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A grandfather’s prized tool: A Stanley 45

Blog by Rob Brown

I’ve written about some of the tools my grandfather used to own.

He passed them on to my father, who eventually passed them on to me. This Stanley 45 was passed down from a grandfather, but not one in my family.

A good friend of mine approached me with a beautiful tool a few weeks ago, asking me what I knew about it and how much it might be worth. She knows I’m a furniture maker, so probably figured I’d be somewhat of an expert on it. While some woodworkers get into the craft purely as an excuse to collect and ogle beautiful tools like this, sadly, I’m the kind of woodworker who doesn’t know that much about antique tools, mainly because I don’t typically use them in my day-to-day work.

I’m a pretty practical guy. If I can use it to help me make furniture, give it to me. If not, the situation is more complex. Will I ever use it? Will it take up too much space? Will someone else appreciate it more than I will? Is there any sentimental value in it for me? I’d rather someone else have it, if it means more to them, especially if I’ll never use it. I appreciate the beauty of antique tools and wish I knew more about how they were made, but they’re closer to a piece of art to me than a useful tool.

Since I knew virtually nothing about this tool’s age, whether or not it was complete, its value or even if the storage box that it was in was original (I suspected it wasn’t original, but it fit the plane and its cutters so well I thought there might be a chance), I approached Doug Evans (OldeTradeTools.com), who’s a serious collector and dealer, not to mention someone who has forgotten more about antique woodworking tools than I’ll ever know.

Doug told me the set does seem to be complete and was likely made around 1915, but the box isn’t original. He also pegged the value at about $250. I thought that price tag would be a steal for an antique tool as beautiful as this one is.

Do you have a Stanley 45? Or how about another one of the beautiful woodworking hand planes that were produced over a century ago? Share your thoughts about your favourite hand tool in the comments section below.

























Published:
Last modified: May 6, 2024

Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement. Instagram at @RobBrownTeaches

8 Comments

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  2. Several years ago the father of a friend gave me a Stanley 45, that had been left at an abandoned job site back in the ‘60s, here in New Mexico. He had never used it. He had visited my shop several times and knew everything in it is, well..old. From the the 1891 hand crank post drill press to the well used planes.
    My Stanley was made in 1949 and is in near mint condition. It is my go-to tool for beading, ship lap, etc.. I think it is a fun tool to use and the results are amazing.
    Like all old tools, we look at them and marvel at their designs….they saw a need, and built a tool, to do the job.

  3. My vintage tools provide a connection to the skilled tradesmen of the past, family or otherwise. I also appreciate some of the decorative features on many of the old pieces. (P.S. the last photo is upside down?)

  4. I like that! I have some of my Grandfather’s Stanley planes and 4 1/2″ electric panel saw.

  5. I have an old Stanley 45, and sure enough it was passed down from my maternal grand-father. First, it took a many-years-long stop in my dad’s toolbox, before it made it to me. I got it when my dad passed away 20 years ago…I wasn’t into any sort of fine woodworking at the time, but despite its sentimental value I knew in my gut that it was something special and I hung onto it. The few blades that were left were incredibly worn down, after many years of use. Then came the pandemic, and I fell down the rabbit-hole of learning about fine woodworking to pass the time. I haven’t used it yet, it desperately needs new blades. But one day I will use it for sure, and one day it will be passed down to my son. I recently bought a new storage box that Lee Valley makes specifically for that plane, and it fits perfect. Great post, thanks Rob!

  6. Rob, As a lover of antique tools, I have been looking for one of those for years!
    if you ever come across another one, I would be interested in purchasing it for my collection. I also have fun trying to put them to use in projects. Thanks

  7. Restoring old woodworking hand tools is a bit of a hobby for me. I have a complete 45 and parts of some others. The plane shown, I believe, is manufactured after1910. You can tell by the stipple pattern on the plane vice a floral motif. I looks to be aluminum, so maybe after 1915, could be 1920s?
    Anyway

  8. Hi Rob, that’s a really nice plane, I don’t own anything that nice myself.

    Something like your 45 would inspire me to become proficient with it.

    I have a Stanley 7C from about 1895 that gets frequent use, I also own a #3 transitional that’s used as a scrub plane and an E.C. Emmerich wood router plane, and a couple of wood moulding planes from Diann’s father.

    I also have a #3 Este from my father who worked from the 1930’s to the mid 80’s, I use it, it feels like shaking hands with my Dad, it’s worthless from a monetary perspective but priceless to me.

    Regards, Rod

  9. I too have a Stanley 45 which unfortunately is not complete as yours is. I would be interested in buying yours if you want to part with it.
    I like using my “antique” hand-me-downs: spoke shaves, various planes, marking gauges, brace and bits. etc.
    I also like my power tools but it just feels satisfying to use the hand tools, not as speedy but a pleasure to use.

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