Today’s antique is a Stanley Number 71 router plane. These planes, and the later No 71-1/2, were used to level the bottom of a groove or other recess to a plane parallel to the surface.
This particular plane is unique for a few reasons that I want to walk you through, so you will be ahead of your antique shopping competitors. As shown above, the older models of the Stanley No 71 are flat bottomed with a closed throat. The open throat design was introduced in 1892, so this plane should date before that time. Compare the plane above with images of the later No 71’s. This plane is also painted/Japanned black which is a feature of the earlier Type 1 (1884-1885) and Type 2 (1885-1888) models, but keep in mind that unscrupulous dealers will sometimes paint the later model nickel plated planes gloss black.
The lettering on this plane is poorly cast, but the Stanley name and No 71 can be easily read. The letters and numbers around the throat are almost illegible. Originally this read “Pat’D March 4 1884” with scrollwork on either end. The “No 71” lettering was added to the base casting on the Type 2 version which was the only painted, closed throat version of this plane with that number marking. Therefore, this is a Type 2 which dates from 1885-1888. Or is it?
This plane also has drilled and countersunk screw holes which is a feature that was not added until 1906 (Type 7), so something strange is going on here. I’ll circle back to this in a minute.
Shown above center, the blade clamp has vertical fluting which is a trademark of Type 1 and Type 2 No 71 router planes. This clamp style is quite obvious, and non-nickel plated versions are an immediate indicator of early versions of this plane.
The knobs on this plane are thicker in the middle and more squared off at the top than the issued Stanley knobs. They are also missing the turned bead at the base. These are not the original knobs for this plane, and it would be unusual for someone to turn new knobs for this tool. At this point, we have all of the indicators of an early Type 2 plane made from 1885-1888, but the knobs are not correct for this Type and there are holes in the body that do not exactly match any other Type. However, turning the plane over tells the whole story.
The sole of the plane is brass which means that the entire body is solid brass, and it’s slightly heavier than the other No 71 routers that I’ve picked up. This plane is unique because it is a reproduction cast from an original Type 2. It was most likely sand cast which caused the degraded lettering and checker pattern on top of the base. However, this plane has an original Type 1 or Type 2 clamp from another plane. I assume that the original clamp, like the plane body, was a brass reproduction casting, but it was lost at some point and replaced. The knobs were turned by the user specifically for this reproduction plane, which sort of explains why they don’t match the factory original knobs. This plane was probably made after the turn of the century prior to WW1. Regardless, it was in the presence of an original Type 2 at its birth.
You will run across these “pattern planes” at some point in your travels. They were often projects by patternmakers or were made for practice at trade schools. I think they are wonderful curiosities which I value as much or more than the original tools. This particular plane is going to be restored for use and will receive some correctly turned knobs. Now, should I re-paint the body or let the brass show?
For more Type study information, see the excellent Hyper Kitten Tool Co. page covering the Stanley No 71 router plane Types.
Equipment Used for this Post
- Nikon D750 with RRS plate
- Zeiss 35mm F1.4 Distagon
- Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead
- Gitzo GT3530S tripod
- 7″ remote monitor
Software Used for this Post
- Adobe DNG Converter
- Adobe Photoshop CS2