At last…a Stanley Bedrock!

June 30, 2007


I have been collecting planes for years. I try my best to stick to “useable” tools rather than “collectable” tools. Mostly I’m a yard-sale buyer. The thrill of the hunt is at least half of the joy.

Until now I have never been able to locate a Stanley Bedrock plane. There are plenty out there. It wouldn’t be much trouble to bite the bullet and just buy one (ebay or elsewhere). I eventually ran out of patience looking for a Stanley #45 plane. I just bought one.

But, a #45 molding plane is really a different item than a Bedrock. A Bedrock would be just another smoothing plane – better made, rarer, more interesting – but a duplicate of  something that I already have plenty of.  Not really worth 300$.

The Lie Nielson planes are based on the Stanley Bedrock design. But to me these make even less sense. More money than genuine Bedrocks and no history, no mystery.

On the way back from the supermarket I see a little hand-written sign saying something about tools. Its stuck onto one of those yellow plastic sandwich boards that says CAUTION WET FLOOR. It’s in front of a little garage. Probably a fools-errand. Some guy trying to sell off 20 gross of crappy Chinese sanding disks he got stuck with, broken air tools,  or shoeboxes full of orphaned 3/8″ sockets – like 90% of the yardsale tools out there. After a few traffic violations I pull up and wander through the garage.

 A man comes out of the house and we start chatting. He has some tables set up. On the tables? There are the usual sockets, the usual air-tools. No sanding disks however.

I ask about wood working tools and I ask about molding planes. Eventually he walks to the back of the garage. Things are looking up.

“You mean like this?

He points to what looks like a rusty Stanley 5 or 5 1/2.” I take a quick look. I think to myself…”Um not really” But I see the word BED ROCK in front of the knob. 

“…yeah…sort of like that.”

 I wander around a bit and finally pick out the Bedrock. The insignia from a 196o’s Ford Mustang, a Japanese dial caliper with the back off. A Brown & Sharpe micrometer and some weird gadgets that look like pressure measuring devices or tools to inject tiny amouts of gas into a gas-chromatograph?  More research needed on those puppies.

I feel a twinge of guilt about the Bedrock, but I only have $9.00 in my wallet to offer for the pile. He quickly accepts.

I get the plane home and take a good look. It’s a flat sided 605 1/2. Pretty rusty. Later model: tall knob, STANLEY cap, “sweetheart” iron, 1910 patent date. In collectors terms it’s a “user” or a parts plane. I take out the cutter and the frog has a bad chip. The lateral adjuster went south with the chip (good riddance!), but the depth adjusting tooth is still intact. There are no structural cracks in the frog and plenty of frog left to keep the blade stable. For me this is perfect!

The cutter and cap-iron are bent where the plane was hit (the same blow that chipped the frog) It looks like something very heavy was dropped onto the plane rather than the plane being knocked off a workbench onto the floor? Sadly the plane looks like a very a low mileage plane, and the break is recent. The mark on the chip-iron is still shiny and the broken face on the iron frog hasn’t colored yet. I toy with the idea of going back to the man’s house and seeing if he has the broken piece. 

 The tote and knob are nice. A small chip on the tote is the only problem. The rosewood is nice too. Lots of weird stripes through the Brazilian Rosewood on the tote. You can see the port wine purple color of the rosewood on the knob shining through 50 years of dirt. The plane will clean up very nicely.



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