In the United States, the words “tools and hardware” and “Stanley” are almost synonymous. The company began modestly in 1843, when Frederick T. Stanley founded a door-hardware company in New Britain, Connecticut. In 1857, Henry Stanley, Frederick's cousin, launched the Stanley Rule and Level Company, which acquired Leonard Bailey & Co. in 1878. Bailey held numerous patents on such mainstay tools as planes, which Stanley Rule and Level augmented with mitre boxes, rulers, hand drills, hammers, and, of course, its lines of wood and iron levels. By 1920, the two Stanley firms had merged.

While the Stanley name eventually became associated with everything from toolboxes to hinges to garage-door openers, it is perhaps best known as a plane manufacturer. Stanley entered that market in 1869, and by 1900 it was the dominant player, often buying out competitors.

One of the keys to Stanley’s success was to continually put tantalizing new products in front of consumers, whether they needed them or not. Frequently, many of these so-called “innovations” were surface changes that didn’t necessarily make the product better or easier to use. Thanks to this policy, Stanley released more than 300 plane models.

Two of Stanley’s most premium models, the No. 42 and No. 44, were made of gunmetal. The company also made six aluminum models, which have the letter “A” before their model numbers.

Interestingly, the planes that were not especially popular back in the day are the most valuable ones to contemporary collectors—they were only produced for around 15 years as opposed to the 60- or 70-year run of a normal Stanley product. These include the No. A45 aluminum combination plow and the No. 444 dovetail.

All Stanley tools were numbered; Stanley’s metal bench planes were first numbered based on size—the No.1 was 5 ½ inches long while the No. 8 was 24 inches. Many of the company’s planes and tools became standard for every woodworker’s tool kit, including the No. 80 scrapper (used to give wood a glass-like surface) and the classic No. 45 combination plane, which is like a plow plane but also cuts various curved molding forms.

The Stanley No. 45 was produced between 1884 and 1962, and is still used by woodworkers. When Stanley released an improvement on the model, the No. 55, it was praised by carpente...

When it comes to metal planes, it takes some doing to distinguish between the antique Stanley models and the contemporary versions—look for the Stanley name cast into the plane body or on the adjusting knob. Older metal tools were japanned (coated with black pigment), while later planes, like the Stanley No. 49 from 1898, were nickel-plated.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Alloy Artifacts

Alloy Artifacts

A tool collectors’ dream, this site is a deep repository of photos and info on 20th century hand tools and the co… [read review or visit site]

Old Woodworking Machines

Old Woodworking Machines

This collective website, which started as an online discussion forum, now also includes a large database of manufac… [read review or visit site]

Drainspotting

Drainspotting

Josh and Cam Larios have created this site enabling people to upload and 'tag' photos of historic or artistic manho… [read review or visit site]

A Millers Falls Home Page

A Millers Falls Home Page

Randy Roeder has carved out a niche for himself with his fine website devoted to the history of the Millers Falls C… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

Stanley Bailey No 8 C 8c Jointer Plane Clean 24" SharpStanley No 9 Piano Makers Wood Plane Pat Ap'l 19.92 Excellent ConditionStanley No 7 Jointer Plane, Excellent Condition, Rosewood HandlesStanley No.43 Miller Patent Plow Plane Type 2 Vintage 1873Stanley No.92 Shoulder PlaneQuality Antique Draughtsman Drawing Tools Instruments & Boxes Stanley HarlingRare Vintage Stanley No 1 ? V Logo Wood Plane 5 1|2 Long Usa Antique Stanley Siegley No 4 Plane Sts Thick Iron Rare Beautuful 1900s ToolNice Stanley No. 7 Jointer Plane, HeavyStanley Bedrock 607 C Type 10 PlaneVintage Stanley Bedrock 605 Jack Woodworking Plane ToolStanley Plane #2, Original Matching Parts.stanley No.2. Bench PlaneVintage Stanley 62 Plane Nice ConditionClean Shape Stanley 72 Chamfer Plane Carpenter Woodworking ToolStanley Bedrock 608cStanley Bailey No.7c Jointer Plane - With Tripple Pat. Date3 Vintage Woodworking Planes Stanley Made User Tools Restoration 71 1/2 RouterRare Authentic1965 Limited Screen Print Of Aretha Franklin Signed Bob StanleyStanley Bedrock 602 For PartsVintage Stanley Bedrock 604 PlaneStanley Bedrock 608c Vintage Jointer Hand Plane Vintage Stanley No. 605 Bedrock PlaneVery Early Stanley No. 46 Plow Plane, Traut's 1873 PatentVintage No. 7 Stanley PlaneOld Antique Stanley No. 45 Type 8 Complete With Cutters, Cam ToolsMiller Falls #10 Same As A Stanley #4 1/2 PlaneNice Stanley Sw No. 605 Bedrock User PlaneAntique Vintage Stanley Sweet Heart Bed Rock Corrugated No 606 Plane90 Pcs!! Mid Century Stanley Roberts & Supreme Vtg Bamboo Gold Vermeil FlatwareStanley No.45 Plow Plane & 17 Blades, Nice User PlaneLot Of Stanley Bevel Edge Socket Chisels To Restore (unmarked 720s & 750's ???)Stanley/bailey 5 Plane- Type 17, 1942-45,-userVintage Stanley Bailey No. 7 22" Long Jointer Planer Tools Smooth BottomNice Stanley No. 71 Router Plane, 2 BladesCabinet Block Planes Stanley 94 90 Bottoms Fine 94 As Is Woodworking ToolsStanley 51 Chute / Shoot / Shooting Board Plane Stanley No 5 1/2 Wide Bodied Jack Plane, Rosewood Handles.Rare Stanley No 40 Everlasting 2" X 10-1/4" Wood Chisel Antique Vintage Old ToolStanley Sw - Bedrock No. 605c Type 6a Adjustable Iron Jack Plane Ca 1922Stanley # 71 Plane - Complete And Priced 2 SellLot Of 3 Antique Vintage Stanley Wood Planes 9" 13" & 21"Stanley 45 Or 55 Plane Bottoms Number 6 Hollow And Round With CuttersStanley No.46 Dado Plow Plane - Traut Patent Mar 4,1873Stanley No. 71 Router Plane With Original Box And Instructions55 45 Stanley Large Variety Cutters Irons Carpenter Plow Woodworking ToolsRare Stanley No 50 Everlasting 1-3/4" X 9" Wood Chisel Antique Vintage Old ToolVintage Stanley No 4 #4 "steel" Smoothing Hand Plane Sweetheart LogoStanley No.92 Rabbit Plane, 3/4" Cutter, 5 1/2" Long, In Org BoxRare Vintage Stanley #77 Dowel Machine 2 Cutter Blades 3/4 & 3/8 +instructionsStanley Bedrock 605 1/4 Junior Jack Plane Very GoodRare Stanley No 40 Everlasting 1/8" X 9" Wood Chisel Antique Vintage Old ToolStanley No. 141 Bull Nose Plow Plane, Millers Patent For PartsStanley Bedrock No. 605 Jack Plane. Flat Sides, Blade Sharpened/honed. Vintage Stanley Bailey #4 Type 13 Sweetheart " Shop Ready "Vintage Stanley No. 45 Combination Plow Plane, Type 1 (1884-1885), Incomplete!Vintage Stanley Bailey No.7 Jointer Plane - Type 11 1910-1918 (triple Date)Vintage Stanley No. 140 B Rabbet Block Plane - Old Carpentry Tool Pat Nov 6 94Stanley 45 Or 55 Plane Bottoms Number 12 Hollow And Number 12 Round With CuttersStanley 55 Universal Combination Plane W/cutters, Box,instructions & AccessoriesAntique Stanley No. 8 Plane - Type 4 - 1874 - 1884