Permaloid Planes

From Wayne's Dusty Box of Words

First introduced in 1937, the Millers Falls Company featured the model 209 De Luxe Smooth plane in the company’s 70th Anniversary Catalog: No. 42 in January 1938. The knob and handle of the 209 De Luxe were manufactured from a transparent red plastic that the company referred to as “indestructible.” Touted as an alternative to easily damaged wooden totes and knobs, the term “permaloid” was coined to reinforce this feature in the mind of the consumer. The permaloid components, made from a Hercules Powder Company cellulose acetate, were not manufactured in-house but were subcontracted to the Worcester Moulding Plastics Company.

There was little subtle about the appearance of the Model 209 De Luxe. The interior of the bed was painted black, and its contrasting red knob and handle and an overabundance of chrome plating were designed to attract attention. The effect must have been startling to customers accustomed to more traditional designs. Except for the painted part of the bed, all non-painted metal surfaces, including the cutter and sole, were chromed.

The Model 209 was manufactured both with and without red paint in the semi-circular recess on the front face of the lever cap. A second manufacturing variation concerns the backside of the lever cap, which, oddly enough, is japanned in some instances. A recent report indicates that the Model 209 may not have been the only permaloid-handled plane produced by the Millers Falls Company. An unnumbered plane in a size equivalent to the Stanley no. 3 is known to exist. The chromium plating is similar to that on the Model 209 with one exception—the cutter is not plated. It is not known if permaloid-handled planes other than the No. 209 were ever offered as standard products. Advertisements for permaloid-handled planes were still appearing in magazines as late as 1946. The model 209 De Luxe Smooth Plane was out of production by late 1947.