Schoolboy error ref’ Stanley 5 1/2 Type 11 Cutter Size

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15 Oct 2017
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I think rationalization would be the most likely driving factor that led to Stanley switching from the 2 1/4" to 2 3/8" blades. What I've often wondered was why they chose that "in between" size in the first place?

I can only think it was to make a clear distinction between the 5 1/2 & the #6 (though the 3 inch difference in body length would probably alert most people!). But Stanley was constantly looking for yet another variation on a theme to try & lure more customers. Of course they were only willing to give customers endless choice as long as they kept buying endlessly, & as time went by, perhaps sales volumes for the 5 1/2 just weren't justifying the extra tooling to make the frogs, blades & cap-irons - 5 1/2s arent rare, but they are nowhere near as ubiquitous as the #5. So perhaps some genius in the boardroom suggested the small step-up in size & weight by using 6/7 frogs would not be noticed by the punters & would save the company $X,000s??

Whatever the reason, I certainly notice the difference between my old (narrow) #5 1/2 and a more 'modern' model. This is not due so much to the slight increase in weight from the wider frog & blade assembly, I doubt I would notice that at all, all else being equal. The main difference is they also beefed up the body casting, so when you pick up a newer 5 1/2 after using mine, you might think you had grabbed a #6! Patrick doesn't give any weights for old vs new models - he gives a flat 6.75lbs, which would be the new model, as mine weighs 5.42 lbs. It's the perfect size/weight for the role it plays in my shed; it's my main workhorse & I use that plane far more than any of my other bench planes.

However, I'm well aware that's not a universal sentiment, we all have our preferences & prejudices when it comes to planes (& Stanley tried hard to cater for them!) .......


What am I doing here?
28 Nov 2018
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Moreton in marsh
G and M Tools used to carry a lot of blades for older planes. Google will tell you they are permanently closed but that's because they have moved premises.