Okay, I'll admit it, I'm a Norm-type power tool kind of guy. I love any
good quality tool with a cord or battery.
I've seen a number of posts lately about scoring good deals on planes at
flea markets, garage sales and the like. But, I don't have a clue what
those numbers mean - Stanley 110, or 9 1/2 for example. You guys seem to
know right off to go for the 9 1/2 instead of the 110. So, please educate
me on how to understand the numbering system.
And, to show some seriousness in being less Norm-like, I picked up a Stanley
220 at an estate sale for 8 bucks. Excellent condition and scary sharp. I
actually enjoyed peeling some shavings off a board with it. I'm going to
another estate sale on Monday that is advertising "lots of hand tools".
IN a nutshell, the Stanley numbers 1 - 8 are their bench planes in
ascending order by size. After that, the numbers were sort of assigned
chronologically for entirely new planes, but prefixes were added to
previously assigned numbers for improved (or sometimes unimproved)
versions of planes.
Thus the series 602 - 608 are the bedrock bench planes that are the
same size as the 2 - 8. The 112 and 212 are radical modification of
the #12. The 278 is a variation on the 78.
When a new model came out that differed from an earlier plane by
futzing just a bit with the size, a fraction was added to the
number. Thus the 5 1/2 and 5 1/4 are wider and narrower versions
respectively, of the #5 jack plane. The 12 1/4 was a narrower version
of the 12, but the 12 1/2 and 12 3/4 were the same size but with
rosewood soles added.
It all sort of makes sense sometimes.
Like I said, it makes no sense.
The single digit bench planes are the only ones automatically
recognizable by number. Find an unknown plane and start looking for it
by a numerical index: hope you've got a while! If the block planes
were grouped (say, 1xx), and the moulding planes were as well, it would
certainly help organize a listing.
Ah but the Record, Union, Ohio Tools, and may other plane numbering
achemes are completely logical. They usually used the same number
(OT added the prefix '0') as Stanley for their clones of the Stanley
So if you saw an Ohio Tools 0112 in a catalog you knew immediately that
it was the functional equivalent of Stanley 112.
Oddly enough, here and there, they sometimes used different numebers
for the equivalent planes.
I guess they were a lot like catalog numbers or part numbers today--
pretty arbitrary it just seems odd because they had fewer digits
than a typical part number does today.
I was at an estate auction a few years ago where they had two Stanley No. 1
planes. One was in excellent condition, the other was only fair.
I was ready to bid up to $25.00. <G>
The bidding started at $50.00 for the better one. It finally sold for
$625.00. The other went for $150.00 to the same guy. He said he could sell
the better one for $1000.00 and had a buyer waiting.
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