ForewordThis is my first guide, so please feel free to send me any comments on what you would like to see here or stuff that I have omitted etc. There are deliberately no references or comparisons with existing tool manufacturers, I don't want to get into a legal battle.
HistoryEdward Preston tools were manufactured at The New Works, Cheston Road in Birmingham, England and elsewhere from 1825 to 1932. Edward Preston began making wooden tools and evolved into steel tools during the industrial revolution of the Victorian era.
IdentificationIf you have any questions about authenticity firstly refer to the Preston 1909 Tool Catalogue, it contains 224 pages, pictures of every model then sold, it was reprinted by Astragal Press. The rarer models are listed in tool museums, which generally have good detailed photographs. The 1909 catalogue doesn't list earlier tools, you will have to refer to back copies of auction catalogues, such as David Stanley they have good pictures and some history.
Normally all Preston tools are trade marked with one of the following symbols.
Rare Preston Tools1347F Bullnose featuring depth stop and rebate fence, aka left and right hand fillester plane, the base of this plane measures 3.75" long by 1.125" wide.
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NotesGenerally all Preston wood planes are clearly stamped on the front of the plane, the shape, size and character type of the stamp indicate the age of the plane. On some metal planes all the component parts were stamped with a number or symbol during manufacture. This number was used to re-assemble the parts following a batch process. An unmolested plane should have matching assembly numbers on the wedge, cutter and plane body.
Not all Preston tools are trade marked clearly. Early shoulder, rebate, chariot planes and chamfer rebates commonly appear without trade marks, but may have assembly numbers.
A Preston patent adjuster being present on a plane does not indicate that the plane is by Preston.
A lever cap marked on the inside with Preston does not indicate that the plane is by Preston.
A Preston blade, cutter or plane iron does not indicate that the plane or tool is Preston.
The trade mark Preston also appears on some later tools that were manufactured in Sheffield, England. These are generally smoothing planes and appear modern and very similar in construction to other modern manufacturers planes.
ConditionNIB: New In Box, pristine
Excellent: Used In Box, used but undamaged
G++ All parts present, no damage to any parts, all plating or japanning intact
G All parts present, little cutter wear, no damage to any parts, plating or japanning 80% intact
F All parts present, cutter wear or replacements, no damage to any parts, plating or japanning 50% intact
USER All parts present, cutter wear or replacements, nicks or dints damage to parts, plating or japanning present
PARTS Most parts present, cutter wear or replacements, damage to parts, traces of plating or japanning, rust