Leon E. Robbins of Bath, Maine, founded the Crown Plane Company
more than 20 years ago. Leon is an experienced woodworker and toolmaker,
and collected and dealt in antique tools for many years. He restored
and rebuilt antique tools, which eventually led him to making traditional
wooden planes. Over the years Leon established a reputation for
careful workmanship and the ability to design and make traditional
tools that performed well. Leon became acquainted with Mike Dunbar,
the well-known expert on Windsor chairs, and offered to develop
a plane suitable for use by chair makers. Working with Mike and
his students, they designed the compass plane which is one of the
essential tools used for making chair seats. The Crown Plane travisher
is another tool needed for chair making.
In addition to the chair makers tools, Leon made a line of specialty
planes. He also made panel raising, molding, and rule joint planes.
Many of these planes are sold directly through major tool retailers.
In early 1999 Leon decided to gradually reduce his workload and
sell his business. Jim White and his son Jim Jr. purchased the business.
The Whites are experienced woodworkers and machinists and were introduced
to Leon by Mike Dunbar. Jim had taken a number of Mike's classes
and developed an interest in the traditional woodworking techniques
after many years of machine woodworking and metalwork.
Leon remains as a consultant to the buisness and is continuing to
manufacture specialty planes and provide training. The Whites have
relocated the business to Portland, Maine (down the road from Bath).
It is expected a number of new items will be added to the product
line in the future. The White's current efforts are directed to
increasing production while maintaining quality and usability.