/typing-sargent-bench-planes-400-series/


Very confusing, this.
I'm fairly positive it's 1908. The actual logo was created in 1907. There are historical documents that show this, including ads from 1907. Also, many people who own the Heckle book (THE Sargent reference) also say 1908. - With the exception of this guy, who admits in the beginning of his article that he found it confusing.

Well, maybe the logo was used in 1908, just not on the levercaps? (i.e. only on the blades, and the bodies of the larger planes)

I happen to own a 418 which s a type 3 in all regards, including rosewood knob & tote, rounded screw tops, etc but it has a VBM levercap & blade. Of course, it might not be original....


Oh heck, who really knows? (The strange things we care about.... :o )

don wilwol
03-23-2016, 4:31 PM
1908. I'm fairly positive. The actual logo was created in 1907. There are historical documents that show this, including ads from 1907,. Also, people who own the Heckle book (THE Sargent reference) also say 1908. - With the exception of this guy, who admits in the beginning of his article that he found it confusing.

well, maybe the logo was used in 1908, just not on the levercaps? (i.e. only on the blades, and the bodies of the larger planes)



That TTT dating thing is a great resource, so thanks for the link, Don !


Well I could be proven wrong, and if you have the documentation to show it, i definitely want my site to be correct. The TTT resource is based on David Heckel's type study. The type 2 and 3 planes were made until 1909. They were not marked with the VBM logo. The VBM slogan was started in the 1901 catalog on scissors and pliers. I believe The Slogan was used starting in 1910 on planes, but even a lot of the type 4 planes had unmarked caps and no VBM logo. As far as I know, Dave Heckels book is the only written resource on the Sargent planes, but if you have another with conflicting information I would love to see it.

What I found confusing (this guy is me) is why he created a separate type study for the cutters and caps that didn't follow the planes. If you look, his text says they started using the logo in 1908 (for that you are correct) but his type studies show it is NOT being used on the planes. On page 88 is the cap type study, the VBM logo started on 1910, page 87, the cutter logo with the VBM logo started in 1910, and on page 89, the VBM logo shows up in 1910 on the boxes. All of the early single series planes I have, (which started in 1910) have no VBM markings. I would love to find a pre-1910 catalog that showed the VBM logo on the planes.

So let me make one more opinion clear. Sargent was way worse than Stanley for using parts beyond the study dates, so a 2 year period in there is a huge gray area.

The book does also say that they "Marketing" the slogan of VBM in 1907, but I don't think it hit the plane manufacturing until a few years later.

My catalog collection jumps from 1884 to 1910. I can seem to land one in between, but even the drawings of the bench models in the 1910 catalog show no VBM mark, although the text says they are VBM.

I have yet to find a type 2 or type 3 plane with a VBM cap. If id did now, I would assume it would have been replaced.

All my opinion of course, and I love to find new information, so this isn't me being difficult, its me digging for anything you've got to give me.

Jim Koepke
03-23-2016, 4:39 PM
Sargent was way worse than Stanley for using parts beyond the study dates, so a 2 year period in there is a huge gray area.

This is also compounded in the catalog and label printing by using old plates or cut type beyond their time. Also it was often cost effective to print extra labels to be used over a long time. Why toss old stock if it saves money?

jtk

don wilwol
03-23-2016, 4:56 PM
This is also compounded in the catalog and label printing by using old plates or cut type beyond their time. Also it was often cost effective to print extra labels to be used over a long time. Why toss old stock if it saves money?

jtk

This compounds the issue. Dave Heckels study is based almost solely on the Sargent catalogs and advertisements, where some of the Stanley studies used manufacturing records to fill in some holes.

Jim Koepke
03-23-2016, 7:35 PM
It is mostly a one way compounding. Labels, catalog images and such would seldom appear long before a new or changed feature appeared on the shelf.

Being a tool archeologist trying to develop a time line is difficult at best. Determining a date of manufacture is not an exact science. There is a lot of mushy area and in reality, sitting here a century later, what real difference does it make if something appeared in 1907 or 1908?

As an example, it is very likely the first planes on retail shelves with a logo on the lever cap where #4 or #5 sized planes. These sold the most and likely used up the old stock first. There might have been an exception if they decided to keep the old lever caps on hand as replacements. Who knows? It is an interesting area, but it isn't going to cause me any loss of sleep.

jtk

Skip Helms
03-23-2016, 11:36 PM
I suspect the secondary brands didn't have enough control over their retailers to rotate stock based on their catalog. If you moved a lot of product, you got fresh inventory. If you didn't, chances are a salesman didn't drag eighty pounds of samples out to Fresno and try and talk you into marking down last year's jack planes. I'd also bet these guys were stealing each others' ideas before the iron was poured. Competing against the hot new lateral knob wouldn't wait eight months until the next catalog. I'd look for the purest examples of a model in the middle of its production run. sh

Jim Koepke
03-24-2016, 1:22 AM
Competing against the hot new lateral knob wouldn't wait eight months until the next catalog.

Besides that, the next catalog may have already been sent to the printers. That is why catalogs often had older images.

jtk