Author Topic: Hand Planes  (Read 160068 times)

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Offline Jim C.

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2013, 03:05:55 PM »
In my last featured plane post, I included a few pictures of the Stanley #9 1/4 block plane.  That got me to thinking of just how MANY different types, patterns, and sizes of block planes that Stanley actually made during their most diverse and productive years.  There were literally dozens of them.  Some were nickel plated, some were japanned, some came in a combination of both finishes along with some brass trimmings.  Some had adjustable throats, while others were manufactured with fixed throats.  Some had mechanical iron adjustments, and others had to be adjusted by hand.  All, at least in the eyes of Stanley, were produced to fill some perceived niche in the market place.  Many of the block planes Stanley, and others, produced were extremely useful and successful.  Those are the ones that lasted and stood the test of time.  Others seemed like good ideas on paper, but in actuality, had design flaws, or weaknesses, or characteristics that made them non-user friendly. 

Stanley #130:

This is a double ended block plane, whose body is cast with two ramps that will accommodate the cutter on either end of the plane.  It's one of those planes that I see as an "oddball."  One end functions like a regular block plane, while the other end has a bull nose, allowing the iron to cut very close to the end of the plane.  Useful?  I don't know.  I've got a "user" version of this plane and I've never had a reason to use the bull nose end, instead opting for other more capable tools to make those sorts of cuts.  Like any cast iron plane, the #130 is very prone to damage if dropped on the floor.  The bull nose section on these particular planes are often cracked off.  The casting is extremely fragile around the bull nose, simply because there's not much metal there to begin with, so, a good knock and the bull nose snaps off.  Because so many are found broken, they are often altered on the bull nose end, and turned into chisel planes (more on chisel planes later).  I think the angle is a little high for a chisel plane, but I've seen more than one that has been "fixed" to become a chisel plane, so I know they're out there.  Just beware that they were not originally manufactured like that.  Personally, I think the #130 is a little bit too large, and therefore limited in its uses.   At eight inches in length, it's almost as long as a #4 bench plane (see post #1 above).  There are several more block planes that I like to use well ahead of the #130.  Although it functions just fine, it's not my favorite to use.  From a collector's point of view, well, I really like odd ball planes and this one fits the bill.  In used condition, the #130 is relatively inexpensive and they do occasionally turn up at garage sales and flea markets.  (If you absolutely still must have one, contact me....) 

Stanley produced the #130 between 1884 and 1955.  The example depicted below was probably manufactured in the late 1920s or early to mid 1930s.  Notice the remains of the Stanley logo on the pressure cap.  They were decals that didn't survive regular use, simply by virtue of their location on the plane, right under the user's palm.  The decals were affixed to several different models during that time period, and were usually found on the handles, totes, and pressure caps, depending on the plane.  This particular plane appears to have never been used, and still retains its original factory grind on the cutting iron.         
« Last Edit: October 17, 2013, 03:16:29 PM by Jim C. »
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Offline Jim C.

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #16 on: October 20, 2013, 06:48:37 AM »
It's no secret, I've said it before, I really like old hand planes.  As a user and collector, I frequently receive planes from people (family, extended family, friends, co-workers, neighbors) who want to help me along with my collection.  Many of the planes I receive are well used and often abused, with broken, missing, and/or poorly repaired parts.  I can't count how many times I've received old wooden bodied planes that are cracked and well beyond repair.  Still, I accept them all with a smile and a genuine appreciation, because someone took the time to think of me.  Many of them end up in my "parts box" which occasionally yields that one little screw, washer, chip breaker, etc., that can be re-used on another plane.  Over the years, I have received a few nice user quality planes to include some block planes, a Stanley Bedrock #608, and a pretty good Stanley scrub plane #40. 

Along the way, I ended up with a couple "Razor Blade Planes."  One of them actually belonged to my grandfather.  He was a "tinkerer of the highest order."  He actually made and smoked corncob pipes, enjoyed making model houses and scenery to display in a winter setting under his annual Christmas tree, and was famous for re-cycling old pallets and turning them into bird houses.  His collection of tools was meager to say the least, but he made do with what he had.  After he died, I ended up with several of his tools, to include his razor blade plane (The Little Giant).  The other plane (Wil-Kro) was given to me by my dad, who recalled buying it in the late 1950s when he was working on building a model ship.  According to him, it was almost useless, and that was that.  It ended up in the bottom drawer of his workbench never to see the light of day again...... until he gave it to me a few years ago.  I really don't collect these things, or use them, but their origins are special, so I keep them.  I'm sure these planes are found in "grandpa's basement shop" all across America. 

Razor Blade Planes:

These were most likely produced in the 1950s and into the 1960s, for the home hobbyist.  They actually used a safety razor blade as the cutter.  I don't think they'd cut much more than balsa wood, or some really soft pine.  I've heard that they may have provided some utility working with leather, but I'm not entirely sure about that.  The Little Giant, manufactured by Wilson Bros., in Springfield, Missouri, came in a flat soled version (see below) and a curved version (which I do not have), patent number 2781804.  The Wil-Kro version, manufactured by Craft Master Tool Company, in Cleveland, Ohio, was a four in one model that could allegedly function as a flat sole, bull nose, chisel and curved sole plane, depending on the configuration of its four parts.  If you're really interested in seeing more about this plane, its patent number is 2289504.  Razor blade planes must have had some level of popularity at some point, because there were several models and manufacturers, to include Select, Raza-Plane, Zip Plane, and Sollingen Balsa Planer to name a few.  I believe that Lee Valley even made a version of the razor blade plane.  These planes may have sold well because they promised a multi-functional tool with a forever sharp blade, that would be useful for the home handyman.  In the end, I don't think they actually lived up to their hype.  I don't believe that razor blade planes are in much demand on the collector market either.  I see them frequently at garage sales, flea markets and online, usually for less than a couple dollars.  As for small planes, that actually work, there are MANY superior choices to be had.  We'll save some of those for another day.
       
« Last Edit: October 20, 2013, 07:35:56 PM by Jim C. »
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Offline Branson

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #17 on: October 21, 2013, 06:24:38 AM »
Thank you for the information and the pictures.  I've seen some of these on eBay from time to time and thought about getting one to play with.  I find planes more than a little addictive...  Like you, I have a number that have been given me, and am glad to receive every one.  I picked up two because my wife found them in a junk store we were cruising through -- I appreciated her looking out for tools for me.  (Her latest find was at a yard sale -- a working Makita battery in its charger that cost me $2)  Someone else found a Stanley low knob 5C at a garage sale and got it for me.  Good user.
And I have a box of plane parts somewhere in storage. 

Looking forward to more posts from you like this.

Offline scottg

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #18 on: October 21, 2013, 09:52:06 AM »
Razor blade planes. How cool. Got to love them. The definition of the word Cockamamie heeheh
   
  Here is what happens to the 130 bullnose planes when the front section snaps off.
These ends are ridiculously fragile anyway.  Not to mention, whose idea was it to have a tool that will --almost-- work into a corner?
 So here's mine. The blade is about twice as thick as Stanley's offering, for stability. The lever cap is solid steel to mop up vibration too.
 

 Also here is what you need for the really tight places.
 
 
 yours Scott
« Last Edit: October 21, 2013, 09:53:56 AM by scottg »

Offline Jim C.

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #19 on: October 21, 2013, 01:47:07 PM »
Thank you for the information and the pictures........Looking forward to more posts from you like this.

You're most welcome.  I'll try not to bore you. 

Jim C.
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Offline Jim C.

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #20 on: October 21, 2013, 01:57:16 PM »
Good looking planes Scott, and a nice fix on that #130.  You're right... It's a silly design that's prone to breaking, and "almost" get's the user into the very corner of a workpiece.  The key word is "almost." I tried to make clear to anyone who may come across a #130, that it's really one for the collectors.  Even in used condition, it's far from being one that I reach for when I'm in need of a block plane.  I'm not sure who's reading any of this, but wait until I break out the #131.....  Just as silly and even more fragile! 
   
« Last Edit: October 21, 2013, 02:00:44 PM by Jim C. »
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Offline mikeswrenches

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #21 on: October 21, 2013, 03:40:39 PM »
Millers Falls also made one of these abominations, although they drew the line when it came to the No. 131.

Mike

Offline rusty

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #22 on: October 21, 2013, 03:57:10 PM »
> I'm not sure who's reading any of this
All of the 2,405,518,376 people on the Internet  ;P

I always read these threads, people who, in fact, use tools know them better
than people who just see how many shelves they can fill up :)
Just a weathered light rust/WD40 mix patina.

Offline Jim C.

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #23 on: October 21, 2013, 04:17:56 PM »
Millers Falls also made one of these abominations, although they drew the line when it came to the No. 131.

Mike

Yes Mike, a version of the #130 was manufactured by a few different companies.  Sargent also got in on the act, producing its double ended block plane, the #227, between 1901 and 1943. 

The Stanley #131 is certainly a "contraption" to say the least, and as far as I know, was only produced by Stanley.  It's one of those planes that is the result of some very fertile imagination and much less the result of principled engineering. That's another one best left to the collectors, because it's tough to find undamaged in any condition.  I would never consider using a #131 because the chance of breaking the iron adjusting mechanism is pretty high.   
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Offline Jim C.

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #24 on: October 21, 2013, 04:28:41 PM »
> I'm not sure who's reading any of this
All of the 2,405,518,376 people on the Internet  ;P

I always read these threads, people who, in fact, use tools know them better
than people who just see how many shelves they can fill up :)

I don't know if 2.4 billion people are reading about hand planes online or not.  Maybe so..... And while I will admit that I have several planes that I use regularly, about a dozen or so, there are many, many, many more that are sitting in boxes on shelves in my shop that will most likely never be used by me.  Thanks for reading along with the other 2.4 billion people.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2013, 05:41:51 PM by Jim C. »
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Offline Jim C.

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #25 on: October 27, 2013, 08:07:48 AM »
In a previous post, I mentioned that I have about a dozen or so antique planes that I use frequently.  There's something good about using an old tool.  In some instances, the old tool is often better than new tools that are available and being made today.  I really enjoy making furniture, or working on projects that require a higher level of precision than general carpentry.  Over the years, my skills have gotten better, but I still have a long way to go.  Like any craft/art form, metal working, ceramics, painting, etc., etc.,  woodworking has no beginning and no end.  There's just learning, practicing, experimenting, refining, perfecting and more learning.  Woodworkers were lucky that plane manufacturers recognized the need for tools that could achieve high levels of accuracy and make precise cuts.  Rabbet planes were such tools.  When outfitted with a sharp cutting iron and its throat set for a whisper of a shaving, the rabbet plane has the ability to fine tune some high end furniture joints that no other machine or tool can.

The rabbet plane's sides are ground at right angles to its sole, and with an iron that protrudes approximately 1/64" beyond both sides of the plane, it is able to get into the very corner of a joint (see last picture), such as a rabbet or lap, and square them up or remove the slightest amount of waste so that joints mate perfectly.  As seen in the picture below, by removing the nose section of the plane, it also functions quite well as a small chisel plane (third picture).  I find this feature to be extremely handy at times.  I'm currently replacing most of the window sash at my house.  That's another story for another time....  Anyway, the rabbet plane depicted below has been absolutely invaluable to have on hand during this project.  If you're interested in upgrading your woodworking skills, and making things that require precision joints, then a small rabbet plane is a "must have."

Stanley #90:

For many years, Stanley and others made some version of small rabbet planes.  This type of plane is also known as a shoulder plane.  The #90 bull nose was a classic, and as I've already stated, a most useful plane.  The #90 was one of several that Stanley made along with other models to include the #11, #90A, #90J, #92, #93, and #94.  We'll get to a few of these at some point down the road.  Stanley started making the #90 in 1898 and continued to do so well into the 1980s and possibly beyond.  The plane I've depicted below was probably manufactured in the late 1930s.  Although it has not changed much over the years, it's interesting to note that the model number cast into the nose was reversed at some point.  Looking at the fifth picture below, you'll see that the 1930s version of the plane (on left) was cast with the model number facing away from the user, while the 1920s version (on right) was cast with the model number facing the user.  I don't know that either one is any more rare than the other.  I think the Stanley #90 is a plane that a serious woodworker should own.  They're not as common as some planes that one might see at a garage sale, but still readily available.  The nickel plating on them does wear off and will dull with use, but that will not even remotely effect its ability to function properly, and produce some exceptional results.  From a collector's point of view, the condition of the nickel plating is everything.  For the user, the key to these planes is their accuracy.  They shouldn't be abused.  Even if you purchase a "user" make sure its sides and sole are perpendicular to each other, that it's throat is undamaged, the iron advances and retracts smoothly, and that it has no cracks or repairs.

Jim C.       
   
« Last Edit: January 25, 2015, 07:33:08 AM by Jim C. »
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Offline Branson

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #26 on: October 27, 2013, 10:06:39 AM »
Very timely!  I just acquired one of these.  I hadn't had time to figure out it could be used as a chisel plane.  Now I like it even more.  Dressing rabbets and lap joint cuts was exactly why I wanted it.

Offline Jim C.

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #27 on: October 27, 2013, 10:10:04 AM »
Very timely!  I just acquired one of these.  I hadn't had time to figure out it could be used as a chisel plane.  Now I like it even more.  Dressing rabbets and lap joint cuts was exactly why I wanted it.

It will also do a great job fine tuning the cheeks and shoulders of tenons.
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Offline Jim C.

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #28 on: November 02, 2013, 09:37:19 PM »
I was out in the shop today working on a small cabinet, and as always, had a couple planes on my bench.  So, I thought I might feature one of my "users" this time.  This plane, a Stanley #103, was given to me by a co-worker about ten years ago.  Knowing nothing about old hand planes, she still picked it up at a farm sale in Wisconsin because she thought I might like it.  Well, I do like it.  First, because someone thought of me, and second because even with its 80+ years of patina, it's still a very good, functional, useable tool.  It's far from collector quality, but in some ways it's MUCH better.  Use an old plane like this and you'll see what I mean.  It's an honest, well made, well used tool.  At some point, it received some green and red paint, and had a little rust on it, but with a good cleaning and a sharp iron, it can still slice off some really fine shavings.   

Jim C.     
« Last Edit: January 29, 2014, 07:39:01 AM by Jim C. »
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Offline Jim C.

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #29 on: December 10, 2013, 04:48:52 PM »
Collecting and using old tools is something that I'm guessing all of us here enjoy.  Otherwise, why would we be here in the first place?  For me, trying to determine when a tool was manufactured is part of the fun.  Unfortunately, with the exception of a few examples, it's nearly impossible to know EXACTLY when a tool was manufactured.  In most cases, we have to rely on manufacturing clues, packaging, instruction manuals, old catalogs, and our own research or the research of others.  Still, at best, we may only be able to determine a date range/era that a particular tool was made.  That's definitely the case with old hand planes. 

Over the years, Stanley made little changes to their planes, packaging, etc.  By continuing to educate yourself, gaining some experience, and knowing some telltales, one can roughly determine when a plane was produced.  The following example will briefly discuss tool finishes, packaging, and old brochures/instructions.  Stanley was never a company to waste anything, so they used everything until it was gone.  Boxes, labels, instructions, even plane parts were mixed and matched at the factory.  Several times I've seen planes in original mint condition with parts that appeared to be from the end of one production mated with improved/changed parts from the immediately following production.  Stanley didn't care about future collectors and all their "Type Studies."  The same went for boxes, labels, and brochures.  They used the old stock until it was gone.

Below are two Stanley #271 router planes.  It's one of my favorite models and very useful for cleaning and flattening the bottoms of grooves and dados.  It was produced by Stanley from 1926 well into the 1980s.  It could be used with an open or closed throat and included one 1/4" cutter.  A very simple, but very effective plane.  After tracking down some of the basic models, keep your eye out for one of these.  In trying to determine when each plane was manufactured, I'd first examine the boxes.  The box on the left has a yellow to orange colored paper covering it, while the box on the right is a drab grey to olive green cardboard with no paper covering.  Immediately that tells me that the drab box was produced very near in time to WWII.  For some reason, Stanley boxes from that era all look like that, versus the yellow and orange boxes that came before and after WWII.  (Some VERY early Stanley boxes were a light green color.) Also notice the labels on the boxes.  The one on the left appears to be more modern.  Still, one cannot base a plane's approximate age on the box or the label alone.  All the clues must be considered.

Let's look at the planes themselves.  I should mention that the Stanley #271 depicted below was traditionally manufactured as a nickel plated plane before and after WWII.  However, notice that the plane on the right has a japanned finish.  Both are in mint condition, so which one is older?  Here's where "continuing education" and some experience come into play.  During WWII, nickel was being used for the war effort.  As a result, Stanley started finishing their normally nickel plated planes and tool trimmings with black japanning.  This practice went on at Stanley from the time the United States entered the war until the war ended.  Again, because Stanley didn't waste anything, old stock japanned planes produced during the war could still be found on hardware store shelves well into the early 1950s.   

Finally, let's take a look at the brochures that came with each plane.  The content in each is virtually the same, but notice the cover of the brochure on the right.  If you look at the the lower portion, you'll see that it celebrates Stanley's one hundred year anniversary, 1843 - 1943.  Furthermore, looking at the back of both brochures, you'll see that one was printed in 1951, and the other was printed in 1943.  Taking ALL of the clues into account (the boxes, the labels, the planes, the brochures, and some education) I can confidently say that the plane on the left was most likely produced during the early to mid 1950s, while the plane on the right was produced most likely near the middle or end of WWII.

What do you do if you don't have the benefit of original boxes, brochures, etc.?  Again, educate yourself.  Read available research done by others or do some of your own.  Compare known older examples of planes to their newer versions.  Many times subtle changes were made to patent dates, model number placement on castings, casting marks, mechanical parts, and logo stampings.  Knowing these little details can still aid one in determining a plane's approximate age.

Jim C.

(We'll talk more about WWII era planes in a future post.)             
« Last Edit: December 10, 2013, 05:03:10 PM by Jim C. »
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