Stanley No. 7 Reflects Secret History

Some months back I purchased a particularly beautiful old Stanley no. 7 jointer plane dating from the late 1880s with the intention of reselling it. It was sharp, clean from decades of proper care, and looked like it was still being used a week ago – absolutely amazing condition for its age. The original owner’s initials were neatly stamped on one side and it came from his family’s estate, which was sadly being liquidated. The plane was remarkably perfect by all accounts – except one…

At some point, almost certainly early in its life, the plane was dropped, breaking off the top quarter of the frog. In a classic reflection of those parsimonious times and testament to the care the owner gave to his tools, he went to unusual lengths to repair that frog, fabricating a perfectly fitting replacement section out of brass, secured with handmade copper rivets. Normally I shy away from tools with such repairs, but the complexity and care given to this one fascinated me. It was extremely well executed, having no doubt taken the better part of a day (perhaps even two) to complete, with an aesthetic effect that was detectable only upon close inspection. More important, it also returned the plane to perfect working order.

I was so conflicted I let the plane sit in my shop for weeks as I tried to decide what to do with it. Obviously treasured by its original owner, whether through necessity or nostalgia, it was used and handed down within his family for numerous generations. I hated to think of it being sold for scrap or parts after 130 years, especially given its impeccable working condition. Eventually reason and practicality prevailed, and I reluctantly decided to just list it at a fixed price on eBay, hoping I would find a buyer who could appreciate it as it was. And find a buyer I did… one with a surprising affinity for this particular plane.

Turns out the guy who bought it already had at least one other plane from the same estate with the same owner’s initials stamped on the side. He wrote and told me he was so intrigued at the care the owner had given his tools, he felt compelled to own this no. 7 just for the repair it featured. For him, the repair reflected the respect and value afforded the tool, and that little bit of history made it all the more desirable. He was excited to get it and I was thrilled to have found it a home with a new owner who ‘gets it’ – who appreciates that tool for the secret history it carries in an exceptionally well executed repair. You have to love that!

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About Bryant
Bryant is a business management and organizational development executive with over 15 years’ experience focused on financial and operational efficiencies, talent development and optimization, improved employee engagement, and cultural alignment of teams within the organization. He has diverse experience in successful financial and strategic planning, brand management, leadership analysis and talent development, as well as designing and executing improvements to teams’ cultural efficacy and organizational alignment. Bryant has experience in both International Public S&P 500 Corporate and Non-Profit Sectors, and also runs his own entrepreneurial business venture, a consulting company specializing in helping small businesses and organizations improve operational efficiency, leadership development, and employee engagement . Bryant holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and a Bachelors in Fine Arts (BFA).

2 Responses to Stanley No. 7 Reflects Secret History

  1. James Ogle says:

    I have a number 7 that has had the body riveted back together. I bought it to use as a parts plane but hit on much the same dilemma as you once I received it. Someone obviously cared a great deal for it and it speaks to an age when something broke you just didn’t toss it out and buy the “New & Improved now with MORE Goodness” TM model. It still is setting in my shop and I actually have need for some of the parts but I still can’t bring myself to tossing the body. Although Pop Woodworking did do an article awhile back about things to make from broken planes. The plane might just live on in a new format and hopefully I and someone after me can add another 100 odd years of usefulness to it.

    Like

  2. Andy Block says:

    I have a number 5 with the same frog and the top right corner is also broken off. I purchased it as a parts plane; however after tuning it up to my surprise it worked remarkably well, and I have been trying to find a replacement frog ever since. The broken frog is not a problem as I have made several Krenov style wooden planes and am familiar with using a plane hammer to set the iron.

    Yesterday I purchased a lot of planes and included was a #3 with the same type of frog, and you guessed it was broken in exactly the same spot. From looking at it, it is apparent that is also a fine tool that will make beautiful shavings. I would love to get my hands on replacement frogs for both planes. Anybody got some?

    Like

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