While out running some errands this weekend, I stopped at a local flea market. I’m not sure why I did, as this particular market has never had anything that I wanted before, but I thought I’d pop in for a quick look. There were a few old tools, but most was junk. Some old wooden bodied bench planes that had dried out and checked so badly that they were unusable and some Stanley type metal planes that were the newer poorly made kind (folded lateral adjustment lever, etc.).
Sitting amongst all of this, was a tongue and grooving plane. I recognized the type of plane, as I had seen Deneb Puchalski from the Lie-Nielsen Toolworks demonstrate how to use one of their tongue and groove planes during a presentation at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival a couple of years ago.
The guy selling it, had a price tag of $90 on it but said that he would take half of that. We agreed upon $40 and I left the flea market with a shiny and new (OK… dirty and old) plane.
The plane I bought is a Union No. 41 Match Plane. Sometimes you see these referred to as match planes and other times as tongue and groove planes . I started doing a little research online, and according to Patrick Leach’s awesome Blood and Gore Stanley Reference Guide, Union was bought out by Stanley in about 1920 and all planes made after then were re-branded as Stanley. The Union N0. 41 is the same plane as a Stanley No. 48.
One of the big obstacles when finding something like this at a flea market or garage sale is knowing what to pay or what it is worth. When it comes to the regular Stanley bench planes, I have a pretty good idea, since I have been buying and rehabbing them for some time now. I had no idea what this tongue and groove plane was worth. But, I figured that at $40, even if I was paying too much, it wasn’t going to be by a lot. I have since checked eBay and there are a few listed. One is in considerably rougher shape, is missing it’s cutters, and is listed at $45. I guess I didn’t do too bad, but not as well as I did when I bought a Stanley 113 compass plane for $15 at a swap market.
The nickel plating is missing in some areas, but after a thorough cleaning, I think it will look quite nice. The plane has both its cutters and they appear to be in good shape and have plenty of life left in them.
This style of plane has a base that swivels to cut either the tongue or the groove. To hold the base in place there is a spring mounted post or pin that goes into a detent at either end of the base. Changing from cutting the tongue or the groove is as simple as pulling up the pin, rotating the base, and reseating the pin.
One discrepancy I did notice, was that the two cutters are not the same width. I read a forum post that said that the plane was originally sold with a third cutter that was a little wider than the others and would allow the plane to cut wider stock. The groove would not be centered, but since it is hidden within the joint, who would know? Once I get the plane all cleaned up, I’ll have to experiment with it and make sure that the cutters are installed in the correct sides.
I’ll post some more pictures of this plane once it is all cleaned up and put back in good working order.
I haven’t touched my workbench project for a couple of weeks now. What with trying to watch every World Cup match, keeping up with the yard work, and going to work, there hasn’t been any spare time. And now… I have a plane restoration to throw into the mix. We’ll see what happens.
More soon… Maybe in the round of 16.
What an interesting post.
I’m saying that because I wrote a similar post a couple of years ago when I found out that the ‘Stanley 48’ that I’d had and used was , in fact, made by Union and adulterated deliberately by Stanley to remove all Union identification.
Here’s the link.
I got the idea d from reading the ‘Blood and Gore’ site and whilst I’d appreciate a little more objectivity there, it’s a good first stop to identify tools from the various Stanley nomenclature and this tip was invaluable.
How my example got over here is anyone’s guess.
One pet theory of mine is that Stanley decided to ‘dump’ spare product onto the export market, but despite all that (we are talking about over 90 years ago) the tool is still in good order and performs very well indeed.
Thanks for the insight and good luck with it.
All best from Wales
Thanks for taking the time to comment. Your blog post came up when I searched for “Union No. 41” and I enjoyed reading it. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see American made tools in the UK. I have spent quite a bit of time on ebay.co.uk as I have a lot of family in England. I spent about a month leading up to my last trip buying old tools on ebay and had them shipped to my in-law’s house. Without this option the cost of shipping from the UK to the US would have been prohibitive. However, I ended up with a suitcase full of tools to bring back and the wife was just thrilled.
I’m rambling… The point I was trying to get to was that I was quite surprised at the time to see how many American made tools were listed, Millers Falls, Starrett, Stanley (the US ones), and others. Considering how high the quality of the UK made tools were, I didn’t think that there would be that many US made tools from the period in the UK. I’m not sure why they were imported, but the auction listings indicate that they must have been.
Anyway, thanks again for your comment. I enjoy reading your blog.
interesting…I have a Union No. 42 and I am curious as to the difference .
Also in need of new cutters if anyone can help.
I did a little searching on line and found this:
It sounds like yours is a slightly newer version of the plane. The link above also says where you can get replacement cutters. Good luck!
All the best,