Block Plane Dating

Block Planes from the Author's Collection

Block Planes from the Author’s Collection

A great deal of research has been dedicated to dating Stanley’s bench planes over the years, with type studies established for the Bailey and Bedrock lines, as well as many of the most popular specialty planes.  While comprehensive type studies exist for the no. 110, no. 9-1/2, and nos. 18/19 series of block planes, there doesn’t appear to be much information on the nos. 60 or 65 series of low angle blocks.

Frustrated at this, I began a quest two or three years ago to identify the major changes in the design and production of Stanley’s premium block planes, with a focus on the no. 60 series and no. 65 series.   Using existing reference material from the previous type studies, I poured over old catalogs, advertisements, the planes themselves, and anything else I could get my hands on.

Rather than try to create a formal type study, I decided to focus more on the practical goal of simply establishing criteria for dating the planes within the narrowest possible time frame.   While there are still some gaps and inconsistencies across models (some of which appear within the published type studies of the nos. 9-1/2 and 18 series), I’ve been able to narrow down the manufacturing date ranges for most major features.  I intend to eventually format the data into a more usable format, but for now I want to put it out for reference and feedback.  By cross-referencing the key features below, you should be able to narrow down the age of your plane to within a few years of manufacture.

Date your Stanley Block Plane:

Model 9 1/2 Series 18-19 Series 60 & 60-1/2 65 & 65-1/2
Intro. 1873 Intro. 1888 Intro. 1898/1902 Intro. 1898/1902
Body Style Detail
   Excelsior Body Profile Hump Toward Rear 1873-1898 1888-1898
   Handi-Grip Introduced Thumb Indentions in Sides 1898+ 1898+ All Years All Years
   Centered Profile Handi-Grip Profile Hump Centered w/ Indents 1900+ 1899+ All Years All Years
   Non-Adjustable Throat 1898-1902 1898-1905
Bed Stamping 97 Patent Date behind frog 1900-1904 1899-1903 1898-1903* 1898-1903*
S Foundry Mark 1894-1900 1889-1902 1898-1900* 1898-1900*
B Foundry Mark 1901-1904 1901-1902 1901-1904* 1901-1905*
“Stanley” added to toe 1920+ 1910+
“Made in USA” added behind frog 1930+ 1930+ 1930+* 1930+*
Model # stamped on side 1947+ 1947+ 1947+* 1947+*
Front Knob Boss Raised from 1/8″ to 1/4″ 1920+ 1910+ 1910+* 1910+*
Lateral Lever Stamp 3 Dates – 76, 84, 88 (bent up) 1888-1889 1888
4 Dates – 76, 84, 88, 88 1890-1897 1889-1897
4 Dates – 84, 88, 88, 97 1898-1901 1898-1901
3 Dates – 88, 88, 97 1901-1907 1901-1906
1 Date – 97 1908-1909 1907
No Date or Stanley Only 1910-1919 1908-1919
No markings 1920+ 1920+
Eccentric Throat Lever 94 Patent Date 1894-1909 1894-1907 1903-1907 1906-1907
Unmarked 1909+ 1907+ 1908+
Unmarked – Tip Turned Up 1955+ 1930s-50s* 1907+*
Lever Cap
   Flat Bench Plane Style Small Flat Bench Plane Style 1872-1874
   Hooded w/ Bottom Lever Dimpled w/ Scalloped Edge 1874-1879
   Hooded w/ Bottom Lever Thin Ribbon Hood 1879-1885
   Hooded w/ Bottom Lever Matt Texture 1885-1886
   Hooded w/ Bottom Lever Fine Cross Hatching 1886-1900
   Hooded w/ Top Lever 10-12-97 Pat Date around Lever 1901-~1917 1898-~1917* 1898-~1917*
   Hooded w/ Top Lever No Date, Machined Edges ~1918-1955 ~1918-1955* ~1918-1950*
   Hooded w/ Top Lever Japanned Edges 1956-1960 1956-1960*
   Knuckle Joint – Style 1 1st Type – “Stanley” w 86 Pat Date 1888-1904
   Knuckle Joint – Style 1 1st Type – “Stanley” Only 1905-1912
   Knuckle Joint – Style 2 (1913+) 2nd Type – “Stanley” w/ 13 Pat Date 1913-1919 1913-1919*
   Knuckle Joint – Style 2 2nd Type – “Stanley SW” w/ 13 Date 1920-1935 1920-1935*
   Knuckle Joint – Style 2 2nd Type – “Stanley” Only (-War Yrs) 1936+ 1936+
Rear Depth Adj Screw Thicker Knurled Knob Introduced 1930 1930
Depth Adjustment Nut Left Handed Threads 1899+ 1898+

* Estimated, Extrapolated, or Unconfirmed
~ Represents an approximate date

***

Tools shown in the photos on this site were returned to functional condition by Virginia Toolworks using museum quality archival preservation techniques.  Sharpened and tuned for use, every tool is fully tested and adjusted until perfect.

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42 Responses to Block Plane Dating

  1. Pingback: The $1 Stanley rust bucket – an exploration | working by hand

  2. Pingback: Stanley #65 type 1 restoration | time tested tools

  3. Rob says:

    Any idea on a “C” foundry mark on the bed and lever cap?

    Like

    • Bryant Rice says:

      I’ve never seen a C foundry mark on a Stanley and I can’t find much reference for it elsewhere. There’s a thread on sawmillcreek from a couple of years ago that questions a C foundry mark on a Great Neck block plane, and someone responded that they had seen this on a Stanley 220. http://www.sawmillcreek.org/archive/index.php/t-207331.html

      Like

      • Rob says:

        Ok thanks. It looks old but has the STANLEY and MADE IN USA embossed, japanned lever cap and body top and no other stamps/marks except for the two “C”s.

        Like

      • Bryant Rice says:

        Hmm.. I’d love to see a couple of photos if you want to send them to vatoolworks@gmail.com.

        Like

      • kent lingerfelt says:

        I just bought one today exact same discription

        Like

      • Mat says:

        I have one. I will be getting photos. I have already repainted it. Looks like my 9 1/2. May be from the war years. No brass at all. The front knob and adjustment wheel are all steel. The sides of the plane lack the handy holds. It was a real rust bucket when I received it.
        I will send pictures when I have them.

        Like

      • d3summerball says:

        I have one that has the c on the base of the plane and under the lever cap. It is a 9 1/2. I believe mine is from the war years. It does not have the handy hokds and it also has no brass on it at all. The front knob and adjuster wheel are both steel. This plane was in very bad shape when I received it.
        I will be getting pictures soon and will forward them on.
        Thanks.

        Like

  4. Steve Schamber says:

    Has anyone seen a thinner rear knurled adjustment screw without the Stanley logo stamped on the screw of a no. 60 or 65 block plane? I have three no. 203 block planes and one has a thinner knurled unmarked screw blade adjustment screw. Appears to be an earlier vintage, possibly just as the thicker screw was introduced in 1930. Other unusual characteristic is smaller diameter lever cap screw into the body.

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    • Bryant says:

      To my knowledge, the Stanley logo was stamped on all the adjustment knobs of the 60/65 series from time of introduction until the 1930s. Without a closer inspection, my guess is that the knob and the smaller diameter cap screw are probably non-original replacements from other planes and/or manufacturers.

      Like

  5. Aaron Robichaud says:

    I have a Stanley #18 sweetheart style 2. It doesn’t have made in USA Has both S and B marked on the adjustable mouth plate. What year would that put it? On the chart the S and B foundry mark seem to end in 1902

    Like

    • Bryant says:

      The S and B on the underside of the mouth plate is common, and the dates for this doesn’t reflect the same dates as the S and B foundry marks on the body. I’ve seen the S and B on mouth plates dating into the 1930s. Your plane predates 1930, when Made in USA was added. If it has Stanley on the toe, it was made after 1920. If not, it was made sometime before 1920. Impossible to narrow further without more information. Hope this helps.

      Like

  6. jon says:

    I have a plane that is identical to my knuckle joint no 18 stanley, with exception of not having the eccentric throat adjustment lever. It has no marking on the cap, except a B on the underside. The lat adj lever has, crossways, PAT 3 97 on it… (not sure about the three..could be an 8). The iron is marked REV-O-NOC & co. I’m assuming Stanley made this plane? What was their relationship with Rev o noc, and how long did it seem to last?

    Like

    • Bryant says:

      Rev-o-Noc was a tradename owned by the Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett & Co., of Chicago, IL. HSB was a department store of sorts, and sold all sorts of things using their Rev-O-Noc brand, including tools, rifles, and shotguns. Think of it this way… Rev-O-Noc was to HSB what Craftsman is to Sears.

      There also seems to be a relationship to Richards & Conover of Kansas City, MO. Supposedly, HSB hired Conover to contract out their tools. Note Revonoc is Conover spelled backwards.

      To your question, Stanley (and others) made at least some of the Rev-O-Noc branded planes. I don’t know how long the relationship lasted.

      Like

      • jon says:

        Thanks for your response.

        Uh…gee…another question, if I may? Did Stanley ever use a knob with a ferrule on their 110 block planes? I’ve got a 110 sweetheart with a ferruled knob, and I suspect the knob, (which is taller than standard, with no finger indent on top), is a jury rigged addition from some klutz that broke or lost the orginal knob.

        Like

      • Bryant says:

        No ferruled knobs. It’s a replacement for sure!

        Like

  7. Jeremy Burrill says:

    Received a #220 for Christmas :) Made in Canada, Stanley and No, 220 in raised letters on the toe, Patent 10-12-97 around lever, S foundry mark. Any ideas on the age? Doesn’t seem to fit these categories.

    Liked by 1 person

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  11. Aaron says:

    I bought a box of old tools today and have a block plane. Hooded with top lever patent# 10-12-97. Upon further inspection. Behind the frog is another patent # 8-3-97. Then on the front I think it is called eccentric adjustment. (Brass locking knob). There is a date stamp of Feb 20, 94. How bout them apples?

    Like

    • Bryant says:

      Different features have different patent dates. Not unusual to see multiple dates on the various parts of planes. Sounds like what you have is a no. 9-1/2 likely made sometime between 1901 and 1904, give or take a couple of years.

      Like

  12. Chuck Panno says:

    I have just acquired a no 60 1/2 Stamped on left side. Blade- STANLEY and under that Made in USA. Depth adj rear knob_ Stanley Made in USA with a snail lake swirl that starts in center and curves out and around and and ends just as it enters the S in USA. On the casting just under the blade and rear of the screw left of center is a C. Straight across on the right side is what appears to be a 5. Japaned Lever cap and top of base. Brass front knob steel real knob. I’m guessing after 1930. Seen one on ebay exactly like it with a SW logo on blade. Is it possible it could be a SW and what year(s) was it produced. Thanks

    Like

    • Bryant says:

      You lost me at “snail lake swirl.” However, the stamp on the side of the body puts this after 1947, when Stanley started marking the sides of their planes, so not a SW era plane.

      Like

  13. Chuck Panno says:

    Lol. Typo. Snail like swirl. @ <kinda like that but minus the "a" It a machining line. Any other features mentioned that close the range of time down. Reading through the site. Cool place. Thanks for the reply Bryant.

    Like

    • Bryant says:

      The only other feature I’m aware of on the later 60 series is that the edges of the lever cap were likely japanned rather than machined after 1956, same as the 9-1/2 series. So if your edges are japanned, it’s probably post 1956, if not, then the plane dates from about 1947 to 1955.

      Like

  14. Don Welch says:

    Ok, I’m really confused. I understand the terms of 9 1/2, 18-19, 60-101/2 and so on series. Explain where the 110, 120,220 etc. series fits in. I’m having trouble identifying the mfg. dates on these block planes. Thanks you.

    Like

    • Bryant says:

      Those numbers aren’t terms, they are all different models that Stanley made. This page is the best resource I know for dating them.

      Like

  15. Drew Marold says:

    On the hooded lever caps, what is the difference between top & bottom lever? I’ve been looking at planes on e-bay and using this chart to try and estimate the age, but I don’t get what I’m looking for in that particular category. I really appreciate the resources you provide on this site. It was after reading your “2 block planes everyone should own” article that I started looking at old Stanleys, and wound up with a No. 19 from the early 1900’s.

    Like

    • Bryant says:

      Earlier block planes had the tensioning lever on the bottom of the rear of the cap, whereas later planes had the lever on the top center. These are far more common. Sorry, I don’t have photos for comparison, but a quick web search should illustrate the two designs.

      Like

  16. Bryant says:

    Sorry, I have no idea.

    Like

  17. Ben says:

    I have an unmarked plane, identical to the No 15. and with features that this page places in 1900. Would love to nail it down. It could be a copy, unless Stanley didn’t mark the planes at one point.

    Defining features:
    – no patent dates or marks. None on the bed, cap, levers, etc. (year unknown)
    – mouth adjustment knob is raised 1/8th, not 1/4 (1899+)
    – cap is hooded, japanned, with a bottom lever and crosshatching (1886 – 1900)
    – thumb indents (1898+)
    – centered profile hump + indents (1900+)

    It would make sense if it was a copy, missing patent dates, etc. and many features would be similar, I just cannot find mention of them being copied at that time. Could a later (ww2 ish) manufacturer have gone with an older design? Maybe due to patent issues or some reason they couldn’t copy a current plane. I would assume copies would be of current models, so as to directly compete and this plane has some very specific features that don’t match outside of the 1900 date. Features not seen after that point.

    Any help would be appreciated and let me know if you want pics.

    Cheers

    Like

    • Ben says:

      Forgot to mention, I’m going on the assumption, since I couldn’t find any data, that the No 15 was made alongside the 9 1/2 since it’s just a 7 inch version. So I may be waaay off, but I’m just going with what I can cobble together for info.

      Please delete the second comment, I clicked the wrong button.

      Like

    • Bryant says:

      Stanley’s block plane bodies were mostly unmarked until about 1920. Assuming all the parts are correct, it sounds like yours was made in 1900. There should, however, be four patent dates on the top of the lateral adjustment lever.

      Like

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