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Weiss & Sohn, Zahnhobel, ca. 1892-1910
The toothing plane

The most noticeable feature of the toothing plane is the steeply standing plane iron. Depending on the model, the bedding angle is between 70° and 90°. The second difference to a "normal" plane is the plane iron. It does not have a smooth edge, but has a toothed, straight cutting edge, which also gives the plane its name. The tooths are formed by grooves, which are incorporated on the mirror side of the iron opposite the bevel. And it's slightly shorter than a double or smoothing plane.

Findings of toothing irons during excavations (e.g. in Homburg near Saarbrücken) suggest that the toothing plane was already known to the Romans.

Zahnhobel Harthobel Halle
Sprengel, Zahnhobel, 1778
Zahnhobel, Krünitz, 1789
Zahnhobel, Altmütter, 1825
Historical development

As it is today, however, the toothing plane did not always look. Johann Samuel Halle describes it in 1762 the same as the scrub plane, i.e. with a normal cutting angle (approx. 45 degrees), but with a slightly less rounded cutting edge than the scrub plane. The steeper plane iron position seems to have been reserved for the “hard plane” (hence also called “steep plane”), which was used with a normal iron to work hard, knotty, or flat sawn wood very finely.


(Note: With single plane irons without chip breakers, it is a tried and tested method to achieve a finer material removal by the steeper position of the iron in the plane body and at the same time to avoid tear outs. This is more of a scraping effect than a cutting, similar to a scraper. This principle was already known to the Romans. It works better for hard woods than for softwood.)



The description is almost the same with Peter Nathanael Sprengel (1778), only the cutting edge of the iron is straight, not curved.

Johann Georg Krünitz also describes the toothing plane in 1789 identical to the scrub plane, but adds that the “hard plane” is used with both normal iron and toothing iron.

The invention of the double iron (see also my article about the smoothing plane by Weiss & Sohn) in England in the middle of the 18th century made the “hard plane” redundant, the use of a chip breaker allows tear out free planing even at a normal cutting angle of 45 degrees.

The description of the toothing plane with Georg Altmütter (1825) is somewhat contradictory. First he describes it identically with the double plane (a roughing plane with double iron) and gives a description of the English double iron. A paragraph later, however, the toothing plane appears with almost vertically standing iron. The “hard plane” does not occur with Altmütter, but later again in the "Atlas of Austrian Tools for Woodworkers"  by Johann B. Weiss 1861 (The version with metal sole has been produced by Weiss & Sohn until the 1890s.)

Finally, Franz Wertheim describes the toothing plane in his "Werkzeugkunde"  in 1869 only in the form known to this day. And he also provides the first color lithography and technical drawings not only of the Austrian form of the toothing plane, but also of its English counterpart.

Zahnhobel, Werkzeugkunde, Wertheim, 1869
Zahneisen, Wertheim 1869
Wertheim Zahnhobel XI-298
Wertheim Zahnhobel XVIII-298
Wertheim Zahnhobel XI-299
Wertheim Zahnhobel XVIII-299

I would like to point out at this point that in this brief presentation of the historical development of the toothing plane I refer exclusively to German-speaking encyclopedists, my subject, after all, is Austrian tools. In England, France, the Netherlands, Scandinavia or southern Europe, the development of this plane, like the development of specific tools in general, may have been different. However, I do not have a sufficient number of sources to make sound statements.


The purpose of the toothing plane is agreed by all historical authors. It was mainly used for veneering and inlay work to give the glue better adhesion through the roughened surfaces. The most accurate description for this is provided by Georg Altmütter, who writes that this technique was mainly used for resinous or very dense woods, which do not accept the glue particularly well. This technique has been increasingly questioned since the 20th century. Even today, there is still disagreement among carpenters as to whether the roughing of the surfaces before the gluing of veneers actually improves adhesion.

Secondly, the toothing plane was used on knotty or flat sawn wood, which is strongly prone to tear out when using normal planes. The tooth iron leaves more or less deep grooves on the wood, which are then removed with the smoothing or double plane. This way, tear outs are effectively prevented.

"When sharpening, you must not polish off the burr that arises on the mirror side, otherwise the individual teeth of the edge will become dull. You remove it by pushing the grinded and polished iron with a few light blows into end grain."  (Quote:

Fachkunde für Tischler, Pätzold/Willer, Leipzig, Siebente Auflage 1954, Seite 169)

Zahnhobel nr9 tafel 1
Zahn-Rundstabhobel nr64 tafel5
Zahnhobel nr 217 tafel11
Zahn-Schiffhobel Wertheim tafel16
Zahn-Hohlkehlhobel nr63 tafel5
Zahn-Schiffhobel nr56 tafel5
Zahnhobel nr225 tafel11
Zahn-Schiffhobel Wertheim tafel32

In addition to the well-known form as a bench plane, other versions of the toothing plane used to exist.

In his "Atlas of Austrian Tools for Woodworkers (1861)", Johann Baptist Weiss shows a hollow (No. 63, Tafel V), a round (No. 64, Tafel V) and a compass plane (No. 56, Tafel V) each with steeply placed toothing iron.

In addition, the normal toothing plane appears in two further versions, namely with screwed-on iron sole (No. 217, Tafel XI) and with a sole made of lignum vitae (No. 225, Tafel XI).

In Franz Wertheim's "Werkzeugkunde (1869)" only the compass plane with toothing iron appears besides the normal toothing plane (plus the English version).

Johann Weiss & Sohn produced the toothing hollow and round planes until the 1890s. They are no longer included in the oldest known to me catalogue of 1897. The toothing compass plane was in the assortment until about 1918.

The normal toothing plane with iron sole was offered until the 1890s, the variant with lignum vitae sole probably remained in production until the end of the company Weiss & Sohn.

In the catalogue of 1897 there is in addition to the normal toothing plane a variant with vertically standing iron "for Veneers". In addition, both planes are offered with "ordinary"  or finely toothed iron. Both versions were in the range until at least 1930.

The coarse (ordinary) toothing iron had 8 grooves per cm, the fine 13 grooves (see original drawing from 1951).

The original construction drawing of a toothing plane shown here dates back to 1950. It not only provides the exact dimensions of the plane itself, but also the dimensions of the raw material. Both drawings are in my own collection.

176 Zahneisen SW.jpg
Zahneisen fein und grob, Weiss & Sohn
Zahneisen fein und grob, Weiss & Sohn
09 Zahnhobel SW.jpg

Werkstäte der heutigen Künste oder die neue Kunsthistorie

Johann Samuel Halle, 1761 - 1779, Original aus eigener Sammlung

P. N. Sprengels Künste und Handwerke in Tabellen, Erste Sammlung, Zweyte und verbesserte Auflage

Peter Nathanel Sprengel, Berlin, 1778

(Link: Google Books)

Oekonomische Encyklopädie, Vier und zwanzigster Theil

Johann Georg Krünitz, Brünn, 1789

(Link: Google Books)

Beschreibung der Werkzeug-Sammlung des k.k. polytechnischen Institutes

Georg Altmütter, Wien 1825

(Link: ETH-Bibliothek Zürich,

Atlas österreichischer Werkzeuge für Holzarbeiter

Johann Baptist Weiss, Wien, 1861

(Link: Austrian National Library, Austrian Books Online)

Werkzeugkunde zum Gebrauche für technische Lehranstalten, Eisenbahnen, Schiffbau und Industrie-Gewerbe

Franz Wertheim, Wien, 1869

(Link zum Bildband: Wolfgang Jordan,, Link zum Textband: Bayrische Staatsbibliothek)

Fachkunde für Tischler

Pätzold/Willer, Leipzig, Siebente Auflage 1954

Picture galleries

The following gallery shows illustrations of toothing planes from catalogues of the company Weiss & Sohn. The companies Vinko Zakman (Zagreb), S. Kauders (Czech Republic), Anton Bayer (Graz) and Kaindl (Vienna) were sales partners of Weiss. Only two of the planes shown here come from other manufacturers: on picture 1 you can see a plane by Johann Horak from Prague, on picture 3 a plane by Jakob Weisz & Comp from Pecs (Hungary).

This toothing plane from Weiss & Sohn, which dates from about 1910 - 1918, is always in my toolbox.

The patent numbers refer to the shape of the rear end of the plane body. The distinct rounding should avoid splintering of the wood when adjusting with the hammer. On the left the number of the Austrian Patent Office, on the right the Hungarian patent number (a nice example of how Austria-Hungary worked!).

The embossed decorations on the sides were affixed by one of its previous owners.

Slightly older is this very beautiful specimen by Johann Weiss & Sohn. It was built sometime between 1892 and 1910.

This plane is from the last decade of the company Weiss & Sohn. It was apparently never used. It also bears the label of the tool dealer from which it was bought at the time. The company Rudolf Kmen no longer exists, it was located at Margaretenstraße 43 in Vienna, in the immediate neighbourhood of the headquarters of the company Weiss & Sohn.

A very beautiful and equally rare piece of my collection is this toothing plane by Johann Hawel from Vienna. The only records that exist from this toolmaker are address book entries from the years 1854 to 1874.

Finally, a very good video by restorer Lothar Jansen-Greef about the toothing plane.

His Youtube channel "Carpentry, Crafts, Restorations, Antiques" is highly recommended.

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