Preference for vintage Stanley plane types

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Forum topic by Furnitude posted 08-08-2011 06:26 PM 2362 views 1 time favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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380 posts in 3746 days

08-08-2011 06:26 PM

I’m getting more and more into vintage Stanley planes. I’m curious about which types within the different models people prefer and why. If you have a No. 4 smoother, do you like a type 6 or 9 or 11 or what? Is there an era you prefer over the others? I know that the quality of materials started to decline, and that Stanley started using plastic for totes and even adjustment knobs. Which type of plane are you NOT interested in? Just curious to hear some opinions. Thanks.

-- Mitch, Also blog at

4 replies so far

View krisintoronto's profile


8 posts in 3037 days

#1 posted 08-08-2011 06:51 PM

Not interested in post-WWII planes. I prefer the post-lateral low front knob models, but it is not easy to find them… And I really do prefer the corrugated ones. Having said that, I have a 4 1/2 Bailey smoother made in the UK in the 60s. It is really nice. I got it in a new condition.

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Don W

19050 posts in 2807 days

#2 posted 08-08-2011 07:19 PM

it really depends on what you’re looking to do. If you tune almost any older Stanley plane, it will perform. The lower grade planes and the newer ones generally take more to tune however. With that said, I typically look for ones with the key hole, not the kidney hole in the cap. I just like the way they look and work and I don’t care for the shiny chrome. I absolutely hate the painted Stanley knob and tote, and if I get one cheap enough, the first thing i do is strip it, and darken the beech with a dark Danish oil.
I prefer the Stanley’s with a frog adjustment screw, but have several without it. Again, not a big deterrent. Bedrocks are great, but I won’t pay the premium. I have a 604 and I love it, just not any more than the older #4. I don’t really consider myself a collector, but I have more than I will ever use. I love to restore them, so typically I look for the dirtiest, grungiest, poorest condition I can find and bring them back to life.

I just tuned a painted Millers Falls and a painted Stanley over the week end. It took a bit longer than a typical older (say type 9-12 or older) to get a good thin shavings. Once you get it thought, your home free.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View WayneC's profile


13800 posts in 4337 days

#3 posted 08-08-2011 07:21 PM

I like any square side Bedrock and type 11-17 Bailey. My user preference is for type 11 with low knobs. You can go earler than type 11 but you lose the adjustment screw used to adjust the frog.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15820 posts in 2858 days

#4 posted 08-08-2011 08:48 PM

Type 11 fans are everywhere, and with good reason. Made for a long time (relative to a Stanley Type of bench plane) and pretty inexpensive. And have all the good things looked for in a hand plane.

Lateral adjustment levers are an absolute must for user planes; collectors can go earlier, but to me it would sit on the shelf.

I like the larger depth adjustment wheels found post-11, but interest stops on Baileys with orange lever caps and kidney-shaped holes found in the 16s and beyond. Why? From that point, frogs aren’t guaranteed to be solid (fully machined vs. raised silouhette) on the face meeting the iron.

Frog adjustment screws are great to have during set-up, and get used during tweeks, so they’re a must if you like a tool that is fully tunable.

Finally, it’s personal preference, but I like high knobs. Less contortion of my front hand.

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

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