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Thread: What was the purpose of the No 5 1/2

  1. #1
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    What was the purpose of the No 5 1/2

    I have never used a No 5 1/2. I have used all of the other non-fractional sizes of bench planes and get why they were offered. Can anyone tell me why Stanley offered this size? It would be a pretty difficult push to take a full width shaving? Opinions?

  2. #2
    I'm no hand plane expert. I've only started to get my own because they are pleasure to use.
    Back when there was wood shop and auto shop in middle schools and high schools I think the 5 1/2 was used for training young kids. The smaller size made it easier for little hands to grasp. Also for bigger hands it can be used as a block plane in one hand.
    Thats all i got.

  3. #3
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    Thanks Jon, Actually I think you may be thinking of the 5 1/4. The 5 1/2 is as wide as a No 6 or 7

  4. #4
    The 5-1/4 is the 1-3/4" width blade jack that was used in some secondary school training programs; the 5-1/2 is used to start arguments.

  5. #5
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    Funny!!

  6. #6
    Thats funny Todd!
    Haha

  7. Quote Originally Posted by Todd Stock View Post
    The 5-1/4 is the 1-3/4" width blade jack that was used in some secondary school training programs; the 5-1/2 is used to start arguments.
    or settle them, depending who's swinging it.

  8. #8
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    maybe to compete with the infill panel planes jerry

  9. #9
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    I'm not qualified to say what the designer originally intended the 5 1/2 to be used for....however, mine is outfitted w a definite camber on the blade to take down rough stock. Like a huge scrub.

    It is hard to push, but allows a wider cut, if set more shallow.

    We took down a local maple several years ago, and I used it to process it w after the boards had air dried in bsmt.

    It is a beast.

    A beast that may well go on the "for sale" area of this thread in a few years.
    David
    Confidence: That feeling you get before fully understanding a situation (Anonymous)

  10. #10
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    The purpose of the 5 1/2 is to make you own more planes. I love mine.

  11. #11
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    When I was young, I specifically bought a 5 1/2 for edge planning doors, so I could plane fairly thick doors while cutting side to side. I sharpened without camber.

  12. #12
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    One of the first planes I bought was an old 5-1/2C. I used it as a jack plane for a while, but later replaced that with a lighter wooden plane. It certainly works as a jack plane but the extra width is not utilized in that role, so it's just extra weight to move around...better to just use a #5 if you want a metal jack plane.

    Now I use it as a "job-site" plane, for when I need to do woodwork outside the shop and just want to take one or two planes. I keep it sharpened with a moderate camber so it can smooth ok and hog ok, and it's long enough to edge joint. Though a #5 would work just as well for this role.

    The only job I can think of that it could do better than a #5 is as a panel smoother- setup with a fine camber to take very thin, but wide shavings on large surfaces. Eventually I intend to use mine in this role and see if it's useful, but it needs a little tuning first to take very thin shavings, and that hasn't been a priority.

  13. #13
    5 1/2s were created so they could become fad planes for the internet decades after they were discontinued by Stanley because nobody wanted them (c.f. bedrock planes, low angle jack planes, #9s, #10s, #112s, #212s, and other modern have-to-have planes that were never common historically)

    For some reason many modern woodworkers seem to think that the more rare and obscure a plane is, the better it must be, kind of like some hidden undiscovered gem. That the workers of yore who actually used planes for a living didn't buy it because it wasn't very useful doesn't seem to come up.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Seemann View Post
    5 1/2s were created so they could become fad planes for the internet decades after they were discontinued by Stanley because nobody wanted them (c.f. bedrock planes, low angle jack planes, #9s, #10s, #112s, #212s, and other modern have-to-have planes that were never common historically)

    For some reason many modern woodworkers seem to think that the more rare and obscure a plane is, the better it must be, kind of like some hidden undiscovered gem. That the workers of yore who actually used planes for a living didn't buy it because it wasn't very useful doesn't seem to come up.
    I beg to differ. Stanley UK and Record both had a full range of bench and specialty planes well into the 1980's that found their way into catalogs and select retailers. Since 1990 it has become a market place for small custom plane makers that have taken the market mainly because the working carpenters and other tradesmen have all gone electric. When I started out, in 1968, houses were trimmed out without the aid of any electric tools, in fact the motorized miterbox had not reached a place in the tool market. I, for one, bought a number of planes in DC at WS Jenks in Chinatown. Wider planes make for easier work on wide stock.

  15. #15
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    The is wide long plane. It will level as well as a 607 bedrock, has lot's of mass, and will smooth as well.
    I like mine. I tend to use instead of my Bedrock planes.

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