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.
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
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
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.
The Stanley No. 4 Smoothing Plane
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