Stanley - No. 62 sweetheart jack plane (Rating: 4)

I recently urgently needed a plane that would flatten 18" wide maple that tiger, ambrosia, spalting, some other undefined figure. My Stanley No. 7 was on a real tear(out) even with blade sharpening and Lee Valley couldn't deliver the same day, especially on Sunday. So I went to my local Woodcraft and a No. 7 Lie Nielsen looked good except my discount coupon would not apply. Given I had a fully refundable trial period I opted for the #62. (Yes I read the reviews). In short, the plane is a keeper but with some fiddling.

On the bench I could get consistent shaving down to about 2 mils. Less than that was possible but the trailing surface was getting scratched a little. Kept on playing but was deciding not to keep the plane - until I took the plane apart (and read the manual).

What I found was that the scratches were caused by some material at the back of the throat/mouth and just peering under the base. I removed this with a fine file. The lever cap is aluminum and when examining the underside, the cap was arched where it was holding down the foreward part of the blade. This meant the two outer corners were holding down the blade. Even though the blade is .188" A2 I decided to even out the front edge. Using more than one straight edge I visually checked the base for flatness. The worst was some barely visible light measuring front to back in the middle of the plane and just before the rear handle. My #7 was much worse.

About reading the manual, Stanley suggests you hone the blade even though it is fully sharpened at the factory. I did so and reassembled the plane. There isn't much to reassemble but I can say that the blade seats very well. Lateral blade adjustment is smooth and precise and, my guess, it won't be a much used feature. One (I) has to make sure that the blade is adjusted to final depth outward from the mouth. This lets you snug the lever cap screw and not over tighten into or bend the aluminum (i didn't learn from experience but just guessed based on my past history with aluminum and screws). i do wish the cap were steel though.

The best shavings I could get and repeatedly adjust was .0006" with analog micrometers, or .0005 with digital micrometers. On the plus side I stopped at .008". Smooth, smooth, smooth was the surface after the thinner cuts. Another customer was trying the Lie Nielsen and I now am on a planing par with that plane.

Stanley should not have any scuzz at all protruding below the mouth, or any other place for that matter, Not honing the blade is on me. I don't know if leveling the front of the lever cap contributed but i do know that the cap screw doesn't have to be Tarzaned on to provde hold down leverage. While the plane is almost half the price of the Lie Nielsen, its value is much higher - so the 4 stars.

As a note I called the Woodcraft sales person and he indicated that this plane was a current production item. He felt Stanley manufacturing and QC had improved considerably.