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.
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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