October 1, 2021

How to Date a Stanley Plane | An Easy To Follow Guide

Dating Stanley planes

For this, you may need a Stanley wood plane parts diagram and a tape measure. As for the records, Stanley made tools starting in 1843, including a bench plane.

Dating the Stanley plane can be challenging if you don’t know where to look. But that’s the goal of this post, to show you how. There are twenty models of Stanley planes dating back to 1867.

Each type has features that distinguish it from the others, with parts and markings cast into the metal. The variation features are the aircraft number, patent numbers, or dates. Allow me to detail the steps to dating a Stanley plane.

Steps for dating Stanley hand planes

  1. Please get familiar with the names of the multiple parts of the tool using a Stanley diagram which I will summarise below. Look for the bed of the plane behind the frog. If you can see any patent dates cast into the bed, note how many are there. 
  2. As you examine the plane, look for a raised ring that works as a receiver of the knob cast into the bed. In some cases, there is one patent date, and no raised ring, meaning your plane is Type 13, and the dates range from 1925 to 1928. If there is one patent date and a raised ring, the plane type is Type 14, which dates between 1929 and 1930. If there are no patent dates and raised rings, you also have a plane Type 1 to 8. 
  3. Pay attention to the color of the plane. When the Stanley plane is painted blue, it is Type 15 to 20, and the plane is Type 20 and it dates from 1962 to 1967. 
  4. If the plane comes with a raised, broad and flat rib casting at the toe and heel, it goes back to Type 16 to 19. If it is the opposite, then the plane Type is 15, dating between 1931 and 1932. 
  5. If the word STANLEY is on the lateral adjustment lever in a vertical script, the plane Type is 19 and dated between 1949 and 1961.
  6. Look for the depth-adjustment nut, and you should be able to tell if it has a diagonal knurling pattern on the outside or not. If it has, the plane is Type 18 and dates between 1946 and 1947.
  7. Spot any wartime features to determine the date. These include a handle or knob with red or black paint, stain, steel, or hard rubber depth-adjustment nut. When you locate one, that is a Type 17 plane that dates between 1942 and 1945. If there are no wartime features, you have a Type 16 plane dated between 1933 and 1941.
  8. When the frog rib of the plane is enlarged and arched, you have a Type 10 plane that dates between 1907 and 1909. That plane should be arched and comes with two patent dates. If your Stanley plane lacks these, it is a Type 9 and dates between 1902 and 1907.
  9. As you measure the depth-adjustment nut, note if it is 1-1/4inch in diameter. That means it has three dates cast into the bed, and the plane is Type 12, dating between 1919 and 1924. If not, that means it is a Type 11 and dates 1910 and 1918. 

Types of Stanley’s plane

Stanley Type 1 Handplanes date between 1867 and 1869. The bead turned into its base. The brass adjustment nut is solid. The stamp says “BAILEY, WPODS & CO” and the Stanley stamp comes with the year. The only visible word on the Stanley stamp is the lower portion of the name “WOODS.” The back of the lever cap is solid, and the frog has a rounded back. 

Stanley Type 2 Handplanes date between 1869 and 1872. It had a frog with a rounded back and a banjo-shaped spring. The lever cap spring is rectangular. The only difference with Type 1 is that it does not have Bailey’s name on its early model on the adjusting nut. 

Stanley Type 3 Handplanes date from 1872 to 1873. What separates it from the above is the new design of the frog. It is smaller and held at the bottom by a vertical rib between the casting. The new design is found in sizes #3-#8, but the frog is the #3 size for all planes. Stanley was trying to make the parts of the bench planes interchangeable. However, it was a weak design.

Stanley Type 4 For the Stanley no 4 plane identification. Handplanes date between 1874-1884. It has all of the above features except the frog design. The old style comes back rectangular. It is machined flat. The frog receiver is now abroad, with an arched rear (the portion nearest the tote). It is machined flat. The frog used to hold in place with flat-head screws. 

Stanley Type 5 Handplanes dates 1885-1888. It has two patent dates, “2-8-76” and “10-21-84”, stamped with the word “STANLEY.” It has the same trademark stamped into the iron, except that “STANLEY” is in a straight line, in large letters. The lateral lever is one-piece construction and engages the slot straight across the iron. The frog top is no longer rounded but flattened into an arch shape. The rest of the logo is in small letters.

Two Stanley planes on a wooden work surface

Stanley Type 6 Handplanes are dated 1888-1892. All of the features of the previous, except:

The lateral adjustment lever is now two-piece construction. It has a circular disk replacing the straight portion where it engages the slot in the iron. The brass adjusting nut has a left-hand thread. “7-24-88” is also stamped into the lever.

Stanley Type 7 (Stanley no 7 plane identification) Handplanes date from 893-1899. The number designation is spaced farther apart. Bailey’s name and patent dates are no longer on the brass adjustment nut and cap iron.

Stanley Type 8 Handplanes date from 1899-1902. The “7-24-88” is the only patent date found on the lateral adjustment lever, and “STANLEY” is still there. The “S” casting marks are eliminated and replaced with “B.”

Stanley Type 9 Handplanes date from 1902-1907. No patent date on the lateral lever. “B” casting marks are eliminated. The number designation is now cast just behind the knob. A smaller bearing surface is cast into the bed. The frog has a slot at its bottom to fit over the ribbed cast in the bed.

Stanley Type 10 Handplanes date 1907-1909. The rib is bigger and arched. A frog adjustment screw is onto the Stanley plane, below the frog, and engages a fork screwed to the frog. Turn the screw to move the frog forward or backward, depending on the direction in which it is turned.

Stanley Type 11 Handplanes date from 1910-1918. The APR-19-10 patent date appears with the other patent dates cast behind the frog. There is a  new trademark adopted, where “STANLEY” “NEW BRITAIN” “CONN.” “U.S.A.” forms a v-shaped logo.

Stanley Type 12 Handplanes date 1919-1924. The knob is taller than the previous style. The taller knob is called a “high knob.” The brass depth adjustment nut is measured at 1.25″ in diameter, which is larger than the previous one. There are logo changes. 

Stanley Type 13 Handplanes date 1925-1928. U.S. PAT. APR-19-10 is the only stuff cast behind the frog. “STANLEY” is a notched rectangle. The lever cap is machined and finished as before. The lever cap is nickel-plated, including the background of the notched rectangle.

Stanley Type 14 Handplanes date 1929-1930. It is from the USA and is now cast into the bed at the toe. A raised ring is cast into the bed to act as a receiver for the knob, and it prevents the splitting of the knob.  The chances of splitting are high due to the raised ring and greater leverage capable of being placed on them than on the low knobs.

Stanley Type 15 Handplanes date 1931-1932.  They remove all patent info on the bottom casting. “BAILEY” is now cast behind the knob toward the rib, and the number is directly in front of the knob.

Stanley Type 16 Handplanes are dated 1933-1941. “STANLEY” is the new logo stamped on the cutter, which is identical to the previous logo. The heart and “S.W.” have been removed. The lever cap has a kidney-shaped hole replacing the old symmetrical keyhole-shaped hole. The toe is broad, flat rib cast into it. The frog now has an s-shape on the back.

Stanley Type 17 Handplanes are dated 1942-1945. These are war production models with handles and knob in hardwood stained red or painted black. The depth adjustment now is smaller, and the bottom castings are much thicker and heavier than other models.

Stanley Type 18 Handplanes are dated 1946-1947. It has all the features above. It has hardwood handles painted black, and the castings are lighter. Brass adjusting nuts are re-introduced and have diagonal knurling on them. 

Stanley Type 19 Handplanes date 1948-1961. The frog receiver is now y-shaped, and Rosewood comes back varnished. “STANLEY” is in a vertical direction on the lateral adjustment lever. The knurling on the brass depth adjuster is now parallel in most examples.

Stanley Type 20 Handplanes dates 1962-1967. All castings are painted blue, and the hardwood totes and knobs have a light-colored stain. “STANLEY” is no longer in the lateral adjustment lever. The forked lever is now a two-piece, and the lateral adjustment lever is one piece with the thumb grip bent over.

David D. Hughes
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