The Superior Works: Patrick's Blood and Gore Planes #201 - #444 

Quick Find: #201, #203, #205, #212, #220, #238, #239, #239 1/2, #248, #248A, #271, #278, #282, #283, #289, #292, #340, #378, #444

Hah, just when you thought all of Stanley's plane guts were strewn about the information superhypeway, along comes some more road pizza. This time, there are some bloody sights to behold....

#201 Block plane, 3 1/2"L, 1"W, 1/4lb, 1906. *

This plane is identical to the #101, the toy-size block plane, except for its finish. This one is nickel plated, whereas the #101 is japanned. Collector alert - watch for re-plated #101's passed off as real #201's.

#203 Block plane, 5 1/2"L, 1 3/8"W, 1 1/8lbs, 1912-1962.

A smaller block plane designed primarily for manual training use. The plane is somewhat scarce due to its size and lack of bells and whistles. The same problems one can find on the common block planes, like chipped/cracked mouths, stripped adjusters, cracks in the lever cap, etc., can also be found on this plane, especially on those that were on the receiving end of junior's abuse.

This plane has its cutter pitched at 20 degrees, and has a cutter adjustment mechanism like that found on the #60, et al, although the sliding part of the adjuster is not the same as that used on the low angle block planes but is like those used on the #220. The plane might be mistaken for the first model of the #60 (those without adjustable mouths) were it not for the pitch of the cutter and the fact that "203" is usually cast below the cutter's adjustment knob.

There is no provision for mouth adjustment; i.e., the sole is one piece. The front knob is turned rosewood (on the earlier planes) or hardwood (on the later planes). The knob threads onto a threaded boss, and should you be in need of one, you can snag one off a #110, #120, #140 (although the tool police might put you up against a wall and ask why you would want to take a knob off a more valuable plane to put on a cheaper one), and #220, et al.

Although this is a nice, functional plane, you may choose to leave this plane for the kiddies, and get a larger one for the mature and muscular you.

#205 Block plane, 6 1/4"L, 1 3/8"W, ~1lb, 1927-1934.

This is a piece of junk that only a collector, when overtaken by a fit of momentary insanity, would ever dare own. Forget it as a user tool, since it's garbage. It was offered in a boy's tool set, but never as a separate plane, in Stanley's catalogs. It was offered separately in other catalogs (hardware firms), which ought to indicate that even Stanley was embarassed with this ugly baby.

The plane is pressed steel, and has a projecting steel palm grip which is fastened to the bottom. A cheesy cutter securing mechanism is nothing but a screw through a slotted hole in the cutter. The cutter is marked "DEFIANCE", which says to me, whenever I see this plane, "I defy you to buy me." Stay away from it, it's quicksand! Heck, it's not even worthy as a projectile when you're looking for something to throw at your neighborhood's stray cats.

#212 Scraper plane, 5 1/2"L, 1 3/8"W, 1 1/2lbs, 1911-1934. *

A very small scraper designed for very small work, with very small sales, all of which make it quite rare. It's sorta the #1 of scrapers. It has the exact same blade adjustment mechanism as that found on its larger siblings, the #12 and #112 which ultimately inspired its design, only this one has a scaled down version. Instrument makers (Stanley specifically mentioned violin makers in their propaganda), flyrod makers, etc., were the people who may have found this plane useful.

It has a turned knob, made of rosewood, similar to that found on a common bench plane. There are some scarcer models that have a knob turned of mahogany. These knobs tend to be a bit more elongated than the rosewood version, something you can't tell unless you've seen both. The knob is mounted at the rear of the casting, sitting atop an inclined boss of the casting, and is oriented so that it leans backward to give the workman a better grip - it fills the palm of his hand. The knob is attached with the common two-piece rod and brass nut.

The tool has the Hand-y feature milled into the sides just like that found on the block planes, but the milling is longer than that done on the block planes. I've seen an example where the sides were chopped down to below the Hand-y grip for some unfathomable reason.

The 'frog' (blade clamping assembly) is attached to the main casting via a slotted screw that's been machined flush with the sides of the tool. The pivoting section of the frog uses a similar screw to attach it to its corresponding part. Check the casting of the pivoting section, where the screw passes through it, for any sign of cracks or repairs. Also check where the threaded rod joins the 'frog' for signs of damage.

This plane has been reproduced two times. The first time in an attempt to fool the collectors. It's a poor job, and isn't nearly as good as the #1's reproduction. The second reproduction is not done in an attempt to deceive anyone, but is done as a modern working tool. This latter reproduction is cast of manganese bronze, which even the untrained eye can spot as the distinguishing feature from an original.

These planes are very difficult to find with their blades marked with any Stanley logo. Consider yourself lucky if you have one. The model number is embossed at the toe, under STANLEY that's cast in a 'scrolled' fashion. The lever cap screw is non-plated brass and has STANLEY RULE & LEVEL Co. NEW BRITAIN, CONN USA" stamped into it in fine lettering.

#220 Block plane, 7 1/2"L (7"L, 1917 on), 1 3/4"W (1 5/8"W, 1909 on), 1 1/2lbs, 1898-1973.

This plane is identical to the #203, except that it is larger. A more useful plane than the #203, but it's nice to have an adjustable mouth, which this one, too, lacks. Weren't those guys at Stanley considerate by offering us such a selection of block planes? On the plus side, the plane is at least suitable for parts snarfing - the rosewood knob is identical to the one provided on the more useful, and valuable, #140.

The plane is also very similar to the #120, but this one has the screw adjusting mechanism and sliding cutter seat that are used liberally on the low angle block planes of the #60 series. The lever cap is interchangeable with all the adjustable block planes that have the same width iron, like the #9 1/2, which also have the lever cap screw. The earlier examples will have the nickeled cast iron adjusting screw; the one in the image is the common steel one with the crosshatched knurling and incised with "STANLEY".

The example pictured here has the original decal on the lever cap, which was used during the late 1920's to the early 1930's on many of Stanley's planes. Planes and tools in this condition should be collected and not used; this plane is easy enough to find in dogmeat usable condition, so there's no need to go ruining a mint example of what's otherwise a bland tool.

#238 Weatherstrip plow plane, 7 1/2"L (9 1/2"L, 1936 on), various widths, 1 7/8lbs, 1930-1938. *

This is a plane that none of us will ever likely use. It was designed to cut the grooves in window sash for the installation of weatherstripping. It really is an ugly little monster, and is characterized by a circular hole in the main casting, which accepts your first finger when gripping the plane. There's plenty of room for all four fingers to wrap around the tote, and it seems strange that Stanley provided this circular hole for finger comfort. Anyone out there have a surviving relative who once labored in the weatherstripping trade what won't mind your checking their meathooks?

A tiny depth stop is positioned just forward of the cutter - it measures just 7/8" long. Seven cutters were provided with this plane - 1/8", 5/32", 3/16", 7/32", 1/4", 5/16", and 3/8". These cutters sorta look like the cutters a machinist uses in a lathe. The right edge of the cutter aligns with the right side of the skate.

If the plane's design, and function, aren't weird enough for you, certainly you'll find the means to secure the cutter to be among the weirdest of any Stanley plane. Two large slotted screws 'sandwich' the widest portion of the cutter. These screws are milled so that they have a smaller diameter below the head. The head of each screw bears down upon the cutter - one screw forward of the cutter, and one behind the cutter - driving the cutter against the machined area in the main casting. These screws each rest in a semicircular depression of the main casting, and these areas can suffer chipping and cracking. Seems as though someone at Stanley had a real bad plane design day on this one.

The plane carries what appears to be 4 arms, two pair of one large and one small. There is actually one pair of arms, each of which screw into the main casting, and it's on these arms that the fence is secured with smallish nickel plated thumb screws. Ahead of each arm is a smaller diameter rod that's held in position with a slotted and flat-headed screw. Both of these smaller rods are actually stops that allow the weatherstripping dude to make repeat cuts when the fence is moved; the rods slam up against the main casting to prevent the fence from being moved closer to the cutter. These rods are often missing from the plane, and unless you can figure out a good use for them, you won't miss them if yours doesn't have them. Sometimes, the stops are replaced (by guys trying to make a bland plane more attractive so that they can get them off their table). Each stop has a groove milled toward its end with a piece of wire bent around and into the groove to increase the diameter of the stop, making it difficult for it to slip out of the fence. Stanley must have foreseen the likelihood of these stops entering the same realm as cam rests, slitting cutters, core box turnbuckles, etc.

The fence on this plane is as long as the plane itself is. Make sure that the portion of the fence in front of the front arm and the portion behind the rear arm are present and not broken. There are two holes drilled in the face of the fence for attaching an auxiliary fence.

The original cardboard boxes for this plane are unusually 'spacious' when compared to the tight fits provided on the boxes' of other planes. Stanley made this one deep enough so that the plane could be stored assembled. Why? Good question. Maybe they touted the roomy box as a cool feature of the plane. Then again, maybe not.

#239 Special dado plane, 7 1/2"L, various widths, 1lb (1 1/2lbs with fence), 1915-1943. *

You ready for this one? This ugly little thing, very much resembling the #238, was used for blind wire grooving, which was a fad sweeping across America. I'm sure electricians far and wide slugged it out, tooth and nail, to be the first on the block to own one. The plumbers of America surely musta felt slighted that they didn't have a plane to call their own.

This was a plane that underwent many transformations during its too long existence on this planet. The earliest models look just like the #238, but without a fence. Since some thrill seeking electrician was using the plane across grain, and word of that got back to Stanley, a vertical spur was added to the plane so that the wood would be scored before the cutter did its cutter thing. Electricians musta rejoiced over their clean blind wire dados. Oh to have been a fly on the wall at that time! Finally, a fence was added to the plane ca. 1925 to make the plane function more like a regular plough. Shame on Stanley for thinking that they could pass off a crappy little plane on the electricians and believing that they wouldn't know any better! It took them electricians a little time to figure what was going on, but they finally got what shoulda been theirs from the get go.

The plane came in four different widths, sized by the cutters: 1/8", 5/32", 3/16",1/4".

#239 1/2 Special dado plane, 7 1/2"L, 1/8"W, 1 1/2lbs, 1919-1923. *

Special in the sense that this is the same plane as the #239, but had a fence. The plane was dropped once some Stanley Einstein realized that the #239 should have had a fence from the start. The plane was only offered in one width - 1/8".

This is a very difficult plane to find, but only the collectors, who have to have one of every plane Stanley ever made, care about it.

#248 Plow plane, 9 1/2"L, various widths, 2 1/4lbs, 1936-1943.

Another in a series of forgettable planes, which shoulda never been made. This one was designed to cut grooves for weatherstripping and light ploughing. It sorta looks like the #238, except this one is elongated, doesn't have the circular opening in the casting. It has a depth stop. Only two cutters were provided with the plane - 1/8" and 5/32". Just another piece of flotsam adrift in Stanley's sea of shame.

#248A Plow plane, 9 1/2"L, various widths, 2 1/4lbs, 1939-1958.

Stanley offered this plane as one of their ill-fated weatherstripping tools, and it replaced the defunct #238 while retaining the cutter securing screws used on that dead and buried plane. This marvel of technological advancement notwithstanding, the plane is as unimaginative in design as that velvet Elvis painting that you found at a local starving artist sale and now have hanging over your mirrored waterbed.

Lucky for us Stanley didn't put the letter "A" in front of the number, or we woulda been stuck with the aluminum version of the #248 (as if the mere existence of the #248 isn't enough to suffer). Nope, in this case, the letter "A", as a suffix, indicates that this plane was another mutant of a plane that coulda been made/offered as one complete model. The plane does not have the letter "A" cast into it.

What's the distinguishing characteristic (from the #248) of this genetic dead end? Nothing but the addition of 5 cutters - 3/16", the ever popular 7/32", 1/4", 5/16", and 3/8". The cutters (as well as the depth stop and the stop and fence screws) are interchangeable with those of the #238. The stops of this plane have a different treatment to them than the #238 does. Each stop has two little integral burr-like projections near the end to keep from sliding out of the fence.

The plane is limited in the depth it can cut - up to 5/8" deep. If you plan to use this thing, and a lot of guys like to use this goober for lightduty ploughing, you should check that the skate and/or the fence aren't chipped; both the skate and fence are the same length. The fence has two holes drilled into it to allow a wooden face to be attached. The plane has a rather strange casting for the integral handle - a web-like portion can be found at the bottom of each side of the handle. This area of the casting can be found cracked or chipped.

#271 Router plane, 3"L, 1/4"W, 3/8lb, 1926-1973.

A handy, small router for light work. It's one of Stanley's better ideas, which gained favor from those doing inlay, mounting small door hardware, etc. The plane is a flat, rectangular casting, with a vertical portion at the midpoint that is used as a grip and to secure the cutter (by means of a simple slotted screw). There are two positions on which the cutter can be attached to the main casting. One position allows the tool to be used for normal work, and the other position for bull nose work.

Some guys would mount a block of wood on the tool by tapping holes through the casting (in the vertical portion, where you grip the tool), and then screw the wood to the casting. This after-market option was done so that a better grip could be had on the tool.

The plane is nickel plated, and is still manufactured over in England. A short production of japanned models was offered during WWII. These are very scarce, but no one, as yet, cares.

#278 Rabbet and filletster plane, 6 3/4"L, 1"W, 2lbs, 1915-1943. *

This is a dual-purpose plane - the primary function is to cut rabbets and the other is to confound you over how the blessed thing is gripped without contorting your fingers in directions they aren't supposed to go. Ergonomics wasn't invented yet to help this thing be user-friendly.

The plane is ground on both sides so that they are square with the sole and so the plane can lay flat on either side. Its iron is pitched at ~20 degrees, and is used bevel side up. The iron has a series of parallel grooves machined into its back. These grooves are engaged by a tacky-looking pressed steel lever, which regulates the iron's set. The iron is held in place by a screw-activated lever cap that's unique to this plane. Check the lever cap for any repairs or cracks. Also, check that the iron isn't a crude replacement made from a #90 - the iron on this plane is unique to this plane. The surest way to tell is by looking at the iron where it bulges out near its cutting edge. An original iron is not bevelled along the edges, whereas the #90's is. The first models of the plane carry irons marked "PAT. 10-17-16" on their heels.

A detachable nose piece is provided, which makes the tool function as a chisel plane. The nose piece is secured to the main portion of the plane with a slotted screw, which often becomes mangled through repeated use. On the nose piece are two retractable spurs, one on each side, which are used to score the grain when working across the grain. There is also a very small, and fragile, adjustable depth stop that can be affixed to either side of the plane. The depth stop fits into a v-shaped groove to steady it. A small nickel plated thumbscrew, equipped with a washer, locks the depth stop in place.

There's a circular portion, about the diameter of a quarter, cast into the nose piece. This circular opening of the casting is supposed to provide a grip while using the plane, but I haven't figured out how to do it, especially since the depth stop sticks up beside it and restricts the room for whichever finger you dare jam through there.

A fence rides on an arm, which can be positioned on either side of the plane. This fence is often missing (the depth stop is too). The plane is sorta valuable, so many times you'll see the plane offered with a replacement fence salvaged from a #78. The sure way to tell an original #278 fence is to look at the position of the hole for the arm. If it's noticeably toward one side of the casting, it's a #78 fence. In the image of the two fences, the #278's is the one to the left. An original #278 fence has its hole centered in the casting. There are no other holes in the fence.

The plane is almost entirely japanned. The thumb screws and the lever cap screw are nickel plated. The sides of the plane are milled and have no japanning. However, I have had an example of this tool that has its milled sides nickel plated. A tool pal of mine also reports a similar nickeled example. It's impossible to say whether the plane was plated at a later date or whether someone in New Britain was goofing around with some leftover nickel at the end of the day.

#282 Scraper, 13"L, 3"W, 1 5/8lbs, 1925-1958.

An inexpensive floor scraper, which I've included only as filler. Forget it - it's ugly and worthless, now that we have those 'lectrical floor sanders at our renting call. Still, the chef in you might find it very useful for scraping your cast iron griddle clean of pancake crusties.

The tool is a very simple construction - a wooden handle (unfinished maple until the mid-1930's, and from then on red painted hardwood until it went belly up) is attached to a japanned casting. On the backside of the casting is a maple block. Through both the maple block and the casting a bolt passes with a large washer and thumb screw to tighten the two pieces together. Between the casting and the wood block is a 1 3/4" by 3" scraper blade that projects to either side of the main casting by about 1/4". The chunk of wood helps to dampen the blade as you pull the tool toward you. The wood often becomes all beat to hell or split from years of hard floor scraping.

The blade is normally fixed into the holder so that the blade's cutting edge is parallel with the casting's leading edge. However, the blade can be pivoted somewhat by turning the wood block toward one side and then tightening it.

#283 Adjustable scraper, 9 1/2"L, 2 7/8"W, 2lbs, 1930-1941. *

This is another wierd invention of Stanley's, which really should have sold more than it did. It's a tough tool to find.

A turned tropical hardwood (the few I've owned are either mahogany or cocobolo) has a geared cast piece fitted into its business end. The geared piece accepts a similarly geared cast piece. Together, these two pieces are screwed together with a wing nut to allow the scraper blade to be adjusted forward or backward. The scraper blade is held in place by another wing nut, and allows the blade to be tilted from side-to-side. Because of the two degrees of freedom, the scraper can be configured for the hard to reach, awkward areas. It was also advertised as being useful for floor scraping, which I suppose is a good thing for those who are given to fits of living on their hands and knees.

The scraper blade is the typical blade used in the #12-type scrapers, except it has a hole drilled through its center so that it can be attached indirectly to the handle. The Stanley logo is stamped off-center, toward one of the long edges of the blade. If you see one that has the logo situated elsewhere, be suspicious of it being a replacement.

A wooden grip, as wide as the blade is wide, is kerfed to fit over the top edge of the blade. The grip has a metal strip screwed to it. The strip of metal extends below the grip and is curved so that it acts like a pressure spring to keep the grip from falling off. The grip can be pulled off so that the blade can be sharpened. The grip is often missing on the tool.

A washer-like cast iron piece is notched to fit around the strip of metal. This cast piece is what puts pressure on the blade when the wing nut is screwed tight. This cast iron piece has the number " No. 283" cast into it.

Because of the length of the metal strip (attached to the grip), and the fact that it fits into the notch in the cast iron piece, it's impossible to use anymore than approximately 1.5" of the blade. The metal strip could be shortened by cutting it, but doing so decreases the amount of tension it offers to keep the grip in place. It's perhaps this design flaw, along with the myriad of other scrapers Stanley offered, that killed this tool soon after it left the drawing board.

The wing nuts have wings that are higher than normal - sort of what you'd expect if Mickey Mouse's ears paralleled Pinoccio's nose whenever Mickey said he likes the #55. The wing nuts are nickel plated, and the cast iron parts are japanned.

Several other manufacturers made a tool that looks practically identical to this one. Starrett, Miller Falls, and others were cranking this thing out in greater numbers than Stanley ever did, and examples by manufacturers other than Stanley are not valuable other than for use.

#289 Filletster and rabbet plane, 8 1/2"L, 1 3/4"W (1 7/8"W, 1936 on), 3 3/4lbs, 1911-1948. *

This is one of Stanley's nicest planes, in my not so humble opinion. It's sort of a hybrid between the #78 and the #278. It looks more like the common #78, except with the noticeable difference in the cutter's width and that the cutter is skewed. There are also the two scoring spurs, and a depth stop and fence that can be positioned on either side of the plane, like the #278's capability. The lever cap's screw, the depth stop's thumb screw, and the fence's thumb screw are the only parts that are nickel plated on this tool. The sides of the plane are machined flat so that it can be used on its side.

This plane can also be found with an improper fence. A proper fence has web-like additions to the casting (for strength) where the portion for the rod meets the fence proper; the rod slips through the fence's opening for it roughly about mid-way along the fence's length. An inordinate number of these planes turn up fitted with fences from a #78. It seems odd that so many of them would have lost their fences over time. Perhaps Stanley ran out of #289 fences and sold #78 fences as replacements for those guys who either lost or broke the original fence. It's hard to say for sure, but one thing is certain - the #78 fence is not designed to work well on this tool when the plane is configured for left-handed planing. The fence has two holes, one front and one back, so that an auxilary wooden fence can be added to the plane.

One thing to check on this plane is that the arm unscrews easily and fits onto the right side of the plane. The arm has a hole drilled through its end so that a nail can be inserted through the hole to tighten the arm. The arm's diameter of this plane is larger than that of the #78's; the rod fills the hole in its original fence, so if you see a noticeable gap around the arm and the fence's casting it's a good bet that the rod isn't original. This isn't fatal to the plane's function, but if you're a collector you might experience a brain spasm over it.

Also check that the spurs are ok, since the spurs supplied with this plane are unique to it (actually, the earlier models of the #10 1/4 use the same spur, but these planes are far too expensive to be used as a source for replacement spurs). Each spur fits into a milled recess, one on the left and one on the right, and they are not interchangeable with each other. Many of the spurs are filed short so that they no longer can protrude below the sole of the plane. For a very brief time, Stanley made some of the planes with the three-lobed spurs that are identical to those used on the #78 and similar planes; this is the model to find, if you can.

The lever cap, along the righthand edge can sometimes be found with a large chip out of it. You should also make sure that the lever cap is really a proper one for the plane, and not one that was lifted from a #78 (or similar plane) as a replacement. A proper #289 lever cap has an S-shaped reinforcement ridge along its right edge (relative to its position in the plane). The lever cap also has the unusual feature in that it must be pulled upward so that the lever cap fulcrum screw can engage the cap. Nearly all the other planes that use a similar lever cap slip down over the lever cap fulcrum screw, taking efficient use of gravity. Perhaps the designer of the #289's lever cap was from the southern hemisphere, the moon, or some place like that.

The earliest models of the plane have the patent date embossed in the area just behind the cutter's bed. While you're looking for that date, to see if you have an early one, be sure to check the area of the casting that spans between the handle and body proper as it can sometimes crack.

#292 Scraper, 12 1/2"L, 2 1/2"W, 1 1/2lbs, 1933-1964.

More filler for this rag. A cheap scraper used on floors, for removing paint, etc. It did come with a leather pad, under the blade, to eliminate chatter, if that's important to you.

#340 Furring plane, 10"L, 2"W, 2 1/2lbs, 1905-1917. *

Yup, a plane designed to remove fur, and a favorite among the PETA rank and file. Not from animals, you chucklehead, but from wood, as it came off the saw mill. How would you like that job, planing wood as it came off the saw? Too bad What's My Line is off the air. I woulda loved to hear Kitty Carlisle or Nipsey Russell try to crack a fur planer's rough exterior when giving him the third degree.

Judging by the length of time that this plane was offered, you can tell that fur planing was a popular pastime. Now, what is fur, in the lumber sense? It's the rough, fuzzy surface left from the sawing. Oftentimes, the lumber was chucked onto the ground before it was stickered. So, it was like a dirt magnet. Thus, some genius at Stanley, Rule and Level, Co. thought a plane necessary to tidy up the stock before a regular bench plane could be put to the 'sullied' surface. But that's the same function as the #40 and the #40 1/2. Or one woulda thought so.

This plane is bizzare looking. When viewed from its side, the plane's sole makes contact only at its mouth and heel; between these two points, the sole arches upward. The toe is above the surface from just forward of the cutter to the toe's end. This wierd sole configuration, designed purposely to minimize the amount of contact with the wood, makes sworn members of the Flat Plane Society recoil in horror. If you ever stumble across one of these planes, don't bother trying to lap it, ok?

Looking at the plane from the top, the plane swells around the cutter's position, and tapers both toward the toe and heel so that the plane is lighter in weight. It certainly is a unique looking chunk of metal. The entire bottom casting is japanned, save for the flat sections of the sole below the tote and around the mouth. The plane's model number is embossed right behind the knob.

The knob and tote are beech, and each is held to the main casting with a one-piece steel screw, and not the two-piece brass nut and bolt that's used on the common bench planes. The knob has a unique shape to it, where it tapers in diameter where it sits atop the casting. Stanley must have thought that this shape would lessen the knob's chances to split about the base, but many of the planes show splitting there. The same general shape to the knob can be found on the early #40 and #40 1/2 scrub planes.

A single, thick cutter is used, and is held in place by a simple cap and screw. The cutter rests on a simple fin-like projection that arises out of the main casting. The first model of the plane has "PAT APLd FOR" stamped into the iron just below the Stanley logo. Since there is no mechanical adjustment means for the iron, the backside of the iron is smooth. Any milling in the backside of the iron means it's a replacement.

You only want to own one of these if you're a collector. Many of them are found in very tough shape since they did suffer hard work. Finding the planes in anywhere near new condition is very tough.

#378 Weatherstrip Rabbet plane, 8"L, 11/16"W (13/16"W, 1939 on), 2 5/8lbs, 1930-1958.

One woulda thought that Stanley had exhausted every possible design for a plane to make the cuts for weatherstrip installation. But no, the New Britain think tank was in overdrive, and nothing could stop it from polluting the hardware shelves of America with more offal. First the #78, then the #278, and now the #378, with this one is designed specifically to cut the rabbets for metal weatherstripping on meeting rails of sash and for general rabbetting within its capacity. Wonder why there was never a #178 - maybe they had one on the drawing board, but it frightened its designers to death and thus never got into production?

This one looks like the common #190 rabbet plane, loaded with some factory options - there are three depth stops (one on each side that can be set at different depths) and a fence that is roughly one-third the length of the plane. The fence is carried by two arms each of which screws into the main casting. Check that the casting isn't damaged where the arms screw into the plane.

An extra wide depth stop, positioned on either the left or right side of the plane, was provided for use on the wider cutters, which were optional with the tool. A thumb screw, just like the one used to secure the slitting cutter on the #45, is used to secure the depth stop in place. The plane came equipped with an 11/16" cutter, which was then upped to 13/16" from 1939 on. Optional cutters could be purchased: 11/16", 3/4", 7/8", and 1".

Two brass stop collars are included so that pre-set positions of the rabbets can be repeated from sash to sash; the fence slams against these collars to maintain the fence's settings. These stop collars each have a small slotted screw through them so that the collars can be secured to the rear arm; the collars are positioned so that they 'sandwich' the fence. There is also a small cotter pin that fits through the rear arm. I have no idea what this pin does, other than to make it impossible for the fence to be removed from the arm - this must be one of the deep, dark secrets of weatherstripping that only a senior member of WUA (Weatherstripping Union of America) could answer. The astute reader may quickly realize that there are a lot of parts to this plane, and they are usually MIA.

The plane is japanned with its sides machined flat. The cutter is secured with a nickel plated lever cap which is secured to the main casting with a slotted screw. The thumb screws to secure the fence and depth stops are also nickel plated. The fence has two holes drilled through it - one near the front and the other at the rear - so that a wooden face can be secured to the fence. The model number is embossed on the left side of the main casting, just forward of the handle.

In one of Stanley's pieces of tool propagada - one devoted to tools for weatherstrip work - they indicate that this plane is "Used to make the rabbet cuts on the sash meeting rail and for all rabbet work within its capacity." If you don't know what the sash meeting rail is, it's the two rails that align with each other, on double-hung windows, when the window is closed.

You don't want this plane for working. Save it for the collectors. Trust me here.

#444 Dovetail plane, 9"L, various widths, 6lbs, 1912-1938. *

Runner-up to the Mr. Stupid Plane Pageant (in the event that Mr. Stupid Plane can no longer remain in that role, the runner-up shall assume the position and do guest appearances either on a televised workshop program decorated in plaid or Vegematic infomercials). This is a plane that only a mother or Rube Goldberg could love.

First, it's the most difficult plane to grip, if you have large neanderthal paws. A hollowed and looped opening in the casting is fit in the palm, with your fingers wrapping around it. The cutter sticks way up into the opening where it's perfectly positioned to rip apart the knuckles of a careless dovetailer. The toe, where you place your left hand, has a little bump in the casting, which is supposed to be sufficient for grasping. Hah! I defy you to use this plane without drawing puss or blood!

There are three main cast iron parts to the tool: 1) the main casting, which carries the cutter; 2) the fence, which makes the plane work perpendicularly to cut the dovetail in one position and also makes the plane work at an angle to cut the socket in another position; and 3) a depth stop, which controls how deep the shoulder of the dovetail is cut. The main casting has two sets of tapped holes in which the 2 1/2" arms are screwed. The main casting also has the patent information "PAT'S / 6-28 / 8-23 / 1910" embossed on the right side. Both the fence and the depth stop each have two countersunk holes drilled through them so that a wooden face may be secured. The fence and the depth stop each also carry two pressed steel stops that are positioned to one of the tick marks of the scales that are stamped into each casting. These scales help to set-up the plane correctly in order to get the consistancy needed to cut the corresponding dovetail and groove. The steel stops butt up against a blued 'bolt' that's positioned on the left side of the main casting, just above the cutter.

The plane cuts a flared (20 degrees) tongue and groove, which most of us recognize as a sliding dovetail. The plane's working range is a groove no more than 3/4" deep and dovetail necks no narrower than 1/4". It's a very difficult plane to describe how it's used in words, but I'll take a stab at it. The sole of the plane is beveled at 20 degrees. A fence is provided that can be attached to the plane on either side, to give different results, depending upon which side the fence is placed. In one case, the fence is attached to the right of the plane's main casting, making it work perpendicularly to the edge (the plane is cutting the tongue portion), and in the other, the fence is attached to the left of the plane's main casting to tilt it 20 degrees (the fence has two faces, which oppose each other at 20 degrees) to cut the groove. In the latter case, the fence is used only to pitch the plane and a batten must be used, like a common dado plane, to guide it. When the plane is used to cut the tongue, a depth stop is fixed to the left side of the main casting. When the plane is used to cut the groove, the angled fence doubles as a depth stop. The grooves are the toughest to cut using this plane.

The cutter is seated at a skew in the plane to facilitate cutting across the grain. There are four provided: 7/32", 3/8", 1/2", and 7/8". The cutter is secured to the main casting via a plunger-like rod that's activated by the large thumb screw just forward of the grip. There are two cast iron spur blocks that are used to score the grain when working across the grain; one spur block, measuring 3/16" across the beveled face, is designed for the narrow cutters, and the other, measuring 5/16" across the beveled face, for the wider cutters. These spur blocks are secured to the right side of the main casting with two countersunk screws, just ahead of the cutter. Another spur is secured to the left side of the main casting. Since these planes received very little use, the spurs normally have plenty of length to them, however, if you find yourself in need of one, you can snarf them from the #289 or #10 1/4, both of which aren't low-cost planes. Many of the planes are missing cutters and one of the spur blocks.

The plane is entirely nickel plated, but even with that, you'd still have to be mighty desperate to own one of these (for use). Judging by the number of examples out there, most of which are in a remarkable state of preservation, with many in their original box, despair musta been oozing from each and every workshop that had this ghastly beast counted in its tool arsenal.

The earlier planes came in a finger-jointed wooden box with a sliding top while the later ones came in a cardboard box. Both boxes have a bright blue label, which shows the various dimensions of dovetails, affixed to the underside of the lid. A wooden box was provided to carry the four cutters. The box also has a diagonal line scribed across one face to serve as a reference for the proper grinding angle of the cutters. A sample dovetail was also commonly provided with the plane almost as if Stanley were trying to prove to the tool buying public that the plane actually works. We'll never really know for certain whether some unfortunate soul was chained to a post in some New Britain sweatshop, forced to use the plane all day long to make the samples, or whether a machine cut them and Stanley was pulling the wool over Joe Carpenter's eyes.

Stanley, in their catalogs, stated the plane could do the following work (tongue refers to the dovetail proper, while groove refers to the socket):

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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.