Thank you for visiting Reproduction Woodworks' blog today. Here you will find a log of projects I am working on, discussion of future plans and general musings on my experiences as a woodworker. I hope you enjoy your visit today. Questions and comments are always welcome and appreciated.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Taking our new toy for a test drive

My father purchased this lovely little instrument from Lee Valley, while it isn't a historic reproduction, it does the job well enough and is close enough to the original function for our use, plus kids will love it.
What is it, you ask?
This, ladies and gentlemen, is a Spill Plane.  It is, ironically enough, designed to cut spills.  Which look like this:

Pair of spills made from pine.
Before the advent of matches, and when a twig or stick was not immediately available, spills were used to transfer flame from one place to another, most often from the fireplace or hearth.  Need your pipe lit?  Use a spill.  Need to light candles but only have the fire going?  Use a spill.

The wonderful thing about them is that the hollow center draws air through the length of the spill, and the narrow tip creates a sort of wick which burns quite evenly and strongly.  It takes some careful calibration for the spills to come out properly, but after a bit of setup, we were happily cutting away.  This should add an extra degree of authenticity to any historic social gathering.  It is fairly likely that only the upper classes would have used spills, as it is clearly a luxury item requiring a specific tool to manufacture, but initial testing makes it very clear that these are far superior to just using a twig or stick.  The first ones I cut out of Poplar held flame for the entire length of the spill.  Gentle blowing gave it a higher flame, rather than blowing it out like it often would with a twig or other such means of conveying a light from the fireplace to where it was needed.  The pine ones were actually difficult to put out, and when blown out, re-lit themselves immediately.  Snuffing them out is clearly the way to go.

If you're interested in ordering your own spills, e-mail me at ejhess@gmail.com.

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