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US Patent: 138,462
Improvement in planing-machines
Joseph P. Woodbury - Boston, MA

USPTO Classifications:
144/128, 144/243

Tool Categories:
woodworking machines : cutter head machines : wood planers


Not known to have been produced

William Edson
Frank G. Parker

Patent Dates:
Applied: Dec. 05, 1870
Granted: Apr. 29, 1873

Patent Pictures: [ 1 | 2 | 3 ]
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"Vintage Machinery" entry for Joseph P. Woodbury
"Vintage Machinery" entry for Woodbury Patent Planing-Machine Co.
This notorious patent had an especially complex history. Woodbury originally applied for the patent on 1848-06-03, two years after the invention was completed. The main innovation is the use of flat bars before and after the cutter-head, to hold the stock firmly down to the table during planing. The patent claim was rejected in 1849 and Woodbury's attorney eventually withdrew the application (in 1852). But Woodbury's contract with the lawyer did not give him permission to do so, which created an opening to re-submit the application. In 1854 Woodbury hired a new lawyer, but it was too late to appeal the rejection. Fifteen years later, however, Congress revised the patent laws, and a generous interpretation of the new rules led to this patent finally being granted. Woodbury died about this time, and his heirs created the Woodbury Patent Planing-Machine Co. to attempt to recover royalties from essentially every planing-machine user in the country. The case went to court, which invalidated this patent due to prior art. Until the loss in court, the patent's worth was estimated at nearly $40 million. Ironically, the main prior art was an 1842 planer design from a man named Anson from Norwich CT, whose patent claim was rejected; he had claimed some machine features but not the yielding pressure bars.

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