2012-08-17 An Old Stanley Block Plane
We went shopping at an Antique
Mall. Last time I was at this place I got a Case knife for a good
price. This time I found a little Stanley Model # 220 Block Plane
for $16.00. It's a great price and the plane was in decent shape,
only minimal rust and no missing parts.
They stopped making this
model in 1973 but you can still find them new on eBay for about $30.00
plus shipping. The cheapest ones in decent shape go for $20.00 to
$25.00 plus shipping. This model is a low angle block plane (21º cutting angle)
on a machined, cast iron base, a rosewood knob, and a knurled
steel adjusting screw. It's 7 1/2 inches long by 1 5/8 inches
In case you're wondering what's the difference between a bench plane and a block plane, I had to look it up too.
Wikipedia says bench planes have the cutting iron bevel facing down and block planes have the cutting iron bevel up.
also say block planes are usually a smaller tool used with one hand for
general purpose work like smoothing small pieces.
The first thing I did was take it apart and wash the parts. I had to remove cobwebs. It's been sitting up a while.
pretty simple with few parts, not complex like bench planes.
There's only the cast iron base (on the left), the blade (or
"iron" at top right), a depth adjustment screw (that long screw thingy
with the knurled knob on the end), and the heel which is called a
Yeah, I know. that's only 4 parts and there
are 5 parts in the photo. Let me explain the remaining part.
It's a nut or threaded knob (not to be confused with the wooden
thing that's called a "knob"). It goes over the screw post in the
center of the cast iron base. The blade, is under it.
You loosen this, adjust the blade depth, then screw it tight to
hold the blade in place while in use.
Planes most often use a
lever and cam instead of a screw or nut. Move the lever and the cam releases pressure so you can adjust the
depth of cut. That's why the heel is called a "lever cap" because it covers the lever and cam.
Here's the little 220 block plane on my work bench next to my Stanley RB5 block plane which I hate.
You can tell the 220 is only an inch longer and just as handy.
reason I hate the RB5 is because it's dirt cheap quality. The
heel is plastic, the adjustment screw is pot metal, and the blades are the
throw away kind just like everything else in today's society. The base
is metal but I'm not sure what kind. I long ago lost the plastic
toe cover for this POJ. At least it came with a spare blade.
works but just barely. Like on all other block planes, you have
to release the blade tension to adjust depth of cut.
The little screw on the right is for that.
Unfortunately, when you release the tension the blade falls out.
You're on your hands and knees trying to retrieve it. Then
to figure out how to keep it from falling again while you put the dumb
thing back in. Now you know why I hate it. it doesn't cut
very well either. I can think of other reasons why I can't stand
this thing but you get the idea.
old Stanley block plane cuts very well, just like a plane is supposed
to. All I had to do was remove a bit of rust and sharpen it on my
diamond hone for a few minutes. Here's the evidence of how it
made short work of smoothing a test piece. It seems to cut just
as well against the grain as with it with very little gouging.
Here's a closeup of the cast iron base with the serial number. It looks better after I oiled it to protect it from rust.
And here's a closeup of the iron (the blade) stamped with Stanley's Brand and the model number.
I'll enjoy using this tool a lot more than the piece of junk RB5. I think "RB" must stand for "Really Bad."
I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane and may all your tools work as well as this one.
you're interested in lengthy reading about planes, here's a
website from a guy who seems to know more about them than anyone.
He discusses the model 200 series at length and compares previous