Which brands of old hand plane make good users?

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Forum topic by Brett posted 03-29-2011 09:20 PM 7821 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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660 posts in 2678 days

03-29-2011 09:20 PM

Obviously, there is a consensus that the old Stanley Bailey hand planes were good tools. There are several other old brands (e.g., Millers Falls, Record) that look very similar to the Stanley Baileys (presumably there was some copying going on after the patents expired). If I’m buying an inexpensive, old user plane on eBay, which brands should I look for and which should I ignore?

-- More tools, fewer machines.

8 replies so far

View Bertha's profile


13525 posts in 2688 days

#1 posted 03-29-2011 09:23 PM

You’ll get a lot of good recommendations here. I generally stick to Baileys and Bedrocks but Miller’s Falls and some particular Sergeants are really nice. If you can snag a Clifton or (God forbid) a Preston, that’d do well. Those are the ones that spring to my mind.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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8008 posts in 3371 days

#2 posted 03-29-2011 11:01 PM

I’ve owned several Bailey’s, Millers Falls, Records, a Bedrock, and a Sargent. It depends a lot on the era they’re from, but each of these brands has some very nice planes available. The Bedrock’s are all good AFAIK. I tend to gravitate toward the Records and MF….possibly just because their different, or I like the colors, but they’re also typically reasonably priced and they’ve been very good planes.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

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1580 posts in 3756 days

#3 posted 03-29-2011 11:07 PM

I like to look for hand planes that have adjustable frogs. Then I’m interested in the best overall condition. If the blade looks nice enough to be sharpened this is a plus. I avoid any planes that have cracked soles.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View HorizontalMike's profile


7755 posts in 2909 days

#4 posted 03-29-2011 11:50 PM

I recently picked up my 3rd Sargent plane. One VBM and two earlier ones. The Sargent VBM seems to be their best planes and much less expensive than the Stanley planes on fleaBay.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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10377 posts in 3643 days

#5 posted 03-30-2011 12:06 AM

I like Knuckle-joint block planes. I recently bought one very cheap on Ebay,
I think it’s a Craftsman made by Millers Falls. The seller didn’t know enough
about planes to identify the possible makers or even enough to describe
it as a knuckle cap plane, which would have increased it’s sale price since
I’m not the only guy who likes them as users.

There are some old Records floating around in the USA, but the Stanleys
and other American brands seem to vastly outnumber them.

You won’t get the best bargains on Ebay when you buy from experienced
plane sellers, but you will get accurately represented tools. You’ll get the
bargains hunting for planes being sold by ignorant seller who don’t know
how to list and describe them to appeal to buyer afraid of buying a
broken or incomplete tool.

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David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2993 days

#6 posted 03-30-2011 05:22 AM

Get thee to the tool pushers.

Just to complicate matters, some Stanleys suck as well. Until you are educated enough in the differences to know what you are looking at, I don’t recommend going it alone. I definitely don’t recommend messing with ebay. The online dealers of used tools will give you a good tool for a reasonable price. They will differentiate a good user from the range of collector candy to dog meat. They generally will give you the right of refusal.

I am quite sure that there are some bargain planes to be found on ebay. I have just never personally seen one. It is more common for me to look at the prices that they sell for and just shake my head.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View bubinga's profile


861 posts in 2663 days

#7 posted 03-30-2011 07:56 AM

I got a couple of Millers Falls from eBay ,tuned them up,boy I really like them
I also have a newer Millers Falls that’s a piece of crap
You can get The Millers Falls for a better price there to ,because of the Stanley name they go for more
10 planes I have bought from eBay where from 25 to 50 dollars the highest being a Stanley #7
After cleaning and tuning ,are very nice working planes
If you don’t do a lot of home work ,before you buy, you will end up with crap you don’t want
Places to find info
Here is one place—-
Here a a very good place—-
Great info here—
And one more—-
Millers Falls here—

-- E J ------- Always Keep a Firm Grip on Your Tool

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15346 posts in 2613 days

#8 posted 03-30-2011 08:28 PM

SmilenNod – Lots of solid advise in the entries before mine, especially the caution to avoid any kind of broken mechanics (knobs and totes are a different story, depending on what you like to mess with). I’d further suggest you look for features over brand if it’s a quality tool you’re after. Such as:

- Solid, cast-iron frog (no bent metal frogs, whatever you do)

- Lateral adjustment levers

- Frog adjustment screw (quality indicator, but certainly not a show stopper)

- Flat (or reasonably so, depending on smoother vs. jack vs. jointer, etc) sole

Each of these are individual indicators of a decent tool and are simpler to remember than individual brands – there are a TON of old planes out there… Just one example: I’ve owned a Hercules plane (made by sargent) that met the criteria and tuned up to do solid work. Good luck!

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

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