Chris Schwarz's Blog

Review: Stanley No. 62

It’s little wonder that Stanley chose to bring its No. 62 low-angle jack plane back to life when the company decided last year to re-enter the premium handplane market. After all, the original No. 62 is highly prized by tool collectors , and Lie-Nielsen Toolworks and Veritas have both improved the plane and made it a workshop favorite among modern craftsmen.

However, Stanley’s newest version of the No. 62 has some problems at this point (which the company is working on). While I had fairly good luck with Stanley’s new No. 4 plane (see Popular Woodworking‘s October 2009 issue), I found the No. 62 to be frustrating.

Usually, tool reviews are a list of all the good things about a tool followed up with a few suggestions for improvement. Let’s just get the bad stuff out of the way at the top, shall we?

This is as tight as we could close the mouth. Note you can see the skew from the bed here. The iron is in working position.

About that Mouth
One of the best features of the No. 62 is the adjustable mouth, which is a much easier way to close the mouth than an adjustable frog. Stanley did a fantastic job of incorporating this feature on its No. 4 bevel-down plane, but not so much with this tool.

With the iron in working position, the tightest the mouth can be closed is 1/16″. On a second tool I inspected it would close only to 1/8″. That is not nearly close enough for woodworking. I don’t know if the casting or the machining needs to be altered to fix this on the tool at the factory, but it needs to be remedied. If you get one of these planes and you cannot close the mouth so it’s just a few thousandths open, I recommend you exchange it. I have compared notes with other owners of this tool and they report the same problem. A Stanley official said Tuesday that the company was making some changes at the factory that will remedy this problem.

And the Bed
Another troubling problem with the No. 62 is the bed. With bevel-up planes, getting the bed for the iron so it is in the correct plane is difficult. In talking to the manufacturers of these tools during the last several years, they have commented that a tiny error can render the plane difficult or impossible to use.

When the bed is skewed, one corner of the mouth tends to come down too much. If the error is slight, you can correct this with a little lateral adjustment. If the error is significant, you have to sharpen the iron deliberately out of square to get a consistent shaving. Both versions of the  Stanley No. 62 I inspected had a noticeable problem (a problem that also cropped up in other user’s tools).

You can get a plane with this problem to work, but sharpening a blade with a skew every time is a hassle that I don’t want.

Other Details
The body is machined quite well. The sole is flat enough for precision woodworking with an insignificant .002″ hollow behind the mouth. Dips such as that won’t cause you problems. You don’t have to flatten the sole, but you do have to dress the sharp arrises with a little sandpaper.

The A2 iron is well-ground, easy to set up and holds an edge quite well. The adjuster has a good deal of backlash (1-3/4 turns), but so do many vintage tools; that’s not a deal killer. The cherry knob and tote on one of the planes was a little rough (see photo above). On the other plane the finish was better. The rear tote is chunky, according to the staff members who used the plane in our shop. The front knob has a nice shape but could use some more finish-sanding.

As the tool is made right now, I can’t recommend it. The Lie-Nielsen and Veritas versions eclipse this tool in my opinion. Stanley is actively making improvements to the details of the No. 62, which I will track and report  back on here.

– Christopher Schwarz

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11 thoughts on “Review: Stanley No. 62

  1. Rabanek

    God bless you Chris for your blog and your honest assessment of woodworking tools here. I had a nasty experience with Stanley NO. 62 jack plane which had a mouth gap big enough to put your finger through and skewed bed, so I couldn’t set the blade parallel. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? I made a complaint and after two weeks received an arrogant reply written by a person who apparently new nothing about hand planes stating ‘the plane is void of manufacturing errors’.
    Frustrated I posted a question on my woodworking forum and was directed to your blog where I found your reviews of the plane. It certainly gives me some leverage in further proceedings with the issue.

  2. Martin

    Wow, Mike, I think you’re overreacting just a little. Stanley is a global corporation, not an upstart tool shop in the mountains. The fact that some team of people in that company was able to convince upper management to re-enter the premium plane market is very positive. So they pretty well botched it on their first try. Meh? At least they’re responding to reviews and customers, and attempting to make the necessary improvements.

    I’m just saying let’s wait and see how they handle the criticism before condemning them.

  3. MIke Denny

    How does a product this poorly manufactured make it to the market. Where is there quality control department? Obviously Stanley still does not get it. This is just another black spot on their reputation. A manufacturer of premium products does not allow something of this low caliber to get in the consumers hands. I as I am sure others feel extremely disapointed.

  4. Mike

    If Stanley truly wanted to prove their dedication to quality and integrity in manufacturing they would stop selling the No. 62 until all problems were resolved and they would pull back all No. 2 planes still on the shelf.

    Mike

  5. Glenn Whitener

    I have been waiting for further reviews on the new Stanley plane, so this is nice to read. This tool has exactly the same problem as the low angle block plane that I purchased. The machining and overall heft of the tool is quite nice, but the bed for the blade is completely skewed. As indicated here, I can tilt the lateral adjustment all the way over to one side and get the blade close to parallel with the sole, but then that’s it, there’s nowhere else to go.

    I have not yet contacted Stanley, since the only information that I could find on the plane was on the UK Stanley website, but it’s really frustrating. With no disrespect to the other manufacturers and the great tools they make, I really want to support competition in the premium tool marketplace, but right now, I don’t think that there is any comparison with LN or LV. And bungling a product roll-out like this is just…embarrassing, and especially so when you’re starting from a couple of places behind the market leaders.

  6. Chuck Beck

    I get the feeling that "standing behind their product" is exactly what Stanley is doing. Products shoved out the door without a glance, hoping no one would notice unfinished tools, and wasting a heap of perfectly good iron. Stanley cannot make a tool anymore that doesn’t say,"look what I got at Walmart today."
    chuckbeck

  7. MikeH

    I got pretty excited last year when I first saw the renderings on your blog, but was unsuccessful in obtaining any additional information, whether from the public domain, or by direct communication with Stanley, other than a rather vague e-mail from Stanley advising me that there would be a "slight" delay in bringing the line to market.

    As there was no subsequent information forthcoming from Stanley, the wait became tedious, and I opted for the Veritas LA Jack. The higher price point was absolutely justified and worth every penny, particularly given the review you just published.

    That LV plane quickly became my go to tool of choice and is now without question my favorite hand tool, bar none. My only regret is not having purchased it much earlier, as soon as it was first announced.

    Thanks for the great straight shooting review which unquestionably justifies the seemingly (at the time) tough decision I made late last year.

  8. Michael

    Chris,

    Thank you for the in depth review. I have been waiting for the results of this plane to show themselves. One thing you didn’t mention was whether the side was square to the sole for use as a shooting plane. With the gap in quality greatly out spanning the gap in price I would conciser getting the LA Jack from Lee Valley before looking at the Stanley again.

    I am glad to see that Stanley is standing behind their product and will be implementing manufacturing changes. I’m not in a rush to purchase a LA Jack so I can wait to see what the results of the changes bring.

  9. Shannon Brown

    Every problem you had, I had. I actually took the time to e-mail my grievences to the head of Stanley’s plane division Jack Gauthier. He said he was aware of the problems and they were taking steps to correct them. Once done he would send me a new plane and in the mean time, he’d send me out a new blade. I honestly thought he was full of crap until the new blade arrived in the mail. Now if only that improved plane would come.

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