Chris Schwarz's Blog

The New Stanley Planes Have Arrived

We’re received the much-anticipated new planes from Stanley Works and are beginning to set them up for a review in a future issue of the magazine. In the meantime, here are some of the details on the tools that will help clear up some of the misinformation and confusion on the Internet.

The Stanley No. 4 Bench Plane
The No. 4 smoothing plane (model #12-136) is the most radical design departure for Stanley, so let’s start there. Instead of having a movable frog, the bed and base are cast as one piece. This reduces the opportunity for chatter.

To open and close the mouth of the tool, you move a plate in front of the mouth just like in a block plane. It has been erroneously reported that this is a bevel-up tool. It is not. It is a traditional bevel-down tool.

Other interesting details: The 2″-wide A2 iron is .128″ thick and wedded to a chipbreaker that looks a lot like the Lie-Nielsen Improved Chipbreaker design. That is, instead of a springy piece of metal, Stanley has opted for a more robust piece of steel with a small lip at the end, which mates with the iron.

The blade-adjustment mechanism is a Norris-style adjuster , it controls both the depth of the cut and the lateral position of the iron in the mouth of the tool. Behind the adjuster is a brass knob that locks the lateral adjustment in place. I’ve never seen this feature on a tool before. The lock prevents the lateral-adjustment mechanism from moving but still allows the depth to be adjusted. I think this is ingenious.

The cap on the blade assembly is made of a lightweight material that resembles aluminum , I’ll need to check with Stanley to see what it actually is made from. The plane weighs in at 5 pounds. Stanley officials said the tool will cost $179.99.

The Low-angle Jack Plane
The low-angle jack (model #12-137) shares a lot of DNA with the No. 4 plane above. It has a one-piece bed for the iron, the same adjustable-mouth mechanism and a Norris-style adjuster (though it doesn’t have a lock for the lateral adjustment).

It also uses a 2″-wide A2 iron, however it is 3/16″ thick (with no chipbreaker, naturally). The lever cap is the same material as on the No. 4. The plane weighs in at 4 pounds 14 ounces and will cost $179.99, according to Stanley.

In addition to these two planes, we also received the two block planes (one low-angle and one standard angle), which will be $99 each. We’re still waiting on the shoulder plane ($149.99).

Expect a full review in the October 2009 issue of Popular Woodworking and details in Woodworking Magazine. Like my recent review of the new Wood River and Borg planes in the June 2009 issue of Popular Woodworking, this review of the new Stanleys will be in the print edition only. Sorry about that, but we still have to make a living around here and offer the best content for the subscribers.

– Christopher Schwarz

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19 thoughts on “The New Stanley Planes Have Arrived

  1. jim williams

    I just got back from lie neilsen in maine,I spoke with thomas(the owner) he was willing to show me himself how to sharpen by hand one of his planes,will stanley do that???

  2. Peter Michaud

    Stanley’s new #62 "Premium" plane? (revised – July 08,09)
    Well folks, last month I got my own new Stanley #62 from Woodcraft.

    If you care to know, here are my thoughts…

    The packaging was excellent, it came in a beautiful, printed, Stanley-yellow box. Inside is a plane wrapped in wax paper and plastic liner. The plane was slightly oiled to prevent rust.

    The positive side (my story):
    The adjustable mouth is excellently well machined and works as it should. The sole and side finish are fine grind, straight, somewhat flat and relatively square. But, the side-sole corners was a bit on the sharp side, I filed it a bit round. The cast aluminum alloy cap iron is similar to a Lee Valley with real brass knobs.

    The negative side (my story):
    The plane is shaped like the original #62 but the lateral adjustment lever lacks finesse, it is extremely loose. The blade ramp was a bit rough from machining, some burrs was left, it needed some filing smooth. The "already" scary-sharp A2 blade is 3/16 thick! But it’s so wide, the lateral adjustment is nearly useless. So I had to grind the blade at the top width to give it some lateral play.

    It is made in Mexico, and I’m wondering if the plant workers know what and why they are doing these planes. Stanley Works could have done better on the quality. I’m guessing the original fabricators are all retired. The original #62 was last made by Stanley, in Connecticut, in 1942.

    The cherry handle and tote are nowhere near the original Stanley shapes, they are a bit on the bulky side, mine is two tone cherry, which looks great. I guess they made them big enough so you can shape it to your own comfort like the galoots use to do!

    Other than this plane made from Ductile Iron, to say the least, this #62 is nowhere near the quality: of the original Stanley #62 or even a Lie-Nielsen #62. If you can’t afford a L-N #62 or an original Stanley #62, this is a good plane to buy but be prepared for some fiddling and lapping, I spent 4 hours doin’ so.

    They are available for $179.99 from Hartville Tools and Woodcraft.

    If Stanley Works is reading this, I would have cast the Stanley name at the front toe and No62 on the heal like the original! Why not? The only brand name is cast on the cap iron and etched on the rear-right side, the latter is not a good idea since a #62 is used a lot on it’s side with a shooting board jig… so the etching will eventually wear off.

    With so much history in plane casting and fabricating (since 1843 – printed on the box!), Stanley should have done WAY better. I wonder if our ancestors had to do so much fiddling on a new plane, way back then…

    I called Stanley’s 800 number to register my plane for warranty and to get another blade (for a steeper grind angle) at first the operator thought I was back from the past, future or whatever …nobody knew a newer model #62 existed!!! Finally after some waiting, according to them, no parts are available at this time, they are casting other premium models now. Some parts will be available later.

    I also called Woodcraft (great service by-the-way! Thanks Bob) They said to make the necessary adjustments to the plane, if you still don’t like it, you have 90 days to ship it back.

    -which I did! It’s simply not the expected plane, for $40 more you can get yourself a new Lee-Valley or Lie-Nielsen 62 Low-angle, better quality, no fiddling, no lapping, no sweat… ready to use plane!!!

    Another note to point out is that the lateral adjustment lever is exactly the same as a Lee-Valley, but much-much looser, ain’t no fine adjustments there, as the treads on the adjustments are coarse! L-V are fine-treads! To my knowledge, their ain’t much "Premium" on these planes, other than the cost!!!

    What do you think? Am I the only plane-struck dude loving planes? Meanwhile, I’m sticking with L-N, L-V and Antique Stanleys…

    Pete

  3. MIke Denny

    I am really interested in seeing the new shoulder plane. I need one and might be interested in buying one if it turns out to be a good plane. Go Stanley! It would be great to have them as a competetor in the premium plane market.

  4. Harris

    Agree with Bill and Todd,
    Were the knobs and totes designed by a Chimp or a Chump? (no offense to the animal kingdom). Why didn’t Stanley use the design that was around for a hundred years that was prized and appreciated by hundreds of thousands of craftsmen. I’ve got a #3 with no finish that I love to feel in my hand. The blade-adjustment mechanism is brilliant as is the lateral adjustment lock — how could they be so right with these design efforts and bungle the woodwork soooo badly? Hopefully the metal work is accurate and some one can start up an ‘after market’ business of decent knobs and totes.
    Harris

  5. Mike Siemsen

    Didn’t we copy the Chinese a while back? Chippendale and the Green Brothers spring to mind. I thought the Stanley was stuff was out of Mexico so at least it is still North America.
    Mike

  6. David Gendron

    Nice blend of LN and Veritas… Like the tote and the Norisse adjuster from Veritas, the chipp bracker frm LN…
    Over all nice looking tools… Let see how they perform!!
    David

  7. JC

    so no one holds any grudge against a company for selling trash for over a generation? I’d pay a few dollars more to support a company that will work closely with their customers and has never treated their customers as fools that can be taken advantage of. I may be overly harsh on them, but these are my feelings. these planes would have to be far superior or far less expensive to justify a purchase.

  8. Todd Yetter

    I agree with you, Bill – the knob and tote look awful. The workmanship on them looks poor, both in design and finish.

    I am curious as to how square they will be; also, am concerned about the cast-in frog (Square? Warpage issues?). Aside from the handles and totes, these planes look awesome. I REALLY hope they are as good as they promise to be.

    Todd

  9. JC_Collier

    Boffo to Stanley! Let’s make some shavings.

    always,
    J.C.

    P.S. I still won’t be giving up my type 11 Stanleys and my elder Bed Rocks. Sorry.

  10. Kip

    Locking the lateral adjustment is a great idea! It’s the fussiest adjustment to make and the easiest to accidentally disturb. Well done Stanley!
    (Now just please stop running those awful digitally altered looking ads for macho random-orbit sanders.)

  11. Swanz

    Competition’s a good thing. The more the merrier..Looking forward to the review. I’m sure they’ll be many others reviewing these new planes.

  12. Michael D.

    Those looks decently made, and appear to be more ready "off the shelf" than some of the turn of the century Stanley planes (where you’d typically have to at least replace the iron).

    Looking forward to the review in October’s Pop Woodworking magazine. I wonder how well they will be able to keep these things in stock? I see some price pressure for some other high end plane manufacturers. I won’t mention their names, but we all know who I’m talking about!

  13. Bill

    Overall they look pretty decently made, but man those totes are bud-tugly. I can feel a blister coming on just looking at them.

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