This plane has no number cast on it. It is a rectangular, box-shaped plane sold as a high quality tool designed for the finer work of piano making and cabinet making. Its sides are ground flat and are square with the sole so that the plane can be used on its side (to function as a shooting plane and fine endgrain work) either right or left handed. The exterior of the tool is bare machined metal while the inside of the plane is japanned. The cutter is pitched at about 20 degrees and is bedded in the plane bevel side up.
It has a rear knob, made of rosewood, which is secured onto a metal extension that is itself screwed into the body of the plane. Always check where the body and the extension piece are screwed together for stress cracks. The force on the plane, as it's pushed, often breaks the casting here.
The mouth is adjustable. There is a round-headed screw on the top of the tool, toward the throat, to set the mouth as fine as the user wishes (within its limits). If this screw is tightened too much, it can crack the casting. A washer was added to overcome this problem on later models.
There is a sausage-shaped and nickel plated side handle, often called the 'hot dog', which attaches with a screw on either side of the plane. This handle is often missing, but the earliest model of the plane never had it. There are reproduction side handles available. The original handle is easy to distinguish from the reproduction - the original is cast and is hollow inside whereas the reproduction is milled from round stock and shows machining marks inside it. It's a good idea to remove the side handle before purchasing the plane (unless it's priced ridiculously low) to inspect the side rail for any cracks or missing chunks which the side handle can easily hide.
The lever cap is specially designed for this plane. It looks like a conventional bench plane's lever cap, but its neck (the narrowest part of the cap) is longer than the common lever caps used on the bench planes. Unscrupulous dealers will use a #4 lever cap as a replacement. Just make sure the pivot point of the lever rests near the back wall of the plane's body, where the handle extension screws into the body. The latest lever caps will have "STANLEY" cast into them.
Like all the block planes made by Stanley, the cutter for this model is bedded with its bevel up. Since this plane used a conventional bench plane cutter, the company logo that's stamped at the heel (top) of the iron isn't visible when looking at the plane from above. Stanley would stamp their logo on some of the irons destined for this plane with the logo on the bevel side as well, making for irons that have the logo on both sides. This same treatment can also be found on the planes #11, #11 1/2, and #25.
The cutter has an adjustment mechanism based upon the same style as that used on the bench planes - a y-shaped fork engages a slot in the 'cap iron' and is adjusted by means of a brass nut. An early model of the plane (up to the late 1890's) has its brass nut travel in a direction perpendicular to the heel of the plane, whereas the later model has the brass nut travel perpendicular to the cutter. There was never a lateral adjustment mechanism offered on the plane.
The 'cap iron' on this tool is really not a cap iron, in the conventional sense, like those used on the bench planes. Instead, this 'cap iron' only serves to engage the y-shaped fork so that the cutter can take advantage of the patented adjusting mechanism. This 'cap iron' is a rectangular shaped piece of steel (the short ends have a small convex radius to them), about 1" x 2" in dimension. The same 'cap iron' is also found on the #11, the #11 1/2, the #25, and the #164.
There are several very early examples of this tool, when Leonard Bailey himself was making them, which have markedly different adjusting mechanisms than the models that Stanley produced. The very first model didn't come equipped with any rear grip (no rosewood knob). The knob was soon added, probably soon after Bailey's complaint department was flooded with death threats from unhappy users of this plane - just looking at it will make your hands bleed.
This plane is modelled after similar English planes (Spiers-type) and after the New York City area planemakers (Brandt, Erlandsen, Popping, et al). While certainly a clever and nicely made plane, it is a distant runnerup when compared with those that inspired it. It attempted to be too much, when it didn't need to be. The other planes had no contraptions for adjusting their cutters - they excelled because they were simple, well crafted, and accurate.
This is the first in a series of block planes, which Stanley offered in practically every shape and color. Buying a block plane, as we are about to see, was almost like buying an automobile, where options galore were available to Mr. Planebuyer of yesteryear.
Stanley, in their marketing propaganda, claimed that "A Block Plane was first made to meet the demand for a Plane which could be easily held in one hand while planing across the grain, particularly the ends of boards, etc. This latter work many Carpenters call 'Blocking in', hence the name 'Block' Plane." This, if it is to be believed, dispells the myth that block planes are so named because they were first used on butcher's blocks.
This is a general purpose block plane (one of many). It has its iron bedded at 20 degrees. The iron is adjustable both for depth and lateral positions. The mouth is non-adjustable, which is the distinguishing 'feature' that sets it apart from the more useful #9 1/2. The fixed mouth of this plane makes it rather unpopular when pitted against Stanley's other block planes, most of which have adjustable mouths. The plane has a brass front knob that screws into the main casting - the knob is sometimes missing in action. The area of the casting into which the knob threads sometimes chips or cracks, and it should be checked for that damage, if you're collecting the thing, but if you're using it, the damage isn't severe enough to prevent the plane from working.
As is the case for most of the Stanley block planes, the earliest models were japanned (black). Later production planes were finished with a very dark blue paint starting in the early 1960's. The latest production used a very deep red as a finish. The same progression of paints can also be found on the bench planes.
Refer to the #9 1/2 for the details of construction, use, and problem areas with this plane, and most of the 20 degree pitch block planes that Stanley cranked out in all sorts of configurations.
This is a general purpose block plane, and is probably Stanley's most popular one they offered. Unless this plane was your great grandpappy's, it's usually best to ignore those examples that are all rusted or are missing parts. It's such a common plane (in its post-1890's configuration) that you'll run across a better example.
Pictured here, along with Santa Claus, is the typical configuration of the plane that you're likely to encounter (details below). The box, with its faux birch paper, is known as the Christmas box and was designed to display the tool in a hardware store setting during the Holiday Seasons of the late 1940's and early 1950's. Santa Claus was not shipped with the plane. An unemployed Salvation Army Santa - we found him roaming the streets dejected - was offered the opportunity to pose with the tool and graciously accepted (note: Santa isn't to scale, here).
The iron is placed into the plane bevel side up. An iron that's oriented bevel-up offers advantages when planing difficult woods or endgrain; it's possible to support a greater length of the iron, preventing its flexing, on a plane designed to carry its iron bevel-up than a plane designed to carry its iron bevel-down. The iron is pitched at 20 degrees. The iron's pitch and orientation make a cap iron unnecessary, and impractical for that matter.
The plane underwent several modifications over its long life. The first model is a very primitive looking chunk of iron, with an iron that extends up and behind the tool making for a very uncomfortable grip. This model has a flat lever cap, with a cammed lever at its top, which resembles the lever caps used on the bench planes. The mouth piece is held in place with a round-headed screw. The arched sides of the plane's main casting are curved irregularly and are situated toward the back. This style of casting is often referred to as the 'Excelsior' design.
The discomfort of using the plane was soon addressed by the redesign of the lever cap. The new lever cap has a raised and curved portion cast at its back so that it fits more comfortably into the palm. It also has the characteristic three arches cast down near the leading edge of the cap along with a dimpled exterior where the palm rests. Even this new design was tough to grip since the iron, with its angular heel, was in the way. It wasn't until the late-1800's when the heel of the iron was replaced with a curved one.
Various redesigns of the lever cap were made to address its fragility and to make it more comfortable. One such redesign placed the cammed lever below the lever cap so that it sits between the lever cap and iron. This design suffers breakage on the lever since it is relatively long in order for it to be accessible from below and behind the lever cap. During the late-1890's, the lever cap underwent its final modification, where the cammed lever was made accessible on top of the lever cap with the lever pointing toward the toe (the earliest examples can be found with "PAT'D 10-12-97" cast in a circle where the lever is pinned to the lever cap). This new design allowed the length of the lever to be reduced, thereby decreasing the possibility of its breaking. It also permitted the lever cap to be as long as the cutter, eliminating its arching upward, making for a more comfortable grip. It took Stanley a while to get to this point, but once they did, they stuck with it.
The model most often encountered is the one offered from ca. 1895 onward. It is distinguishable by the oval depressions milled into the exterior of the arched sides. These are known as the "Hand-y" grip. The arched sides on most examples are symmetrical and are situated along the middle of the sides, but there are some examples of the Excelsior design that have the Hand-y grip. The Hand-y grip feature soon proved very popular, and was applied to practically every block plane in Stanley's arsenal. The feature was dropped for a short time during WWII, possibly because Stanley was using the machinery to mill the same grip on Howitzer shells so GI's wouldn't drop them on their feet. The Hand-y grip was also offered on a few of the shorter, handle-less transitional (wood bottom) planes, which are very rarely encountered.
Prior to the patent for the lateral adjustment mechanism, as specified for the common bench planes, these block planes only permitted the iron to be adjusted endwise to regulate the depth of cut. The earliest mechanism is a lever, located beneath the iron, which engages stopped parallel grooves milled into the back of the iron via a vertical pin. Moving the lever laterally side-to-side, raises or lowers the iron. It also puts a lot of stress on the pin, which can snap it off or wear it away. Plus, the lever also has a pin on its bottom to slip into a hole in the boss that carries it. Because it's not permanently attached to the plane, it's possible to find planes with this lever missing in action.
This mechanism proved to be rather fragile and was difficult to access so Stanley redesigned it. The solution that they came upon is a threaded post adjustment mechanism and started offering it during the early 1880's. This post is screwed into a raised boss in the main casting. On the post a brass nut traverses up and down, parallel to the sole, as the nut is turned. The nut engages a forked lever, which in turn engages the grooves in the back of the cutter. As the nut is turned to move it upward, the lever lowers the cutter to increase its set. Moving the nut downward, naturally, decreases the set. Make sure that this nut moves freely over the entire length of the threaded post.
Stanley decided to have some fun with these adjusting nuts, as some are a right hand thread while others are a left hand thread. Almost all of the planes with the Hand-y grip have the left hand thread. All the Excelsior style planes have a right hand thread. This tidbit of information is only important if you're looking for replacement parts for the adjusting mechanism, or if you're looking for the locking nut used on the #9 3/4 and #15 1/2.
You want to be sure that the two nibs on the fork, where they engage the parallel machined grooves cut into the backside of the cutter, are not broken or worn away. Otherwise, the adjustment mechanism is useless. Also, check about the boss that receives the threaded post for any breakage. Sometimes, the post loosens over time; usually, just by wiggling the post you can tell whether it is seated into the boss well. It can be tightened by screwing it back into the boss, but take care not to damage its threads.
The lateral adjustment lever that was a raging success on the bench planes was a feature that the block planes could also use. It took Stanley a bit of time to add the lever, but they eventually did during the early 1890's.
The lateral adjustment lever pivots on the lever cap screw, onto which the lever cap engages. In fact, the lever screws onto the lever cap screw, which is itself screwed into a boss in the main casting. The lateral adjustment lever has a disk at its end nearest the mouth, and it fits into a slot cut into the iron. It very much resembles the business end of the lateral adjustment lever found on the common bench planes. The back of the lever is bent downward, in a gradual curvature toward the sole so that it doesn't dig into your hand during use. Sometimes, the lateral adjustment lever has been bent so that it can't clear the threaded post. If this is the case, you can simply bend the lateral lever about its downward curve up a bit so that sufficient clearance results. The lateral adjustment lever often has its patent date and/or "STANLEY" stamped into it.
The earliest planes have an adjustable mouth that uses a slotted screw - you'll need a screwdriver to adjust it, if you dare to use this most valuable model of the tool. This clumsy adjustment method certainly must have flooded the complaint department at Stanley, so the mouth was made adjustable by means of a brass knob (the presence of nickel plating signifies that it's a different model). The knob is threaded to the sliding section, and by unscrewing the knob the sliding section can be moved forward or backward. The knob is then tightened to lock the sliding section in place. You should check the threads of the knob to make sure they aren't stripped for if they are, your sliding section will slip out of your sole and possibly into oblivion.
During the late-1890's, an eccentric lever was provided to adjust the mouth (the earliest examples will have the patent date, "PAT FEB 20 94", stamped in them). This little device soon was applied to every block plane that was equipped with an adjustable mouth. It's really a simple little device - a flat piece of steel, with an extension for your finger, pivots on a pin which fits into a hole behind the knob. This piece is not held captive to the plane, and it's very easy to lose. If you see a small hole immediately behind the knob, your plane is missing its eccentric lever. Also be sure to check the eccentric lever to see if it has its post that fits into the casting. Strangely, many of the levers are still on the planes but don't have the post.
You should check that the eccentric lever is proper for the plane by sliding it to the left and right, making sure that the sliding section of the sole moves within the acceptable range. Because this lever was often removed from the plane (the owner simply found it easier to adjust the sole without it), and because the same lever was offered on the smaller block planes, it's sometimes possible to find planes with an improper lever - a lever from the smaller #60 1/2 will not permit the sole to be adjusted over as wide a range as a proper one will.
The sliding section of the sole is oftentimes jammed into the plane so that it no longer moves freely. The usual cause of this is that either oxidation has frozen it in place or that crud has become lodged between it and the main casting. To overcome this common problem you first need to free the sliding section from the main casting. This is easily done by first backing off the knob that holds it in place with a few turns, then pushing the knob downward with your thumb. The piece should pop free, but if it doesn't, take more drastic measures like penetrating oil or light taps from a hammer. Save the dynamite as last resort. I've never found one that ultimately didn't come free with a piece of wood (stood on its endgrain) positioned in the mouth (from the top of the plane) and then tapped with a hammer.
Once free, clean out any of the crud that's accumulated over the years. Check that the boss cast into the sliding section, which receives the knob, isn't broken. Curiously, many of them are.
If the sliding section doesn't move freely, you can do a bit of plane surgery to remedy the ailment. With some fine abrasive paper on a flat surface, rub the edges of the sliding section back and forth a few times to remove any oxidation or burrs. Take the same paper and rub the milled tracks of the main casting. Don't overdo it since you will introduce some slop in what's usually a fine fit. Reattach the part to the main casting and it will slide freely.
Make sure that the sliding section hasn't been modified, where the portion that's closest to the iron isn't ground. For some strange reason, some of these block planes can be found with their sliding sections ground shorter than when they left the factory. Planes with modified sliding sections will not be capable of having their mouths set finely. The sliding section should nearly touch the iron when the section is moved backward to close the mouth. If it doesn't, the piece has been ground. If you do have an example with a ground sliding section, and are planning to locate a replacement part, take care when doing so; the replacement section my be too thick or thin, and not lie in the same plane as the rest of the sole. I've yet to find a block plane that can accept a sliding section taken from another block plane without some modification.
By far the most common damage found on the plane, as well as on all models of block planes, is stress cracks that run from the mouth and up the side(s) of the tool. These cracks are most often found on the earlier, pre-1890's, models since their sides are not cast to a uniform thickness; they taper along their edge just like the earlier bench planes do. This was a very common area for the plane to break so Stanley made the later models with their sides cast to a uniform thickness. Often, these stress cracks are invisible under the oxidation. It's only when you give them a cleaning that you notice the damage. Don't sweat it if yours is broken here - you're not the first, nor will you be the last, to buy such damaged goods.
Another common form of damage is cracks or breaks to the lever cap, in the area where it arches to fit into your palm. Cracks here are really no big deal, but missing chunks might yield bloody palms. Fortunately, there are plenty of lever caps that can be salvaged from the googleplex of block planes out there.
The planes have a japanned finish, with the brass knob and depth adjusting nut all buffed to shine. The lateral adjustment lever and eccentric lever are often nickeled, but later ones are just stamped from steel and buffed. The plane commonly has its model number stamped into the left side of the main casting, down toward the sole. None of the Stanley block planes came with corrugations milled into the sole. A few of the mid-1920's planes can be found with the day-glo orange paint on the eccentric adjuster and inside the front knob. This had to be a phase that Stanley was going through as some of the contemporary bench planes have the sides of their frogs finished with the same color paint.
This plane is identical to the #9 1/2, except that it has a detachable rear handle. The handle is a metal extension that fits around and is fixed to the same threaded vertical post that the depth adjustment nut is. A locking nut is screwed onto the post and then is tightend over two metal prongs on the handle. The handle can be removed to suit the workman's use simply by backing off the locking nut with the end of a screwdriver. The locking nut has four "lobes" on it making it resemble an "x".
Because Stanley was never satisfied to leave well enough alone, they changed the width of the boss onto which the pivotting lever (the one that engages the underside of the cutter) fastens. This subtle design change meant a similar change in the detachable handle; the distance between the two prongs had to be increased just a hair so that the prongs can slip around the boss. This minor point is only mentioned in the event that you have a handle and you're trying to fit it to a plane. Do not ever force the handle or file it if it doesn't fit - you have an earlier two prong handle that needs to go on an earlier version of the plane.
The metal extension has a turned rosewood knob that fits into the palm of the hand, allowing the plane to be worked more comfortably with both hands. The earliest versions of the plane use the common threaded rod and brass nut to secure the rosewood knob to the the extension piece. On later models, the rosewood knob is tapped and screws directly onto the threads cast into the metal extension. On these later models, the knob can strip and become loose over time. The usual quick fix was to jam a shaving or a piece of cloth into the knob and then allow friction to work its magic.
Prior to the introduction of the threaded vertical post, the metal extension piece was screwed right to the main casting, beneath the iron. This model is comparatively scarce, and was only made for a few short years. It can be identified easily by a screw hole at its end and an open casting that gives the appearance of two ribs projecting from the knob. This style of handle was used only on the two earliest models of the plane, from 1872 to about 1875. Check these handles carefully for cracks over their length.
Most of the metal extensions are japanned, but the very earliest ones have a copper flashing to them, which is usually long gone and hard to find today. Be careful that the knob is proper, and not one lifted from a #45. The #45's knob (referring to the model that threads the knob onto the fence's casting in the same manner as it is on the block plane's extension handle) is a hair small in its diameter and doesn't have the ring turned at its base.
This plane is sometimes called the 'jack rabbet' due to its similarity to the common jack plane. It looks identical to a conventional #5, except that it has a rabbet mouth. The rabbet mouth is two cutouts in the plane's sides, just to the left and right of the iron. The iron extends through these cutouts and across the entire width of the sole. These planes have always been popular, with their full adjustment features identical to those found on the bench planes.
They were used for cutting large rabbets in heavy timbers for framing in the mining, carriagemaking, etc., professions. Since the plane has a rabbet mouth, and because it was designed for heavy use, many of them have stress fractures in the casting right above the rabbet mouth, where the sides arch upward. Many of them have been repaired with a welding, which sticks out like a sore thumb, usually, but some repairs are very good and can go undetected. The planes also seem to suffer chipping/cracking along their side walls, especially about the toe and heel. The earlier models, with their tapered side walls, are more prone to this chipping/cracking than the later ones are.
Another thing to check on these planes is their irons. Because of the rabbet mouth, there isn't nearly enough space to make an iron that is as long as those found on the conventional bench planes - the sides of the plane prevent it from being as long as the others. Be sure to check that there is enough 'meat' or life left to the iron. Finding replacements that are proper to the vintage of your plane can be tough. Also, the cap iron should cover the full width of the iron along the cutting edge. If it doesn't, it's a replacement from a normal bench planes.
Removing the irons from this plane, and the #10 1/2, is a bit of a trick. They cannot be removed through the mouth, and they are prevented from being removed as you normally would an iron by the sides of the plane. To remove the iron, then, you must first tip it up so that it clears the lever cap screw, then slide it to either side of the plane, and then lift the opposite side up, sort of in a twisting fashion, until one side of the iron clears the cutout in the side of the plane.
Stanley recognized the problem with removing or returning the iron from or to the plane. Returning the iron to the plane needs a bit of attention so that you don't nick the edge, ruining the honing effort that took you hours to get. To overcome this problem, Stanley redesigned the cap iron and the way it was attached to the iron. A small screw was positioned on top of the cap iron so that once removed, the iron would slip through the mouth easily. Problem solved, or so Stanley thought. This short-lived (ca. late 1880's) feature proved to be a problem when reassembling the iron - trying to position the cap iron properly on the iron, while both are in the plane proved to be awkward and difficult. They soon dropped the design for the normal method of attaching the cap iron (the screw is behind the iron and is only accessible with the iron removed from the plane).
These planes, along with the fractional versions of it, never came equipped with the frog adjusting screw that's found on the bench planes. In fact, all the frog redesigns made to the bench planes never made it to this line; the bench rabbets retain their flat mating surfaces between the frog and the main casting. However, the planes did follow the changes made to the lever cap, the adjusting screw, the knob, and the tote that were done to the bench planes (see their type study for more features).
As is the case with all rabbet planes, a batten is normally fastened to the work at the desired with of the rabbet. The batten then guides the plane along its path to yield a straight cut. The depth of the rabbet is normally marked with a common marking gauge. For cross grain work, the rabbet's shoulder is usually cut with a saw prior to using the plane since this plane doesn't come equipped with a spur to score the grain.
If you ever need a lever cap for this plane, or the other bench rabbets that follow, the #3's will work. The old style #3 frog also fits the plane; i.e., the frog that doesn't have a notch (to fit over the alignment rib in the main casting) milled at its lower edge.
The corrugated version of the #10. A brute of a dude, who had taken to planing rabbets in heavy timbers as a career, certainly didn't need any 'girlie-man' corrugations in the sole to make his job any easier. This may be one of the reasons for the scarcity of the corrugated model of this plane.
This plane is identical to the #10, except that it has a tilting tote and knob. This idea was first patented by a guy who added tilting wood to regular #10's because he found that your knuckles got all smashed when planing large rabbets. Stanley, being the nice guys they were to their competition, decided they could do it themselves, and made their own version of it thereby making the originator of the idea a footnote in the history of planes.
The tote and knob each sit atop a rounded casting that holds a coarsely knurled metallic cylinder. The usual securing rods for the tote and knob are screwed into these knurled cylinders. At the top of each securing rod is a slotted nut, which is tightened to secure the tote and knob in a slanted position, tilted from the vertical, that the user finds comfortable. The slotted nuts are often mangled from repeated use.
Often the wooden parts, especially the lower portion of the tote, are found cracked or broken off around their bases from years of use. The wooden parts are custom made for this plane, so trying to salvage a tote or a knob from a standard jack plane is pointless; original totes and knobs have a concave bottom so that they can fit over their respective convex portions of the main casting.
The same problem of stress fractures about the sides of the bottom casting, as found on the #10, also happens with these planes.
Two retractable spurs, one on each side of the plane, are used to score the wood before the iron cuts it. These spurs help to eliminate ratty edges on the rabbet, especially when working across the grain. The spurs are attached to the plane with small countersunk screws. The screws often show signs of mangling from repeated use. The earliest models of this plane do not have these spurs. It's interesting that Stanley only offered these spurs on this plane, and not the other bench rabbet planes. Perhaps they realized that they made a mistake by offering this tool and to save face they added the spur feature to boost sales by making them really different from the #10 and #10 1/2. Sounds good to me, at least. In any event, the spurs certainly assist the plane when cutting across the grain, making for a clean shoulder.
I've seen a WWII model of this plane, where hard rubber, instead of brass, was used for the cutter's depth adjustment knob and the tote and knob are hardwood instead of rosewood. There is no nickel plating on the lever cap. With this plane's sales being rather anemic from its introduction, it seems strange that Stanley would even make a Warlwartwotype (pronounced properly as a single syllable). Planing large timbers during WWII certainly had to be a lost 'art' in the States, but maybe not so in the Orient. Perhaps Stanley kept up the production of the plane in anticipation of the building of a bridge over the river Kwai, or something?
Corrugated version of the #10 1/4. Putting corrugations on a plane, which probably was better left on the drawing board in the first place, makes for a very rare plane. This is a tough one to find, one of the toughest of all Stanley planes, so be careful of the modern artisan's craftiness.
This is sometimes called the 'smooth rabbet' since it is the same size as a #4, however in some of Stanley's earlier propaganda this plane and the #10 are both simply called a "Carriage Maker's Rabbet". The usual problems with the #10, and the other bench planes, are also found on this guy. The most common form of damage are cracks and/or repairs to the cheeks of the tool, located just above the cutouts for the cutter.
The earliest models have an adjustable mouth, very much like those found on the common block planes, but the entire section of the sole ahead of the iron moves. Adjustable mouth versions are much scarcer than the non-adjustable mouth versions, and were only offered for about the first ten years of the plane's production.
The mouth is adjusted by turning the front knob, sliding the knob forward or backward, and then tightening the knob; this action moves the entire sole ahead of the iron. The casting that receives the front knob's screw is sometimes broken so take the plane apart to inspect this. The repetitive adjustment to the mouth also puts wear and tear on the rosewood knob; many of them are split or are chipped at their bases. I've seen some of these early models with a metallic disk under the knob in an attempt to overcome the chipping that the knobs suffer; this disk appears original and is similar to the one used on the #62.
Corrugated version of the #10 1/2. It never came with an adjustable mouth, to the best of my knowledge. Because this plane is much more valuable than its non-corrugated brother, be careful of counterfeit corrugations.
Hey, if you're into making, or repairing, the belting used for driving machinery, get with it, will ya? We're about to enter a new century never mind a millenium, too! But for those of you who want the frightening details, read on....
The cutter is positioned bevel side up, and is bedded ~25 degrees. There is no cap iron proper on the plane, but it does have a small cap screwed to the top of the cutter, like the #9, #25, and #164 do, so that the tool can take advantage of the Bailey adjustment features like those found on the common bench planes. The y-shaped adjusting fork engages a slot in the small cap. This slot is oriented toward the heel, not the cutting edge, of the iron.
It seems that those who practiced the beltmaking trade were a trifle bit spastic - many of these planes have broken adjusting forks. This problem resulted from insufficient pressure, via the lever cap, being placed on the iron, when it had a rank set. When the iron started its cut, it immediately jumped backward which then strained the adjusting fork where it makes contact with the brass depth adjustment knob, causing it to snap. If you plan to resurrect the beltmaking trade, and your plane has a broken adjusting fork, you will have to replace it with a fork from another #11 (or #11 1/2) - the adjusting forks from the bench planes are not interchangeable with this model.
Sometimes, insufficient pressure on the iron will cause the back part of the casting to snap off or crack, where the threaded rod fits into the casting. Broken chunks off the casting are easy to spot, but to see the stress cracks takes a keener eye. Look closely about the rear of the plane. Take the iron out of the plane and look (from the inside of the casting) where the rod meets the casting to see if any stress cracks have developed.
The plane looks very similar to the #12, and has a turned hardwood (most often maple) handle that is perpendicular and parallel to the plane's sole. The handle is screwed to the plane's main casting with two round-headed srews, each of which screws into a cast boss. Check that these bosses are not chipped or cracked.
The cutter is secured in place by a lever cap that is identical to those used on the transitional wooden bench planes (see their listing for a description). The entire main casting, except its sole and the machined bed, are japanned.
The mouth is adjustable to satisfy the beltmaker's craving for tearout free planing, something that's mandatory when planing leather or fabric belting. NOT! A small casting functions as the sliding section found on the common block planes. It's secured to the main casting with two round-headed screws, which when loosened, allow the sliding section to be moved forward or backward manually as the village beltsmithy so desires.
Oh yeah, why a belt plane? Simple, back before 'lectricity and infernal combustible engines, water wheels and steam engines supplied the power to drive Industrial America (and other joints). Leather and/or fabric belts were used to drive the smaller machines off the power source. These belts have their ends fastened to each other to form a loop, and it's at the juncture of the two ends that a chamfer is cut so that when the ends are fastened they maintain the same thickness as the rest of the belt. You had to ask.
This plane was originally offered by Leonard Bailey prior to his selling out to The Man, Stanley. His first design is extremely rare. He eventually made the plane with a separate frog that is secured onto the main casting with two round-headed screws. The threaded rod, on which the brass depth adjusting screw rides, is oriented nearly vertically. This construction proved costly to manufacture, and the planes were prone to damage, especially cracks or breaks where the screws are, so the separate frog idea was dropped around 1905. The tool was redesigned with the threaded rod fastened directly to the main casting so that it's oriented horizontally. The earliest models of this tool have a fair concave curvature to their side walls from the toe of the plane to the handle. The later models have a sort of contorted S-shaped curvature to the side walls.
This is really a strange little plane, in several ways. First, it wasn't offered in any Stanley catalog, and judging by where the very few specimens have turned up, in England, the plane wasn't sold here in USofA. Second, this plane's number designation is identical to the beltmaker's plane, making these two the only planes offered concurrently with the same model number. Why Stanley chose to designate them the same is anyone's guess, and it's certainly odd given Stanley's passion for freely assigning numbers, which the last time I checked are infinite, to their manufactured wares. The plane is one of the very rarest of Stanley's planes, with only a handful of extant examples. When other folks are classifying #340's, #64's as very rare, and #3C's as very scarce, you can ask them how they'd classify this little bugger then.
The plane has a lever adjustment mechanism, identical to that used on the common #103 block plane; a series of parallel grooves is milled into an adjusting plate, which, in turn, engage milled slots cut in the backside of the blade. A thumb screw pivots the lever cap to hold the blade in position.
The final strange thing about this plane is that the small portion of sole, directly ahead of the blade, can be raised or lowered via two small set screws which sit behind the lever cap's thumb screw. This portion of the sole is adjusted to work harmoniously with the set of the blade; i.e., if the blade is set rank (deeply), the sole is raised, and if the blade is set fine, the sole is lowered. This function lends assistance to the plane's cutting action, for if the sole were at a constant position, only a minute portion of it would bear upon the wood during the planing; the deeper the blade's set, the less amount of sole will make contact with the wood. Because the sole ahead of the iron can be adjusted, it's practical to make the entire length of that sole make contact with the wood prior to the blade's cutting, reducing tearout and splintering. It's a geometry thing, here.
The plane was eventually dropped when the #90 cabinetmaker's bull nose rabbet plane appeared. No sense having two planes serve the same function, or so one would think. But, Stanley didn't adopt this "modus operandi" for too long as they ultimately produced concurrently several planes which served the same function.
This plane is identical to the #11, except that it has an extension piece added to the plane's sole. This piece is nothing but the same piece as that on the #11, except it's made longer to increase the length of the plane's sole. This piece is secured to the main casting with two round head screws. It's possible to regulate the mouth by moving the piece forward or backward, relative to the iron.
The plane has "No. 11 1/2" embossed on the extension piece, withing the familiar Stanley notched rectangle. The #11's main casting was used for this plane. The #11 has its number cast at its toe. For the #11 1/2, the #11 casting number is ground off and then filled with a glob of japanning. Don't ever buy an example that has "No. 11" cast into the main casting and "No. #11 1/2" cast into the extension piece - it's a monkey, made up from two different planes. Also, check the japanning very carefully where the #11 is ground off. It's very easy for a crafty 'artist' to practice plane forgery on these planes where the plane is converted long after it left the factory.
The iron is normally stamped with the Stanley trademark on both sides; the plane beds the iron bevel up, and with the normal iron the logo would be face down, thus the reason for stamping the logo on the beveled side of the iron. Stanley wanted make it certain that the members of the floorplaners' union knew exactly who was using their product.
Be sure to inspect the adjusting mechanism of this tool as floorplaning was a rugged task. A snapped adjusting yoke, cracks at the back of the main casting, and missing chunks of the main casting are the major problems with the tool.
The plane was used in the kneeling position (kneeling before a false God?) and is pulled toward you. Ask yourself this question - you really want one of these to use? Instead, floor sandahs (sander, in New England-ese) are so much more stimulating. Leave this one for the diehard Stanley junkies as it's a much scarcer plane than one might think.
Copyright (c) 1998-2012 by Patrick A. Leach. All Rights Reserved. No part may be reproduced by any means without the express written permission of the author.