Chris Schwarz's Blog

New Premium Handplanes From Stanley Works

The new Stanley No. 4 smoothing plane.

Stanley Works will release five premium-grade handplane models this year that are designed to compete with planes from Veritas and Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, officials said.

The line includes new designs for a No. 4 smoothing plane, a low-angle jack plane, a shoulder plane and two block planes. All of the Stanley planes will have features that users have come to expect from high-end tools, including irons made from thicker A2 steel, bodies made from ductile iron and handles made from highly polished rosewood.

The new Stanley No. 62 low-angle jack plane.

Additionally, the sole castings will be heavier, all the knobs will be made of brass, the soles will be flat to .003″ and many of the planes will incorporate a “patented lateral adjustment locking lever,” according to company officials and literature.

The planes, which should be available by November, will have the following manufacturer’s suggested retail price: The No. 4 and the low-angle jack will list for $179. The block planes and the shoulder plane will list for $99. The planes will be available through woodworking specialty stores, not home centers. Company officials said the tools’ A2 irons will be made in England and the plane bodies will be made in Mexico.

Stanley officials said they designed these planes after working with the company’s “discovery teams.” These teams went into specialty stores and furniture-making shops and conducted two-hour interviews with woodworkers about what they wanted in a handplane.

Stanley then designed prototypes and solicited feedback from these users, which they then incorporated into the tools’ final designs.

The end results were very interesting. For example, the new Stanley No. 4 is a bevel-down plane. What’s different is that the frog and base are cast as one piece. This reduces the opportunity for blade chatter to occur. Also interesting: The plane has an adjustable mouth like a block plane. You unscrew the front knob and slide a throat plate forward and back for different mouth apertures.

The No. 62 Low-Angle Jack Plane also has many of these refinements, including the patented lateral-adjustment mechanism.

The new Stanley No. 92 shoulder/chisel plane.

The No. 92 Shoulder/Chisel Plane also features brass adjustment knobs and a wooden grip at the rear. Though Stanley officials didn’t have the finished width of the tool available, the No. 92 was historically a 3/4″-wide tool.

The new Stanley No. 60-1/2 block plane.

The two block planes , the No. 9-1/2 standard-angle plane and the No. 60-1/2 low-angle block plane , have less radical changes compared to their historic brethren. However, they have been redesigned to look like the rest of the new family of planes, and all the planes will use the famous Stanley “Sweetheart” logo from the early part of the 20th century.

When asked if other plane designs were in the works, a Stanley official said there was nothing they could discuss at this time.

As soon as functional production models become available, we’ll be testing these new planes and will report the results in an upcoming issue of Popular Woodworking and Woodworking Magazine.

– Christopher Schwarz


The new Stanley No. 9-1/2 block plane.

35 thoughts on “New Premium Handplanes From Stanley Works

  1. jacob

    Can’t help feeling that they have completely missed the point with their new products.
    Nobody had any objections to the visual appearance of the old stuff, it was all about quality. I’d have kept the old designs but concentrated wholly on making them work well.
    That’s why people want LN and LV – it’s not just the brass knobs!

  2. Shannon Brown

    The planes are listed on their UK web site (with the exception of the low-angle jack). I wrote and asked if the planes would be available here and from what they said, it didn’t sound like they were being made for the American market.

    Here’s a copy of original letter and their response and see what you think:

    Thank you for contacting us.

    We have generated a support ticket to help us track your inquiry. Your ticket code is LTK419032446311X. Please use this code in any further communication.

    The tools or accessories sold in the UK market are not sold in the US. If you dont find it on our US website it will not be available here.

    In case this email does not fully answer your question, or you would like to contact us for any reason, simply reply to this email.
    Thank you,

    Stanley Tools Customer Care
    Visit us online at http://www.stanleytools.com
    =======

    Subject: New Planes

    I was on your UK website and saw that you had some new planes listed. I was wondering when you were bringing them out over here, it it will be a full line like the bailey’s (i.e. a 3, 4 1/2, 5, and so on), and where I could buy one now.

    Sincerly,
    Shannon Brown

  3. Christopher Schwarz

    Shannon,

    Your communication with Stanley smacks of the U.K. division’s ignorance about the company’s global plans. This happens all the time. It’s a big company.

    My source is the U.S. product manager for this line. The planes will be sold in the United States. Stanley has been showing them around to catalogers.

    Chris

  4. Paul Hubbman

    OK, before knocking all modern Stanley planes as packaged junk bilking customers out of their hard earned cash, my Stanley block plane (standard angle with adjustable mouth) has served me very well over the past 10 years or so since i bought it new at the local hardware store. The adjustment mechanism is tight, precise, and predictable, which always amazes me on a tool i paid $35 for. It’s comfortable in my hand, and gets just as much use as my Veritas low angle block. It takes an edge well and holds its adjustments. The only thing i sometimes consider is upgrading the cutting iron. I use a good variety of planes, from restored vintage tools to new LV or LN models. The little Stanley block is a regular user in my shop.
    This Stanley block was the first plane i purchased new, before i even had shop space. Since then, i’m on my second shop and have developed a real love for quality planes – old and new. Over that time, and to my surprise, the little block has kept pace with the others. I’ll be hard pressed to get as much value from my more expensive tools.

  5. Barry

    I think the more planes, the better to fuel the resurgence of hand tools.

    However, I think the price of these things will have as much of a bearing on Veritas, and ESPECIALLY Lie-Nielsen, as a Lincoln does on an Aston Martin. Both are upscale, but…

    If the quality is there, these might affect is the older, "user" quality (not collectibles), plane market where prices have gotten out of hand in some venues.

    The fact that such a large corporation sees a worthwhile market certainly speaks great news!

  6. Michael D.

    I liked the Stanley No. 92. I had been looking for an old shoulder plane for a while — there doesn’t seem to be enough of them in the msarketplace. Searches on eBay would only come up with a few. So if they turn out well and some people feel like upgrading, maybe we’ll get an influx of some nice planes at used prices that woodworkers like me can take advantage of.

    I don’t care if they are made in North America or elsewhere — only the quality matters. If someone doesn’t like tools made outside of North America and happen to already own a nice set of Japanese chisels (or saws), then drop me a line. I’d be happy to take them off your hand so you can have a clear conscience. 🙂

  7. swanz

    Noel and Mike read my mine. Stanley’s not concerned about the premium plane using LN LV faithful galoots. We’re just a small niche in the market.But then again these plane may get rave reviews and if the price difference is big enough many newbies will buy these before they spring for a LN LV.

  8. Mike

    I thought the same thing too Jason. It almost looks like the No 4 is a modern day Gage plane with an adjustable mouth plate. I’d like to see the real thing as opposed to a CAD drawing. Will have to wait and see.

  9. Jason

    Am I the only one that thinks making the frog and base a single piece is a cool idea? When I read that, my thought was "duh.." That seems so obvious. And most of my "American "truck was made in Mexico… I’m personally not concerned. If the quality is right, I’d consider getting one.

    Jason

  10. Bill Houghton

    "It definitely appears that they’re taking some cues from Lee Valley… that bevel down jack plane looks very similar to LV."

    I’ve got a Stanley 62, and, except for the adjuster, which is similar to that on the 60-1/2 block plane, it could be a Veritas low angle jack. In fact, mine’s got the cam lever that the new Stanley 62 has, instead of the "loosen knob, slide back" arrangement on the Veritas. Until Lee Valley added the stop screw to keep this sliding shoe from hitting the cutting iron, the Stanley mouth adjustment was slightly superior.

    Since the original Stanley is quite a bit older, I think it’s more fair to say that Stanley has updated its No. 62, the plane that Lee Valley started from in building its low angle jack.

    I doubt I’ll buy any of them, being well supplied with vintage tools (and a few Veritas tools) for these five plane types already, but it’ll be interesting to see whether Stanley can come back from the quality wasteland they’ve been in for nigh on 50 years.

  11. Samson

    I’ve had no good experiences with post 1950’s Stanley (furniture specific/fine woodworking) products. They have made progressively cheaper and more inferior garbage (plastic handles and crap castings, etc.) Their planes, in particular, have been worthless trash that is no doubt singularly responsible for turning thousands of folks off to hand tool woodworking. Other manufacturers picked up the slack, and rebuilt a market. Now Stanley wants to get back in. I say: "Sorry, Stanley, but no thanks." We woodworkers need to support those who have actually served us and grown this market – Lie Nielsen, Lee Valley, and all the small makers like Knight, Hock, Crown, old tool dealers, and the like.

  12. Eric

    Interesting development! I think the proof will be in the pudding as they say. Will they be on par performance-wise and quality-wise with other manufacturers or just look like them? I mean current Stanley tools certainly look to the lay-person like the vintage Stanley/Bailey tools, but are not of the same quality and performance.

    As for these appealing to the trades person… first they will have to learn to sharpen, adjust, and use any hand tool before that is going to take off. Based on my own personal experiences with that topic, I won’t hold my breath. But magazines and the internet have probably made the biggest strides in filling the education gap left by what has happened in our school and home shops. Hand tools are on the move, and have a great opportunity to continue that growth… not sure I can say the same thing about the release of another contractor tablesaw…

  13. farms100

    I applaud them for getting back to their roots. Some competition in the quality wood plane market could benefit us. IF they are able to offer a decent plane that is at price point under lie-neilsen/ veritas benchmark. They could penetrate the woodworkers market with great success.

    It’s highly dependent on the quality vs price ratio. If they come out with an over priced hunk of junk they wasted a lot of money.

    It’s a very interesting business move. When you consider that Porter Cable and Dewalt maybe heading down Black and Decker road of making junk tools.

    At 179$ I’d take a hard look at the low angle jack plane.

    farms

  14. Old Baleine

    Oh, I don’t know about contractor sales. Most of my contractor mates are far more interested in the latest 18v cordless tools.

    If you pull out a hand plane for trimming a door, you’ll get the same reaction you would if you rode up to the job site on a penny farthing.

  15. Doug Fulkerson

    My question is, are they truly serious about maintaining quality in their products? Their track record hasn’t been great in that department for a while; heck, since before many of us were even born. Anybody can make a few quality products for a little while. Will they keep up their standards? Time will tell, I guess. Judging by the reactions here, it doesn’t sound like the first ones are going to fly off the shelves. At the same time it would be kind of neat to be able to put some new Stanley planes on the bench that are equal to, or superior to, my Grandfather’s tools. It will be interesting to read the reviews. I wonder if Chris’ review of the Type 11 #5 might have had something to do with Stanley’s interest in making better woodworking tools??? http://blog.lostartpress.com/

  16. Mike

    Noel, don’t forget about the contractor base and dealer network Stanley already has with Bostitch. They can market these planes to a general contractor who needs to plane a door or final fit molding in a house without having to shell out big bucks for LV or LN. The market is huge and Stanley is in perfect position to take advantage of it. I expect more of these planes and tools to come out in a few years.

  17. Noel

    In fact, I think they will fly off the shelves. Walk through a Rockler or Woodcraft store sometime and pay attention to what people are looking for–what brands they’ve never heard of. By virture of reading this blog (and commenting), none of us are the intended market. Stanley will be going for the customer that doesn’t know about LV or LN, but still wants something good. Stanley, despite our many protests, is not as maligned in the real world as it is in specialty magazines and blogs.

  18. David

    I’m not big on brand names, but the modern Stanley company’s focus on ultra-low-quality for the cheapest price possible means I’m not willing to have the modern Stanley brand name on any tool in my shop other than a tape measure. It would be an embarrassment.

  19. Chris C

    To qualify my statements for "zippy". It is my personal
    preference to try to keep my money as close to home as
    possible. And, short of that, to spend my money on
    companies that I believe genuinely care about the products
    they make. Sometimes I can get both. But I would rather
    spend my money on Canadian tools(or English since you
    mention it) that are made by THAT company than on something that is outsourced to a plant that simply works
    off a spec(if I have a choice).

    On the other hand, I have nothing against Stanley. That’s
    just not where I choose to put my money. I would not
    want any rules or regulations to prevent them from
    competing, and I don’t frown on anyone else who buys
    from them. It’s just not my cup of tea.

    Chris

  20. J.C.

    Okay, this is just so C-R-E-E-P-Y ! ! ! I was conjuring the possibility of Stanley bring up the rear on hand plane innovation and whoa, Nellie! Again, this is just too creepy. Gotta be one of those collective unconscious things.

    Think I’ll go out to the shop and hug my old Bed Rocks.

    always,
    J.C.

  21. Luke Townsley

    I too was furiously flipping calendar pages wondering how we made it to April so fast.

    These look like they might be decent tools, but whereas LN, LV, and other hand tool makers seem to have started with a love for tools and toolmaking and woodworking and grew into a tool business, these guys started with a love of money and decided that making tools would foster that.

    That said, I don’t think they are really direct competitors with the boutique tool makers we have grown to know and love. It is possible they might even help them by broadening the market. It does look like Stanley will offer a quality that is reasonable at a lower price as opposed to the current junk they are offering that isn’t worth it at any price.

    I do hope that their quality is consistent from tool to tool and that they stay away from cheap marketing gimmicks like the sweetheart label that means nothing in its current context. Let the specs, price and quality speak for themselves.

  22. Don from Clayton

    I look at it this way. The more people who get into wood working by using decent tools, and the knowledge to use them properly, the better off we all are as woodworkers.

    The United States use to be a nation of "hands on" folks and, to a certain extent,we have gotten away from that. If Stanley can get people interested again, some of them will move up to better tools as they go along.

    I know I started out with old tools from my granddad and father, and a few new moderatley priced tools I bought myself. Using those tools, and gaining knowledge in handtool use, I learned to appreciate what LN, Lee Vally, BridgeCity, Drake Tools, etc. have produced. I have also gotten to a point in my life where I can afford much better tools.

    Competition from Stanly may put a company out of business, but I do not think it will happen to LN, Lee Vally, or the others. This is because there will always be folks who will want to have really good tools regardless of the price, or want a paticular style of tool that a company makes, or just want the joy of ownership of a particular brand. Lee Vally has not put LN or Drake Tools out of business, even though there is overlapping in their tool lines. Quality sells and we all benefit!

    I also thank guys like Chris Schwartz, Graham Blackburn, Adam, and all of the other folks who are out there working on keeping the knowledge of tool use alive!

  23. Zippy

    Hey Chris, Mexico is in North America and why do hate England so much as to not buy a tool with an iron from that country? Hock blades are imported from France, do you have a problem with that as well?

    Why is perfectly fine for a Canadian company to make a product in Canada, sell it in the US and then return the profits back to Canada but wrong for an American company to source parts from outside the US yet keep the profits in the US?

    Do you waive your patriotic flag and wear your NASCAR shirt when you shop at Wal-Mart?

  24. Chris C

    I kind of agree with Dan. In my case I’ll stick with
    something made in North America when it comes to hand
    tools. I really admire companies like Lee Valley and
    Lie-Neilson who obviously care a great deal about the
    product they make.

    I assume Stanley’s marketing department had more to
    say than anyone who might work wood there(anyone?). All
    of a sudden Stanley sees the light? Not for me.

    Chris

  25. Jerry Palmer

    While that #62 looks interesting to me, I think I might just go along with not buying it as long as it is outsourced offshore. Don’t know if I will go so far as to belittle others for using them, though.

  26. Dan Sayler

    As a tradesman I make the following vow: I will NEVER buy one of these planes unless they are made completely in the U.S.A.
    And I will belittle trades persons using them. Call it the real Patriot Acht.

  27. gemorris

    Not enough of a discount over veritas planes for me to bother risking it. You would think with Stanley’s scale, and the fact that they are sourcing parts from outside of the US/Canada, that they could have made a bigger difference in the price. Guess not.

    Good to have more tools in the market, but this just smacks of the big guy trying to take the little guy’s lunch. Eventually LN and LV would be driven to offshoring parts of their operation to compete. And so the unvirtuous cycle would begin anew.

  28. Mike

    The more the merrier!!!!! The consumer wins when there’s increased competition and soon the price of Veritas and Lie-Nielsen planes will come down if Stanley prices these planes aggressively enough. These new planes will take some time to win over the hearts of woodworkers but look what Nike has done to golf equipment in the past ten years. From a business stand point, I was wondering when Stanley would reintroduce themselves into the serious woodworker market. You know the top management at the Stanley Works was looking at what Tom was doing up in Maine for the past twenty years with a watchful eye. The bigger he got the more Stanley’s mouth watered.

  29. Dan Sayler

    Why they used the old model numbers is a mystery to me. Couldn’t they have used nomenclature like 704 for the #4, thus distinguishing from the "classic" Baileys (X) , the Bedrocks (60X), and the crappy current (XX-00X).
    It would seem that now there will be three different cutters for the block planes. 7/16" slot, 5/8" slot, and the newest of the new. Will the 92 use the old 92 blade?
    Seems like someone could have thought of this besides me.

  30. Graham Hughes

    Yeah, my first reaction was "is it April already?" I dunno, maybe Stanley can pull it off, but their recent efforts have not exactly thrilled me. Still, the more planes the better.

  31. John Viola

    Charles, that’s the first thing I thought too-the design team paid very close attention to the Lee Valley models.

    I guess that’s nothing new; didn’t everyone copy Stanley? 😉

  32. Charles

    I just checked the calendar to confirm that it’s not April first. Very interesting news here… if nothing else, re-affirms that the hand-tool market is ever-alive and growing which is great to see.

    It definitely appears that they’re taking some cues from Lee Valley… that bevel down jack plane looks very similar to LV. Love the bevel-down planes! Plane bodies are being "Made in Mexico"… hmmm… just guessing but I doubt we’ll see that imprinted into the casting.

    I’ll be watching for the 92 or 60 1/2… Great post Chris!

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