In A Metal Mood

Though I am a certified wooden plane geek, I’ve owned and used metal planes over the years as well. Not bench planes, so much, but special purpose planes: block, rabbet, side rabbet, shoulder/bullnose, scraper, spokeshave, etc.

Various Stanley Planes

The bench planes, plus a few specialties

Lately, though, I’ve developed an interest in finding  and rehabilitating older Stanley bench planes, and so far I’ve gathered a small group of these that range in age from about 115 years to about 80 years. They are ‘users’, not collectors’ items, most of them having nicks or other damage that collectors eschew. A friend gave me a c.1890 #2C, and I picked up an c.1905 #3 that needed a lot of work for a couple of bucks at an estate sale (see the post “Old Soldiers…“). I had had a c.1930 #4 for a while, to which I added a Hock replacement iron, and another friend gave me a c.1930 #4-1/2 a few years ago in return for some help with an Inca jointer. Then recently I picked up a c.1910 #5 for a few bucks on eBay, and I’m currently awaiting the arrival of a same-era #7, which will probably round out my ‘collection’.

Stanley Bench Planes

Stanley Bench Planes - 2, 3, 4, 4-1/2, 5

The other notable addition to my stash of metal planes is a new Lie-Nielsen #51, a remake of the old Stanley #51 “chute” plane (mfr. 1909-1940). These were prized by by patternmakers for their ability to make precision cuts in end grain. For a furniture maker, it’s essentially the ultimate plane for shooting mitres, squaring frame ends and similar tasks. With it’s skewed iron, precision ground L-shaped casting and near 10 pound weight, the Lie-Nielsen is a delight to use.

L_N 51

The L-N #51 at rest

Lie-Nielsen 51

The L-N #51 at work

L-N 51 joint

A shot joint, detail (not clamped or glued)

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