... was going to jump into premium handplane market to compete with the likes of Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, Veritas and Clifton.
Over in the United Kingdom, Stanley officials consulted with one of the world's experts on tuning planes to see what it would take to develop a world-class tool.
Here in the United States, I received a phone call saying that Stanley officials had walked into a New England Woodcraft, looked at the Lie-Nielsen display and bought "one of everything."
And then it turned out that the rumors were true.
At a 2008 press conference in New York City, Stanley announced it was getting back into the premium plane market.
I wasn't at that press conference, and no one seemed to pick up on the news until the company leaked some computer renderings of the tools in August 2008, and I posted them on my blog.
The renderings and the actual planes, which I have been using since May 2009, are shocking in many ways to both the Stanley collector and the user.
First – the plane's Sweet Heart logo aside – the tools are a break from Stanley's storied past visually. The tools look more like the modern Veritas tools than the vintage designs.
The new No. 4 and Low-angle Jack (the No. 62) both use Norris-style adjusters like the Veritas designs. Also like the Veritas: The new Stanleys use a lightweight modern alloy for the lever cap and use a more upright tote that can accommodate a four-fingered grip.
But it would be a mistake to call these slavish
copies. The No. 4 plane in particular has a number of unusual
features that merit some close attention. So let's start there.
Like all the new planes in the Stanley line, the No. 4 is a surprisingly heavy tool, tipping the scales at 5 lbs. (that’s a half-pound more than a Lie-Nielsen No. 4 in bronze). Most of that weight is in the iron body (made in Mexico). There's also an English-made A2 cutter that’s 1/8" thick, cherry knob and tote, and brass adjusters.
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