WoodSkills - Instructional woodworking courseware



                                                    Stanley 45 - Combination plow plane and beading plane    


                         Vintage Stanley combination planes have always intrigued me. Hand plane technology progressed
                         through the centuries with wooden planes making way for metal-bodied planes. Molding, grooving
                         and dado planes, including plow, dado, beading, etc., have historically been dedicated wooden planes 
                         with the profile and preset offset from the edge of the board built-in. This translated to having a different
                         wooden plane for each application, and could get cumbersome for the cabinetmaker of the time.

                         The Stanley No.45 and No.55 combination planes were at the end of the evolutionary line of hand planes.

                         Stanley developed this combination plane with an adjustable fence which is capable of accepting an
                         assortment of straight blades, beading planes, and match groove blades. This design removed
                         the need to have multiple wooden planes for different sized grooves, dadoes , rabbets and beads.

                         This particular series of plane, the Stanley No. 45 - 55 , was developed at the peak of the metal
                         hand plane design era ( late 1800's). It is interesting that if one were to develop a similar-featured plane
                         today, the design would probably look not too much different than the Stanley No. 45..

                         This particular model, the Stanley No. 45 has been in production from the late 1800's to the middle
                         of the 1900's with many different variants along the way. Each variant was either adopted for
                         manufacturing efficiency or to implement a new feature into the plane.
                         The type I have ( Type 7B) is very likely early 1904-06 vintage. The Patrick Leach "Blood and Gore"
                         web site is a great place to visit and determine what vintage your old Stanley or Record plane is.
                         Certain small features are either part of this plane or not, enough to narrow down the production dates
                         of Stanley planes to within a few years of each other.

                        
 

                         For example, my Stanley No. 45 has the floral motifs along the main body and sliding, 
                         adjustable skate which date this plane to before 1910 when the motif became a pebble-effect.
                         The knob was also moved from the main body to the fence in the very late 1800's. All wood
                         components are original rosewood, the plane body itself is nickel-plated. Very early No. 45's
                         were japanned and had brass fittings. Nickel-plated bodies were introduced afterwards.

                         The No. 45 has a small learning curve and a series of adjustments to complete even before
                         beginning to plow grooves or dadoes. There are spurs or nickers on both the main body skate and
                         the sliding skate, just ahead of the blade. The skates are called that either because they skate
                         along the surface of the wood, and they look like ice skates in shape. The skates serve to both support
                         the blade at the rear and to create a bearing surface for the plane to ride in along the board being grooved.
                         The adjustable, sliding skate can be removed for the narrowest, 1/4 in. cutter. The fixed, single skate
                         is sufficient for support of the smallest cutter.

                         I read about and also noticed that there is a large built-in gap ahead of the interchangeable blades
                         which results in a large mouth opening. This presents an issue with gnarly woods, so it is recommended
                         that straight-grained woods be used. I set the blade for a very light cut to compensate for this, however
                         this translates to many more strokes to arrive at the same point. This No. 45 has an adjustable depth
                         stop which works very well. The next variant ( post- 1910) of this Stanley No. 45 had an fence adjustable
                         with a fence adjusting screw setup which makes it easier to tweak the fence.

                         I disassembled and cleaned this particular plane, to become familiar with the different components.
                         I sharpened and honed 3 of the straight cutters ( 1/4 in, 5/16 in., 3/8 in. blades), and honed a 3/8 in. beading cutter
                         to perform testing of the plane. I ultimately used cherry and birch. Initially I tried the No. 45 on mahogany, but the
                         grain is interlocking and reverses presenting opportunity for tearout with this plane. This plane does however
                         easily plow through straight-grained woods creating straight, symmetric and accurate beads, grooves,
                         dadoes in no time!  Setup time isn't a whole lot more than a setting up a router and bit in a router table.

                         Stanley 45 , shown below with short and long bars, part-way through a 3/8 in. bead along the edge of a board.

                        


                         Stanley 45, shown below with short and long bars, part-way through a 3/8 in. bead along the edge of a board.

                        


                         Stanley 45, shown with short and long bars, part-way through a 1/4 in. groove along the edge of a cherry board,
                         this can easily be a groove for a drawer bottom.

                        
 

                         Photo of dual skates and cutter (1/4 in. blade). The skate between the main body at the right and the adjustable
                         fence at the left is the sliding, adjustable skate. Notice the edges of the dual skates are set slightly narrower than
                         the edge of the cutter, this to not inhibit or bind the plane in the groove. Also notice the dual skates ahead of the
                         cutter have spurs or nickers along their edges, used to score when cutting dadoes ( cross-grain).

                        
 

                         Stanley No. 45 set up to make 1/2 in. rabbets along the length of a birch board. The two necessary adjustments 
                         the depth of the cutter in relation to the skates and the sliding skate location. This skate supports the outboard
                         part of the 7/8 in. cutter. The depth gauge adjustment also needs to be set for the vertical depth of the rabbet.

                         
 

                         Stanley No. 45 set up to make 1/2 in. rabbets along the length of a birch board. The two necessary adjustments 
                         the depth of the cutter in relation to the skates and the sliding skate location. This skate supports the outboard
                         part of the 7/8 in. cutter. The depth gauge adjustment also needs to be set for the vertical depth of the rabbet.
                         It is important to keep the plane vertical for a level rabbet, along with keeping the fence along the edge of the
                         board throughout the cut.

                         
 

                         Below is the Stanley No. 45 with a 7/8 in. rabbet cutter installed. I sharpened the cutter, flattened and polished
                         the back, and set a primary bevel at 30 degrees, honed and polished to 4000 grit. Notice the fence is actually
                         beneath the cutter when making rabbets and is set to the width of the rabbet. The sliding skate (supporting skate
                         in this instance) is at the outside of the cutter or blade, hidden by the rosewood fence.
                         Also, the adjustable depth gauge is in plain view.

                         
 

                         Side view of the main body of the Stanley No. 45 with adjustable depth stop and scoring cutter.
                         Notice also the floral motif on the body which significantly narrows the age of this plane to circa
                         1895- 1905.

                        
 

                         Competed 1/4 in. groove (drawer bottom) and 3/8 in. bead ( below) in cherry board.

                         
 

                         Below, an assortment of cutters that come with this particular model. I also have a few extra cutters and other
                         parts for specialized applications (slitter, cam). The cutters in the middle of the box have been sharpened,
                         backs lapped, and honed to 4000 grit. The 3/8 in. beading cutter used above has only the back lapped to
                         not deform the profile of the cutter. Match cutter is at the right, used for creating tongue and grooves.

                        
 

                         The original box this Stanley No. 45 was purchased in... with 100 years of wear showing. It was fun bringing
                         this plane back to life as a nice user plane. I intend to use it to create joinery on some of my future projects.