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Manufacturers Index - Gray & Woods
Last Modified: Oct 18 2017 1:42PM by Jeff_Joslin
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In 1852, Solomon S. Gray and Solomon Adams Woods set up a partnership to manufacture doors, sashes and blinds. Within a year, Woods bought out Gray. Gray proceeded to design a new type of planing machine that combined features of the Daniels and Woodworth planers, and Woods subsequently made important improvements to the machine. In 1854 the two men set up a new partnership, Gray & Woods, to manufacture their planer. In about 1859 Woods again bought out Gray, this time for good, and the business name became S. A. Woods.

In 1865 Woods acquired exclusive rights to James Woodbury's planer patents, which included some important improvements such as a method of adjusting matcher side-heads. In 1873 the business recapitalized and reorganized as the S. A. Woods Machine Co. See that entry for the history from 1873 onwards.

Information Sources

  • From results of the 1855 Fair of the American Institute.

    Gray & Woods' Improved Planer. Gray & Woods, Boston, Mass.—This cut represents the machine as recently improved, with solid iron posts and cross head, in place of wood. Also showing the machine with the feed rolls, or Woodworth attachment, when not in practical use. The frame on which they are hung having been swung back on its hinge to allow the bed or carriage to run back and forth, the lumber being dogged in order to plane straight and out of wind.

    Gray and Woods' Planer, shown as a Woodworth Machine.—This cut represents the same machine as first, but has the position of the feed rolls changed or swung into their place for use and a board running through, and planed in the same manner and with equal speed, and better even than is done with a common Woodworth machine, thereby making the one machine do both the work of the Woodworth and the Daniels planer. The change from one style of machine to the other being effected almost instantly, by simply swinging the roll attachment back or forth on its hinge, without the trouble of lifting them off, as heretofore applied.

    These machines will be readily appreciated for all kinds of shop work, such as carpenters' shop work, pattern making, piano forte work, cabinet work, sash and door manufacturing, ship carpentering, &c. It can be adapted to sticking architraves, cornices, base mouldings, and various other kinds of work, having the advantages of two machines combined in one, and for but a trifle more expense than the cost of one alone. And when once in operation for planing straight and out of wind, the mere cost of the rolls will be all the necessary expense to make a most complete Woodworth planer, as it will not require any additional room or expense for shafting and belting. [A silver medal awarded.

  • Briefly mentioned in 1860 Scientific American, and mentioned in an 1866 ad for their New York agent, S. C. Hills.
  • The 1892 book Boston of To-day: A Glance at Its History and Characteristics, ed. E. M. Bacon from a section of biographies.
    Woods, Solomon Adams, son of Colonel Nathaniel and Hannah (Adams) Woods, was born in Farmington, Me., Oct. 7, 1827. On the paternal side he is descended from Samuel Woods, an original landed proprietor of Groton, Mass., where the family long lived; and on the maternal side in the sixth generation from Captain Samuel Adams, magistrate and representative of Chelmsford, Mass., in its first half-century. Mr. Woods' paternal grandfather was a pioneer at Farmington, and his father a leading man in the town. The son was brought up on a good farm, and attained his education in the district school and at the Farmington Academy. At the age of twenty he engaged with a local carpenter to learn the use of tools and the trade of house-building. Four years later he came to Massachusetts to purchase machinery for the manufacture of doors, sashes, and blinds, his purpose being to erect a mill in his native town and to enter this business in partnership with his former employer. Instead, however, of carrying out this plan he engaged in the same business in Boston, as a journeyman, with Solomon S. Gray. Within the first year Mr. Woods purchased the plant, and on the 1st of January, 1852, went into the manufacture on his own account. In 1854 he entered into partnership with Mr. Gray, under the firm name of Gray & Woods, for the manufacture and sale of a wood-planing machine, originally designed by Mr. Gray, but rendered more practical by the inventions of Mr. Woods. This partnership continued for five years, during which period additional improvements were patented. In 1865 Mr. Woods' business, then conducted under his name alone, was considerably extended by the addition of the manufacture of the Woodbury planer, with the Woodbury patented improvements, of which he was the sole licensee; and to meet its demands, he erected manufacturing works in South Boston, and established branch houses in New York and Chicago. Eight years after, in 1873, the S. A. Woods Machine Company, with a capital of three hundred thousand dollars, was formed, Mr. Woods as president. This position he still holds. More than fifty patents for devices and improvements in machines for planing wood and making mouldings have been issued to the successive firms of Gray & Woods, S. A. Woods, and the S. A. Woods Machine Company, and they have received nearly a hundred gold, silver, and bronze medals from the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association and other similar institutions. Mr. Woods has been a member of the Boston common council (1869, 1870, and 1871), in which he served on important committees and took a leading part; in 1870 and 1871 he was a director of the East Boston ferries; and in 1878 he declined a nomination to the board of aldermen, pressed upon him by both the Republican and Citizens' parties. Since 1870 he has been a trustee of the South Boston Savings Bank, and for many years a member of its board of investment. Mr. Woods was married in Boston, Aug. 21, 1854, to Miss Sarah Elizabeth Weathern, of Vienna, Me. She died in 1862, and he was again married, in 1867, to Miss Sarah Catharine Watts, of Boston. He has three children: Frank Forrest, Florence, and Frederick Adams Woods.
  • According to a 1919 article in The Wood-Worker (quoted in full under the entry for S. A. Woods Machine Co.), Gray and Woods went into business about 1854.