Stanley No 8 Hand Plane #2: The Auction

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Blog entry by DevinT posted 03-27-2021 07:48 PM 1099 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Acquisition Part 2 of Stanley No 8 Hand Plane series Part 3: Something new, something old, nothing borrowed »

In my hand plane journey, I started with a diminutive palm-sized block plane (finger plane?) purchased for $20 at a big box hardware store. I played with it and it did some things I was impressed with, however it mostly sits unused in my toolbox. I then used a Shop Fox No 5 jack plane and it was good for about 30 seconds before I saw every flaw and felt every issue in the process of trying to put it to work. Then came the Veritas No 4 smoothing plane. That was a dream to use and I “got it” finally. I understood what the fuss was about.

When I get something, I don’t like to dance around. I go all-in. When I started using a router, I started with a $49 Ryobi trim router. When I fully understood all the capabilities of it, I then purchased a $2499 Shaper Origin. I go all-in.

So let’s go from the Veritas No. 4 to the Stanley No. 8 and see what it can do.

Enter eBay.

Stanley stopped making the No 8 metal “jointer” plane in 1961. Why? I don’t know, but Lie-Nielsen still makes one, and I dream of maybe convincing Karl Holtey to make a No 8 sized plane one day (though who would be crazy enough to actually use it instead of putting it under glass with laser beams to protect it).

When it comes to buying a No 8 Stanley hand plane on eBay you are at somewhat both an advantage and disadvantage. No 8 sized planes are not as popular as No 7 or smaller metal planes—this works in your favor and keeps both the number of bidders down as well as keeps the more experienced bidders with deep pockets away (more on this later, which details how one wins the auction every time). However, their scarcity easily adds between $100-$150 USD for a good quality restoration.

In 2021, I generated statistics by analyzing eBay sales that said No 8’s were going anywhere from $75 – $400 (actually sold) and one person tried to even sell theirs for $775—though I am convinced that this person was perhaps cajoled unwillingly into putting it up for auction and set a price they knew no-one would bite on their baby.

At the low-end of $75 it’s a total rehab with broken handles and a chipped blade. At about $150 you’ve got a good solid blade that has not been worn down and you can expect the horn on the tote to be intact. Don’t expect at $150 you’re going to get a collector’s piece though—the parts may be mismatched through Type studies and you’ll find that there is still a fair bit of work required to make it cut nicely (you may even have to flatten the sole at this price). Intact Japanning at this cost? Forget about it—you’re looking at 80% japanning or less.

At the $200-and-up range is where things start getting interesting. However, do note that you may not know if the item up-for-auction is going to head into that range until there are about 3-5 days left in the auction. As time gets closer to ending, you will see nickel-and-dime antis where inexperienced buyers push each others buttons, but the real people you have to look out for are the expert buyers that have a mental calculation of what the item is worth that won’t bid until there are 5-10 seconds left in the auction. That’s me.

I immediately saw this No 8 when it hit the auction “floor” on eBay, going for a measly $0.99 starting bid with no reserve price (yeah, I’m sure that got the attention of more than one person). However, not being that popular, I only had 10-11 other bidders on this auction that I had to out-bid. Easy-peasy.

My only enemy in this auction was myself—it was a 7 day auction and I had to abstain from showing any interest whatsoever until the final moments. Stoicism is not exactly my strong suit.

The japanning was stripped. 2 coats of metal primer. 3 coats of new finish (doubtful it contains asphaltum, but he did an astounding job nonetheless). I was staring at my next dream plane, and I knew it.

Here’s the auction:

Even before the auction was over, I knew that I wanted this plane more than the other bidders based on a few things:

1. I pulled up every single Stanley No 8 that was up for auction and I put it on my watch list
2. I pulled up recently closed auctions for the past 3 weeks for Stanley No 8’s
3. I pulled stats for which bidders bid on all active and recently ended auctions for Stanley No 8’s
4. I cross-referenced which bidders were taking bites on the plane I had picked for myself and figured out what kind of bidder I was looking at for each
5. I also repeated this for parts for the Stanley No. 8

You see, the Stanley No 8 has a unique feature that makes it different than all other Stanley bench planes—the width of its iron is 2 5/8” wide. The widest plane blade they made—for the largest bench plane they made. This worked to my advantage since I could presume that any/all auctions for 2 5/8” blades might tip the hand of someone looking at the plane I wanted.

That’s because the plane I wanted had an iron that—while period-specific to its Type 11 status—was well-loved and there was merely but 1” from the edge of the bezel to the cap iron screw slot. That would also mean that I would have to replace the blade too.

Before anyone could get it, and before the auction on this Type 11 Stanley No. 8 was even close to ending, I pounced on a Buy-It-Now for a Type 11 “V” logo iron that was 7” long (I think the original length of a factory produced blade at the time was 8” so this replacement blade wasn’t exactly unused NOS in my opinion, but it surely has plenty of iron to replace the well-loved one this plane is coming with).

ASIDE: Doing this as a Buy-It-Now purchase prevented anyone else compiling stats in the same way from seeing my purchase. This meant that buying this iron did not tip my own hand in the open auction for the No 8.

I am also not a fan of 100+ year old handles on vintage hand planes for the simple fact that people didn’t have running water in workshops back then and there was probably little/seldom hand washing despite frequent trips between the shop and dunny. I know some people sand down the handles, but I feel that removes from their collectibility value. So to use this plane, I am going to set the original iron and handles it is coming with aside for collector value and install this new longer iron and freshly-made handles (made out of Bubinga finished with Danish/Oil and Beeswax).

ASIDE: You can see the handles in my Projects. They came out beautifully.

ASIDE: Get your own Bubinga or Tiger Wood (Gonçalo Alves) handles from Michael K Woodworks on eBay … if you sheepishly add it to your watchlist, he might even make a discount offer to you like he did for me


Gonçalo Avles (Tiger Wood):

ASIDE: He finishes the handles with shellac and paste wax. I remove the paste wax with mineral spirits, the shellac with acetone, lightly sand, use a tac-cloth, oil with Danish Oil, and buff with Beeswax.

All this went on, and the auction was still open for the plane itself and so there was some risk involved in-that I may lose the auction. However, I felt fairly confident having seen other planes that the bidders had bid-on that the group I was contending against was not as serious as I was.

I took the cost of a Lie-Nielsen into consideration (which are sold-out right now, so you can’t buy one even if you had the $475 for their No 8 plane). I took the cost of a Veritas Custom No 7 into consideration (despite the fact that I am not a fan of the short down-rods on the custom Norris adjusters; preferring instead the long down-rods on the Norris adjusters they put on their traditional non-custom bench planes). The figure I came up with for how much I would be willing to spend and still shoulder the cost of shipping and still come out cheaper than a Lie-Nielsen (for example) was:


I figured if someone bid $402, that they probably had a much higher limit than myself, but if I lost by $1 for bidding $400, I would absolutely regret it.

Like a dark-horse that you never saw enter the race, with 5s left to go in the auction, I entered my bid of $401.

eBay took my maximum proxy bid of $401 and gave me the item for a mere $10 over the highest bidder at a total of $340. The plane would be coming home to roost where it had a new Tote, period-specific Low Knob, and period-specific new blade ready to-go.

I expect the final product to be worth more than a stock Lie-Nielsen No 8, once assembled that-is. All it has to do is arrive. A simple task, right? Let me introduce you to FedEx SmartPost (aka FedEx Ground Economy as they are calling it these days). FedEx’s cheap last-mile service which dumps the packages onto the USPS for last-mile service.

FedEx doesn’t sort the mail in the SmartPost. Sometimes your package goes on a walkabout, seeing wonderful places like Hatch, NM because it has a particular fondness for Hatch Green Chiles fresh from the valley (they are absolutely wonderful, I do recommend driving through sometime and trying them—no comparison to when you try them imported).

Just when you think “my package is only a day away” that’s when you’ll be hit by “still in transit” or “heading to the next facility” which really means sitting in an unsorted container trying to make its way to the USPS.

ASIDE: FedEx employees have divulged that the principal problem in SmartPost deliveries is that containers are not pre-sorted before they get put on a truck or plane. If your neighbors are all shipping to Moskoka, there’s a chance that your package is going along for the ride. It will see far off places and tour neighborhoods only to be brought back and THEN put into a new container for the proper destination. They are using boots-on-the-ground as their sorting machine, quite laughably but at our expense. The other problem is that Amazon boxes get priority. That special packing tape that Amazon uses with branding and their branded pouches do more than advertise the company, they demand attention from drivers. So if the truck is full of Amazon boxes, your box gets pushed out and to the side and it sits there. “In transit” really means that it wasn’t high priority enough to push aside high-priority packages. When it goes the scenic routes it means that it went out for delivery many times-over due to lack-of pre-sort.

Auction ended March 14th. Today is march 27th and I’ve never been more nervous or anxious about a thing before.

I can’t exactly go out and buy another Type 11 Stanley No. 8 which has the low knob, lateral adjustment, triple-patent dates, 1” Bailey adjuster, and stellar looks. A circa 111 year old hand plane in that condition is surely a treat and not likely to come around again for some time (I’ve been checking eBay since my auction ended; I am convinced I got the darling and at a price lower than the highest-sold).

Agony waiting.

-- Devin, SF, CA

6 comments so far

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

7455 posts in 1664 days

#1 posted 03-28-2021 01:19 AM

It’ll make it to you eventually, I expect. Hang in there. Sounds like it’ll be worth it.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View RWE's profile


613 posts in 1685 days

#2 posted 03-28-2021 02:07 AM

After reading your reply to my post about the possible coopering #3 coffin plane I purchased today, I came to check out your info and find out you like #8’s. My favorite plane is an early 608 Bedrock that I picked up for around $115 or so and consider it the best buy in my collection. it was the first Bedrock that I acquired and so I started trying to build a collection and wound up adding Keen Kutter round rocks to flesh out the collection. I will come back and read your blogs later. Granddaughter is here visiting and my time is not my own. Thanks for your insight about coopering and the possible mod made on that coffin plane.

-- In my imagination all of my tools are sharp. (Andy Rooney in FWW article)

View DevinT's profile


758 posts in 48 days

#3 posted 03-28-2021 02:30 AM

Thank you Dave. I have faith.


Excellent, it sounds like I made a good decision to jump to the No 8. I have never handled one before, but based on it’s weight I wasn’t scared. I bowl league with a 13lb ball reaching the pins at an avg speed well above “normal” and quite like the idea of lugging this thing to keep my arm active while we wait for league to start back up.

I read a lot before making the decision, and it seemed to me that the majority of folks that owned an 8 loved it. It was either folks that didn’t own one or had only briefly handled a friend’s or one at a show or store that said that a No 7 was perfectly fine for their needs. I understand not everyone’s needs are the same, and I absolutely envision the need for a No 8 in several situations.

Who knows, maybe I’ll end up building something like below where a guy took a Stanley 33 and turned it upside down and mounted it into a housing with a fence that he calls the “Stanley 33 1/2”

-- Devin, SF, CA

View RWE's profile


613 posts in 1685 days

#4 posted 03-28-2021 02:46 AM

I watch Krueger on YouTube a lot and I believe he has an episode about Bedrocks not being that much better than a normal Stanley. I believe that as well. Whatever design advantage they may have does not translate to being a better plane for the average user. Don’t want to appear as a “dumb” Bedrock bigot.

I think the thing about the 608 and a #8 is mass, mass, mass. They are a joy because once you start one moving it wants to keep moving.

I work a lot of air dried lumber from the bandsaw mill and I so use a hybrid approach. But edge jointing by hand and face jointing by hand can save a lot of lumber versus trying to do the same job on a power jointer or planner. I take a board, edge joint it and try to flatten one face by hand, then go to power after that. If it is a special board, then the number 608 is often the last plane on flattening the face and is often the second or only plane for the edge.

I think you will love yours.

-- In my imagination all of my tools are sharp. (Andy Rooney in FWW article)

View DevinT's profile


758 posts in 48 days

#5 posted 03-28-2021 06:31 PM

OMG, My heart is racing! I just got a text message saying it arrived in my town. The town I live in is just 1 square mile, so my heart is racing knowing that it is just 8 blocks away at the hub down the street. If they were open right now, I would be running over there on foot as fast as I can!

I can’t believe it’s actually going to be here, soon! (like, tomorrow?)

Now the anxiety of whether it was mishandled in shipping is mounting.

Don’t think the worst… don’t think the worst …

-- Devin, SF, CA

View HokieKen's profile


17546 posts in 2220 days

#6 posted 03-30-2021 02:10 PM

And I thought I went to a lot of trouble on Ebay! I always search the Sold Listings to see what the actual market value is but can’t say I’ve ever been as analytical as you seem to be ;-) And that’s not intended as a dig in any way, quite the opposite.

You figured out what you wanted, what you were willing to pay for it, and you went out and got it. Can’t knock that! Looking forward to seeing it now :-)

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

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