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Chelor, Cesar  

Cynthia Staples

lived in Wrentham, Massachusetts, near the Rhode Island border. His birthplace and birthdate are unknown, as are the names of his parents. Tax records suggest that by 1736, a young, perhaps teenaged, Chelor was enslaved by Wrentham woodworker Francis Nicholson. Nicholson is considered the earliest documented American planemaker.

The plane was an especially important tool at this time designed to hold a sharpened blade to accomplish precise woodworking tasks. During Chelor’s life, planes were handmade from wood. The plane could be pushed or pulled to smooth, shape, and straighten the surface of wood. A carpenter required a great variety of planes, each with a specialized function. Different planes were needed for making window frames and doors or for producing architectural moldings. Nicholson was known for his innovative plane designs.

Nicholson s Wrentham woodshop operated during a historic period when there was enormous population growth in New England Demand for ...