It looks like the folks in New Britain, Conn., want to get things right.
After Stanley’s first generation of the No. 62 low-angle jack plane had some problems,
including a fatal bed error and a mouth that wouldn’t close, the
company sent me a replacement. It had the same problems. And New Britain
fell silent for a while.
Then a box showed up unannounced filled
with more of the Stanley planes. I set up and started using the Stanley
No. 92 shoulder plane. I have found it to be a good user tool, once I
did a little tweaking to it. (Complete story here.)
the last few weeks I’ve been messing with the newest version of the No.
62. As always, there is good news and bad. Let’s begin with the good.
plane actually works. The bed of the tool is machined correctly so that
you can adjust the iron laterally and center it in the mouth. Also, the
mouth area has been reworked, so you can close up the mouth all the
way. The fit and finish on the metal and wood is greatly improved. This
one actually looks like a premium handplane instead of one of the tools
that the low-rent factories churn out.
The A2 iron (made in
England) is excellent, but then so was the iron on the first two No. 62s
I tried. The cutter is easy to set up, its hardness is within spec and
it holds an edge just fine.
Today I set to work with the newest
tool to give it a serious test-drive. I processed five boards for a
project I’m working on from a rough state all the way to their final
And that’s where I found a couple things about the tool that I wasn’t fond of.
use, the tool performed just fine. The sole is flat enough to take thin
shavings for smoothing. And the iron is bedded well enough that you can
hog off material without wrecking the tool’s setting. But after an hour
of planing, my right wrist became quite sore. The rear tote is thick,
wide and quite upright – very much like the Veritas bevel-up jack plane.
This style of rear tote has never suited me. I prefer the older
style that is thinner and rakes more forward. Perhaps I’ll get used to
this Stanley tool in time and I’ll adjust my grip and right arm to suit
the tool – that happens all the time. If you like the Veritas tote,
you’ll be pleased with this one. If you like the old-school Stanley
tote, you might end up with a sore wrist like I did.
that in all tools, the shape and position of the grip is fairly
subjective and that you can fix it somewhat with some rasps, so take my
criticism with a grain of salt.
My one major complaint with the
tool (and the other Stanley tools in this line) is with the lever cap. It’s
made from a super-lightweight material – the cap weighs only .12 lbs. –
and it just feels cheap. It will still tension the tool like it is
supposed it, but I just don’t care for it.
logical question at this point is where this tool, at $180, is compared
to its competitors. I think it’s still a notch below the Lie-Nielsen
($245) and Veritas ($220) versions, though only for aesthetic reasons.
The brass knobs aren’t as finished. The casting is a little rougher –
stuff like that.
With a couple changes, Stanley has made a fully
functional premium tool. Now it will be interesting to see if the
company continues to improve the line.
— Christopher Schwarz
Other Handplane Nerdiness
• “Handplane Essentials”
is my personal geek-fest on this important tool. It’s 312 pages of
reviews, techniques and history. And it’s available in our store here. I
also have a companion DVD, “Handplane Basics,” that shows how to process lumber by hand with a plane.
• Have you been to Handplane Central (www.handplane.com)? It’s a great place to waste some time.
• Wkfinetools.com has a bunch of my reviews for free. These were written for The Fine Tool Journal. Check them out at http://wkfinetools.com/contrib/cSchwarz/cSchwarz-index.asp