Saturday, April 11, 2015

Sargent tools

If you have been reading my posts by now you should have some ideas of my favorite tools.  Let me now introduced you to the Sargent tools, manufactured between 1887 and 1964.

A good reference for Sargent planes and Sargent planes by the numbers

Another good reference for collectors is the book by David Heckel .
This is my coffee stained copy :-)

Like Stanley and Millers-Falls, Sargent had two lines of planes, their regular quality ones, earliest were named Very Best Made (VBM) and the later series of handyman planes called Hercules line.
In addition you can pickup good Sears Craftsman labelled, Sargent made tools, ditto for MF made Sears Craftsman tools.

They too made similar metallic plane based on Stanley designs, but they also came up with some of their unique twist on some design

One of my favorite, go to block plane as long been my model 5306 with a knuckle cap design. It is a solid performer which fit in my hand just right.

My Sargent No 5306 fully adjustable block plane

Notice the size of the land at the mouth of the plane, gives plenty of support to the blade. Notice also the separate blade adjuster piece screw on the blade.

Compare the size of the land on my Stanley No 9-1/4.
Much smaller machined surface.

The mouth adjuster is covered under US patent 818,472 Apr 24 1906

Another older design of block planes unique to them was the Gull wing No 107. That one is more of a collector item than a good woodworker. It was only made between 1887-1893 (type 2)

My example is missing the front wood knob 

Still has a good size land for the blade support where it count.
Notice their unique blade shape on their block planes. 

Sargent No 107 

Early logo on blade

They also made transitional planes and had a unique line of planes Nos 700 series called Auto-set
I have yet to acquire one, being one of the most collectible Sargent planes :-(

These were made roughly between 1912 and 1943, depending on models.
Stanley somewhat equivalent would be the Gage self setting planes, that Stanley acquired from Gage, which only made wooden body version of it. Stanley redesigned it in a metallic plane format to compete with Sargent. These Stanley were made between 1910-1943.

A more radical departure from Stanley tools, was the Sargent router planes, No 61 closed throat and 62 open throat. The type 2 of these planes feature a unique height adjuster for the blade.

Number 62 was manufactured from 1907-1941.
My Type 2 makes it from 1911-1941. 

Notice the large indentation in the back of the cutter. 

The height adjuster wheel engage these indents with a screw thread.
This system is unique to Sargent, and their cutters will not fit other's router planes.

Another unique Sargent design was with their version of Stanley No 78, which they called the No 79.

Notice the metal hand grip up front, sort of like a knob.

An earlier version with the distinctive vine or ivy design. 
It would later be changed in 1948 to a stippled pattern.

By the way, the fence and its rod DO NOT fit a Stanley No 78, different size and different threads.  So if you are looking for the often missing fence on a 78, beware, they may look the same but they are not.

In their later years, they came up with 2 designs, one of which is still widely copied today, the BL block plane.

The BL is a very small block plane 

It has largely been replaced by my LV Little Victor

Their last hurrah in plane design contributions was the ill fated No 600 aluminum smoother plane with the Ready Edge 4 sided blades. It was also released under the Craftsman name in a different color. Sargent were gold, Craftsman were grey.

My No 600 example

Blade adjuster detail

Typical aluminum scratched sole. Really a dumb design for a plane.
A great way to leave black marks on your wood :-)

This design having been made in the 60s, you would have thought that Sargent would have had the insight of Stanley failure with their earlier Aluminum planes? But apparently not!
So what is wrong with an aluminum soled plane? For one thing, it scratch easily (trying to sand it smooth just makes a mess, don't do that) and they also have the nasty habits of leaving black marks on your wood. The lightweight does not lend itself to a good planing experience neither.
As a results these ill fate aluminum designs from both Stanley and Sargent are today's collectible, not users.

What about the 4 sides blade? Well at least they did provides it with a decent thickness cutter, which takes a good edge, but I don't like to handle a 4 sided sharp cutter. I already gave blood to the Red Cross thank you :-)

All in all I think that you would find some of these Sargent tools are very good performers. They made some great tools, and some of questionable design (like Stanley). Their prices are going up but they are still a bargain for the most part. If you come across one, you may want to give it a try.

Bob, the old Airforce Master Sargent (MWO in the RCAF)


  1. I've been drooling over the Sargent catalogs that WK Fine Tools has on his site. It's a shame they aren't around more. They sold a lot of different tools around the turn of the century.

  2. Actually Sargent is still around. They just don't make these type of tools anymore.

  3. True. Sargent itself is better know today to us military guy as Sargent-Greenleaf, makers of all kind of high security padlock and safe. But Bernhardt still makes high quality pliers.