Category Archives: Shop talk

Historic Overview of Stanley Planes: Stanley No. 1

 

Stanley plane jenny skip
Stanley plane

I became interested in antique tools in about 1983.  My interest narrowed to Stanley tools in approximately 1985.  At this time I was fortunate to become acquainted with Roger K. Smith and purchased his book entitled Patented Transitional  and Metallic Planes in America 1827-1927 published by the North Village Publishing Company in 1981.  This began a long period of communications and Stanley tool purchases with Roger. I vaguely remember him telling me that my plane purchases were going toward supporting his children’s college expenses.  Roger was extremely helpful in my passion of learning more about antique planes, their use and history.

The history of the Stanley Tools companies is well documented and I would encourage you to explore the details of the evolution of this company.

What I am presenting in this video is background information on the Stanley No.1 smoothing plane.  In future videos I will discuss the other planes in my collection.  I started out trying to collect one example of each Stanley plane type. This proved to be very difficult and extremely expensive, so I randomly added to my collection over a period of ten years.

In the photo below you can see the trademark on the iron of one of my Stanley No. 1 planes.  The video will show you more photos of this particular plane.  This V shaped logo on the iron is identified in Roger’s book as a Type 11-1910-1920.  There appears to be a ‘B’ on the frog and lever cap, a forging mark for an unknown foundry which showed up on Stanley planes from 1899-1902.  This would indicate that the plane may be older than the iron’s trademark would indicate.

The spring under lever cap became rectangular in 1869 and was banjo shaped prior to that.

The other trademark  showing on my other number 1 plane’s iron dates that iron from  1907-1910.  There are no other marks on this plane.

The Stanley no. 1 smoothing plane was manufactured from 1867 until 1943.  It is 5 ½ inches long with a 1 ¼ inch wide blade.  It is constructed of cast iron with a rosewood handle and knob.  The finish is generally Japanned.  These planes can sell for anything from $1000 to $2000.  There are counterfeit versions of this plane so the buyer must beware!!

According to the Hans Brunner website:

“Without doubt the most famous of all Stanley planes never had a lateral adjuster, never had any number markings. Some models have B or S cast into the bed, others have no markings whatsoever. Early types have a beaded rosewood front knob and a short handle spur. Later types have a slightly longer handle spur and a lever cap embossed with the Stanley name.

Problem areas: fork and (depth) adjuster nut damaged or not working. More obvious damages include: overhang under handle broken off; chipped or enlarged mouth, cracks and chips to sides, damage to top of frog. That one sounds obvious but I’m just as dumb as the next guy when it comes to checking a plane. No matter how good it looks: Always take the lever cap off and check the frog, always turn the plane over and check the overhang under the handle and the mouth.”

In Wood Magazine issue No. 1 Sept/Oct 1984, we find some additional information concerning the history of the number 1 Stanley plane:

“Stanley tools represent a major category of collectible tools, and can form the basis for a rewarding and stimulating hobby. One of the most desirable of Stanley tools for the collector is the diminutive Stanley No. 1 bench plane. This tiny, 5-1/2” long plane poses some interesting mysteries for the collector. First, what was it used for? It’s so small-that even a craftsman with a small hand finds it uncomfortable to use. And second, for a tool that was manufactured in abundance over a 73 year period (1870-1943), why should it be so scarce?
As to the first mystery-its size-the explanation is relatively straightforward. These planes were designed for use by elementary school woodworking classes, and were used in the introduction to the proper care and use of woodworking planes.
The second mystery requires a more hypothetical explanation. With the advent of U.S. involvement in W.W. II came the need for scarce raw materials by factories involved in the rapidly increasing war production industries. Those with memories reaching back that far remember that not only were civilians in general involved in paper and fat saving drives, among others, but schools and other institutions also were called on to collect and donate large amounts of scrap material.
The widespread draft also was a factor. Shop teachers, especially at the elementary school level, came into short supply overnight, thus freeing up the tools and materials formerly used in their courses as vital scrap. Since the majority of No. 1 planes produced were to be found in schools, a large number of these planes were absorbed by the wartime scrap drives.
In case you’re thinking of purchasing a Stanley No. 1, be prepared to pay between $400 and $650 for an example in good or better condition. Also be sure to buy from a reputable dealer who will guarantee the plane is genuine.”

See more images in the video:

In my next video, I will discuss the Stanley No. 2 plane.  I will also discuss the January 3, 1985 letter I received from Roger K. Smith detailing his approach to restoring and caring for transitional and metallic planes.

The Venerable Shopsmith Gets a New Home

For the last 20 plus years, I’ve had an old Shopsmith (Model ER, serial number R67374) in  my shop. I may have used it a couple of times when I first got it, but for the most part, it has sat in my shop against a wall, covered with miscellaneous stuff, basically serving as a shelf.  Two days ago my wife noticed the Shopsmith and asked me what it was.

Skip's shop smith
The Shopsmith

Now, she has had to walk by this thing every day throughout our whole married life…

I explained what it could be used for, and I shared with her its history.  This tool belonged to one of my neighbors, Mr.  Allen.  As a child (I think I was about 10), I was fascinated by his woodworking skills, especially since he had only one arm.  He had lost his arm as a soldier in WWII.  My Dad was also fascinated by woodworking: he had taken shop in high school and made this wonderful tilt top table which still finds use in our home.

Dad's table craftsbyjennyskip.com
Dad’s table

My Dad and Mr. Allen shared many woodworking experiences. When Mr. Allen passed away, he left his Shopsmith to my Dad. When my Dad passed away, I inherited the Shopsmith.

So my wife asked if we could move the Shopsmith into the dining room next to the antique Stanley workbench.  I ran to the bathroom to grab some Qtips and check my ears for ear wax interference.  But she repeated the same request!  I know my wife loves to talk to our cats, but I suspected that she had finally lost her mind.  After the idea settled down, I bought into the project. The move would free up shop space for more tools!

tools craftsbyjennskip
Space for new tools already filled!

I called two of my grandchildren into service.  We muscled the Shopsmith into the house and finally got it into place.

jenny skip Shopsmith
Shop smith in its new locale

I must admit that it creates a whole new ambiance in the dining room!  I will never question my wife’s mental condition  again!

Remember the Old NCIS episode The Namesake? The one where Gibbs finds a Shopsmith (and a Congressional Medal of Honor) in a pawn shop? For a refresher of that episode look here.

Statistical Thermodynamics and My Shop

by Skip

I have noticed over the last year that more and more YouTubers are doing shop updates and shop tours. I have been reluctant to do this for several reasons: 1. I don’t see any value in the content (which will be obvious by no. 2) and 2. My shop exists in a very high entropy state.

So what does this mean? You may have heard some engineering nerds like me say “I live a very high entropy existence!” The easiest way to understand this is to look at the statistical thermodynamic definition of entropy**, which says in a nut shell that as disorder increases so does entropy. I could give you the Boltzmann’s equation at this point, but take my word for it, there is a relationship between the probability of finding something in my shop to the disorder of things in my shop. Zero entropy might mean that everything in my shop was neatly organized and the probability of finding a tool was 1. The Boltzmann equation would take the natural log of 1 and get zero. As my shop maximizes its entropy, the entropy increases…..a natural tendency of all things in the world. So my shop is just following the natural progression of all processes in the world! So no matter how hard I work at organizing my shop, entropy rules and drags me back to disorder, so why fight it?

Organizing takes time and at my age, time is valuable. But being organized up front, saves time in accomplishing projects. So to solve this problem, I invite my grandchildren over every other Saturday to help organize. This presents new problems, however. In the Universe of my shop there is limited space, so as we organize one solar system of the Universe, striving to slow down the increasing entropy, we end up maximizing the entropy of other solar systems in my shop Universe. So sometimes to help stabilize my Shop Universe, we resort to taking some items, close our eyes, and throw them in that black hole hovering outside the shop, the garbage can, thus increasing the entropy of the land fill. Or I give some of my older, more out-of-date tools to friends and relatives, thus increasing the entropy of their shops.

There are cases when somehow a battery charger in my universe disappears into the asteroid belt of dust bunnies under the work benches and I have to buy a replacement, only to return to the shop and find the other one in plain view, on a pile of turning tools.

One positive thing about your shop universe undergoing expanding entropy: the untrained observers (relatives) think you are up to your asteroids in projects!

craftsbyjennyskip.com calculator
Skip’s office calculator for big engineering projects

** note from jenny: For non-engineering nerds like me, you might want to google the definition of entropy. To get a clearer picture of Skip’s shop, look at definition #2, LOL.