Thomas Jefferson Papers

James Dinsmore’s List of Thomas Jefferson’s Tools, 15 April 1809

James Dinsmore’s List of Thomas Jefferson’s Tools

Memdm of Carpenters tools belonging to mr Jefferson—

15 pair hollows & rounds,. & 1 plane for making spouts

 1 pair1 quarter rounds, 1 Do Snipe Bills

 1 Do Side rabbitt planes—4 rabbitt planes & astragal

 3 philasters. & one Spring plane—

 4 pair Groveing planes & 1 Cut & thrust—

 2 Plow planes & 9 plow bits

 5 bead planes 9, ogees. & 2 quarter rounds—

 2 Sash ovolos, 2 astragal Do—

 1 Scotia & ovola & 1 ogee & ovola.

 1 raising plane. 2 pair Base & surbase planes—

 1 architrave Do.—11 Cornice planes of different kinds

 3 Straight & 3 Circular Smoothing planes—1 toothing Do

 4 Sets of Bench planes 5 in each Set2—& 1 double Iron jointer—

 3 try planes for Circular work, 3 Steel blade Squares—

 1 bench vice 2 plated gages, 1 mortise Do31 brace & 15 bits—

 2 pair pincers & 1 pair cutting plyers—

 2 Drawing knives 2 pair Compasses—

 4 Sockett Chishels 4 mortise Do. & 13 former Do—

19 Gouges, 2 rasps 4 files,—15 Gimblets

 3 pair hand screws, 3 iron Screws for pining up work

 6 augres: 3 hand Saws 1 pannel Do 1 table Do 1 tenon Do—

 1 Sash Do. 1 dove tail Do 1 frame4 Do & 2 lock Saws; 9 new plane irons

 3 Saw files 1 axe 1 adz 1 bevel 1 miter Do 1 turkey Whet5 Stone &c &c

Jas Dinsmore


planes borrowed by Jas Dinsmore

1 Tuscan Cornice plane—

1 Sash astragal—

1 ogee & quarter round—


1. Screw. do worth6. 9/. by J Dinsmore  £0–9
2 flooring. Do–worth 4/6 each by J Nelsen 0 9

MS (MHi); in Dinsmore’s hand; written on two sides of single sheet; at foot of text: “Memdm of Carpenters tools”; endorsed by TJ.

James Dinsmore (ca. 1772–1830), house joiner, was a native of Ulster living in Philadelphia in 1798 when he began a decade of service with TJ at Monticello. In anticipation of his 17 Apr. 1809 settlement of accounts with TJ, Dinsmore compiled this tool list, distinguishing between those borrowed or purchased from TJ and those presumably left at Monticello. With carpenter John Neilson, who had worked with him at Monticello since 1804, Dinsmore then worked for three years on renovations to Montpellier, James Madison’s house. Dinsmore co-owned a mill at Pen Park near Charlottesville with John H. Craven from 1811 to 1815, settled in Charlottesville after 1818, and worked as the principal master carpenter at the University of Virginia and on renovations to Bremo, John Hartwell Cocke’s house, before drowning in the Rivanna River (PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 31 vols. description ends , 30:249; MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:985, 991, 1245; TJ to Madison, 23 Sept. 1808 [DLC]; Lay, Architecture description begins K. Edward Lay, The Architecture of Jefferson Country: Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia, 2000 description ends , 96–8; Charlottesville Virginia Advocate, 14 May 1830).

Planes, chisels, gouges, gimlets, and drawknives are used for fine woodwork such as window trim, wainscoting, and pilasters. hollows & rounds are planes used for shaping, the former concave and the latter convex. A rabbitt (rabbet) is a long groove cut at right angles (Carl Lounsbury, An Illustrated Glossary of Early Southern Architecture & Landscape [1994], 159, 303).

1Dinsmore here canceled “hollows &.”

2Preceding four words interlined.

3Preceding three words interlined.

4Manuscript: “frane.”

5Manuscript: “Set.”

6Manuscript: “wdorth.”

Index Entries

  • Bremo (J. H. Cocke’s Fluvanna Co. estate) search
  • building materials; carpentry tools search
  • carpentry tools; J. Dinsmore’s list of TJ’s search
  • chisels search
  • Cocke, John Hartwell; and Bremo (house) search
  • Craven, John H.; Pen Park mill search
  • Dinsmore, James; identified search
  • Dinsmore, James; list of carpenter’s tools search
  • drawknives search
  • Fluvanna County, Va.; Bremo search
  • gimlets search
  • gouges search
  • household articles; drawknives search
  • knives; drawknives search
  • mills; at Pen Park search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); builders at search
  • Montpellier (Montpelier; J. Madison’s Orange Co. estate); work at search
  • Neilson (Nelson), John; and work at Montpellier search
  • planes search
  • rabbet (rabbitt) plane search
  • tools; owned by TJ search
  • tools; woodworking search
  • Virginia, University of (Charlottesville); builders at search
  • woodworking; tools search