Fomm Hand-operated Planing Machine
If you have a similar machine to the one shown
below, the writer would be interested to hear from you.
Thought to have been made by A.G. Fomm of Leipzig, Germany, this delightful little hand-operated planer would have been a common sight in workshops through Europe during the late 1800s. Unfortunately, Fomm are not listed in old directories as machine-tool makers but as specialists in printing presses, paper cutters and associated tooling for the print trade. However, it is known that machines like these were widely employed in the associated trade of engraving, the craftsmen using them during one stage in the preparation of name-plates. Perhaps, therefore, the connection is not as tenuous as might be thought - and the machine could indeed have been made by Fomm, or at least bought in and badged as if by them.
Of absolutely simple construction, the Fomm did not, like many similar machines, employ pairs of bevel gears to elevate the cross arm - instead height adjustment was accomplished by the simple means of a series of holes, drilled in the cast-iron uprights, that allowed it to be bolted in the appropriate position. As the amount of material to be removed in planing is generally only small - and covered by the toolslide travel - this simple, inexpensive solution would have provided an entirely satisfactory solution for the majority of jobs.
A simple, geared-down drive (through spur and rack-and-pinion gearing) drove the 410 mm by 210 mm table with the tool head traversed across the table by a screw connected to a manually-operated ratchet assembly. The toolholder could be angled and, in order to speed up tool positioning, the head could be driven backwards and forwards by a handwheel..