Stanley No. 60-1/2 Block Plane
Stanley No. 60-1/2 Block Plane Tool Review
As a carpenter and sometimes woodworker I have a half dozen specialty panes and related power planing tools in my shop. More often than not, when I need to perform a planing operation, I reach for my block plane. Block planes are the most popular hand plane sold as well as most useful. we had had the chance to review the Stanley No. 60-1/2 Block Plane.
I have two: a Stanley No. 9- 1/2 block plane [left] and my vintage Stanley No. 220 block plane [right] in photo below.
Useful and Portable
A low angle block plane is small enough for one handed finishing or fitting and is useful in almost any planing operation. One big plus for a carpenter is that this handy tool is small enough to fit in my tool belt!
A sharp, properly adjusted block plane can take super thin shavings off a piece of wood being scribed to fit, adjust trim miters, chamfer an edge, fit a door, trim end grain or remove mill marks leaving the woods edge as smooth as glass.
Because block planes do so much for finish carpentry, it’s the number one hand plane on the job site, as well as in small wood shops and homeowners toolboxes.Stanley Tool Company recently sent me a Stanley No. 60-1/2 Block Plane to test and evaluate. Photo below.
When I told a contractor friend of mine that I was evaluating a Stanley No. 60-1/2 Block Plane he asked me to inquire about the blade quality and hardness. In my research on this tool I found out that the blade is made from “A2 tool steel.”
A2 steel is an air hardening tool steel capable of being hardened throughout. This type of tool steel is used for applications which involve extreme accuracy. A2 steel displays a good balance between hardness, toughness and longer edge retention which is an important requirement to me on a job site.
When I received the Stanley No. 60- 1/2 plane [Model # 12-139] it came in a durable, quality looking box and wrapped in an air tight bag, for moisture protection.
After taking out and holding the plane, my first impression was that it “felt” like quality and had a really nice “fit and finish” to it, which usually indicates quality workmanship and construction went into the tool.
In my experience most hand planes are not ready to use out of the box.
I’ve often found it necessary to have to flatten the sole, file the blade bed and re-sharpen the blade before getting the whisper thin cuts I’m looking for. All of these steps are tedious and time consuming but needed to get the plane in top performance.
I was surprisingly pleased to find that this Stanley No. 60-1/2 Block Plane came out of the box with precision ground sides and super flat, mirror like polish on the shoe bottom. Both met at 90 degrees and really did not need extra adjustments or flattening.
The 1/8″ thick blade is ground to 25 degrees and was surprisingly sharp and I was shocked when it passed my “shave the hairs on the back of my hand” test.
No additional sharpening was needed during the week I tested this plane but I have since sharpened it a bit more and added a 5 degree micro bevel to the blade as well as polish flat the back side of the blade.
Its base and frog are machined as one piece, real classy touch, which will reduce chatter and provide this plane with added stability.
This plane has a solid weight [2 lbs] and ergonomic grip that just “feels’ like quality. It’s heavier frame will no doubt help to reduce chatter and vibration during use.
User-friendly mechanical adjustment opens and closes the mouth quickly, precisely and was smooth to operate. I really like the quality brass levers and wheels.
To adjust the mouth, a turn of the knob below loosened the tension on the lever which controls the mouth opening.
Mouth opening shown below. This is where the blade extends from.
Then adjust the blade with the depth adjustment screw. Lightly tightening the lever cap wheel when satisfied with the blade depth.
It is hard to say a bad word about the Stanley No. 60-1/2 low angle block plane. I thought it a bit heavy to carry in my tool belt but it’s perfect for the shop. The fit, finish, accuracy and the performance of this plane is way, way above average and is priced ready to sell.
Photo: Planing a Maple hardwood board.
PRICE AND WHERE TO BUY:
Currently available at woodworking supply stores, and online, this plane sells for a retail price of $99.99. Well worth it!