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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