View Full Version : Help a Power Tool Junkie

Sam Chambers
07-08-2003, 11:04 PM
I'm a power tool guy who is realizing that there's a place for good hand tools. (Don't tell anyone over on the power tool board that I'm straying from my current "Norm-ite" status, OK?)

Last weekend, the Mrs. dragged me off to do some antique shopping in North Georgia. I'm usually just there to carry stuff, but this time I found something to keep me occupied - looking for hand planes.

There were very slim pickings at the first few places, but then I hit the mother lode. There was a room dedicated to old hand tools. They had about 30-40 planes, and since the wife had spent some cash that day, she actually encouraged me to do the same. Not that I needed much prodding, mind you.

The problem is, I have no clue what to look for or what to pay. I took a few notes on several of the planes I was eyeing, so I hope some of you can shed some light for me.

Stanley #3
Patent Dates: 032502, 081902
Price: $40.00

Stanley #65 low angle block plane
Patent date: 021813
Price: $65.00

Stanley #5
Patent Date: 041910
Price: $65.00

Stanley #5 1/2
Patent Date: 041910
Price: $80.00

All of the above were in good condition, at least cosmetically. I saw no cracks in the metal body on any of them. The #65 is probably in the worst shape - it needs a good cleaning, and (if I recall correctly) there's some peeling of the metal plating on a few of the parts.

I've been doing some reading on restoring old planes, and I think I have a good idea of what will be required. I know I could buy a new Stanley or Record for those prices, and they'd require some work too, but I haven't heard anything good about the Record or the new Stanley planes.

So, my questions are:

1. What years were these particular Stanley plaes made?

2. I plan on using them, not collecting them, so what's your take on the quality of these particular planes, assuming they're really in good shape?

3. Are the prices I've mentioned fair, given that they're intact and in good condition?

They also had some planes by a few manufacturers that I didn't recognize:

Sargent, Winchester, Lakeside, Union, Stanley Handyman, Bluegrass

Can anyone shed some light on any of these manufacturers?

Thanks in advance,

Jim Earls
07-09-2003, 7:55 AM

A couple of good websites to check out are:



Both of these reference Patrick's Blood and Gore site and are very helpful in identifying and dating old Stanley planes. The last Stanley I bought was #5 type 6 at a flea market. I paid $12.00 for it. After a bit of tuning and a new Hock blade, it works fine.

I just started using handplanes/scrapers recently myself so I'm no expert, but the prices you listed seem to be a bit high. I'm sure somebody with more knowledge will chime in shortly. Good luck.


Dave Anderson NH
07-09-2003, 9:55 AM
Sam- The best deal of the planes you listed is the #3 at $40. The others are a bit overpriced, particularly the #5. A #5 in Good+ or better condition should only be in the $25-40 range. Remember, these were made in the millions (literally) over the years and are quite common. My best #5 was picked up at a yard sale without any rust and cost me $5. If you saw these at a tool dealer, you should be able to do a bit of negotiating. Prices marked are only for off the street traffic and are in reality the starting point for negotiations. If you are really interested in getting a decent set of user handplanes, you will neeed to get a copy of Walters' annual price guide to Stanley tools. This tiny shirt pocket sized book is a good starting point to figure out value and comes out annually based on sale and auction results over the previous year. Don't over look some of the other great quality brands like Millers Falls, Sargent, Winchester, Keen Kutter, etx. They are less commonly collected and therefore are often less expensive. In particular, both Millers Falls and Sargent made tools of equal or better quality than Stanley. I'll stop now, I could carry this on for pages.

Don Kugelberg
07-09-2003, 10:50 AM
I think the prices on all the planes were generally high although I might have bit on the 65 low angle which I believe is the best block plane Stanley ever made. $65 is not a bad price depending on the condition. Not on your list of planes available but one to keep an eye out for is the #18 block plane which is what I consider to be the regular angle twin to the 65.

I pointing you towards block planes because they are a good place to start for a newbie with one foot still in the Normite world. Block planes are easier to tune than bench planes and carry well in your shop apron where you can use them to chamfer edges and smooth edge grain to start.

Good luck as you slide down the slippery slope.

Sam Chambers
07-09-2003, 10:56 AM
Dave & Jim - Thanks for the advice. I had actually found Patrick's Blood & Gore the other day, but it's a little overwhelming for a hand plane "newbie". I found a plane dating flowchart in the Badger Pond archives that is a bit easier to follow.

One other thing...

I was reading in one of the woodworking magazines last night that the Stanley #5, Type 11 is a very good value relative to the later #5's, largely because of the design of the frog. Can anyone point me to any photos or drawings of a Type 11 frog so I can see what to look for?


Noah Alkinburgh
07-09-2003, 11:43 AM

Good luck, I started down this path with a #5 my mom had bought at a garage sale, then I found out she had a millers falls #4, I haven't gotten very far on that one yet, then she bought me a block plane for christmas, then I tried hand cut dovetails....needed to buy a chisel, then had to learn to sharpen...etc... :) now I want a marking knife and spoke shave...

what I can say is this, hand tools go a long way in making the woodworking experience complete. They are that little tweak, or the neat project you want to try. I have really enjoyed using them. Good luck again as you travel down the path.


Dave Anderson NH
07-09-2003, 12:49 PM
Hi Sam-

To give a partial answer to your question, type 11s are really nice planes. My Stanleys of sizes 3-7 in both smooth and corrugated soles are a mixture of types based on availability and price at a particular time. Once you get to the type 10 planes the frog design is pretty well developed and the rear frog adjusting screw forward of the tote is extant. All of the planes up to about the type 15 or 16 are of pretty good quality in the sense of design, features, and the quality of the casting and machining. It is along about WW II that the quality starts to drop a bit and as soon as you hit the middle 1950s when power tools became common and reasonably priced the quality starts to drop like a rock. The higher sales of power tools cut into the market for hand tools and cost cutting in manufacture to keep price increases down and margins up became the goal of Stanley engineering and management. In my somewhat biased opinion the golden age of Stanley quality ran from about 1896 to about 1940. Remember that the whole purpose of Leonard Bailey's and other metallic plane developers work was focused on making consistent quality at a low price rather than producing the very best performing tools. The vast majority of purchasers were carpenters and joiners rather than furniture makers and both design goals and quality standards reflected this market. By the 1840's when the metallic planes were becoming common the mechanized furniture factory was already producing the vast majority of our furniture and the high end furniture was being hand crafted with tools from specialty manufacturers rather than the mass producers.

Robert Waddell
07-09-2003, 2:19 PM
Prices may vary from one part of the country to another so just for comparison since I live 4 hours from you.
I have recently bought two Stanleys #5 and #4. Both are 40's-50's era.
Right off hand I can't remember the type #'s. Both had seen little use. The #4 had the orginal rosewood handles and the #5 had the painted black handles. The #4 had no chips on the tote or knob. Neither had any pitting or rust. The #5 cost me $20 and the #4 cost $35.
I hope you know that this stuff is adictive. I'm not sure which I enjoy most, working with them or looking for them at fleamarkets.

Sam Chambers
07-09-2003, 2:35 PM
I'm not sure which I enjoy most, working with them or looking for them at fleamarkets.

Robert, thanks for the price comparison. It give me a little perspective. I had an inkling that their prices were a bit high.

I don't suppose anyone can point me to a good flea market in northeast GA or southwestern NC where I might have a good chance of find a few planes this weekend?

Sam Chambers
07-09-2003, 2:37 PM

Thanks very much for the history lesson. It helps me out alot, especially in conjunction with the plane dating flowchart from the Badger Pond archives.

Doug Littlejohn
07-09-2003, 3:30 PM

Ditto what everyone else said. I'm a newbie into hand tools as well but have found that mounds and mounds of reading everything I could find on the net was the best route to take. Then I started acquiring my tools. My best haul was at a yard sale here on the left coast where I purchase 4 boxes full of old planes and chisels for $300. The planes them selves were worth 2-3 times that. (after cleaned up a bit but not to much).

Most of my purchases have also been types 9-11. On the bench planes this is often determined by looking at the patent dates on the planes (deduced from Blood+Gore flowchart). 1 to 3 dates in the early 1900s puts them in the 9-11 range (generally). Take a copy of the flowchart and carry it with you. Then when you see a plane, you can type it and find out if it's what you want.

I have found that working with handtools to not only be a joy because you can 'feel' much more what you are doing, but often times it is also much quicker and easier than doing the setup and cleanup using power tools.

Anyway, sorry for the ramble but I hope you find as much pleasure in handltools as I am finding.

Have fun (it gets real addicting BTW).

Steven Wilson
07-09-2003, 5:30 PM
Welcome to the sensible side. Once you've become comfortable with hand tools you'll have an epiphany where everything fits and your projects are now at the next level of quality. Powertools are nice but you need handtools to make things fit.

Anyhow, pick up two books from Tauton Press, "The Handplane Book" by Garrett Hack and "The Complete Guide to Sharpening" by Leonard Lee these will get you well on your way to tuning and using handplanes. As for plane prices I would say that the prices you quote are a bit high but hey, if the planes are in great shape and available close by then the price might be right. Hunting down quality used planes can be quite time consuming and I would rather spend time in my shop or with my familly than searching sales for old planes. The older hand tools I have (braces, planes, jointer fence, etc) I've either purchased from eBay or tool dealers like Patrick Leach. Recently I've started making my some of my own tools which I find very satisfying. Of course there is always Lee Nielsen (and people complain about Powermatic being pricy) !!!!

As for where to start, I would choose a good block plane. I have a Lie Nielsen low angle, adjustable mouth block plane that gets used on almost every project (carpentry projects especially) and is one of my favorites; a good Stanley in nice also. After the block plane I would add a couple of card scrapers - cheap and very effective once you learn their ways. A good shoulder plane I would add next if I make many mortices otherwise I would look for a decent smoothing plane; either a 4, 4 1/2, Steve Knight woody, or a good infill plane. Besides planes, also make or obtain a decent marking knife, marking guage, and chisels and don't forget hand drills and/or braces. I find myself reaching for a brace more and more over the cordless drill.

Glenn Clabo
07-09-2003, 5:33 PM
Anyway, sorry for the ramble but I hope you find as much pleasure in handltools as I am finding.

Have fun (it gets real addicting BTW).

I for one would love all you that have all this knowledge stop apologizing about taking up space and time. Keep it coming! I'm REALLY interesting in finding out about this stuff.:confused:

In fact...why don't some of you write an article about the things you know?
Dave I know you're just full of info?
Doug newbie experience?

Roger Nixon
07-09-2003, 6:15 PM
They also had some planes by a few manufacturers that I didn't recognize:

Sargent, Winchester, Lakeside, Union, Stanley Handyman, Bluegrass

Can anyone shed some light on any of these manufacturers?

Thanks in advance,

Sargent made their own planes and several hardware companies "rebadged" Sargent planes. Union was bought out by Stanley. I've had a few Union planes and they seemed very equivalent to Stanley. Don't bother with Stanley Handyman, it was a cheaper homeowner line. Winchester and Bluegrass rebadged tools from various makers including Stanley. If you find these cheaper than Stanleys, buy them and sell them on eBay to collectors of these brands. Lakeside was a brandname used by Montgomery Ward. Some planes will have an R or M before the number. These were made by Rockford or Marsh respectively and are some of my favorite planes. There aren't a lot of Lakeside collectors around so it is possible to pick up some good tools at bargain prices. They also put the Lakeside name on some lower quality stuff so you have to be careful. If the totes are made with nice rosewood, chances are it is a quality plane.
Sticking with Stanley is a pretty safe bet as the tools are plentiful and values are well known but don't pass up a bargain on a hardware store brand!

Doug Littlejohn
07-10-2003, 4:05 PM

Yeah, newbie. I just started getting into hand tools and we moved. Now I have no place (really other than a picnic table which I do use but . . .) to work. However, I started the grading for the building going in which will be a shop and then it's back at it.

While I have been without shop, I have been adding to my collection of hand tools. I now have planes #3 thru #7, 5 1/4, 60, 60 1/2, 110, a low angle bench plane (#164 I think), #80, #112, #12, #113 and some more I can't remember. Some wooden planes from HNT and Steve Knight, a whole bunch of chisels (2 boxes full of oldies) and new sets, hand drills and bits, scrapers, files and more I forget right now. I was able to use them just enough to really 'feel' the joy in using them. When I'm doing the odd fixit stuff around the new place, I find myself grabbing a handtool (heck the others I can't hardly find or the bigger ones aren't even set up) to do the work. Less overall work and job done just fine.

I can't wait to get back into a shop. Then it's tune them all up and start building. Most of what I have learned is by massive amounts of reading on the subject, all found on the net. The times I have used them, they worked just as advertised and you get a closer feeling to the work you're doing to boot.

When I do get things going again, I plan on documenting what I have, where it came from (some from earlier family generations) and of course the new shop.

Until then, I mostly sit back and drool and wish. :(

Sam Chambers
07-12-2003, 6:35 PM
After reading all the helpful advice you folks gave me, I went shopping today. I came home with a Stanley #5, Type 11 in excellent condition. I'll try to post some photos in a few days. I could have saved a few bucks by getting the Type 13 they had, but the lateral adjustment wouldn't work. I took it apart and found that there was a piece missing. I considered a Type 18, circa 1880-something, but it was far too pitted, especially for the money they were asking.

If you're in the Atlanta area, there will be an estate auction in 2 weeks that includes (so I'm told) a large collection of antique hand tools. Apparently a gentleman was planning to open a tool museum when he retired, but he passed away before it opened. I'm told there will be as many as 100 hand planes there. If you want more info, let me know and I'll be glad to pass it along.

Thanks again for the education!

Chris Oliver
07-22-2003, 10:29 AM
Sam, I am interested in the estate auction info if it hasn't occured yet! I am new to hand tools as well, inherited several old Disston saws recently which set my feet firmly on the slippery slope. Thanks for any info you can provide!


Ed Weiser
07-22-2003, 8:16 PM
Sam, I, too, would like to hear about the upcoming auction. Sounds interesting.

Ed Weiser

Sam Chambers
07-22-2003, 10:37 PM
Location: Sugar Hill Station Shopping Center, located on the southwest corner of the intersection of Buford Highway (Hwy. 23) and Buford Drive (Hwy. 20) in Sugar Hill/Buford. (The best way to tell you how to get there is to get to the Mall of Georgia and go west on Hwy. 20 about 5 miles to the intersection with Hwy. 23.) There's a Big Lots at one end of the shopping center. The auction is in the former Gold's Gym, at the other end of the shopping center.

Here are some particulars from the brochure:

Auction Date & Hours: Saturday, July 26. "Big Lots and Misc." items, 10:00 - 11:30. "Antiques and Collectibles", 12:00 noon - ???.

Preview: Friday 7/25, Noon - 7:00 pm, Saturday 7/26, 8:00 am - til sale time.

Quotes re: tools - The owner is described as "A machinst, engineer, surveyor and inventor." Auction items include, "surveyor's tools", "100's of machinists & other antique hand tools, plus Craftsman metal tool cases."

Other non-tools stuff: 300-piece autograph collection, many old clocks, lots of furniture, "100's of old cameras and accessories, U.S. & foreign coin & stamp collection"

Phone number for more info: 770-614-0780.

I'll be traveling that Friday and won't be able to get there for the Friday evening preview. If anyone goes to the preview on Friday, please post relevant info regarding the tools up for auction so we can all try to out-bid each other.

Sam Chambers
07-26-2003, 2:20 PM
I went over to the preview for the estate auction this morning, and it was a big disappointment. I had been told that there would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 hand planes. There were only two, and one was a very rough looking wooden plane.

If you were a machinist, there were plenty of tools to be had. And if you like slide rules, there quite a few. but almost no woodworking tools.

I'm sorry if any of you made the trip to Buford last night or this morning. Needless to say, in the future, I won't be taking the word of the guy who runs the antique shop there.

Chris Oliver
07-27-2003, 10:07 AM
thanks for the report Sam! I wasn't able to make it due to unexpected family responsibilities, but sounds like I didn't miss much on this one. I still appreciate you letting us know about it in advance though!