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Thread: No. 1 Stanley Plane-- Useful or Paper Weight?

  1. #1

    No. 1 Stanley Plane-- Useful or Paper Weight?

    Greetings,

    Sometime ago I had a friendly arguement with a friend of mine concerning the usefullness of a Stanley No. 1 plane. He said he had spoken to Lie-Nielsen about it years ago & he said that they had no real practical use. When I contacted the staff at Lie-Nielsen they gave me the same response. Yet I have found the plane very helpful to get to those hard to reach areas or when you need a small plane with a higher pitch than a block plane to plane some squirrelly wood on a fragile piece. Am I alone in this thinking? It seems hard to believe the Stanley Bailey Company would have produced a plane for 75 years that had no practical value! They weren't collector's items back then, they were either used or they not made.

    Fine Tool Journal also had an article (although I can't find the issue) some years back that described the uses of the No. 1. In one example, an entire lot of original Stanley No. 1's were found in a teacher's workshop for his students. He taught how to make bamboo fly rods.

    So I am just wondering if I am full of beans or if there are other believers about?

  2. #2
    I've asked that same question to a lot of people who know planes and have never received a satisfactory answer. My own experience is that there's nothing that the #1 will do that you can't do better with other planes, such as a block plane or a larger bench plane.

    My question to the plane experts was the same as yours - why did Stanley make them for so many years if they had no real use? The only answer I received that makes even a small amount of sense is that they were salesmen samples - small lightweight planes taken to demonstrate the larger planes, or to put on display where planes were sold.

    Mike

    P.S. Having worked in large corporations and knowing the turf battles, it could be that bench planes and block planes were handled by two marketing groups and the bench plane people tried to take over the block plane business.
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 10-18-2006 at 1:40 PM.

  3. #3
    I heard they where a promo thing , given at trade shows , christmas etc to large tool buyers .

  4. #4

    BOTH useful and a paper weight!

    I say both. Use your tools how they best suit you, and don't worry about what others think about them or how they should be used.

    Some will consider it a paper weight, and I wouldn't argue, a No 1 is heavy enough to hold quite a bit of paper down.

    Others will feel it's a useful tool.

    It seems more useful to be used on wood than as a paper weight, but that might depend on how much paper one needs to hold down, the velocity of the wind, and the need to keep such paper in place...so what do I know???
    --
    Life is about what your doing today, not what you did yesterday! Seize the day before it sneaks up and seizes you!

    Alan - http://www.traditionaltoolworks.com:8080/roller/aland/

  5. #5
    I'll throw my oar in on this one. I've known folks who keep their #1s behind glass and I know folks who use them palmed like a block plane. I also know one person who "loaned" it to their son as his first user and reclaimed it when their hands grew large enough to use his #2 and #3.
    Dave Anderson
    Chester Toolworks LLC
    Chester, NH

  6. #6

    Wink

    Hmm, well the salesman's sample idea doesn't really make sense to me if you consider that salesman's samples are never sold retail and these were sold retail. Apparently the No. 1, 2 & 3 were Bailey's patents which Stanley aquired at the same time in 1869. I can't believe they were under any obligation to make a plane that had no practical use. I mean they could have started with any size plane and called THAT No. 1. As for the 75 year internal marketing turf war theory within Stanley Co.?-- the block plane didn't come out in Stanley's catalog until 1872. Sounds like a bit of a reach anyway for that long of a period.

    Also, I have heard people say the No. 2 or No. 3 were useless, so I guess opinions vary depending on what you use it for. That doesn't make it so.
    I'm sure a timber framer would scoff at the idea of a No. 1 but someone used to making more delicate cuts in unusual places, such as boats or musical instruments, might have more use for it. I use my No. 1 like a palm plane that I can use one handed & we all know the benefits of a higher pitch versus a lower pitch --I assume. If there were no difference we wouldn't have those choices either.

  7. #7
    I just ran across this little blurb on the web showing an old article from Wood Magazine 1984 that I thought I would share. Unfortunately the author doesn't show any references for the statements made but what the heck...here it is.
    Mark

    TOOLS AND TOOL COLLECTING
    The lovable little Stanley No. I
    Stanley tools represent a major category of collectible tools, and can form the basis for a rewarding and stimulating hobby. One of the most desirable of Stanley tools for the collector is the diminutive Stanley No. 1 bench plane. This tiny, 5-1/2” long plane poses some interesting mysteries for the collector. First, what was it used for? It’s so small-that even a craftsman with a small hand finds it uncomfortable to use. And second, for a tool that was manufactured in abundance over a 73 year period (1870-1943), why should it be so scarce?
    As to the first mystery-its size-the explanation is relatively straightforward. These planes were designed for use by elementary school woodworking classes, and were used in the introduction to the proper care and use of woodworking planes.
    The second mystery requires a more hypothetical explanation. With the advent of U.S. involvement in W.W. II came the need for scarce raw materials by factories involved in the rapidly increasing war production industries. Those with memories reaching back that far remember that not only were civilians in general involved in paper and fat saving drives, among others, but schools and other institutions also were called on to collect and donate large amounts of scrap material.
    The widespread draft also was a factor. Shop teachers, especially at the elementary school level, came into short supply overnight, thus freeing up the tools and materials formerly used in their courses as vital scrap. Since the majority of No. 1 planes produced were to be found in schools, a large number of these planes were absorbed by the wartime scrap drives.
    In case you’re thinking of purchasing a Stanley No. 1, be prepared to pay between $400 and $650 for an example in good or better condition. Also be sure to buy from a reputable dealer who will guarantee the plane is genuine.
    Wood Magazine issue No. 1 Sept/Oct 1984.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Miller
    Yet I have found the plane very helpful to get to those hard to reach areas or when you need a small plane with a higher pitch than a block plane to plane some squirrelly wood on a fragile piece.
    There is your answer right there!! What counts the most is how a tool enhances your own ability to work the wood. Even if you are only one out of a hundred that likes a particular tool...it's your tool and it works for you. Especially since it's in your arsenal already...
    “Never raise your hands to your children, it leaves your groin unprotected.” - Red Buttons

    If you want your spouse to listen and pay strict attention to every word you say -- talk in your sleep...

    Be safety conscious. 80% of people are caused by accidents.

    Equestrian Sports. The most fun you can have with your boots still on...


  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Miller
    Greetings,

    Yet I have found the plane very helpful to get to those hard to reach areas or when you need a small plane with a higher pitch than a block plane to plane some squirrelly wood on a fragile piece.
    I don't think the pitch on a #1 is greater than on a standard angle block plane. The bed on a standard angle block plane is 20* and many people put a 25* bevel on the iron, making the pitch angle 45* which is the same as the #1. One could even argue that the block plane is a better choice because you could put a higher bevel angle on the iron and raise the pitch angle. For example, if you put a 30* bevel angle, the pitch would be 50*.

    Also, if the #1s were used in elementary school, it must have been in the very early grades. The handle on a #1 would not fit a 7th or 8th grade boy's hand (which is when I started shop class).

    We do have planes that we know were used in schools - the 1/4 planes (like the 5 1/4). I don't know for sure but I think the 1/4 planes, while rare, are a lot more available than the #1s. You'd think that if they got rid of the #1s during WWII, they would have gotten rid of the 1/4s also. And they must not have ordered any more of them after the war or we'd see a lot of late model #1s around and not many early ones. I don't think that's what we see in the market.

    Mike

    P.S. Also, if the #1s were used in schools, we'd have evidence like we do for the 1/4s - stamps in the side of the planes with the school district name, replacement of the handles, especially if replaced with cheap wood or metal (kids broke a lot of handles on the 1/4s) or some other evidence. I don't think we have any of that with the #1s.
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 10-18-2006 at 10:37 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Hello,
    I think I read a discussion aboute the purpose of the #1 elswhere. And I now wonder: has anybody ever asked Stanley if they know what they built it for?

    Horst

  11. #11

    Paper Weight - why not?

    I would be quite happy to have a No.1 on my desk holding down the clutter. I can't think of a classier paper weight. It would of course be completely tuned and ready to cut and one day a suitable use for it would probably come to light.

    But so far I don't have a No.1 - A couple of hundred would get me a Lie Nielsen which I may have to buy to complete my Stanleys but somehow I would rather have an old plane on my desk to play with while on the phone. I'll keep looking.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Henderson
    I don't think the pitch on a #1 is greater than on a standard angle block plane. The bed on a standard angle block plane is 20* and many people put a 25* bevel on the iron, making the pitch angle 45* which is the same as the #1. One could even argue that the block plane is a better choice because you could put a higher bevel angle on the iron and raise the pitch angle. For example, if you put a 30* bevel angle, the pitch would be 50*.

    Also, if the #1s were used in elementary school, it must have been in the very early grades. The handle on a #1 would not fit a 7th or 8th grade boy's hand (which is when I started shop class).

    We do have planes that we know were used in schools - the 1/4 planes (like the 5 1/4). I don't know for sure but I think the 1/4 planes, while rare, are a lot more available than the #1s. You'd think that if they got rid of the #1s during WWII, they would have gotten rid of the 1/4s also. And they must not have ordered any more of them after the war or we'd see a lot of late model #1s around and not many early ones. I don't think that's what we see in the market.

    Mike

    P.S. Also, if the #1s were used in schools, we'd have evidence like we do for the 1/4s - stamps in the side of the planes with the school district name, replacement of the handles, especially if replaced with cheap wood or metal (kids broke a lot of handles on the 1/4s) or some other evidence. I don't think we have any of that with the #1s.
    You are right Mike, I had forgotten reading about that years ago that the total cutting angle on a block plane will be adding the bevel + the pitch. Thanks for reminding me My No. 1 is actually 5 degrees lower a overall cutting angle than my standard block plane. All I can tell you when I use the block plane on a particularly difficult wood I can pick up the No 1 bench plane and often clean it up nicely. Sometimes it is the reverse. Maybe that 5 degrees makes a difference. (I work with a lot of unusual varieties of wood.) Of course secondary bevels can change things even more. I don't know if it is the way the blade is bedded or the fact that the No. 1 Lie Nielsen I use has a bedrock type moveable bed (the original did not) to narrow the opening of the shaving to make finer or courser shavings where the low angle I have does not.

    The No. 1 and block planes are nearly exactly the same length so holding the block plane doesn't seem to be a problem --but the no. 1 is? Thats a comfort issue that is as individual as individuals. I actually have less problem holding the No. 1 than a block plane since my muscualr dystrophy causes weakness in my fingers so I have more to hold on to the No. 1.

    Yep, I'm pretty sure elementary school is before 7th and 8th grade though. My nephew is in 5th grade and it fits him perfect. Before the 1940's back to 1869 I'm sure shop class may have started a bit earlier too. As for why there were not so many No. 1 Stanley's after WWII it is because they stopped making them in 1945! I'm with you though when it comes to preferring to have more evidence backing up what the Wood Mag. article said was true. I just passed it on for whatever it was worth since there is so little written about these.

    I guess the purpose for starting this thread was looking for constructive ideas or evidence of what they were used for in the past & what they were used for today. It takes no effort to dismissively say they were useless for EVERYONE and move on to the next thread. I do appreciate any corrections of fact though.

    Mark

  13. #13

    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by Horst Hohoff
    Hello,
    I think I read a discussion aboute the purpose of the #1 elswhere. And I now wonder: has anybody ever asked Stanley if they know what they built it for?

    Horst
    That is what I would like to know. With all the research on Stanley I would think somebody out there would have a diffinitive answer.
    Mark

  14. #14
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    There must have been a reason why they were made and for so long. Perhaps they were favoured for younger kids in reform schools or whatever.

    Also Stanley wasn't the only company who made them, Ohio tool did, though these are rarer than Stanleys, and I think a few other companies did as well. The point being if there was no use for them why bother.

    It would be interesting if anyone had an old Stanly Catalogue or sales brochure that might give some idea as to what they were on about.

    Perhaps another question did Stanly or Record, or anyone else for that matter, offer that size in Europe.

    So many questions so few answers. You got to admit though they are cute aren't they.

    EDIT I just did a quick check of my 1910 Ohio Tool catalogue reprint, it offers no explanation specific to the NO. 01 and they did not offer it with a corrugated soul, the smallest of that type being a No. 02C, hmm more questions.
    Last edited by James Mittlefehldt; 10-19-2006 at 1:22 PM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
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    south jersey
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    Stanley 1

    I've seen the reference to bamboo rod making before in reference to the #1. I was on the Orvis live chat line. They made their first bamboo rod when Lincoln was still a Whig. They say that not me. They use a Stanley 9 1/2 for planing cane. I thought I recalled seeing a still picture of their shop from years ago and seeing a block plane on a work bench. The bottom of the line bamboo rod costs about what a not so mint #1 would cost. About a grand if I recall. The way woodworkers dream of the #1 peeking out of a pile of junk at a garage sale, flyfishermen dream of an old battered leather covered tube containing a vintage Orvis Cane rod right next to it.

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