Stanley’s #75 Bull Nose Rabbet Planes from the Model Shop
Since my last post was on the topic of bull nose planes from the Stanley model shop, I thought we would take a look at this smallest version of the bull nose rabbet plane manufactured by Stanley, the #75. Stanley started making these planes in 1879 and made them until 1983 in the United States.
At some point, which is not exactly clear, they started manufacturing them again in England and they’re still making them. You can easily find a new one or an older one to purchase with a quick internet search. There are no particular inventors or specific patents related to these planes, but they’ve obviously sold well over the years.
Now for a definition. A rabbet (or rebate if you’re English) is a recess or step along the edge of a piece of wood. The cutter in a rabbet planes is just slightly wider than the body of the plane. The slightly wider cutter allows the cutter to produce a sharp corner in the rabbet that wouldn’t be possible with a bench plane since the cutter in a bench plane fits inside the body of the plane. While there are a multitude of variations on the rabbet plane, we’ll limit our discussion to these little cast iron bull nose rabbet planes made by Stanley with a few unique examples from the Stanley Model Shop.
This first one (see Figure 2) is the earliest Stanley #75 I know of and came from the Model Shop. It is cast in two pieces. The upper casting has a nicely curved palm rest at the heel of the plane and the arch at the toe curves gracefully down to form the sole in front of the cutter. This upper casting is 4½ inches long and 1 inch wide.
There are narrow rabbets cast into the bottom surface of this portion of the plane that mate beautifully with the inside walls of the lower casting allowing the upper portion to move smoothly back and forth over the lower casting thereby allowing the user to regulate the mouth opening. (See Figure 3)
The lower portion of the side walls of the upper casting are nicely machined with fine machining marks that run horizontally. The lower casting is 3¾ inches long and 1 inch wide. The side walls of the bottom casting are machined with fine horizontal machining marks, there is a gentle curve at the back of the casting and a small lug is present at the heel of the plane. Both the upper and lower castings are heavily japanned and there are no identifying marks on either casting. (See Figure 4) The two castings are held together with a slotted pan head machine screw and a brass washer that fits through an oval-shaped hole in the upper casting and is screwed into a raised threaded portion of the lower casting. The oval-shaped hole allows the upper casting to be moved forward and backwards to adjust the mouth opening. The lever cap has a small knurled screw that when tightened wedges the lever cap against two triangle-shaped projections in the upper casting and thereby holds the cutter in place. The “T” shaped cutter is 3½ inches long is 1 and 1/32 inches wide. (See Figure 5)
There is a very early style Stanley logo stamped in the upper portion of the cutter.(See Figure 6) The cutters in all of these planes are designed to be used with the bevel down. The portion of the sole in front of the cutter is coplanar with the sole of the plane behind the cutter. The machining marks are very clear on this plane and the plane shows no evidence of use. It’s nicely designed, beautifully made and is comfortable in your hand. This one may have been a prototype, but some changes were made before the Stanley #75 went into production.
The second version is typical of the earliest production model of the Stanley #75 bull nose rabbet plane as listed in Stanley’s 1879 catalog. The upper casting is 4 1/8 inches long and 15/16ths of an inch wide except at the sole projecting in front of the cutter which is 1 and 1/16th inches wide. There is no palm rest on the heel of the plane and the arch in the front is not as graceful as the one seen on the earlier version.(See Figure 7)
There is no machining on the sides of the upper casting and the narrow rabbets on the interior of the upper casting have been replaced by four small tabs that fit inside the lower casting allowing the user to slide the upper casting over the lower casting to regulate the mouth opening.
There’s a slightly raised projection on the heel of the upper casting. The lower casting is 3 and 5/8ths inches long and 1 inch wide. There is machining on the sides of the lower casting 5/16ths of an inch up from the sole with the machining marks running vertically. The lower casting retains the casting lug at the heel of the plane and the raised threaded portion to attach the upper casting is the same as on the prototype. (See Figure 9)
A flat head slotted screw slips through an oval hole in the upper casting and threads into the raised portion of the lower casting to lock the two castings together and regulate the size of the mouth opening. The lever cap is identical to the one on the prototype except for the presence of a slotted knurled adjusting screw ( Some of the early versions of the #75 have an un-slotted knurled adjusting screw). The cutter is the same with the exception of the trademark stamped in the upper portion of the cutter which is typical of Stanley planes from the 1872-1885. (See Figure 10) Compared to the prototype, the casting is rougher, the machining, and the fit and finish are not as good. The plane is slightly smaller and doesn’t fit as well in your hand, But judging from the numbers out there, and its long production life this plane was a success for Stanley. The current version of the Stanley #75 being made today is essentially unchanged from the ones like this made in 1879.
This next version of the Stanley #75 illustrates that the engineers at Stanley were constantly looking at ways to improve their products. This version from the Model Shop is difficult to date, but was probably made sometime in the 1960’s or 1970’s.(See Figure 11)
The upper casting is 4 and 5/8ths inches long and 7/8ths of an inch wide except at the toe of the plane where it is 1 inch wide. A rear palm rest has been added to this upper casting and the projections on the inside of the upper casting that wedge the lever cap in place are now small narrow tabs rather than the triangular tabs seen on earlier versions. The under surface of the rails have been machined on the upper casting where it mates with the lower casting. This upper casting is shorter in height and lighter weight than on previous models. The upper casting is attached to the lower casting with a flat head slotted machine screw and washer that fits through the oval hole in the upper casting. The lower casting is 3 and 3/8ths inches long and 1 inch wide. The four tabs that were located on the upper casting on the previous version of this plane have been moved to the lower casting on this version of the plane. These tabs are more robust lower casting are more robust and the rails on the lower casting have not been machined. (See Figure 12)
The #75 is cast into the heel of the lower casting and to my knowledge this is the only time the model number appears on any version of the Stanley #75 bull nose rabbet plane. (See Figure 13)
The cutter is only 3 and 3/8ths inches long and the logo stamped on the cutter is characteristic of planes made after 1948 and into the latter half of the 20th century. The lever cap is unchanged but due to the shorter height of the upper casting the distal end of the lever cap extends almost to the end of the cutter. (See Figures 14 and 15)
With the end of the lever cap applying pressure on the end of the cutter the chatter in the cutter would be reduced. The lever cap adjusting screw is an un-slotted knurled adjusting screw. The plane is lighter weight and a bit shorter than the production model of the #75. The japanning is completely intact and the plane shows no signs of use and was never put into production. One wonders if the Stanley engineers had the opportunity to look at the prototype when they worked on this redesign of the #75. But this version didn’t make it into production and spent its life on the shelf in the Model Shop until it went home with someone during the periodic Model Shop “clean outs”.
The last version of the Stanley #75 is one of those planes that when it was done, the engineers at Stanley must have said to themselves, “What were we thinking?” It’s 3 and 5/8th inches long and 1 and 1/16th inches wide. It’s basically identical to the standard production model of the Stanley #75, but the arched portion of the upper casting that forms the sole in front of the cutter has been removed.
The upper casting is secured to the lower casting with a flat head slotted machine screw through an oval hole in the upper casting the same as on earlier versions of the #75. The plane has the small projection on the heel of the upper casting and a small raised lug on the heel or the lower casting. (See Figure 17)
The cutter is stamped “STANLEY MADE IN ENG”, and there is a sticker stuck on the back of the upper casting that says the same thing. (See Figures 18 and 19) The lever cap is identical to those seen on earlier versions of this plane and it probably dates from the middle to late 1980’s. There’s an unusual grouping of casting marks on both the upper and lower castings which looks and “8” followed by an “X” and then the number “1” on its side.( See Figure 20) But, once the adjustable mouth has been eliminated there is no reason for this plane to be made in two pieces! There’s really no reason to adjust the upper casting in relationship to the lower casting. It would have been much easier and less expensive to make this plane from a single piece of cast iron. While eliminating the adjustable mouth would have allowed this plane to work in tight corners, there was no need to make a two piece casting. This plane is in pristine condition and it appears it never touched a piece of wood. This was someone’s not very bright idea and we can only hope that everyone involved in making this version had a good laugh at themselves as they put this one on the shelf in the Model Shop.
Paul Van Pernis