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Stanley Bench Planes, Type 21

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Blog entry by Smitty_Cabinetshop posted 01-10-2015 04:48 AM 4559 reads 0 times favorited 56 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A blog entry dedicated to a Type of Stanley bench plane that gets no respect, the Cordovan line. My interest in them started because the plane I got from my Dad is a Cordovan smoother, a #4. A picture of his:

A beautiful example of the type is this Jack:

It came in a nice, stapled box with bumblebee graphics:

So, starting with the last couple entries in this post of early type study information:

Type 19. Planes made by Stanley 1948-1961.

All of the features of the previous, except:

The frog receiver, in the bottom casting, now is y-shaped.

Rosewood is re-introduced, and is often varnished so heavily that it almost obscures the grain.

“STANLEY” is now incised in a vertical direction on the lateral adjustment lever.

The original type study doesn’t mention this, but on some of the models of this type “STANLEY” is stamped on both sides of the lateral adjustment lever. I’ve seen enough of these to convince me that’s it wasn’t accidental, or if it was, it was a big screw-up.

The knurling on the brass depth adjuster is now parallel on most examples.

Later examples have the familiar black paint on the hardwood tote and knob.

Type study doesn’t mention this, but the cutters now have rounded tops instead of the angular top. This change happened in the mid—1950’s, in my opinion.

Furthermore, the original type study doesn’t mention the change in the finish applied on the forked lever. For a short while, some models had a nickel plated appearance on them as a finish rather than the usual black japanning. Where in the sequence of actual manufacturing this subtle change fits is unknown to me, but I’ve only noticed it on those planes equipped with rosewood knobs and totes and rounded irons.

Type 20. Planes made by Stanley 1962-1967.

All of the features of the previous, except:

All castings are now painted blue, instead of the black japanning used for over 100 years.

An example of a Type 20 Stanley #9 1/4:

Hardwood totes and knobs are now finished with a light colored stain.

The forked lever (the one that engages the hole in the lever cap) is now a cheesy two-piece pressed steel piece of junk.

The lateral adjustment lever is no longer a two-piece construction, but now is one piece with the thumb grip bent over.

“STANLEY” is no longer stamped into the lateral adjustment lever.

Stanley plane boxes had perforated steel corners.

The beginning of the end for Stanley bench planes, as we prepare for the Dawning of the Age of Norm, and Ellie Mae Clampett’s yummy biscuit.

Moving past the Type 20, then, I offer a rudimentary Type 21 description:

Type 21. Planes made by Stanley 1968-197x.

All of the features of the previous, except:

All castings are now painted in the short lived and attractive red brown “Cordovan” color.

Top edges of benchplane totes are rounded, with bright metal (nickeled? aluminum?) adjuster knob knurling having a distinct ‘divide’.

“STANLEY” in the lever cap is surrounded by a field of Canary Yellow paint.

These are purported to be the last of the Stanley planes made in the U.S.A. It’s possible castings not sold as Cordovans were sold in Canada with an assortment of lever caps, irons, frogs and roughly-finiahed totes. There are also Cordovans cast in England and marked accordingly. Those feature raised ribs in the bed of the bed, and are very similar to still more Cordovans cast in Canada; those have a code “C559 B” cast into body of the plane. A raised rib Canadian plane looks like this:

USA Cordovan models include:

—#3 Smoother

—#4 Smoother (see above)

—#5 (see above) and #5C Jack

—#5 1/4 Junior Jack

—#6 Fore

—9 1/4 Block

—9 1/2 Block

—#60 1/2 Block

—#110 Block

—#118 Block

—#220 Block

And other planes and eval points that I’ll add as I see them appear on eBay. Don’t know if there’s value here, but I feel better anyway. :-)

Thanks for looking!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --



56 comments so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

17960 posts in 2029 days


#1 posted 01-10-2015 11:46 AM

Excellent!!

I’m following. I’ll help when I can. I may have a few floating around.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.net

View putty's profile

putty

997 posts in 1068 days


#2 posted 01-10-2015 02:32 PM

Nice Smitty,

I never see any of these, did they not make many?

-- Putty

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13715 posts in 2080 days


#3 posted 01-10-2015 02:50 PM

Don, sounds great, thanks!

Don’t know how long they were produced, Putty, but I hope to find out someday. There are always some out there, so I wouldn’t say they’re rare. But it was the in the darkest days before the resurgence of hand tools took place so they must not have been produced in huge runs.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View oltexasboy1's profile

oltexasboy1

240 posts in 1166 days


#4 posted 01-10-2015 05:53 PM

Back when I bought my first “real” plane I had one of these #5s. Along with my circle saw, someone thought they needed it more than I did a few years ago when they broke into my garage and relieved me of a lot of my good tools. The #5 I have reacquired and it is one of my favorite planes to use, even thought the original was cheap it had a better iron than the new ones. Oh well, onward and upward we go. Thanks Smitty for the link to the page , very informative.

-- "The pursuit of perfection often yields excellence"

View NinjaAssassin's profile

NinjaAssassin

629 posts in 1186 days


#5 posted 01-10-2015 06:06 PM

I’ve got two cordovans, a 5 and 5c. I use the 5 as a scrub (ish) plane. The mouth on this thing is comparatively huge. Also, and maybe this is just my particular plane, no matter how much I tighten it, the chip breaker doesn’t always want to stay firmly mated to the iron.

-- - Billy

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13715 posts in 2080 days


#6 posted 01-10-2015 06:20 PM

Thanks, tex and billy, for the stories and input! I’ve added the ‘5C’ to the list of what’s out there.

Billy- maybe some coarse-grit sandpaper on the mating surfaces will help the chipbreaker-cutter issue?

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View stefang's profile

stefang

15512 posts in 2796 days


#7 posted 01-10-2015 08:38 PM

I’ve never heard of this Stanley line before Smitty, but I do know that Cordova was one of the favorite shoe colors during that era. I had a pair myself. They look good. A great addition to your shop.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13715 posts in 2080 days


#8 posted 01-10-2015 10:22 PM

That is a cool tie – in, Mike. Shoes of Cordovan, love it! :-)

EDIT: Added pics of a #4, a close-up of the ajuster knob and tote, and a #220 block.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

4224 posts in 3196 days


#9 posted 01-11-2015 10:00 AM

I guess they chose “Cordovan” as the name of the color because “Ox-Blood” sounded too gory. I remember the shoe polish of that color. ( Image below is from Google)

Looking through my Excel record, I only have a smattering of #4’s, #5’s and #220’s in Cordovan, nothing new to add to your list, Smitty.

However, I also have a bunch of Stanleys I call the Blue/Grays, which HAD to be an even later issued plane. Not to be confused with the Handymans, these planes have horrible coarse gritty castings, and very thick paint (or powder coat?), gray hammer-tone finish on the lever caps, rounded corners on the cutter, cheap hardwood, and generally an inferior-looking quality. Note those cheezy flat-sided totes!

Here’s my 4 Stanley #4s of undetermined Type. Ever so slight differences, some USA made with Canadian cutters, possibly just Stanley’s final cleanup of their surplus warehouse parts, maybe?

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Don W's profile

Don W

17960 posts in 2029 days


#10 posted 01-11-2015 12:15 PM

The blue ones I’ve seen also had an aluminum frog.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.net

View Buckethead's profile

Buckethead

3140 posts in 1330 days


#11 posted 01-11-2015 12:21 PM

I see the criticisms as valid but I do like the color scheme. It makes my eyes pop. ;-)

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View mafe's profile

mafe

11140 posts in 2551 days


#12 posted 01-11-2015 07:37 PM

Now in yellow and blue!
So much I never knew.
Best thoughts,
Mads

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13715 posts in 2080 days


#13 posted 01-11-2015 08:01 PM


I have a bunch of Stanleys I call the Blue/Grays, which HAD to be an even later-issued plane… with horrible coarse gritty castings and very thick paint (or powder coat?), gray hammer-tone finish on the lever caps, rounded corners on the cutter and cheap, flat-sided hardwood totes. Generally inferior-looking.

- poopiekat

PK, that pic is very interesting. Which one(s) of those are stamped Made in USA? Looks like all four have Stanley in a field of red, but one of them appears narrower than the other three. And do they have alum frogs, as Don suggests? Then I need to post a follow-on to this post for “Stanley Bench Planes, Type 22” :-)

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

4224 posts in 3196 days


#14 posted 01-11-2015 10:31 PM

Thanks, Smitty, for your interest, despite my hijacking of your thread!

Okay, from left to right”

A): Sole “Made in USA’ in casting behind frog Iron ‘Made in Canada’ Frog- Iron, magnetic Lateral: 1 piece Thin pumpkin orange paint on background of lever cap logo.

B: All same as ‘A’

C: Same as A & B, but “Stanley” notched logo on cutter, and “Made in Canada” impressed around rear of knob on sole.

D: same as ‘C’, but long footprint on tote, “No. 4” on toe of plane like #type #17 or #18, and shorter font height on lever cap. “MC3” embossed on sole behind tote.

Now, if I could present a hypothetical scenario:

Stanley USA and Stanley Canada combined their leftovers, unified them with that Chevy Vega blue color, and had some foundry crank out some cheap iron frogs and lever caps. Instead of smoothing the rough casting of the lever caps, they slathered on a grayish silver hammertone finish, leaving the surface rough enough to grate Parmesan cheese. There are slight differences in the sculpting (I use that term loosely) of the totes, all hewn slightly different one from another. Plane D had the elongated boss of the earlier types, hence the longer foot. (See 2nd pic above)

Then, these planes made their way to the retail market in Canada, probably in department stores or ‘Canadian Tire’. None I have ever seen have any kind of significant wear, or even tarnish. This draws me back to the theory I mentioned some time ago, that these did not end up in the hands of serious users; perhaps to redeem leftover points at S&H Green Stamp redemption outlets as unwanted gifts. A sad Swan Song for Stanley, just a footnote in their history, IMO.
Hope this is helpful, Smitty!!

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Tim's profile

Tim

3112 posts in 1423 days


#15 posted 01-12-2015 12:32 AM

Here’s a 9-1/2 I have Smitty.

It could be a replacement iron of course, but the body is made in USA and the iron is made in England.

Feel free to use the picture in your type study.

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