The Clifton Multiplane

  • Advertise with us
Review by lethentymill posted 07-31-2008 09:36 PM 12512 views 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
The Clifton Multiplane No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

A new Multiplane is quite an investment – when I started this series of projects five years ago I was still under the spell of this tool and Stanley still had a couple of cheaper alternatives which could be recommended for grooving and cutting dados.
Five years on (running evening classes and producing the home learning course), how do I feel about them?

The only successor to the Stanley/Record models that I knew was the Clifton – I have three old Stanleys and had one new Clifton; it was the best – too precious for sharing – so has moved on.

I see there are some alternatives showing up on the internet now, but the Stanley ones have gone (and to put it mildly, they were not very sophisticated). You can still get second hand ones, but make sure they are in good condition and all the parts are there.
There are websites devoted to the Multiplane and some people hate them but, after relying on these most complex and most versatile of hand tools, I think I can add my pennyworth.

I have worked fairly intensively with lots of electric routers and a variety of spindle moulders over the years and the multiplane is certainly not a router or a spindle.
There are some big limitations of the plough type of plane (including the Multiplane) that come to mind; you can’t plunge them, fix them to a trammel for curved work, or do an end stopped groove or dado. Apart from that, working with them is slower and requires more patience and skill.

So why use them at all? Well, they are still very versatile and to the dedicated hand tool user there is no alternative.

Old wooden planes –moulding planes etc. had a better design. The continuous wooden sole in the shape of the cutter grips the wood better and cuts out chatter, but good ones are hard to get now.

The 55, which is the most sophisticated multiplane that Stanley made, has an extra piece to beef up the sole but even that doesn’t allow you to use difficult wood. I have tried it. So, with that in mind, if you are lucky enough to have a good Multiplane don’t expect too much of it! Select your stock from the straight grained pieces at your disposal. Pine will be easier to work with than hardwoods. Always use the “spur” cutters when cutting across the grain and even when you are cutting along the grain when you are working with cross-grained woods like elm.

So what do Clifton say about it? The 450 Multiplane is for those who enjoy the sheer craftsmanship of working with hand tools.

The body is machined from quality grey iron castings, nickel chrome plated. The handle, knob and fence are made from rosewood. The plane is supplied with a set of 24 cutters made of Sheffield tool steel, accurately ground, hardened and tempered, to 61–62 Rockwell “C” hardness, cutting edge ground to 35 degrees, and these are packed in a plastic wallet.
The Multiplane comes complete with all accessories packed in a traditional wooden box, together with full instruction leaflet.

An additional set of 16 cutters is also available (these include sash cutters, fluting cutters and reeding cutters).

-- Allan Fyfe, Lethenty Mill Furniture,

View lethentymill's profile


61 posts in 4409 days

5 comments so far

View Chris 's profile


1880 posts in 4792 days

#1 posted 08-01-2008 05:47 AM

I have often wondered about this style of plane. Thanks for the review!

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View Dominic Vanacora's profile

Dominic Vanacora

508 posts in 4670 days

#2 posted 08-01-2008 04:12 PM

I looked into the cost of the plane and before I say what it cost I know that your a person that likes to do things by hand. I like machines. So that said…....$500.00!!! My Jet super saw cost $566.00. What wrong with this picture. I know the quality of the plane is one thing and since I was in manufacturing I know machined parts are costly to manufacture but, $500.00. That’s a lot of money. You can have a quality part if it’s designed right without it cost a lot of money. The cost is so high because they only sell 2 or 3 a year. I know you enjoy doing things by hand and I enjoy looking a things manufactured in the 1800 and say how did they do that without machines.
Enjoy your craft.

-- Dominic, Trinity, Florida...Lets be safe out there.

View Phil Clark's profile

Phil Clark

356 posts in 4596 days

#3 posted 08-01-2008 04:16 PM

I didn’t know Clifton makes a multiplane but I sure like my Clifton shoulder plane. The price of just over $1.500 with all cutters makes it a pretty exclusive hand tool when you can fairly easily get a complete Stanley 55 on ebay for under $600

-- Legacy Woodcraft

View Samel A. Livingstone's profile

Samel A. Livingstone

19 posts in 4391 days

#4 posted 08-06-2008 10:26 PM

I have owned a complete Stanley 55 and now keep on a woodshop shelf. The reviewer is correct that it does not handle twisted or cross grain at all in hardwoods. At the turn of the century (1900) straight grained pine was more available. I used to use it to cut rabbets. Dadoos are possible in some woods with sharp cutters. I have experimented cutting molding and have great respect for those that produce uniform moldings. Its not too hard to use them as a slitting plane to cut off thin strips of wood for screens etc.

Back in the sixties, I talked with many trim carpenters who had used them and they uniformly hated them. That is why so many almost new ones are around a 100 years later.

Stanley used to advertise them as “planing mill in a box”


-- Sam, upstate

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4545 days

#5 posted 08-06-2008 11:49 PM

I have a Record 44, which is a less sophisticated version of this plane. It works for what I bought it for, though like you said, it’s work to use it. I’ve found that if you take shallow cuts and work from what would normally be the end of the cut, taking small sections out, moving toward the beginning, it seems to work best. I’m not getting rid of my router though. Thanks for the review.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics