Full Chisel Blog

January 14, 2011


Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 8:34 am

Of course you all know the Jack Plane; Fore plane, Moxon said it was called the fore plane ‘because it was used before you come to work either the Smooth Plane or the Joynter.’  Twelve to 18 inches long, open or closed handle and with a radius [convex, cambered, etc.] blade.  All of the marks you see on the underside of old furniture are not made with a scrub plane [which is used for edge reduction] but are made with the Jack Plane.

Short for John.

Jack, a man or the figure of one.  A man of the common people, a lad, a fellow, chap, ‘knave’. 

Royalty in playing cards, just below the Queen, in hearts, diamonds, spades and clubs.

A familial appellation for a sailor, Jack Tar.

Various contrivances consisting of rollers and winch.

A wooden frame for sawing wood or timber upon.

A machine for lifting.

A clockworks machine; clock jack, chimney jack, etc.

A device used instead of a boy to remove boots, a boot jack.

A wooden wedge to split rocks.

Part of a virginal, spinet or harpsichord made of wood that holds the quill that plucks the string.

An engine to lift a carriage or wagon.

The least bit, a whit.

In bowls, the mark or target set out for the bowlers to take aim.

A farthing.

A term for money

A coin with a head on both sides for cheating.

A half a pint.

A roasting jack for cooking meat, etc., before a fire.

A fire basket [cresset] for illumination when hunting or fishing at night.

A male hawk or mule.

Some birds and fish, e.g. young pike.

Jack bat is a vessel for straining wort during brewing.

A pitch or wax lined leather drinking tankard.

A small navel flag.

Jack rafter, timber, etc., that which is shorter.

Jack in a box, a large wooden male screw turning in a female one.

‘Cutting out top near its size, a long bridge and jacking off ditto.’ 1833 New York Pianoforte

Jacked over

Rough Jacking

Every man jack of you.

[These are old usages; there are other modern terms that have also used the word ‘jack’].

I met Jack about 25 years ago at coffee one morning, nice guy.



  1. Eh? What happened to that Jack Of All Trades guy?

    Comment by Gary Roberts — January 15, 2011 @ 3:28 am

  2. And, not forgetting yours truly!

    Comment by Jack Plane — January 15, 2011 @ 6:21 am

  3. I am sure I missed a few. Interesting word.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — January 19, 2011 @ 8:33 am

  4. From my research into things Elizabethan, the word ‘Jack’ shows up with an amazing frequency. As an adjective, name, pronoun or even title, Jack is used for villains, heroes, upstarts, bounders, the self taught, brilliant, versatile and clumsy. At it’s simplest usage, it generally tends to refer to a job or worker that did not apprentice or obtain the occupation by birth. So while a lumber jack, jack tar, or steeple jack may have required training, it was on the job and mostly labor. A mason would not be called a Jack unless he was doing masonry without being a member of a guild or apprenticeship.

    After comparing instances it In Elizabethan England, the addition of the word ‘Jack’ tended to imply someone who had either risen above their appropriate or previous position, or who was functioning in a position that was not appropriate. There was also an implication of cleverness or versatility along with the implication of crudeness. So a tool that could lift things or a tool that could serve several functions might be given the title or adjective, ‘Jack.’

    A jack might be used to pry or lift, a jack knife might be considered either not quite a full knife or as a more versatile tool than a simple knife.


    Comment by Bob Strawn — January 24, 2011 @ 11:36 am

  5. jacks are a tool used in glass blowing, sort of like giant tweezers http://www.cmog.org/research/glass-dictionary/J

    Comment by Xander — March 9, 2012 @ 7:52 am

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