The Superior Works: Patrick's Blood and Gore Planes #12 - #20 1/2 

Quick Find: #12, #12 1/4, #12 1/2, #12 3/4, #13, #14, #15, #15 1/2, #16, #17, #18, #A18, #S18, #18 1/4, #19, #20, #20 1/2

#12 Veneer scraper, 6 1/4"L, 3"W (2 7/8"W 1925 on), 3 3/4lbs, 1870-1947.

This is the most common of Stanley's adjustable scrapers. A latter day manufacturer, from Germany, made pitiful copies of this plane, characterized by low-rate castings smeared with a hideous green paint.

If you plan to do a lot of scraping, these are nice to own since they save your fingers from getting burned (due to the friction between the scraper and the wood). They also prevent the edges of the blade from digging into the wood, which is apt to happen on softer woods. They do not bow the blade a bit, like the #80 does, since these tools are more properly scraper planes than they are scraper holders. These also make great paint scrapers.

A regular scraper blade, made of softer steel so that its edge can be rolled over, is held in an adjustable (pitch) holder. The holder consists of a captive lever cap, which is fastened to another casting that pivots at its bottom, located above the tool's mouth. Together, these two castings receive and sandwich the blade, and hold it in place by turning a brass clamping screw through the lever cap proper. The two castings are attached to the main casting with a rod that is visible from, and ground flush to, the sides of the tool. The rod is driven into the main casting from one direction only so if you have to drive it out, and it's not budging, flip it over and drive it from the other side.

The blade clamping assembly is, in turn, connected to a long, partially threaded rod, which projects nearly perpendicular to the clamping assembly. This rod pierces a raised rectangular portion of the main casting, and carries two brass nuts that sandwich this portion. Together, the two nuts are adjusted to regulate the blade's pitch. The blade can be pitched roughly from 45 degrees to 95 degrees, making the tool particularly useful and customizable for stubborn wood grains. In addition to regulating the pitch of the blade, the two brass nuts also permit the fine adjustment of the blade's set; the blade can be pitched forward for a deeper set, and backward for a finer set. The identical blade holding/adjustment assembly is found on the #12 1/4, #12 1/2, #12 3/4, #112, and #212.

There is a nicely turned rosewood handle that is screwed crosswise to the scraper. It provides a comfortable grip for the workman to bear down on the tool when working it. Toothing blades can also be used to prepare the surface for preliminary surfacing or veneering. Original Stanley toothing blades are quite scarce, and can sometimes cost more than this tool does. The toothing cutters came in 22, 28, and 32 teeth per inch.

There's not really much to be watchful over as far as damage is concerned on these tools other than chips or cracks in the castings, which any iron tool can suffer. I have noticed a few examples that have suffered a rather unusual flaw - they have breakage about the lower portion of the blade clamping castings. This damage is easy to note by looking at the casting through the tool's mouth. The casting completely houses a rod, which allows it to pivot. If you can see the pin, the casting is broken. Also check the blade clamping assembly, where the two castings join each other, for any breakage or repairs; the area that permits the lever cap to pivot can sometimes be found cracked or repaired. Where the threaded rod is pinned to the blade clamping assembly can also sometimes be broken or repaired. Other than this damage, the tools seem to be tough little monkeys overall.

There are no holes drilled in the rosewood handle or sole. If you see any, it's been modified. Surprisingly, many guys would tap holes into the main casting so that they could attach a wooden sole. Perhaps they lusted after the #12 1/2, after they bought their #12's, but their frugality prevented them from succumbing to Stanley's lastest and greatest scraper offerings.

The earlier model has its toe and heel cast so that they are both straight across the width of the bottom casting. The later model has both slightly arched convex across the width. The outermost brass adjusting nut can be found with the patent date on the earliest models as well as some later ones - Stanley must have had an ample supply of these nuts so marked. However, the earliest nuts are stamped "L.BAILEY" over "PATENT / AUG. 31 - 58". Furthermore, the early model does not have "No 12" cast into it, whereas the later model does. Other than this subtle modification, the tool never underwent any modification. It worked right from the start, and didn't need any enhancements or tweaking, which seemed to be standard operating procedure for many other Stanley tools.

Some folks are at first confused about how the blade should be oriented in the tool. Just make sure that the hooked edge of the blade faces away from the two brass nuts that adjust the holder; the hook is on the same side as the brass clamping screw. To protect the burr, you should always insert the blade from the sole as it's possible to catch the burr on the relatively narrow opening through the clamping assembly.

Place the tool on a flat surface, after the blade had been inserted, and let the hooked edge make contact with the surface (you can slip a piece of paper under the portion of the sole, toward which the hook faces, to start with a very fine set). Back the inner brass nut off just a bit, and then turn the outer one so that it's tight. This tiny adjustment will pitch the cutter backward ever so slightly, which in turn raises the hooked edge of the blade thereby decreasing the depth of cut. If the tool doesn't cut, you'll need to pitch the blade the other way to increase the blade's set by pitching the blade forward. To pitch the blade forward, back the outermost brass nut off and turn the inner nut so that it's tight against the raised portion of the main casting that the two nuts sandwich.

Grip both ends of the turned handle with each hand, with the two brass adjusting screws oriented toward your body. Place the plane on the wood, with your body directly behind it. Pressing it firmly downward, push it away from your body, and watch 3" wide shaving curl from the wood. Place the shavings in a jar, take them into work, and amaze your pals during deipnosophistic lunchtime banter. Folks will dig you bigtime!

If you find that the tool skips over the wood's surface, you may want to decrease the set just a bit, but before doing that be sure that you're placing sufficient pressure on the tool's toe. You can do this by extending both your first fingers forward and placing them on the main casting, before the blade. Rolling your wrists forward just a bit will place some force on your fingers which in turn puts increased pressure on the toe.

Finding original blades for these tools, and all of the scrapers that make use of the same adjusting assembly, can be tough. Because of the tool's design, most of the blade is unusable, so any that were subjected to a lot of scraping went through blades rather quickly. Most of the tools are found without their original blades, or, if they have them, the blades are nearly too short to use. Save the original blades and locate a suitable replacement. Some sort of Stanley logo can be found on the blades, but some of them were never marked.

#12 1/4 Veneer scraper, 6 1/4"L, 2"W, 2 1/2lbs, 1912-1941. *

This is the narrower version of the #12 (identical in all other regards), and was designed for lighter work. If you ever find a #12 1/4 missing its handle, or one with a broken handle, don't go thinking you can replace it with one from a #12 or #12 1/2. They won't fit since the screw holes that are drilled through them are too far apart for the narrower #12 1/4. These scrapers are definitely less numerous than their larger brothers.

#12 1/2 Veneer scraper, 6 1/4"L, 3"W (2 7/8"W 1925 on), 4lbs, 1905-1943.

Same as the #12, except that the sole of the scraper has a piece of 3/8" rosewood screwed to it. This supposedly helped to minimize marring or scratching the wood's surface. Many examples have their original rosewood sole all beat to hell from use. Things like gouges, splintered sections, uneven wear, and screws poking through the wood are typical problems the sole suffers. You can replace the sole with a hardwood of your choice rather easily.

Occasionally, a #12 will surface that's been modified to resemble this plane. However, it's very easy to distinguish between the two models, despite the exact dimensions they share. First, this model has the number "No 12 1/2" cast into the bottom casting. Second, there are four regularly spaced screw holes - two forward of the blade and two behind the blade - through the bottom casting. The holes are not threaded and allow the passage of round-headed screws into the rosewood sole. Third, the mouth of the main casting is wider than that found on the #12. Fourth, the blade clamping assembly is longer by about 1/4" on the #12 1/2 than it is on #12. In fact, some of the clamping assemblies on the #12 1/2 have "12 1/2" crudely incised in the assembly, just below where the threaded rod attaches to it. The reason for the assembly being a bit longer on this plane is because of the rosewood sole. Its thickness would make the blade flex too much when the plane is in use were it the same length assembly as that used on the #12.

#12 3/4 Scraper plane, 6 1/4"L, 2 7/8"W, 3 1/2 lbs, 1930-1943. *

This beast looks just like the #12 and #12 1/2, except it has two massive blocks of rosewood attached to its sole - one forward of the blade and one behind the blade. This feature supposedly offered greater spring to the blade since there is a greater amount of blade left unsupported.

Stanley's tool propaganda stated that the rosewood blocks were oriented to the tool so that the screws entered the endgrain. One example of this plane with the grain oriented as advertised is extant. However, all other specimens have the grain running parallel to the tool's sole so that the screws enter the long grain.

The two rosewood blocks, each 13/16" thick, are identical to each other in size and shape. The ends of the blocks, where they are adjacent to the tool's mouth, are cut on a bevel so that the bevel slopes down toward the sole; i.e., when viewed from the side, the blocks form what looks like a dovetail, with the widest portion of the dovetail up against the casting. The beveled edge of each block is very crudely finished, with telltale remnants of the sawing clearly visible. Examples can be noted where the blocks of rosewood are not perfectly aligned with the main casting.

This plane is very rare, and is very easy to pass off as legitimate to the unsuspecting Stanley plane collector. The number is not cast into the plane. A regular #12 1/2 bottom casting is used, and the number "No 12 1/2" will be found cast onto the plane. The tool's mouth is a full 1" wide, whereas the other ones of this series have mouths about 3/8" wide.

The rosewood blocks are held to the main casting via screws, as the #12 1/2 does. However, the screws used on the #12 3/4 differ from those used on the #12 1/2. The former uses flat-headed screws while the latter uses round-headed ones. Now here's something not many guys know - the screws are the same (thread, length, and head diameter) as those used on the Bailey bench planes. Ain't it amazing what information is contained within Blood & Gore? Now you're an instant expert, or maybe you just look like one, without your having sent away for a tool diploma offered by some matchbook cover correspondance school.

The screws do not screw into the wood directly, but into brass bushings, which are pinned into the wood in the same manner that was used on the transitional bench planes. This feature cannot be seen unless the wood is removed from the main casting.

There are fake examples of this plane out in old tool land. Many can be traced to the northeast of USofA. To the unsuspecting eye, the fakes are very good. There is, however, one thing that the forger didn't do well - he/she/it failed to bore the holes vertically into the wood. Look very carefully at how the screws are oriented - they should sit flush on the main casting. If they lean at all, even to the point of leaning away from each other, it's likely a forgery. Also, the bushings used on the fakes are a larger diameter than the originals.

This plane is one of the rarest of Stanley tools, and is better left to the diehard collectors of them.

#13 Circular plane, 10 1/2"L, 1 3/4"W, 3lbs, 1871-1909.

This is Leonard Bailey's design for a circular plane. It has a flexible steel sole which can be made concave or convex by manually bending it. Circular planes are used to plane curved sections, like rockers, wheels, stair parts, for boatbuilding, etc.

Two thumb screws, each with an eye to accommodate a nail or something similar, are tightened against their respective adjusting strap - one forward of the iron and one rearward of the iron - to secure the sole in position. These adjusting straps are hinged to the sole. Look about the hinges for any signs of tears or repairs.

The "frog" is permanently secured to the main casting with four round-headed screws. And while on the topic of screws, the common earlier models have the sole fastened to the plane with screws. On some examples, repeated use breaks the sole around the screws. A change to the fastening method was made to solve this - it is a dovetailed piece from the sole to the body. Even these break, so check them. The linkages on the front and back of the sole, which allow the sole to flex, also are prone to breakage.

The very first models of this plane, manufactured by Leonard Bailey while still doing the Boston scene, are rare. They have wing nuts that lock the sole into position. The sole does not have the hinges that link the straps to the sole. In fact, the straps and sole are one piece, with the straps bent upward and split so that the sole tightening screw can fit through them. This design proved very fragile as the sole was prone to ripping where the straps join.

The plane has the patented Bailey features. Initially, the plane did not have the lateral adjustment lever, but it was soon added once the feature made it on the bench planes. A large number of these planes can be found with the solid adjusting nut and no lateral adjustment lever. The sales of the mechanically adjustable models probably account for this as they cut into the sales of this model once the mechanical ones made their debut. Prior to the mechanical ones, all circular planes were manually adjustable. The plane carries the same textured lever cap found on the transitional planes (see that section for an image).

An early catalog reference stated that the plane could work an inside circle of 12 1/2 inches and on outside circle of 18 1/2 inches. The outer diameter couldn't be as small as the inner since there would be a severe amount of strain put on the sole and because the adjusting straps can't swing through the same range due to the main casting.

These circular planes aren't nearly as easy to use as the #20 and #113 for the fact that the sole isn't adjusted by mechanical means. To get a fair curvature to the bottom, you have to adjust the front portion and rear portion of the sold independently from each other and hope that you give them the same radius. You can cut a template of the required radius and then set the plane's sole from that.

These planes don't command as much money as Stanley's other circular planes because of their primitive sole adjustment. If you're on a tool budget, imposed upon you by a stingy housemate, you might want to consider this one for your arsenal. But, you'll never claim bragging rights with the big boys, who have firm control over the household finances, when buying this one.

#14 Cheese Plane, 1066BC-2001AD.

hohoho! There is no #14. Why? Who knows. This is the first break in the numbering sequence, and the reason for it went to the grave with all them old Stanley employees. There are more breaks in the numbering sequence.

#15 Block plane, 7"L, 1 3/4"W (1 5/8"W 1909 on), 1 5/8lbs, 1876-1955.

This plane is identical to the #9 1/2 except for its length and weight.

This plane was offered a few years after the #9 1/2 and thus cannot be found in the similar earliest configurations as the #9 1/2. However, once the plane was put into production, it pretty much paralleled the improvements and modifications made to the #9 1/2.

The #15 pictured here shows the characteristic Excelsior design, where the hump of the side wall is noticeably toward the rear of the plane to give it a more aerodynamic look (it is a plane, afterall). This casting was used on the plane from its inception and was dropped ca. 1900 when the hump was located right in the middle of the plane.

Although it isn't visible in the image, this particular #15 has the fanciful Bailey and patent date etching on the left cheek (the same style of etching was commonly used on handsaws). It is the only #15 to have surfaced with this etching, which up until now was only found on a few contemporary models of the #9 1/2. The lever caps on these planes show the gothic arch pattern at the leading edge of the lever cap.

#15 1/2 Block plane, 7"L, 1 3/4"W (1 5/8"W 1909 on), 1 5/8lbs, 1876-1934. *

This plane is identical to the #9 3/4 except for its length and weight. The rear handle used on this plane is identical to that used on the #9 3/4.

Pay close attention to the threads, if you're looking for a replacement locking nut for the rear handle.

#16 Block plane, 6"L, 1 3/4"W (1 5/8"W 1909 on), 1 1/2lbs, 1888-1941.

This plane is identical to the #9 1/2 except that its metal trim is nickel plated; the front knob, the depth adjustment nut, and the lever cap are nickel plated.

#17 Block plane, 7"L, 1 3/4"W (1 5/8"W 1909 on), 1 5/8lbs, 1888-1941.

This plane is identical to the #15 except that its metal trim is nickel plated, just like the #16's trim is. You can sometimes find the plane marked with its number stamped into the lateral adjuster, where it bends downward at the end you grip. It's a rather strange place to find the plane's marking as the lateral adjuster is common amongst all the adjustable 20 degree block planes. The #19 is also sometimes marked on the adjuster.

The #17 pictured here is stamped on its left side "IMPERFECT" because there is a tiny, pin-head sized pock mark in the main casting, which couldn't be machined out of the casting without compromising its strength. The plane is otherwise flawless, and received all the proper machining and finish trim that a perfect example got.

The cutter is marked with the sweetheart logo, dating this plane to the early 1920's. Stanley sold these planes to cut-rate hardware stores, but the boxes they shipped them in do not make any mention of the manufacturer. The label for this plane just lists the model number, what the plane's function is, and its dimensions.

Prior to around this date, Stanley simply trashed the castings that had imperfections, which weren't discovered until after machining. However, as the cost of labor increased, and the effort spent to find out later that the tool would be 'imperfect', the work already done actually cost the company real money. Stanley decided to recoup as much cost as possible by simply finishing the tool, only to sell it at a slimmer profit than they would have realized had the tool been flawless. Perhaps this business modus operandi is the begining of the downhill slide in tool quality that we now suffer when shopping at Home Cheapo outlets?

#18 Block plane, 6"L, 1 3/4"W (1 5/8"W 1909 on), 1 1/2lbs, 1888-1950.

Yet another block plane! Like all the others listed so far, but with one distinguishing feature - a knuckle joint lever cap. So, what's this knuckle joint lever cap anyway? It, in my opinion, is one of the coolest contraptions ever to leave New Britain. The second design of the lever cap, that is.

The knuckle joint cap is a two-piece pressed steel cap that has a comfortable palm rest, which snaps a linkage to place pressure on what is the lever cap proper. A good approximation of what the knuckle joint lever cap looks like is a conventional bench plane's lever cap with a spoon, concave portion downward, resting over a good length of the lever cap, pinned crosswise to the lever cap. The 'spoon' portion of the lever cap, then, is oriented upward, and fits into the palm, making for good, sure grip of the plane during use.

The 'spoon' portion lifts up and down, loosening or snapping the lever cap in place, as the case may be; raising it takes the pressure off the cutter while lowering it locks it. Because of the way the lever cap is activated, there is little chance that the iron can be knocked out of lateral truth like it can be with the conventional block plane lever cap, which relies on a small lever that's activated by rotating it. This design proved to be very effective, barring a minor design flaw during its introduction. The flaw was soon corrected.

The first release of the knuckle joint relied on a two-prong fork-like piece that engaged the lever cap screw, which protrudes above the iron, at the leverage point of the cap. These lever caps have "PAT. DEC.28.86." stamped along its lower edge. It wasn't a very good design, since many of the caps broke about this point, rendering the plane useless. The cap never really locks into place all that well, and can often pop free during use. Apart from the forks on the cap, the early-style cap can easily be distinguished from the improved design by the number of parts it has - the early one only has a two-part cap.

The cap was redesigned to overcome the flaws of the earlier design. The solution was to make a conventional-style lever cap slip over the lever cap screw, and through the means of a two-piece linkage, the 'spoon' portion of the lever cap places pressure on the iron when it's snapped in place. This new design of the lever cap is made up of 4 pieces, and it's the one you should look for, if you plan to use the plane.

Check that this newer mechanism functions well, and that the linkages under the lever cap are proper are sound. I have seen cracked examples of the lever cap, making thorough scrutinization mandatory. The lever caps came nickel plated, but they are often found with a lot of it missing from years of use. However, a surprising amount of it can often be found on the lever cap.

Check the sole, just behind the iron, very carefully on these planes. Because the knuckle joint lever cap can exert a great amount of force on the iron, due to its design, the sole can develop stress cracks to either side of the back of the mouth. Also, make sure that the lever cap screw is proper for the plane. The lever cap screw on planes originally equipped with the knuckle joint lever cap are a bit longer than those used on the other block planes. Some guys will take a #9 1/2 and pop a knuckle joint lever cap on it. If this is done, the lever cap screw must be backed off to accommodate the lever cap. This results in fewer threads holding the lever cap screw to the main casting.

Oh yeah, this plane is like the #16, which is like the #9 1/2, in every way except for the knuckle joint cap. In other words, it has the adjustable mouth, the lateral adjustment lever, and the brass depth adjusting nut.

#A18 Block plane, 6"L, 1 5/8"W, 7/8lbs, 1925-1934. *

The aluminum version of the #18. Imagine just how lucky you are saving a total of 5/8lb. using one of these over a standard #18. ZOWEE! They didn't sell like hotcakes despite the obvious benefit of giving your arm the rest it needs by reducing the weight of your tool. Like the #18, all the trimmings of this planes are nickel plated, which is usually long gone on the specimens that surface.

Like all the aluminum planes, these things can become pretty heinous looking after 2 hours of use. Those that haven't been used are sorta neat looking bearing a striking resemblance to a Daredevil, Jitterbug, Hullapopper, etc. fishing lure. Good thing they don't come equipped with a treble hook otherwise you may be taken hook, line, and sinker by one of these wonders of the tool world.

#S18 Block plane, 6"L, 1 5/8"W, 1 1/8lbs, 1925-1941

This is the indestruct-o-version of the #18, made of a pressed steel body like that used on the #S4 and #S5. Stanley had a concept going with aluminum and steel, and they were obsessed to apply it to as many planes as they could in their attempt to make the mundane extraordinary when in reality they actually made the bland blander. Luckily, a World War popped up at just the right time to KO this pitiful product that Stanley tried to jazz up by nickel plating the lever cap, knob, and cutter adjuster.

The plane's steel body, with a japanned interior, has two circular cutouts along the arched sides in this plane's version of the Hand-y grip (the lengths Stanley would go to make something different, yet the same, are mind-numbing). The lateral adjustment lever screws into a rivetted two-piece, I-beam shaped cross member that is itself rivetted to the sides of the plane's body. The cutter's depth adjustment lever is pinned to another rivetted two-piece construction that's also rivetted to the body. One look at the plane and you'll quickly see that the thing must have been engineered by an unemployed ironworker; cockroaches will have good company in the event of a nuclear holocaust.

The plane has an adjustable mouth that's similar to that used on the #18, but it's different. The sliding section (to close the mouth) isn't fit into the sole, but sits atop the body. The section is bent down into the mouth, and it's this bent section that moves nearer/farther from the cutter. As a result of this design, a gap in the sole forms when the mouth is closed. This gap can become jammed up with wood schmutz causing the plane to lift ever so slightly away from the wood, which, as any Einstein quickly realizes, will make the plane stop cutting, especially when the mouth is set fine. The model number, "No S18", is stamped into the toe of the sliding section, just in case you have a tough time distinguishing cast iron from pressed steel, I suppose.

The sliding section uses an eccentric cam that's unique to this plane. The cam pivots directly below the knob with the arc-shaped slot swinging over a small, projecting pin that's peened onto the sliding section. I find that this design works smoother than that used on the rest of the #9 1/2 family of block planes. This design is the only redeeming thing that can be said about this ugly little monster, which is what they normally look like after a few hours use, in my not so humble opinion.

Go ahead. Buy this plane, then slam it into whatever mass of concrete is convenient. See if it bounces back and begs for more. I dare you. Double dare you.

#18 1/4 Block plane, 6"L, 1 5/8"W, 1 1/2lbs, 1952-1958. *

Another stupid block plane! Like the #9 1/4 with its non-adjustable mouth, but with the same knuckle-joint lever cap like that found on the #18. Do you see a trend developing here? Stanley musta kicked themselves in the butt for not offering this one earlier, but better late than never was the master plan back then. However, this time, it was too late to take advantage of Joe Meatball's spendy way by selling him another block plane. By this time, he got smart and bought 'lectrical tools.

These are rather scarce, and it's easy to take a common #9 1/4 and pop a knuckle-joint lever cap on it to fool the rookie tool collector. All of the proper #18 1/4's have the number stamped into the left side of the main casting, down near the sole, below the Hand-Y grip. The #18 1/4 also has nickel trimming; i.e., the knob, the lever cap, and the adjuster are all nickel plated. There you have it - you're now an instant expert at #18 1/4 identification.

The example pictured here comes in its original box that has the metal corners, which were all the rage on Stanley's boxes from the mid-1950's onward. The metal corners were added to keep the box's corners from splitting apart, which must have pissed off all the guys what stored their tools in their original boxes. Generally, boxes make a tool worth considerably more than it otherwise is. However, the metal corners are not that popular with collectors, but in the case of this particular plane they are ok since the plane didn't make its debut until the time metal corners were appearing.

#19 Block plane, 7"L, 1 5/8"W, 1 5/8lbs, 1888-1949.

Hoo boy! Same as the #18, except that this one is an inch longer.

I have noticed on some examples of this plane that the model number, "No. 19" is stamped into the lateral adjustment lever. This is very unusual since model numbers were generally cast into the planes in an obvious place, when Stanley felt like marking their block planes (which they typically did by stamping the number below the left Hand-y grip, on the planes with the full adjustment mechanisms).

#20 Victor circular plane, 9 1/2"L (10"L 1912 on), 1 3/4"W, 4lbs, 1880-1958.

This is Leonard Bailey's design, of the style that he patented after he sold his original patents to Stanley back in 1869 (Bailey got pissed at Stanley so he decided to make another line, which he eventually sold to Stanley, again, but that's another bedtime story for another night). This is the only plane of the Victor line that was continued by Stanley for any length of time after they bought Bailey out the second time.

The earliest models (Leonard Bailey's Victor) have two large cast and nickel plated medallions screwed (from behind) to the plane's pressed steel frame - one at the toe and one at the heel. Both the medallions are identical, and have "VICTOR TRADE LB MARK PLANE" embossed and incised in them. The medallions are often missing, but reproduction ones were once being manufactured (they don't have the fine detail that the originals do). The iron has the Victor line's characteristic "perforated" iron, where a series of holes are arranged linearly to fit into a pin carried by an adjusting arm. This adjusting arm is activated by turning a knurled disk located behind and at the top of the frog. This early plane looks sorta futuristic for the time it was manufactured, and the early model of this plane is much more valuable than the more common configuration, but only when it's complete with its original parts.

The plane underwent a substantial re-design just before 1900, and the Victor style of iron adjustment was dropped for the conventional Bailey style. Most of these planes will have "PAT'D 2-7-93" cast into the main casting to either side of the adjusting wheel, and have "VICTOR No. 20" cast into the adjusting wheel.

The first Stanley production model does not have the patent information embossed in the plane, nor does it mention Victor on it anywhere. Instead, it just has "No. 20 STANLEY" embossed at the toe of the plane (see the image of the nickel plated example below for the type 1 Stanley production). The dovetail on the sole (where it slips into the frog) is stamped with its patent date of June 17, 79 (the same sole attachment patent as that used on the #113). The cap iron will have "PAT FEB 7 '93/PATENT APLd. FOR" stamped into them (these are very tough to find).

The winged thumbscrew, found on the Bailey Victor model of the plane, which adjusts the curvature of the sole was re-designed to be a captive wheel that is aligned parallel to the plane's sole. Look around the where the wheel slips into the main casting for any sign of cracks, missing chunks of cast iron, or repairs.

The later models also dropped the decorative medallions, and the frame was cast from iron, instead of made from two steel strips fastened together as done on the earliest ones. This frame can crack anywhere along its sides, but is most often cracked, or downright broken, on the two housings that join the sole linkages to the flexible sole. It's misleading to claim that this is a common problem, but I have noted several that are broken here. The rails of the plane are also prone to cracking so give them a close inspection - it's possible to find breakages here repaired with plates riveted to the rails. Look carefully on the inside of the main casting for any signs of welding. The casting that carries the blade adjusting mechanisms can also be damaged where the sole is dovetailed into it. Look for any stress cracks around the dovetail, especially about the forward area of the dovetail.

The sole linkages can have the same problems that are explained for the #13. This plane has a frog design unique to it, and if yours is broken, you'll need to locate a suitable replacement instead of lifting one from a broken #3. Also, the cap iron is unique to this plane - the slot that engages the adjustment fork is situated nearer to the top of the cap iron than it is on the bench planes. Be sure to check the iron's depth adjustment range to verify that the cap iron is correct, otherwise you'll be left with a plane that can only accommodate a very fine set. Check that the small thumb screw, below the adjusting wheel, that locks the sole's adjustment in place is a finely knurled one and not slotted. Many of these thumb screws are replaced.

These planes have full nickel plating, and when they are in mint condition, are very striking in appearance. Be sure that the frog, the lever cap, the depth adjustment nut, and the lateral lever are all nickel plated. If they aren't, they've been replaced. Full nickel plating proved to be too costly, and the nickel plating was dropped ca. 1920 for regular black japanning.

This plane, and the #20 1/2, are by far the best circular planes ever designed. The design continues to this day, being made by an English toolmaking firm that's noted for finishing its tools with blue paint. The mechanical adjustment of the sole is smooth and accurate. The adjusting mechanism is not gripped during use, like it is on the #113, so there is no danger of changing the sole's setting during use like there is with the #113. Yet, if you want to change the sole's curvature while the plane is in use, when doing irregular curves, it's easy to do by giving the adjusting wheel a slight turn. If a circular plane is slated for your set of tools, make it this one. You'll be glad you did.

#20 1/2 Victor circular plane, 9 1/2"L (10"L 1912 on), 1 3/4"W, 4lbs, 1902-1917.

This is identical to the #20, except that the plane was japanned instead of nickel plated and it has "No. 20 1/2" cast into the sole's adjuster instead of "No 20". It was dropped soon after its introduction, since the #20 became the same thing as the #20 1/2, once the #20 became finished with japanning. These planes are somewhat scarce, but no one really cares as they don't command a real premium.

Make sure the plane's iron doesn't have a sweetheart or notched rectangular logo stamped on it. If so, it's a replacement. This won't affect the plane's use at all, but if you're anal about originality, you need the Patent '92, V, or 4-line logo for it to be equipped with all its original factory parts.

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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.