Thursday, February 6, 2020

Stanley #75 Bullnose Rabbet Plane

One of the tools I was looking for when I went to a tool meet in November was a bullnose plane.  I did find one, but I should have done some research before purchasing, because I really didn't know much about the one I bought.

I picked up a Stanley #75 for $15 and it was in not-so-great shape.
The Stanley #75 Bullnose Rabbet Plane
Bought it for fine-tuning the fit of rabbeted components after assembly
and also for trimming the internal arrises of drawers and carcases after assembly
Unless you know this is a #75, there is nothing anywhere on the plane to tell you what it is (other than the masking tape with #75 written on it).

The plane has 7 parts in total
The upper and lower castings are attached to each other with a screw and washer.  The front part of the upper casting provides the 1/4" of sole that is in front of the mouth.  The top casting can slide a bit on the bottom casting to adjust the mouth opening.
The upper casting has a number that appears to be "38 1/2" cast on its underside.
The lower casting has a "188".  Not sure what either number means.
The lever cap has a number "189" on its underside.
Huh ?????
Back to the castings.  The lower casting was very rough from the manufacturing process.
I later smoothed the sides on sandpaper
The bed was similarly rough, and a little hollow from side to side
I cleaned up the rough sides and the bed with some sandpaper on a flat surface.  And while I was at it, I cleaned up the sole.
The sole was pretty grungy ...
... but cleaned up easily - this is midway through
The problem area of this plane is the lever cap.  First, it was not even close to flat on the underside, and second, it didn't mate with the iron well at all.
Lever cap, showing the hollow spots that mate with tabs on the upper casting
Iron and lever cap removed, looking forward from the rear of the upper casting (towards the toe),
showing the tabs under which the hollows of the lever cap seat
Looking straight on from the toe, showing how the lever cap seats below the tabs
So here's how it works.  After the iron and lever cap are installed, the thumb screw on the lever cap is tightened, lifting the back end of the lever cap.  Using the tabs in the upper casting as a fulcrum, the front of the lever cap is pressed onto the iron to tighten up.  It doesn't seem like the lever cap fits even close to well side to side between the tabs.

The lever cap was in poor shape and only touched the iron on the left side.  The cap had once been painted (or Japanned?), but there was little remaining in the two hollow spots.  So just in case there was something there keeping the cap from seating properly and causing it to tilt as it's tightened, I filed them down a little.  That helped a bit, and I thought of filing the left one more to even out the cap.  In the end, I filed a small amount off the underside of the left tab of the casting and that got the cap nicely fitted left-to-right where it meets the iron.

I also "sharpened" the lever cap, because the leading edge was ragged and shavings could get caught.  It now has a nice leading edge.

The iron was in pretty good shape and just needed the usual cleanup - flattening the back and sharpening the bevel.  The iron is set with a hammer and has been finicky to get it set for a fine shaving.  It seems to move off its setting far too easily.
The iron is about 3 1/2" long
Stamped Stanley logo dates to after 1948, but I suspect is not nearly that old.
They made these planes in the USA until the early 1980's
Patrick Leach says about this plane, "This is a cheap, little rabbet plane, that is very useful in the shop."  However, Paul Sellers pans it, saying "Stanley did make a low-end bevel-down (BD) plane that generally works miserably and that’s the Stanley #75."  There is a great article from Paul Van Pernis in an Early American Industries Association (EAIA) blog, entitled "Stanley's #75 Bull Nose Rabbet Planes from the Model Shop".  If I understand correctly, the "model shop" was basically Stanley's prototype lab.

So far this little plane seems not to work too well.  But how many tools has that been said about before gaining enough experience with them to have them singing properly?  As with many things, time will tell.


  1. I like the record 311, can be used as shoulder plane with the long nose, bullnose with the short nose and even chisel plane by removing the nose.

    1. I was not aware of the Record #311. I just did a bit of researched about it and it seems like a useful 3-in-one tool.