Marcus Tidey

     I remember seeing a Tidey beveling plane in the CRAFTS auction a few years back and was amazed at the complexity of the tool. I also remember seeing a Tidey Patent wood bench plane. Not wanting to take it apart, I was curious about the patent it had for the iron adjustment. I have come to realize you have to look in the throat to see the metal plate that incorporates the iron adjustment mechanism. I had also heard of the Tidey name mentioned as a New Jersey toolmaker and wondered what he had made and where he had worked. This all came to a head when a fellow CRAFT member said he had gotten a box of paperwork from the Tidey estate at a flea market.

     I was curious as to what mysteries these papers could unfold. Included in this article was the obituary of April 7, 1901 from the Newark Sunday Call newspaper. Reading this only intrigued me to find out more about Marcus B. Tidey. The article states that his parents moved into the Canada wilderness where Marcus learned mechanics from his father who was a civil engineer. Here he must have also learned about wood and woodworking as his father owned and operated a lumber mill.

The M.B.Tidey double beveling plane is actually two planes set up at opposing adjustible angles to cut both bevels at once on the edge of a piece of wood.

Front view schematic of Tidey double beveling plane.

     At the age of nineteen Marcus set off on his own and moved to Dundee, NY. There he learned and worked for a planemaker business. Five years later at the age of twenty four he obtained his first invention patent for a beveling plane that cuts a bevel on both corners of a work piece at once. Shortly after this his belongings were destroyed by fire and he moved to Ithaca, NY. Here is where he patented his plane design for securing and adjusting plane irons. Probably discouraged with the profits from his plane making inventions he quickly turned his inventive mind to the table saw. Working with his father at the saw mill probably gave him some insight into how important the table saw was to become in the manufacturing process.

Tidey table saw with cast iron frame with wood top. Note it is a double blade saw with a moveable carriage on the right side. Below is another table saw with a different base with attachments.  

     In 1857 Marcus B. Tidey moved to Newark, NJ to open his new table saw manufacturing business. His business was located at 80 Warren St. Over the years he produced improvements in the table saw and was granted over thirty patents. It is this business that the box of letters I acquired
Tidey gangsaw with 4 blades.
from my friend included. Marcus B. Tidey seems to be the inventor of the modern day table saw. If not the inventor he was a major inventor of its various forms used by early industries. In 1890 Tidey employed eighteen workers. His two sons worked for him and apparently understood the business. They shared the responsibility of operating the manufacturing departments with a man only named as Keil. It was his son Marcus Jr. that took over the business upon his death in 1901. His NewarkNJ business was expanded when he leased a New York business office. It was his machines that propelled the US
and other countries along their way in the Industrial Age. His various designs of table saws were sold and used across this country and many others. In reading through over thirty letters of correspondence from his company’s estate it becomes evident how widespread his machines were used.

Tidey overhead swing radial arm saw.


 The Tidey company often included a warranty t hat an operator of one of his specialty machines would turn out two to three times the amount of work currently done on one of their best machines they presently employ or they do not have to pay for the machine. It has to be understood that in the past, items were pac
Table saw with 4 blades - one on each side of the two fences. Rollers are in place to keep the wood tight to the fence.
kaged and shipped in wooden boxes or crates. Thus most manufacturing companies needed some type of saw to assist in construction of these lock corner boxes. Companies like the Joseph Dixon Crucible Co. of Jersey City or Bloomingdales of New York, outfitted their packing departments with swing cut off and rip saws or circular combin ation saws to package their products. Tidey made saws for the cigar industries shipping them to Cuba, Florida, South America and even India. The cigar business was booming during this time and the Tidey saw was used
to equip the cigar box factory. The automobile industry was just starting to form and his saws were integral machines in the coach and automobile factory. The French Motor Body Company, Inc. and the Carrosserie D’Automobile Company both of New York employed his saws in coach and automobile fabrication. The Firestone Tire & Rubber Company ordered a sander used in the buffing of rubber threads to replace the wire wheel it used which it said did not perform satisfactory.

Pedastal saw with planer on right. Same saw with top lifted open to inspect inside. Note plane cutters on saw shaft.  

     The US military was a large purchaser of the Tidey saws as ships still had much of its construction of wood. The Army used his saws for the construction of its bases here and abroad. Even the Diamond Toy Corporation wanted Tidey’s saws as it wrote, “We are in desperate need of some novelty saws preferably ten inches in diameter.” When showing the pictures to my brother, he said he saw a Tidey saw like the one pictured in a lumberyard in north Jersey just a few years ago. This saw was pulled out like a radial arm saw with a counter weight above for making crosscuts. Many of his earlier saws had wooden tops and cast bases. The John Hewitt Foundry Company of 18-30 Sherman Ave. Newark, NJ, did some of the forging of the bases. Special order saw blades were purchased from E.C.ATKINS & COMPANY. Orders for 14” – 16” rip, crosscut, and miter saw blades cost about $6.00 to $7.00 dollars each.
            During the last ten years of his life Marcus Tidey was an invalid. During these years his mind stayed clear, and he was constantly sending to the pattern maker plans for new devices, up to within three days of his death. The World War had its toll on the Tidey Manufacturing Company, as did new technologies. Could it be that Marcus Tidey himself was not there to innovate the saw into the home workshop?

Inside the Tidey shop. Machines shown are a table saw, planer and jointer.

A few years ago I wrote the above article on Marcus B. Tidey. Most know him as the planemaker of the Tidey double beveling plane. It is a very rare plane and only a few exist in the finest collections country wide. Yet many collectors here in New Jersey are aware that Tidey was mainly involved in the manufacture of woodworking machinery in Newark N.J. I included this information in my past article with some photos. Yet finding a Tidey woodworking machine is elusive – even here in N.J. Recently I was asked to look at a large antique lathe that was sitting in a lumber yard basement. I was happily surprised when I found out it was an M.B.Tidey machine from the early 1900’s. It was owned by the grandfather of the man I talked to and when he died in the mid 1980’s they moved it to the basement with thoughts of setting it up. That was many years ago and the motor still sits on the bed of the lathe. It is a large lathe and much to large for my small workshop. Thus if you are interested in a real piece of history from a top quality N.J. manufacturer contact me at – – and I can give you some more information. I have included some photos below that are of interest to all history buffs studying the history of woodworking.

The 10 foot lathe above has a douglas fir bed and footing. It has 2 cast setups for the tool rest with a wheel at the bottom to tighten. The headstock has a wood block for the leather belt which rotates thru the pulley system above. The motor which is now sitting on the lathe bed should sit on a hinged platfor against the wall just behind the head stock.

The lathe tailstock slides on the wood bed. The Tidey nameplate on the tail stock.

The large motor made in the early 1920's sits ont the lathe bed waiting to be put back into use. Brass name plate on the motor. It has 1914 & 1915 patent dates. It is 1-1/2 HP but is the size of a 10 HP motor of today.