A surform tool (also surface-forming tool) features perforated
sheet metal and resembles a food grater. A surform tool consists of a
steel strip with holes punched out and the rim of each hole sharpened
to form a cutting edge. The strip is mounted in a carriage or handle.
Surform tools were called "cheese graters" decades before they
entered the market as kitchen utensils used to grate cheese.
Surform planes have been described as a cross between a rasp and a
Although similar to many food graters made of perforated sheet metal,
surforms differ in having sharpened rims. Also, a surform typically is
used to shape material, rather than grate it.
1 Etymology and history
4 Popular culture
5 See also
7 External links
Etymology and history
Surform tool made by Simmonds Aerocessories Ltd.
The word surform is an apparent portmanteau of "surface" and
"form". It is unclear whether this is a genericized trademark or
the opposite, a common name that was subsequently trademarked. Surform
is a registered trade mark of Stanley Black & Decker, Inc. in many
countries across the world.
Surform was first registered as a trade
mark in the United Kingdom on 25 September 1953
Surform tools were the invention of a British company. A
patent for a
Surform tool blade was obtained in 1949 in Australia by
Firth Cleveland Pty Ltd of Wolverhampton England. An affiliated UK
company, Simmonds Aerocessories Ltd., was an early manufacturer of
Surform tools. They made 3 planes using this blade. These were
marketed by another affiliated UK company, British Lead Mills Limited,
in or before 1956.
Stanley Works (Stanley) first bought United States manufacturing
rights, then bought the company. Stanley began marketing its first
surform tools, a plane and a rasp that used the same blade, in
1956. By 1959, Stanley offered a choice of fine and coarse tooth
blades. By 1966, the product line had grown to include pocket
plane, files (round, half-round, and flat), and an electric drill
drum. Reflecting their many uses, Stanley used the slogan it shaves
everything but your beard. A feature of the product line was that
on all the tools the blades were replaceable; this was important
because they could not be sharpened.
Stanley used the name
Surform from the start of its marketing campaign
in 1956, and became owner of the
Surform trademark in Australia in
Stanley now has several competitors that manufacture surform tools.
These include Microplane, a manufacturer of woodworking tools and
kitchen utensils; Sherrill, a manufacturer of utensils for working
with clay; and G-Rasp, a manufacturer of small kitchen rasps. In
addition to its own tools,
Microplane markets stainless steel
replacement blades that fit some of the Stanley surform tools.
There are several types of surform tools, used to make different
shapes. They include flat plane; flat, half-round, and round rasp, and
a variety of other shaping/shaving tools. Larger surform tools are
designed for two-handed use; smaller ones for one-handed use.
Although some of these tools are called planes, the United States
International Trade Commission has ruled that under the Harmonized
Tariff Schedule of the United States they belong to the class of
files, rasps, and similar tools.
Microplane surform rasp used to grate fresh ginger
Compared to a conventional rasp or sandpaper, the advantages of a
surform rasp include a faster cutting action, no clogging of the tool
with material being removed, and little or no dust.
In woodworking, surforms are used for rapidly removing wood from
curved surfaces. They remove less wood than a drawknife, so they are
easier to control. Even though surforms leave very coarse finishes,
the worked areas can be easily smoothed with finer tools, such as
files and sanding blocks. Woodworker Sam Maloof described their use in
chairmaking: "Once I have roughed out the arm on the bandsaw, I use a
Surform® (Stanley® model No. 295). This tool does about the same job
as a spokeshave -- it can take off a lot of wood very quickly -- but I
can use it without worrying about grain direction." 
Trimmed nails on an elephant's foot
In farriery, surforms are used to remove excess hoof wall from a
horse's hoof. They may also be used to "manicure elephants'
In horticulture, surforms are used to smooth pruning cuts and shape
exposed wood. Surforms are popular among creators of bonsai,
especially among those who use deadwood bonsai techniques.
Surforms are used also to shape surfboards, trim drywall, and in
In automobile repair shops, for decades panel beaters have used
surform files and rasps to shape plastic body filler. There, these
surform tools are commonly called "cheese graters".
As kitchen utensils, surform tools are a recent innovation. The
Microplane wood rasp, a sleek stainless steel surform rasp first
marketed as a woodworking tool and known generically as a microplane,
recently became popular as a kitchen utensil for, among other uses,
grating cheese (see Zester). An early mention of using a Microplane
"rasp-like grater" in the kitchen was a cookbook published in
1999. This was soon followed by mentions such as one of the finest
kitchen tools to come along in decades and a miracle citrus zester
and hard cheese grater. Initially, it was available from kitchen
supply stores and Lee Valley Tools.
In the 2001 film Pearl Harbor, in a beach scene a man is seen using
what appears to be a surform tool to shape a surfboard. This is an
anachronism, as the scene is set in 1941.
Charles William Hayward
^ William Perkins Spence (1999). Carpentry & Building
Construction: A Do-It-Yourself Guide. Sterling Publishing Company,
Inc. p. 704. ISBN 0-8069-9845-8. page 649
Stanley Works (April 1974). "Advertisement". Popular Science. 204
^ a b Don Taylor & Larry Hofer (1994). Paint & body handbook
(revised ed.). HPBooks. p. 144. ISBN 1-55788-082-4.
^ a b c Michele Anna Jordan (2000). San Francisco seafood. Ten Speed
Press. p. 224. ISBN 1-58008-216-5. page 217
^ a b c Seppo Ed Farrey, Myochi Nancy O'Hara, Dai Bosatsu Zendo
(Monastery), Eido T. Shimano (FRW) Roshi (2000). Three bowls:
vegetarian recipes from an American Zen Buddhist monastery. Houghton
Mifflin Harcourt. p. 254. ISBN 0-395-97707-X. CS1
maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) page 243
^ Garrett Hack; John S. Sheldon (2003). The handplane book. Taunton
Press. p. 272. ISBN 1-56158-712-5.
^ "Stanley "Surform": An all new surface-forming tool does 1001 jobs
[Advertisement]". Popular Mechanics: 270. April 1957.
^ UK Trademark 722,126
^ a b "More early
Surform tools". OldTools Archive. 2001. Retrieved
^ D. Frankl, ed. (1956). Welwyn Garden City. The Official Handbook
1956. Ed. J. Burrow & Co. Ltd. p. 92.
^ a b "New shaping tool grates wood and metal". Popular Science. 169
(3): 211. September 1956.
^ a b "Stanley surform is a versatile tool (advertisement)". Popular
Mechanics (April): 292. 1959.
^ a b "Popular Science salutes Stanley for its "Surform" tools".
Popular Science (September): 140–141. 1966.
^ Grace Manufacturing (April 1998). "
American Woodworker: 25.
^ "Ruling CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 966668 RSD". United States International
Trade Commission. November 3, 2003. Retrieved 2009-05-29.
^ a b James E. Duffy; Robert Scharff (2003). Auto Body Repair
Technology (4 ed.). Cengage Learning. p. 1002.
ISBN 0-7668-6272-0. page 323
^ Michael Morris (June 4, 2007). "
Microplane Sanding Discs & Rasp
Plane Blades: Sanding tools that are easier on the lungs". TOOLS OF
THE TRADE Magazine. Retrieved 2009-05-26.
^ editors of Fine
Woodworking (2006). Designing and Building Chairs.
ISBN 978-1-56158-857-2. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list
^ Dick Beltran (2008). "Ted Matson carves up a storm". Golden State
Bonsai Federation. Archived from the original on 2008-06-23. Retrieved
^ Larry Haun; Vincent Laurence; Tim Snyder; Millard Fuller (2002).
Habitat for Humanity, how to build a house. Taunton Press.
p. 282. ISBN 1-56158-532-7. pages 217, 219
^ John W. Mills (1976). The technique of sculpture. Watson-Guptill
Publications. p. 168. page 52
^ Daniel Boulud; Dorie Greenspan (1999). Daniel Boulud's Cafe Boulud
cookbook: French-American recipes for the home cook. Simon and
Schuster. p. 383. ISBN 0-684-86343-X.
Look up surform in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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