It is interesting how our focus can sometimes hide things from plain site (or is it plane site?).
Following up the last post in this blog series I finally found a replacement #5 for my broken one. I found it in a bunch of tools and was so focused on the #5 that I didn’t really pay much attention to the rest of the things, but took it as a whole figuring I can always use an extra tool or 2, or sell some to recoup the expense.
One of those things I was planning on restoring and reselling was the block plane in the bunch only to find that it is a skew block plane which made me rethink the reselling option but it was still the road I was about to take. I am not a collector but a user which I guess is why I didn’t do my homework ahead of time, but one night I was just curious to see the values of what I got and searched online for the model numbers of the braces and the block plane I got. it is a Stanley 140 skew block plane:
To my surprise I found that it is not only a block plane, and not only a skew plane, but it is also a rabbet plane. much like the LV one I had and reviewed not too long ago. Now it hit me – I guess thats what those 2 screws that I cleaned were all about – they were holding the removable side wall of the plane that transforms it into a rabbet plane which positions the blade at the edge of the plane almost exposed which allows it to plane down rabbets square to the shoulder:
oh boy- did I feel naive at that moment and darn lucky at the same time! Naive since I didn’t even realize what a great little tool fell into my hands (when I cleaned and derusted it and took the screws off I didn’t even realize I could pop that side wall off) and glad since when Lee valley came out with the skew block planes, they offered a right hand and a left hand skew. I only ordered the right hand skew to avoid going overboard with expenses figuring that the majority of my work would require the right hand although it would be nice to have both (depending on the grain flow of a board) – ironically, this Stanley 140 is a left hand skew which completes the set for me:
And so I cleaned and derusted and cleaned some more (all photos above are after cleaning at different stages). lapped the blade and sharpened it and took it for a test drive. it cuts end grain clean and easy:
Benefits of This plane:
1. Block plane – small convenient and easy to use in many positions and circumstances from trimming to fixing to adjusting to fitting parts/drawers/etc together.
2. skewed blade – reduces the actual cutting angle of the blade by presenting the blade at an angle to the forward planing action of the plane eases the cuts on difficult grains especially end grain.
3. rabbet plane – with the side wall removed ,the blade is positioned inline with the side of the plane allowing it to be used to plane rabbets (grooves at the edge of a board) with a square shoulder to the board.
As for how it compares to the LV plane:
1. It is larger, and while it feels comfortable to use I like how the LV plane blends in your palm and is more ergonomic to hold and use.
2. It is lighter in weight (or so it feels to me)
3. blade angle is slightly higher than the LV which is lower. the LV plane cuts end grain much much easier and smoother. both do a good job, but there is definitely a difference in effort there.
4. no adjustable mouth which can be handy to take light passes with less effort on the LV
5. blade adjustments are smooth and work well, but on the LV plane they are smoother and more responsive, less backlash, and also has lateral controls on the Norris adjuster whereas the Stanley you have to set the blade by hand – so far not an issue as the blade is easy to set and sets well, but a difference nonetheless.
6. planing rabbets requires the side wall to be removed and stored somewhere whereas the LV plane is machined to eliminate the need for a removable side wall. From my experience this could also lead to scratching your stock if you accidently tip your block plane during work which can cause the edge of the blade to drive into the stock you are planing requiring additional work to clean up – so this would be a positive thing for the Stanley depending on your point of view.
Bottom line, nice little plane. will definitely see constant use and obviously a keeper.
-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.