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You may also click the image within the description for each type of tool below to go directly to the image gallery for those tools.
This page also has fairly complete list of good reading for folks interested in Stanley tools and vintage tools in general available in the Reference Materials section near the bottom of the page.
This is (I’m told) a bit like speed dating , your job is to weed out the twitchy, drooling, camo-wearing sociopaths to find a suitable mate for life. The downside to plastic is that it gets really slippery if you sweat even a little.
If you’re not an expert in planes, you can still buy a good one if you know the hallmarks of a quality tool. The tote on the far right is what you want: Well-formed, curvy and rosewood. A quick look at this part of the plane will tell you immediately if the tool was made for a professional or for a homeowner. It has a round disc that mates with the iron; this provides a smooth action. The wheel that controls the depth of cut is nicely knurled brass.
What started out as just picking up a few hand planes to help with specific projects has turned in to a search to acquire the complete selection of Stanley tools of a particular model or date range. 12 Try Square to get the job done, but I find I'll start digging through old catalogs to determine the features I like (in this case, the cross-hatched handle pattern rather than the stippled handles, the cast in hanging-hole, and the gun-black blades with white letters rather than the Nickel plated blades, for example), then attempt to procure all those tools over the course of a few months.
With many of these vintage tools available for just a few dollars, collecting them turns out to be fairly inexpensive when compared to buying new, quality hand tools.
Also, the place where you grasp the lever is made using two pieces, another mark of quality. You can still adjust the frog on this plane, it’s just not as easy or as precise.
It puts an end to ruler tricks and even scary sharp flattening faces.
Sometimes it can take quite a while to find the item I'm looking for, so to keep track of what I have and what I'm still trying to find I've created the listings below of vintage tool data.
If you've come to this page looking for hand plane restoration and tuning instructions, or the photo galleries of the tools I've collected, that information has all been moved because this page was growing unreasonably large.
I am used to laminated irons in old plane irons used in wooden planes of old but it is indeed a rarity here in the UK to come across a laminated iron like the one here.
When you pick up an old plane in an antique store or swap meet it is sending off clues. The wide, flat areas and sharp radii say one thing: “Grab me and I’ll bite you back.” The tote in the middle is plastic, but it’s a half-decent shape.
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Over the years I have learned a few new tricks and have changed a few of my own views too. Firstly, and I have already said this elsewhere, plane irons need not be dead flat at all.