October 1, 2021

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

You may need a Stanley wood plane parts diagram and a measuring tape for this. As far as records are concerned, Stanley created tools from 1843, including a bench plane. 

Dating the Stanley plane can be quite challenging when you have no idea where to look. However,  that is the goal of this post to show you how it is done. There are twenty models of Stanley planes dating from 1867.

 Each type has features that separate it from the rest, with parts and marks cast into the metal. The variation marks are the plane number or patent numbers, or dates. Allow me to get into detail as I explain the steps to date a Stanley plane. 


  1. 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 and if so, note how many are there. 
  2. As you start examining 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, and that means your plane is Type 13, and the dates range from 1925 and 1928. If there is one patent date and a raised ring, the plane type is Type 14, and it dates between 1929 and 1930. If there are no patent dates and no raised rings also, you 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, and it dates 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 only difference with Type 1 is that it does not have Bailey’s name on its early model on the adjusting nut. The lever cap spring is rectangular. 

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 on sizes #3-#8, but the frog is #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 Handplanes date between 1874-1884. It has all of the above features except the frog design. The old-style comes back in a rectangular shape. 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.” The lateral lever is one-piece construction and engages the slot in the iron being straight across. The frog top is no longer rounded but flattened into an arch shape. It has the same trademark stamped into the iron, except that “STANLEY” is in a straight line, in large letters. 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 now is two-piece construction. It has a circular disk replacing the straight portion where it engages the slot in the iron. “7-24-88” is also stamped into the lever. The brass adjusting nut has a left-hand thread.

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

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

Stanley Type 9 Handplanes date from 1902-1907. “B” casting marks are eliminated. No patent date on the lateral lever. 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, and it is 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 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 1.25″ in diameter, which is larger than the previous. 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 now 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 to the back.

Stanley Type 17 Handplanes are dated 1942-1945. These are war production models with the handle 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. Brass adjusting nuts are re-introduced and have diagonal knurling on them. It has hardwood handles painted black, and the castings are lighter. 

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. The forked lever is now a two-piece, and the lateral adjustment lever is now one piece with the thumb grip bent over. “STANLEY” is no longer in the lateral adjustment lever.

David D. Hughes

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