How to Identify a Stanley Plane

Written by g.k. bayne
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How to Identify a Stanley Plane
All Stanley wood planes have some form of identifying marks. (wood planes from another era image by from

Stanley planes are the woodworker's standard for planes--tools that remove wood from larger pieces in precise chips or thin wooden shaves. Stanley planes have been manufactured since 1867 by the Bailey Woods Company. Identifying a woodworking plane as a Stanley is simple, as each tool has some form of identification mark. While the marks have changed over the years, the planes are still clearly identified. You will have to take the plane apart and in some cases clean the metal surfaces.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Screwdriver
  • Machine oil
  • Clean rag

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  1. 1

    Disassemble the wood hand plane using the screwdriver.

  2. 2

    Clean all metal parts with a few drops of machine oil on the clean rag. Remove built-up dirt and wood resin from the parts. This will make reading the parts easier.

  3. 3

    Inspect the brass adjustment knob for the blade. In some cases, the brass knob is in two pieces. Printed on the side of the knob is the word "Woods." The top iron and cap iron may have "L.Baileys" stamped on the surface. This may be a very early Stanley plane.

  4. 4

    Read the cap iron for other clues to the plane's origin. The iron or cap iron may have "Stanley Rule and Level Co." printed in an arc. This is a later manufactured plane. There may also be a logo stamped on the same surface; it will read "Type 1."

  5. 5

    Examine the plane's parts for other stampings. These include the single word "Stanley." Other words and phrases will be stamped in various locations to identify the plane as a Stanley. These phrases include, "Rule & Level Co.," "New Britain Conn.," "Made in USA" and "USA." Some of the phrases may be in all capital letters. All Stanley planes will have one or more of the above phrases or words stamped on the metal parts to authenticate the manufacturer.

Tips and warnings

  • Exercise caution when disassembling the plane. The blade is extremely sharp.
  • Never use a steel brush when cleaning parts as the stiff metal bristles will mar the precision surfaces.

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