LumberJocks

Tools #1: Stanley #55 Plane

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Blog entry by Dan Wolfgang posted 07-06-2016 12:48 AM 990 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Tools series Part 2: Wood rabbet plane »

While at my grandparents house recently, I dug through the basement hoping to find some tools I’d have use for. My great-grandfather was quite the woodworker and while I’ve previously collected a variety of tools from there I decided to focus on things I could use for woodworking with this visit. I found some files, rasps, a saw set, and a variety of hand saws. All need a little work but are in pretty good shape—cleaning, removing rust, and sharpening will put them in great shape.

I also found a gem: a Stanley #55 plane set. The #55 can be used for cutting all sorts of dadoes, rabbets, tongue and grooves, as well as creating molding patterns—hugely flexible! It has four boxes of cutters, all complete. The plane body itself appears to be complete, including two little scoring arms and all the adjustment screws. The right fence (and related pieces) is missing, but I think that’s all. I think that makes it complete enough for use as a plow plane, but not a molding plane; maybe I can get the missing fence from eBay some day.

Looking closely at the cutters, most still have tool marks on the edge from the factory sharpening and only four appear to have been honed. Of those four, two are about 1/8” shorter than the others which would suggest they saw a fair bit of use.

I sharpened up the #16 cutter (straight 1/2”) and tried cutting a dado in a piece of 2×4. The biggest challenge is that without the right fence the plane is intended to be used by a right-handed person, and being left-handed I found that to be a bear! The number of adjustments on this plane is significant and I’m sure setup was always a big part of using it: cutter blade depth, runner adjustment to match cutter width and height, fence width and angle (two if I had both fences), two scoring blade depth adjustments, cam adjustment for working with wide stock, front and rear shoes. Phew!

A very cool tool; I look forward to working with it more!



8 comments so far

View WhoMe's profile

WhoMe

1472 posts in 2711 days


#1 posted 07-06-2016 01:06 AM

Congrats on the find. It might take some searching to find the other fence in great shape like your plane but they are out there.
Being left handed, I feel for you. I haven’t used my 45 much but I have encountered that “left hander using a right handed plane” experience. :-)

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

View WhoMe's profile

WhoMe

1472 posts in 2711 days


#2 posted 07-06-2016 01:13 AM

Congrats on the find. It might take some searching to find the other fence in great shape like your plane but they are out there.
Being left handed, I feel for you. I haven’t used my 45 much but I have encountered that “left hander using a right handed plane” experience. :-)
Check out the thread on the Stanley 45 as they talk about the 55 too.

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

View Arcola60's profile

Arcola60

93 posts in 1852 days


#3 posted 07-06-2016 10:53 AM

Nice find Dan. I was given one from a co worker. It was his wife’s grandfathers plane. it does not have all of the cutters, but it has both of the fences.

I am also left handed, same issues. It is a nice, well thought out design.You are so right about the adjustments.I find that if you start at the end and work your way to the beginning of the board it is a little easier on some cuts. You have to just work with it.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13738 posts in 2086 days


#4 posted 07-06-2016 11:51 AM

A ‘found’ #55 is great, one that’s in the family is even better! Congrats! Someday I’d love to have a #55. They’re very capable tools that take a bit of practice, I’ve read. But what skill worth having isn’t that way?

Have fun!

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

View WillliamMSP's profile

WillliamMSP

768 posts in 1072 days


#5 posted 07-06-2016 04:18 PM

Awesome find – I’m jealous.

Has anyone told you to wax the skates and fence, yet? ;)

-- Practice makes less sucky. (Bill, Minneapolis, MN)

View BurlyBob's profile

BurlyBob

3697 posts in 1733 days


#6 posted 07-06-2016 04:35 PM

That’s awesome! I’m envious that you have a woodworking heritage in your family, sure wish I did.

View canadianchips's profile

canadianchips

2362 posts in 2465 days


#7 posted 07-07-2016 01:29 AM

Congrats on that find. Cherish it !
Look around you may find the other fence somewhere one day.
These planes take a bit of setting, but they arefun to play with…....or work with

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Grumpymike's profile

Grumpymike

1919 posts in 1783 days


#8 posted 07-07-2016 06:41 PM

Awww, You suck Dan … After a great find like that, you will be known as ‘Sucky Dan’ ...
I envy your find and with 4 cutter boxes … intact ... Now the rule book says that you can never again use your router.
Enjoy your new old tool and learn to use it. ... Congrats.

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

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