Handplanes #5: Ex Skews Me, Is that a block in your plane?

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Blog entry by PurpLev posted 10-23-2011 03:06 AM 11638 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: You don't know Jack! Part 5 of Handplanes series Part 6: #7: confused? - good! »

It is interesting how our focus can sometimes hide things from plain site (or is it plane site?).

Following up the last post in this blog series I finally found a replacement #5 for my broken one. I found it in a bunch of tools and was so focused on the #5 that I didn’t really pay much attention to the rest of the things, but took it as a whole figuring I can always use an extra tool or 2, or sell some to recoup the expense.

One of those things I was planning on restoring and reselling was the block plane in the bunch only to find that it is a skew block plane which made me rethink the reselling option but it was still the road I was about to take. I am not a collector but a user which I guess is why I didn’t do my homework ahead of time, but one night I was just curious to see the values of what I got and searched online for the model numbers of the braces and the block plane I got. it is a Stanley 140 skew block plane:

To my surprise I found that it is not only a block plane, and not only a skew plane, but it is also a rabbet plane. much like the LV one I had and reviewed not too long ago. Now it hit me – I guess thats what those 2 screws that I cleaned were all about – they were holding the removable side wall of the plane that transforms it into a rabbet plane which positions the blade at the edge of the plane almost exposed which allows it to plane down rabbets square to the shoulder:

oh boy- did I feel naive at that moment and darn lucky at the same time! Naive since I didn’t even realize what a great little tool fell into my hands (when I cleaned and derusted it and took the screws off I didn’t even realize I could pop that side wall off) and glad since when Lee valley came out with the skew block planes, they offered a right hand and a left hand skew. I only ordered the right hand skew to avoid going overboard with expenses figuring that the majority of my work would require the right hand although it would be nice to have both (depending on the grain flow of a board) – ironically, this Stanley 140 is a left hand skew which completes the set for me:

And so I cleaned and derusted and cleaned some more (all photos above are after cleaning at different stages). lapped the blade and sharpened it and took it for a test drive. it cuts end grain clean and easy:

Benefits of This plane:
1. Block plane – small convenient and easy to use in many positions and circumstances from trimming to fixing to adjusting to fitting parts/drawers/etc together.

2. skewed blade – reduces the actual cutting angle of the blade by presenting the blade at an angle to the forward planing action of the plane eases the cuts on difficult grains especially end grain.

3. rabbet plane – with the side wall removed ,the blade is positioned inline with the side of the plane allowing it to be used to plane rabbets (grooves at the edge of a board) with a square shoulder to the board.

As for how it compares to the LV plane:
1. It is larger, and while it feels comfortable to use I like how the LV plane blends in your palm and is more ergonomic to hold and use.
2. It is lighter in weight (or so it feels to me)
3. blade angle is slightly higher than the LV which is lower. the LV plane cuts end grain much much easier and smoother. both do a good job, but there is definitely a difference in effort there.
4. no adjustable mouth which can be handy to take light passes with less effort on the LV
5. blade adjustments are smooth and work well, but on the LV plane they are smoother and more responsive, less backlash, and also has lateral controls on the Norris adjuster whereas the Stanley you have to set the blade by hand – so far not an issue as the blade is easy to set and sets well, but a difference nonetheless.
6. planing rabbets requires the side wall to be removed and stored somewhere whereas the LV plane is machined to eliminate the need for a removable side wall. From my experience this could also lead to scratching your stock if you accidently tip your block plane during work which can cause the edge of the blade to drive into the stock you are planing requiring additional work to clean up – so this would be a positive thing for the Stanley depending on your point of view.

Bottom line, nice little plane. will definitely see constant use and obviously a keeper.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

12 comments so far

View AaronK's profile


1512 posts in 4805 days

#1 posted 10-23-2011 03:17 AM

absolutely awesome. what a lucky find. it looks like its in really good shape too!

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5559 days

#2 posted 10-23-2011 03:26 AM

Verrrrry interesting…...

Nice find!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3995 days

#3 posted 10-23-2011 03:43 AM


-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View willie's profile


534 posts in 3795 days

#4 posted 10-23-2011 05:39 AM

Recently cleaned up a #140 that I found at a garage sale. It was in amazing condition, still has the factory grind on the blade and about 99% of it’s japanning. It still needs sharpened and I can’t wait to use it. I thought about selling it but the more I look at it the more I want to keep it! I also found a #53 Stanley spokeshave in even better shape. The only marking on it is “Stanley Rule & Level” on the blade and a “B” cast into the handle under the blade. Haven’t been able to date it. Once I get it tuned up, it might be a keeper too.

-- Every day above ground is a good day!!!

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 4449 days

#5 posted 10-23-2011 10:45 AM

One thing to have a find in a flea market or garage sale, another to find it in your own collection. A score within a score! Kind of like leftovers, it makes you feel good twice :)


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View StumpyNubs's profile


7854 posts in 4141 days

#6 posted 10-23-2011 01:39 PM

I read this blog and then went out with a hacksaw to cut the side off my LN block plane. It didn’t work so well. I blame you for giving me the idea so please send a new plane to my show ASAP.

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View b2rtch's profile


4921 posts in 4389 days

#7 posted 10-23-2011 02:02 PM

You write all that stuff just to make us jealous!
You succeeded.

-- Bert

View Don W's profile

Don W

20291 posts in 3908 days

#8 posted 10-23-2011 02:44 PM

great find. That’s an interesting plane to say the least.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4074 posts in 5404 days

#9 posted 10-23-2011 06:14 PM


-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over two decades.

View moonls's profile


412 posts in 4327 days

#10 posted 10-23-2011 06:34 PM

You are the best woodworking detective Sharon. And this post shows that early craftsman were very practical and clever at making multi-tasking tools that can last generations!

-- Lorna, Cape Cod

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 5094 days

#11 posted 10-24-2011 03:49 AM

so lucky!

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4456 days

#12 posted 10-24-2011 11:43 PM

you better worry about the green light in the horison ….......that coming closer … and closer …. and closer

concruulation :-(

take care

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