05/26/17
Getting started
Ever wanna date Stanley planes without having to serve time in the big house for trumped up charges of rhynkenological abuse? Well, read on.

Scope
The types are listed for the #4 size bench plane. Most of the other bench planes follow the features listed below, with some minor differences. One of the most easy to spot is the location of the number designation cast into the bed of the plane. The larger ones have their numbers cast behind the tote, whereas the smaller ones have it cast at the toe (in front of the knob).

Hybrids
One thing needs to be stressed -- some planes are hybrids of the types I've listed. This is for the simple fact that parts on-hand were used up. It would have been wasteful and costly had Stanley decided to chuck the castings they had on-hand when subtle changes were made to the planes. Most of the parts were made well before the planes ever were assembled. Stanley had a huge replacement parts business, and there was no way they could anticipate how many of any particular part would be ordered. Thus, they made batches of them for replacements and for new planes. Any leftovers, which could be used on the next batch, which may have had a subtle change made to them, would naturally be used up. So, if your plane has a part from an adjacent type, or a part from a type within a few years of a particular type, it's more than likely original to the plane, provided the patina and wear match the rest of the plane. To date your plane accurately, it must have all of the stuff listed for that particular model.

Limitations
Things that are hard to describe, like the shapes of totes, are not listed here. You'd have to see pictures, or examples, of the planes to be able to detect the subtle differences.

There are some hybrid models, and sub-models, which aren't fully documented, but what follows are the ones you're most likely to encounter. Some are extremely rare, and bizarre, like the true first model with its three screws to secure the frog to the bed. These hybrids surfaced after the type study was made, too late to be included into it.

Copyright (c) Joshua Clark 1997-2009