Stanley hand planes have long been popular tools for woodworkers, and they continue to be produced today. They are also in high demand by collectors of antique and vintage woodworking tools.
To help identify them, they are labeled with a model number. These numbers tell you what type of plane they are.
Planes are a key tool for the woodworker, used for sizing and prepping stock, cutting and fitting joinery, flattening and smoothing surfaces and shaping parts. Leaf through any tool catalog and you’re apt to see a few dozen or more planes offered.
Handplanes are a versatile tool that can remove milling marks, take the bow out of a 2×4 or flatten rough-sawn boards. A well-tuned hand plane can save you time and create unity with your project.
Stanley made a number of different sized handplanes. They ranged in size from a baby-sized #1 to a monster #8 jointer plane. They have a special numbering system that differentiates the planes by length and width.
The Stanley model numbering system is an interesting one, and was used to signify features on a plane. For example, a #608-C indicates a 24” long jointer plane with a corrugated sole.
Planes with a hard rubber tote were offered by Stanley during the 1910’s-1920’s. These planes were most likely purchased by school systems to replace the damaged or worn out rubber totes that were found on many of the planes that were used in schools.
In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, a small percentage of Stanley bench planes had frogs painted a Cheeto’s orange color (on only their sides). This was done as a gimmick to differentiate Stanley from their competitors.
Stanley hand planes are a classic woodworking tool that many people are familiar with. They are a popular choice of budget-conscious woodworkers and can be found at a relatively affordable price.
These hand planes are also available in different styles, depending on the user’s needs and personal preference. For example, an advanced woodworker might find that a high-angle block plane is the ideal tool to handle fine detail work.
Another option for a budget-conscious woodworker is a low-angle block plane. These are a great choice for cutting end grain and other tight spots in wood.
These types of planes have a frog that is half the length of a conventional frog. The frog is also easier to open and close than Bailey planes.
A number of different materials were used in stanley hand planes. Some were forged or pressed from cast iron, others from aluminum, some from steel and some were made of wood.
The type of material that was used to make the blade can be a factor in the durability of the tool, and it’s also a consideration for collectors. Modern planes, like Lie-Nielsen and WoodRiver, use ductile iron castings that won’t crack if dropped, and cryogenic-ally treated A-2 or harder steel.
Another important component of a plane is the chip breaker, or cap iron, which fastens the cutting edge to the frog and prevents chattering during use. This is usually made of brass, but it can sometimes be plated steel.
The knob and tote are generally rosewood, which is a fairly durable species that will stand up to abuse. A few models are made of aluminum, but the aluminum oxidizes easily and leaves ugly skid marks on the planed surface.