Stanley plane types – differences to worry about?

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    I know that Paul advises getting “old” Stanley planes, but there’s obviously quite a range on “old”; from an 1867 type 1 to a 1960s type 20.

    As a practical user (rather than collector) are all generally a good buy, or are some types lacking in ways that would mean it’d be better to go for a plane made in a different date range?

    Matt McGrane

    Sploo, there is a great website called “”. If you go to the page called “Old Tool Resources”, then “Stanley Bench Planes”, there is great information about what changed with the Stanley planes over the years.

    I don’t know the info by heart. I have a few type 19 planes and one older type 9. The type 9 has no frog adjustment nut, so the frog must be adjusted by nudging and tightening, testing and repeating. There are probably several things like this that earlier planes didn’t have that the “newer” planed did have. I think the earliest Stanley planes didn’t have a lateral adjuster, but not sure.

    I’ve read that planes prior to WWII were better as steel resources were needed for the war and after the war, things may not have been quite the same. That said, I’m quite happy with my type 19 planes (made 1948 to 1961), though I don’t have experience with other planes.

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016:


    Don’t worry too much about it, buy one sharpen it and use it. From there you can decide what (if anything) needs doing, I.e. cap iron fitting, flattening the sole etc. Don’t get drawn into the thicker iron, cap iron malarkey, the stock irons and cap irons work just fine.



    Thanks. That’s generally what I have done. The ones I’ve found tend to tick the boxes of a Type 19 (1948-1961) but they have the two piece pressed steel forked depth adjustment lever (allegedly a later change). I know that is generally seen as a negative, so I was wondering if there were model types that are considered “better”, or ones to avoid – from the point of view of a user rather than a collector.


    Ah good. I see I can post replies now 🙂 (there was a problem earlier that Resi was looking into).

    Matt – I’d been intending to reply to your post a few days ago (so this is the reply I was trying to post)…

    Matt – thanks. Been there done that 🙂

    That site was actually the reason for my original post. Until I first came across it I wasn’t aware of the differences, and whilst I know there’s negativity about the two-part pressed fork (got one on a #4 1/2, seems ok so far) I was wondering if some of the types are less desirable from a practical point of view. Your WWII comments make sense, and I’ve seen them mirrored elsewhere.

    As far as I understand, you’re right about the lateral adjuster.

    Mike Walsh

    Try this site.

    They have the most comprehensive listing and detailed history of Stanley planes I have seen. Each model lists potential problems to look for. They list hundreds of planes with pictures. It covers from the late 1800s to the 1970s.

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