The Superior Works: Patrick's Blood and Gore Planes #90 - #100 

Quick Find: #90, #90 (bull nose), #90A, #90J, #92, #93, #94, #95, #96, #97, #98, #99, #100

#90 Steel cased rabbet plane, 9"L, 1 1/2"W, 2 5/8lbs, 1877-1888. *

This plane is identical to the #80, described in an earlier posting, except that this model has a spur for scoring the grain before the cutter cuts the wood. Like the #80 rabbet, these planes are difficult to find without modification.

The spur is dovetailed into the right side of the steel casing. This same means of attachment is commonly used on the wooden rabbet planes contemporary with this plane. The spur is removed for sharpening or adjusted downward by tapping it at its top. Often, the steel casing just above the spur will be munged as a result of jamming a screwdriver, or similar tool, above the spur and twisting it. On this model, the steel casing has an extra screw on the spur side so that the casing won't distort around the spur.

The image here shows how the original mouth should look. Most examples have their mouths filed with an arch-shape opening to allow freer passage of the shaving. See the #80 rabbet plane for a view of what the mouth looks like on the other side.

#90 Bull nose rabbet plane, 4"L, 1"W, 1lb, 1898-1969.

This is the first in a series of so-called cabinetmaker's rabbet planes, and is the rightmost one in the image (the larger planes are pictured to show the details of the text). They were advertised as being "designed for fine Cabinet Work where extreme accuracy is required." The distinguishing feature of this plane that sets it apart from the others, other than its overall length, is its very short toe section. This section is roughly 1/4" long, which makes it suitable for bullnose work.

They all are cast iron, with full nickel plating. The amount of original nickel plating that remains on these planes has a tremendous effect on their value, but has absolutely no effect on their use. The sides are ground flat and, supposedly, square to the bottom. All the planes in the series have the "HAND-Y" grip feature, like that on the block planes, milled into their sides to allow for a more comfortable grip. They can be used either right or left handed.

Each plane's sole is of a two-section construction - one section forms the toe of the sole, and the other forms the heel of the sole. The toe section sits atop, and slides over, the heel section, and together they are secured by means of a large slotted screw. This screw is loosened to adjust the plane's mouth by sliding the toe section over the heel section, and then tightening the screw. Through repeated use, this screw can become mangled, so check for that. Also, check the area of the casting where this screw threads into the heel section as it's prone to cracking, which is impossible to see without taking the plane apart, and even with it apart a crack can be difficult to detect. Check where the screw butts against the toe section for any signs of stress cracks that may result from over tightening the screw.

The toe section can be removed completely from the plane so that it can be used as a chisel plane. Stanley, in their tool propoganda, claimed that with the plane configured as a chisel plane it was useful for the removal of dried glue. There are better ways to remove that than to use this plane. However, the plane does function nicely as a chisel plane and is particularly useful when working rabbeted frames, where the stiles and rails join. The planes are a lot less costly than the dedicated chisel plane that the company made, the #97.

Inside the toe section is a little set screw, oriented parallel to the sole, that can be set to regulate the mouth's opening. This set screw is only accessible when the plane is apart. It butts up against the larger slotted screw used to hold the two sections together. This little set screw is what keeps the mouth constant, to a pre-set width, as the two sections are screwed together. This capability to maintain the mouth's opening is a handy feature to have, though it is by no means mandatory, for the times that the toe section is removed, either to hone the iron or to use the tool as a chisel plane.

The set screw oftentimes is seized into the toe casting, which is something you won't be able to tell unless you carry along a small screwdriver to disassemble the plane before you buy it. If the set screw is seized, don't try to free it without first letting it soak with some penetrating oil - the slot for the screwdriver may snap off, if you're impatient, leaving you a fine mess to solve. If you're having trouble closing the mouth of the tool, you have to drive the set screw deeper into the casting since it's preventing the toe section sliding farther back over the heel section as the set screw is butting against the larger slotted screw that secures the two sections together. Some guys just removed the set screw from the plane since they mustn't have liked screwing with so many screws.

The plane's cutter is sorta spade-shaped (the shovel kind). It is pitched at roughly 20 degrees, with its two edges perpendicular to the cutting edge being chamfered. The cutter is as wide as the plane is over the length of the plane's bed, where it abrubtly diminishes to a constant width as it extends through the plane's body, poking out at the heel of the plane. The cutter is removed from the plane through the mouth whenever grinding or honing is required. The cutter is used bevel-side up, as is the case for most planes that have their cutters pitched lower than ~35 degrees.

A large, knurled adjusting screw protrudes from the heel of the plane. This screw activates a mechanism like that found on the #60's series of block planes; i.e., the screw activates a cast iron sliding section, which sits freely atop a machined inclined plane. Together, the sliding section and the inclined plane form a sort of tongue and groove so that the sliding section doesn't become misaligned as it moves over the inclined plane. The sliding section has a small nib on it that engages machined grooves in the cutter's backside.

The adjusting screw on the older models is larger and somewhat cruder than on the later models as it's a cast piece. The knurling is coarser on the older ones, and "STANLEY" is cast in a circle on the screw's knob. On the later models, it's sometimes difficult to tell whether the plane is American-made or English-made. The cutter, at its top, is stamped with the plane's origin. It's often hard to read the origin unless the plane is taken apart. The larger rabbet planes of this series have their country of manufacture stamped on the circular disk at the toe (see #92 for more about this disk) as well as on their cutter. The earliest models of the plane have the patent date stamped into the iron.

These planes, despite Stanley's claim that they are machined accurately, are sometimes not so. They were offered as premium planes in direct competition with the products made by Norris, et al, in England. If you are hankering to own an affordable better-quality rabbet plane, these Stanley products are certainly that, but they are no match (surprise) to the English products. Stanley made these planes general purpose so that they can be used as regular rabbet planes, chisel planes, and shoulder planes. Their cutters are pitched lower than might be expected for rabbeting so that they can be used as shoulder planes. The English designed two distinct planes for these tasks, with each particularly suited for the tasks. However, the English versions, despite their functional and visual superiority over the Stanley versions, are considered very expensive by most in the user community, making the Stanley products an affordable alternative.

When buying these planes, it's good to carry along a small machinist's square to test them for truth. Also, check the mouth to make sure that it hasn't been tampered with (like filed) and that it is a uniform width across its length. Make sure that it isn't chipped, especially at the corners, as they sometimes are, or that it shows any signs of stress cracking. Inspect the area where the two sections mate, along its entire length, for this is another area that seems to suffer stress cracks or broken chunks off the toe section. Sight along the plane's sole to check that the toe section is aligned with the heel section. I've seen far too many examples of these planes where they are not aligned due to sloppy machining. This problem appears to be found more often on the later and larger (#92, #93, #94) examples of these planes.

By far, the most common damage that any of these style planes can suffer is found on their lever caps. The lever cap is secured in place by turning a small slotted cap screw, with a screwdriver, which causes the lever cap to place pressure on a bridge that spans the inside width of the heel section. Since the lever caps are rather long in relation to their thickness, it's very easy for them to snap in two. This damage is usually unseen, unless the plane is completely taken apart. Often, the break is welded and ground flat. The repair, if done well, has no effect on the plane's use, but a collector will head for the hills should one be waved under his nose.

All the above applies to each of these rabbet planes, up to the #94 inclusive.

This model of the plane was the most popular in the series, as judged by its long production, and was the first in the series to be offered by Stanley. It seems as though Stanley was testing the waters before they took the plunge to make the longer planes. The first model of this plane doesn't have its number embossed anywhere on it, but eventually the number was embossed at the top, toward the toe. A copy of the plane, and its two larger brothers, is still made in England.

#90A Cabinet makers' rabbet plane, 4"L, 1"W, 1lb, 1937-1943. *

Just when I go and say all the above applies to everything that follows, Stanley decides to offer this little oddball. It's basically the same plane as the #90, except that it's different (hohoho!). Hell, one might assume that this one is aluminum, if one followed Stanley's numbering scheme. But no, this one ain't aluminum. It appears that Stanley had enough sense to never introduce that metal to this style of plane.

What sets this plane apart from the #90 is that its body is a one-piece construction. It is a bullnose rabbet plane, but there is no provision to adjust its mouth (like the two section #90). It has a similar, but different, blade adjusting mechanism - a knurled nut engages a single slot in the cutter, which is a cheaper mechanism than that provided on the #90. The knurled nut travels over a 1 3/8" long threaded rod, which itself is threaded into the main casting, at the heel of the plane. The nut is stamped "No. 90A". The cutter has "90A" stamped into it, but more importantly, it has "MADE IN USA" also stamped into it, which is very important, if you're a collector willing to shell out the $1000+ it takes to own this guy.

The lever cap isn't captive to the plane; you can remove it completely from the plane, which must be done to remove the iron. The lever cap has a small locking wheel beneath the area where you rest your palm. This wheel, when turned, places pressure directly below on the iron, and forces the lever cap upward against the main casting (this style of lever cap is common on the English-made rabbet and shoulder planes). The lever cap has "STANLEY" embossed in the palm area, and "MADE IN USA" down where it rests above the honed edge of the cutter. Again, "MADE IN USA" is mandatory for this to be a proper and complete USofA product. Check that the lever cap hasn't been brazed, cracked, or chipped. Be sure to look where the locking wheel threads into the lever cap's casting for any signs of damage. Lastly, check that the lever cap's little 'peak', where it engages the main casting, isn't chipped or broken.

These planes were never popular over here, and the war helped to speed its death. As a result, they are very rare. Afterall, why would someone purchase a non-adjustable rabbet plane, when the#90 offered the same function, but with more bells and whistles? Certainly not too many would, which accounts for its scarcity. Even the glitzy nickel plating of the thing couldn't boost sales.

#90J Cabinet makers' rabbet plane, 4"L, 1"W, 1lb, 1937-1943. *

This plane is identical to the #90A, except with two differences. There is no blade adjusting mechanism other than the dexterity of your hands. The plane's top is japanned, with its sides polished. The Stanley English version of this plane is identical to this one, but it doesn't have the Made in USA logo on it. This, and the #90A are tough monkeys to find, but only of the USofA manufacture.


No #91. Why Stanley didn't assign the #90A to this number we'll never know. Heck, they probably didn't know either. Heh, heh, heh, those guys in charge of number designation at Stanley sure were a riot!

#92 Cabinet makers' rabbet plane, 5 1/2"L, 3/4"W (1"W, 1962 on), 1 1/2lbs, 1902-1969.

Goto #90, read that, and apply these dimensions to get a feel what this plane is.

But wait, there's a bit more to be said about this plane, the #93, and the #94, which cannot be said of the #90. These longer planes have toe sections that are much longer than the small bull nose toe section of the #90. Consequently, there was a tendency for these toe sections to become misaligned with the heel section over time due to the internal stresses inherant to cast iron.

The earlier models of these larger planes have solid toe sections. The later models, ca. WWI onward, each have a circular disk that's recessed and affixed to the toe section. You don't want to go popping this disk off to find out what's behind it, but if you did, you'd find a hollowed out toe section, filled with a metal cylinder to give the plane its weight. By hollowing out the toe section, Stanley was able to overcome the risk of the toe section warping in relation to the heel section. This treatment was no guarantee that the two sections were aligned; sloppy machining would defeat that purpose. The disk has the company logo on it, and that logo reflects the one in vogue during the time the plane was manufactured.

The circular disk was dropped from the later examples of these planes, and the current English models don't have the disk. It's probable that the cost of manufacturing these planes with the disk became too expensive so the planes were made like they were when first offered - a solid toe section, with no disk.

The very first models of this plane, and its two larger brothers that follow, do not have the number cast into them. They also have a composite toe section where a portion of the front sole is cast separately and then pinned to the rest of the casting. This method of manufacture must have been very costly to produce, never mind the requirement of extreme accuracy. Stanley probably did this to help eliminate any movement of the toe section long after that casting was machined. The amount of mass of a solid toe section could warp or distort just a fraction, throwing the machined accuracy of the toe section relative to the heel section out of truth.

The mating edges of the toe section to the heel section is also different on the earliest model of these larger planes. They are machined to form a broad arch and thus only make contact with the heel section on 4 small edges, 2 on each side. This method of mating the two castings was easier to machine as there was less area on the toe section that had to be true, however the resulting strength of this method didn't prove strong enough to hold up during use, and the method was dropped soon after it was tried.

Some of the planes can be found without the strengthening cross rib that spans the opening where the palm rests on the tool. The model number, cast into the flat length of the toe section, can be found oriented relative to the heel or the toe of the plane (the numbers are upside down to each other when comparing different models of the planes).

#93 Cabinet makers' rabbet plane, 6 1/2"L, 1"W, 1 3/4lbs, 1902-1964.

Goto #92, read that, and apply these dimensions to get a feel what this plane is.

#94 Cabinet makers' rabbet plane, 7 1/2"L, 1 1/4"W, 2lbs, 1902-1943. *

Goto #93, read that, and apply these dimensions to get a feel what this plane is. This is the one plane of the series that approximates the role of the heavier and larger English infill shoulder planes, and is a good alternative to those expensive planes, when this plane is found in its typical used condition. Given this, it's no surprise that many of these planes are found over in England, American buyers never fancied this model.

This plane is the most difficult to find of the series, and it's doubly difficult to find in crispy, nickely new condition. Furthermore, because of the extra length of mating surfaces between the toe section and heel section, the machined area where the two meet can often be found cracked or with chunks of the toe section broken out. The planes also seem to suffer cracks where the toe section arches down to meet the heel section more often than its smaller brothers do. Check this area very carefully as cracks in this area can be very difficult to detect.

#95 Edge trimming block plane, 6"L, 1 1/16"W, 1 1/4lbs, 1911-1961.

This is another very useful plane, which a well-equipped shop should have. It's not an inexpensive plane, but it's worth every cent you pay for it. Several modern manufacturers have made copies of this plane out of a glistening bronze alloy, which can oxidize and leave marks on your work just like the forgetable aluminum bench planes that Stanley dumped on happy planers of yesteryear. One maker of these planes supplies them in left and right hand versions. The original only comes in a right hand version.

The plane has a V-shaped sole that forms a right angle. One leg of the V carries the cutter, which is set at a skew, and the other leg acts as a fence. A small lever engages grooves machined in the back of the cutter so that it can be set by lifting or lowering the lever. Check that this mechanism works well and that the lever engages the cutter securely.

A screw-activated lever cap holds the cutter in place. Sometimes, the screw was cut a bit short, making it difficult or impossible for the lever cap to hold the iron in place securely. If the lever cap screw 'bottoms out' and the iron's adjustment lever can be moved easily, the cutter will not stay in place during use. You can sometimes remedy the problem by tightening the slotted screw which the the lever cap engages.

Since the plane's sole is machined so that it forms a right angle, the plane is used to true up edges. It works equally well against the grain or along the grain. With a very fine set to the cutter, and a very keen edge on the cutter, the plane does very well on end-grain. A lot of guys like to use this plane to square up the edge after they've jointed it. While you can do that, it's better to learn to joint properly, and save this short soled plane for other tasks.

The portion of the sole that's perpendicular to the iron has two holes - one at the toe and one at the heel - drilled in it so that you can secure a bevelled piece of wood on the sole to make it cut off of 90 degrees. This is useful for bevelling edges. Just be sure to orient the wood piece so that the narrowest portion is toward the iron otherwise you can't make effective use of the relatively narrow width of the cutter.

The earliest model of the plane has the Stanley logo in script to the lower left of the cutter. On the back of the main casting can be found the patent date, "U.S.PAT.5.14.12", embossed above the sole.

Check that there are no chips or cracks on the main casting and that the lever cap hasn't been snapped in two and repaired. I've seen a few of these planes that have a hairline crack in the arched portion of the casting just behind the cutter.

In the wasteland of stupid planes Stanley ever produced, this is surely one that can't be categorized that way.

#96 Chisel gauge, 2 1/4"L, 3/8"W, 1/12lbs (yup, one over twelve pounds), 1888-1922. *

This is not a plane per se, but it does function like one. What it is is a tiny little gauge, which sorta looks like a plane, that is fixed to a chisel to allow blind nailing. Blind nailing is where a shaving is partially lifted from the wood's surface, a nail is driven under the shaving's position, and the shaving finally glued back in place. The maximum width chisel the tool can accept is 1/4".

A captive lever cap, made of nickel plated cast iron, fastens the gauge to the chisel; a slotted screw actives the lever cap. The tool is made of nickel plated steel. Check that the sole is flat, and that it hasn't been ground convex as it's possible to find some examples that have been so modified.

It's kind of a stupid tool, since a chisel alone, in a skilled hand, can accomplish the same thing. They are scarce little tools, easily overlooked when scrounging for old stuff. And definitely stay away from those that are brass or aren't nickel plated as the tool is being reproduced by modern toolmakers. The originals will have "STANLEY" stamped into the left cheek, and the earlier one will have the patent date, "PAT AP'L 10-88" stamped into the right cheek.

#97 Cabinet makers' edge plane, 10"L, 2 1/4"W, 3 3/4lbs, 1905-1943. *

This plane sorta looks like a wedge with a turned rosewood knob at its rear. The knob, always a low style, is identical to those used on the evil #6, and it sits atop a raised ring in the casting to help reduce the likelihood of its chipping about its base. The knob is secured to the plane with the common threaded post and nut, but the nut is nickel plated, unlike the nut used on the common bench planes.

There is no mouth on this plane - it has no bearing surface ahead of the cutter making the plane really nothing but a chisel held at a constant pitch and regulated by the sole to prevent it from digging into the wood too deeply.

The plane carries a cutter that is as wide as the plane is with it bedded bevel side up. The cutter is pitched at about 20 degrees, and it rests on the sides of the bottom casting, which are machined to form an inclined plane. If you were to use this plane, and forget its value as a collectible, you'd want to make sure that the machining was true with both sides in the same plane. The entire length of the backside of the cutter does not rest on the side rails; only the leading edge of the cutter makes direct contact with the side rails and the bed proper.

The cutter is held in place by a thumb screw-activated lever cap that is entirely japanned. The cutter is adjusted by the familiar screw mechanism found on the common block planes. The sides of the plane each have a U-shaped cutout on them to allow better access to the adjusting screw. The sides are also machined at right angles to the sole.

The plane was marketed to piano makers in particular and cabinetmakers in general. It was designed to cleanup or trim inside work, where the space is limited and the use of any other plane is impossible. Obviously, this a very special purpose plane for rare occurences in the shop.

Like the #62, these planes have a tendency for chipping at the leading edge of the bottom casting, directly below the cutter, due to the thinness of the casting there. The left and right corners of the leading edge on some examples of these planes are not finished at a right angle, but are instead slightly angled in an attempt to reduce chipping.

Chipping doesn't harm the plane's use, as long as the chipping isn't too severe, but it really kills the plane's value to your average Stanley collector. If yours is chipped, and you can't sell it to a collector, you can always use it as a doorstop - its wedge-shape makes it perfect for that role.

Check that the tool hasn't been reworked, where an example, with a minor chip, was machined to eliminate the defects. Sight down the machined side rails, on which the cutter rests, to make sure they are straight and true. Any deviance from a straight edge on these means that a portion of the side rails has been machined so that the leading edge can be cut back a bit to eliminate the chip. The underside of the cutter clears the back end of the machined side rails by about 1/16"; if it's less than that amount, chances are that the plane was chipped and remachined. One of the tell-tale signs of a re-work is the machining marks at the very end of the casting, where the chipping occurs; original machining leaves curved milling marks concentric with each other a la the layers of an onion. The marks are very fine, but they are there.

The earlier castings, down along the U-shaped 'cut-outs' of the side rails, do not have the quarter-sphere bumps that the later castings do. These 'bumps' were likely added to the casting to give it strength and to make the pattern pop free of the sand easier during the casting of the tool.

#98 Side rabbet plane, 4"L, 1/2"W, 1/2lb, 1896-1942.

This is a small and rather flat plane with a narrow cutter secured diagonally across the plane's main casting. Behind the cutter is a small, turned, rosewood knob. The cutter is secured with a sorta J-shaped clamping mechanism, which is tightened with a thumb screw (check that this thumb screw isn't stripped, as many of them are). The plane has a very narrow "sole," which is more like the runners, or skates, on a #45 than it is a sole (in the bench plane sense). The backside of the plane is machined flat.

The front portion of the skate is reversible so the plane can be worked in a bull nose fashion, as shown in the lower example in the photograph. This portion is secured to the main casting with a small countersunk screw. Make sure that the bull nose section hasn't been snapped off from misuse. Curiously, many of the planes are broken, and repaired on the main casting where the portion that carries the knob widens to meet the rest of the casting. Like the #79, this plane, and the #99, can suffer cracking to the casting along the milled bed of the cutter. See the #79's listing for that information.

The plane is used to cleanup the sides of rabbets, dadoes, grooves what have you. Like the #79, the cutters on this plane are far too narrow for me, so I, instead, have a wooden pair, where I can utilize their capability to make larger cuts. That, and the fact that these are very small planes which I find difficult to grasp comfortably. However, unlike wooden side rabbets, which tend to have wider soles than this plane, the #98 & #99 can undercut sides better, like when doing the housing for a sliding dovetail. The other knock against wooden side rabbets is that they can, and often do, warp over their length. This plane does not suffer that flaw.

This plane is referred to as the right one of the pair, which means it is pushed from left to right with its knob facing your body. This is kinda weird, seeing how it is opposite the way a conventional plane is pushed - from left to right - when this plane is said to be for righthanded use.

The plane was introduced prior to the #99, its mate, to see how well it would be received by the public. Apparently, it went well for the planes aren't all that rare. The earliest models have the patent date stamped into the skate. Starting around 1930, the plane came equipped with an adjustable depth stop located on the backside. The depth stop is secured to the plane with a small thumb screw, and the backside of the plane has a vertical V-groove cut into it to accept a tongue-like surface on the depth stop. This mating of the depth stop and main casting is identical to that used on the #78, and similar planes, and helps to keep the depth stop laterally stable so the sole of the stop is parallel to the surface being worked.

One may wonder why to go with this plane and its brother over the #79, which rolls the functions of both planes into a single tool. On the plus side, the #79 is easily half the cost of the #98 and #99 combined, as might be expected since two planes should be twice the cost of one, right? The best reason to go with the pair of planes over the #79 is that you can always leave the irons set in the pair, whereas you have to back off the 'trailing' iron of the #79, if you want to follow good planing practice. Dragging an iron backward over wood can dull or injure it.

Some folks will take the knob off the plane and use it on a #1 that's in need of knob (the #1 is more valuable than the #98, so it's sacrificed for the cause). The knob is held to the plane using the common threaded rod and slotted nut, but the nut on this plane is nickel plated. The blade clamp is interchangeable with the #79.

#99 Side rabbet plane, 4"L, 1/2"W, 1/2lb, 1897-1942.

This plane is the left one of the pair - it is pushed from right to left. It is identical to the #98, except that it is the mirror image of that plane. These planes are found less frequently than the #98's are. The plane is the topmost one pictured under the #98's description.

#100 Block plane, 3 1/2"L, 1"W, 3/8lb, 1898-1958.

Never thought I'd make it to #100, did you? Well, neither did I. Sad thing is, I've got another 100, or so, to go. UGH! What a thankless task this is. I wish I had listened to my father's advice to become a professional wrestler, er, where was I? Oh yeah, this is a toy-sized block plane, designed to be used with one hand. It has a squirrel tail iron handle at its rear, which rests nicely in the palm of the hand. The handle has a hole drilled in it so that the tool can be hung out of the way.

The plane is particularly suited for miniature and model work. A simple screw-activated lever cap, which is forced against a rod that extends across the plane's width (cheek to cheek), is used to secure the cutter in place. This same method of securing the cutter is common to other planes that follow. There is no cutter adjustment mechanism; this is done entirely by hand.

Later models, ca. post-WWII, have their lever caps finished in red paint which gives them a unique look from the ones that are all japanned. Many of the planes have no markings on them, including the cutter.

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Copyright (c) 1998-2012 by Patrick A. Leach. All Rights Reserved. No part may be reproduced by any means without the express written permission of the author.