Stanley Works Tools The finest Years

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Review by Don W posted 11-10-2011 03:26 PM 4129 views 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Stanley Works Tools The finest Years No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I just received the new” “Stanley Works Tools The finest Years recently published. I bought it when I read the description of it as “Research and type studies……....”.

The good and the bad. Let do the good first.

If you are interested in collecting Stanley Tool Works collectibles in general, this is the book for you. Also if you are interested in Stanley Tool Works as a company, again this is the book. Its full of information related to the company, how it grew, and what some of its contributions to the tool and steel industry were.

It has a really good chapter on William Hart, and how the Sweetheart logo came about. Although this information is almost common knowledge for Stanley collectors, it does give additional details about Hart, his beginning and his continued involvement in Stanley that I had not read before.

The book has some great info on bit braces, tape measures, screw drivers and such. Even a few pages on hinges and locks, how the company got started, who some of the player were etc. The info is great for what it is, and its interesting. The book is worth ready just for this type of information.

Now for the bad.

My natural instinct or curiosity was to find the chapter on Stanley and Bedrock planes. Much to my surprise there wasn’t one. A couple pages here and there about a few shoulder and miter planes, but that was it. The most information about planes is actually in the advertising section where it explains what the marketing material was about. I’ll admit I’m a bit narrow focused, and I did find the other information interesting and worth reading, I just can’t get past the fact its a book about Stanley, without any real information about bench planes. My fear is if this bit of information is missing, what else is missing as well.

Next, the book kind of jumps around a lot, and has information that seems out of place. One example, there is a chapter on Leonard Bailey’s Cabinetmakers Block Plane. The book gives some detail about the plane, but it never mentions how the plane or Leonard Bailey is related to Stanley. Its not until much much later in the book, in the chapter on bit braces, that it mentioned Stanley bought Leonard Bailey’s plane business. How its related to bit braces and why that information is in that particular place in the book is a bit of a puzzle to me.

The last minor complaint is the book’s photos are all black and white. It would have been nice if at least some of the images were color, especially in the advertising section of the book.

I’m trying real hard not to be negative about this book, because I feel I’m a little biased thinking I was getting type studies for bench planes, at least at a high level. I would not recommend this book to a collector of any particular subset of tools. I would recommend it if you just want an overview of the Stanley company and some pretty cool fact about there different tools and how they came to be.

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

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Don W

19618 posts in 3341 days

11 comments so far

View need2boat's profile


544 posts in 3466 days

#1 posted 11-10-2011 03:55 PM

I’ve looked at a few of the stanley books in and out of print and from what I found is they can be as confusing as the history of the tools are. Regardless I thought your review is quite good and I’m sure will help others. I’ve recently been reading on-line about the Stanley line for folding flat rules and boy, oh boy, there are way to many types and numbers. . .

-- Second Chance Saw Works Blog: Positive Rake

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1304 posts in 3663 days

#2 posted 11-10-2011 05:27 PM

Thanks for the review. You just saved me some $$.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 3372 days

#3 posted 11-10-2011 05:34 PM

Thanks for the review Don. I too think it would be odd not to have a chapter on their bench planes. Since what was highlighted or previewed about the book fell short of your expectations, i can understand some disapointment. Thanks again for the info.

View Brandon's profile


4235 posts in 3725 days

#4 posted 11-10-2011 05:43 PM

So maybe a separate book for Stanley Rule & Level is needed to get the detailed coverage on planes.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View Bertha's profile


13588 posts in 3467 days

#5 posted 11-10-2011 05:45 PM

^I’m with Brandon; this should be a 2-volume set. I just hope the second volume is about 4 inches thick;)

Edit for brilliant brainstorm result: they should make the plane volume out of wood, with an iron embedded in the spine, escapement cleverly positioned on the front cover within a photo of a plane, lol;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Don W's profile

Don W

19618 posts in 3341 days

#6 posted 11-10-2011 05:49 PM

I hope I didn’t short change the book. Although I was disappointed it didn’t have more plane information, it still has some really cool information. Unfortunately I wouldn’t have bought it if I had known, but I’m still glad I have it. Andy would love the brace information (if he doesn’t already know it all)

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

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3744 days

#7 posted 11-10-2011 05:54 PM

I wonder how big, in percentage, the plane buisness was compared to the company as a whole. There was a Stanley Handle Mill in my home town that made all the handles for the hammer forge in another nearby town. My childhood memories of waiting for my ride to school always include the steam whistle blasting out every morning to let workers know when they had 5 or 10 minutes to get to the plant. Shortly after the whistle blew you could hear the big steam engine start chugging; and I lived 2 miles from the plant. This was in the 1950s, by the way. Anyway, my point is that in my home town, Stanley was thought of as a company that made hammers primarily. I’ll bet there were plants all over the country making different things.

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Don W

19618 posts in 3341 days

#8 posted 11-10-2011 06:00 PM

Stanley had a plant in Shaftsbury Vermont, which is just a few miles from me. They made levels, squares etc right up to a few years ago when they finally closed it.

I worked on a house very close to the plant. The owner believed the house was built with royalties from the guy who invented the Stanley level. Some resent research showed that was probably unlikely, but the story was pretty cool at the time. Another interesting story about the house was it was haunted, but that’s a story for another day.

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

View Bertha's profile


13588 posts in 3467 days

#9 posted 11-10-2011 06:46 PM

^I like Stanley tools but I love ghost stories;) You know you’re a toolmaker when you need a whole plant for your hammer handles. That’s awesome.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Don W's profile

Don W

19618 posts in 3341 days

#10 posted 11-10-2011 06:54 PM

According to the book (hope i don’t give it all away :-)) they made a whole business out of making handles. There is a whole chapter on the copy lathe (Blachard lathe) they used. They actually waited until Blachards patent expired so they didn’t have to pay royalties.

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

View Gary Roberts's profile

Gary Roberts

140 posts in 3795 days

#11 posted 12-01-2011 05:31 AM

Hi. The book consists of Walter Jacob’s columns from The Chronicle of The Early American Industries Association compiled in one book. It was not intended to be a comprehensive review of all Stanley tools by any means, just those that Walter had researched and wrote about over the years.

Walter has a broad interest in tools and tool collecting as you can see by his looking into some of the less common categories along with the more common. You’ll find type studies and information on a variety of Stanley tools in this book, but not a thorough review of planes, rules or any one category as that was not the intent. To do so would require a multi volume set of considerable size. Perhaps some day?

The lack of color has to do with cost. We discussed this and determined that color would prevented the EAIA from using Print On Demand as the price would have been at least twice as expensive. Our goal was to make the book affordable rather than to produce a coffee table book. POD was selected as the print means to keep costs down rather than ending up with 3000 copies sitting in storage while we sold them off.

All that said, suggestions and requests for future books or content are welcome and I’ll be happy to pass these along to the powers that be.


PS: I produced this for the EAIA at no charge as usual. That way they can’t tell me what to do and in turn, I can tell them what to do. Neat, eh?

-- Gary Roberts,

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