Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Siegley or Stanley?

I blog about the Siegley planes before, I happened to have two (2) in my collection.
I have  a No 5 Jack plane and Combination plane No 2.

My two (2) Siegley, Stanley made in New Britain or Roxton Pond
in the then new Roxton Pond Tool & Mill Co plant alongside Stanley new plant

There is not much information on line about these, and what you found mostly repeated itself and mentioned briefly that Stanley bought them and produced some of their planes in house until the 1920s, some sources mentioned 1927.

While I was researching the story of Stanley in Canada, I came across references that mentioned that one of the reasons why Stanley bought Roxton Pond Tool & Mill  Company was because their workers were already manufacturing Siegley copies of planes, and were therefore familiar with Stanley products.  Huh?? The Siegley planes I'm familiar with (see above pic) are quite different than the Stanley Bailey models. What gives?

I recently bought a copy of the book: Plane makers of Wikes-Barre Pensylvania: Jacob Siegley, Edwin Hann, Keystone Tool Works, from John Rumph and I learned a few more pieces of the puzzle, but it still leave more to be learned about the Roxton Pond involvements with them. Which models were they making and for how long?

The book in question with Rudy for a scale reference :-)

I thought that there was only 3 flavours of the Siegley planes, turns out there are five (5) ...
Siegley, Hann, Stanley AND Keystone Tool Works, AND one more; Roxton Pond Tool & Mill Co. The plot thicken... Oh and make that 6 if you count those Hann planes marked GAR, but that was a hardware dealer brand, not maker (Hann)

Now to confuse us even more, there are two different models of the “Siegley” bench planes, the one patented by Jacob Siegley (like my No 5 model) Siegley patent No 510096 of  Dec 5th 1893 AND a close copy of the Stanley Bailey models ( First patented in 1867) Biggest difference with the Bailey models are the frog and the one piece twisted lateral lever.
Which ones was being made in Roxton Pond? The original Siegley or the Bailey copies, or even possibly both??

These are the Bailey clones I'm talking about, the SsS, StS, SbS and etc series.
They are based on a Bailey Type 9 frog, which I believed never changed during their production. That is never had the frog adjuster screw (Type 10).
Only other differences is the lever cap being plain and the lateral lever is a one piece twisted lever.
In case you are wondering, following my last PC crash, my scanner is still not operational  

Note that this line of planes has two slight variations on the Bailey pattern, the StS has a tapered iron, which of course necessitated a larger mouth opening. You can retrofit a thinner iron (SsS) for a tapered one (StS) but not vice versa.
This tapered iron was as a nod to older carpenters who still preferred this type of irons.

After Stanley bought Siegley in 1901, they continued making these Siegley models until roughly 1927 (Year they were discontinued). Stanley Rule and Level of New Britain Connecticut, established a new company, called Siegley Tool Company of New Britain Connecticut to manufactured and marketed these.

Meanwhile Edward Hann (relationship with Jacob Siegley unknown) somehow negotiated some agreements at the time Siegley sold to Stanley, for parts, fixtures etc used to manufactured the original Siegley bench plane models. Hann would be making these planes from 1902-1919.
Note it was long believed that Hann did not start until 1908, but John Rumpf research for his book, found evidences that he was making planes as early as 1902, which would made senses.

The Keystone Tool Works factory was part of the Gates Foundry and was making the cast pieces for Hann planes. They also made very similar planes under their own label from 1913-1917.
That foundry was also probably making the original castings for Siegley previously.

Roxton Pond Tool & Mill Co was established in 1904 and started making planes in 1905.
Although they were still making wooden planes in the well established Roxton Pond’s traditions, they were established with the purpose of getting into the new fangled metallic bench planes production. A foundry was built in1906 for that purpose. Which model did they first produced?
It may very well had been a licensed (?) copy of the original Siegley plane.  It was lighter, less castings, less machining (hence cheaper to produce than a Bailey copy) and it was, in its day, quite popular. We know that they also made transitional planes (near copies of Stanley), being made of less and smaller castings, it would also been a good one to get started on making metallic planes.

That so called Roxton plane, is a transitional made by Roxton Pond Tool & Mill Co

It would had made sense to cut their teeth's into this new business (making metallic planes)
The following year, in 1907 Stanley bought them, and build  a new factory near the new Roxton Pond Tool & Mill Co plant. Rather than wasting the new wooden factory which was only 3 years old at the time, they manufactured “Siegley” planes in it until the 1920’s.

In his book Rumph mentioned that at some point during the teens to 1920’s some or all of the Siegley Tool Company (New Britain Ct) line was manufactured in Canada. Stanley discontinued the Siegley line in 1927.

So Stanley made’s Siegley planes were first made in New Britain Connecticut (1901) then in Roxton Pond Quebec, Canada (1907).  At that time did Stanley continued with their production concurently in New Britain, or did they shifted everything to Roxton Pond??

That Jacob Siegley design for a plane sure got around. What made it so popular that it was made alongside the Bailey design for a while by Stanley?

It was in a bid to capitalise on the good reputation of Siegley.
It is a lighter, sturdy, yet simple design. The side walls of the planes are tapered inside, it is thicker at the bottom. You can feel that difference easily with your fingers.

For comparisons, I am using a US made Stanley Bailey No 5 Type 11 (1910-1918)
The things we do in our kitchen under the guise of research...
Yes Dear, breakfast is almost ready, just weighing some ingredients  :-)

The Siegley No 5 weight in at 3.074 pounds
And yes, some previous owner drilled 4 holes on one side wall,
probably to attach a user made fence

The equivalent Stanley Bailey No 5 of a similar period
weight in at a whooping 1 pound more!!
Quite noticeable in your hands and while planning...trust me.

The frog is a simple piece which is permanently fixed to the bed of the planes via metal pins on each sidewalls. It used the then expired Bailey patent to adjust the iron in and out, but Bailey lateral aduster was still under patent protection (by Stanley, when this plane was patented), so they devised a unique system, requiring a narrow slot off sided to the left on the blades.

The pinned frog assembly is only touching the bed at the very bottom at the mouth.
The frog assembly is pinned at the bottom and near the top of the side wing.

The blade is only contacting the frog surface at three (3) points. One at the bottom on a large land where the cap will clamp down the blade and two (2) at the top on small surfaces near the lateral lever. These protrusion also acts as a stop for the lateral lever

Siegley never patented this lateral adjuster, so Hann was free to used it in his plane after Stanley bought Siegley. One surprising feature of Siegley design is that the frog is bedded a lower angle than Stanley and Al, which are predominantly all bedded at 45 degrees.  Siegly used a 40 degrees angle.
That translate into more of a shearing cut than a scraping cut and works great on soft wood, but it could easily be challenged by some difficult hardwood, which prefers a higher pitch (50).

The two side by sides, you can clearly see the lower angle of the Siegley frog.
Notice also that the rear tote is smaller, not as high as the Bailey.

My big hands fit well within the Bailey handle.
My middle finger barely reach the small  adjusting nut.
I preferred the older larger ones. 

In contrast, on the smaller Siegley tote, my fingers are a bit crowded,
but I can easily reach the same size adjusting nut

BTW the adjusting nuts on both planes look exactly alike, sizes, knurling etc.
Make senses since these were both made by Stanley

And sure enough they both measured the same 0.999
Lets called it one (1) inch :-)

Perhaps its long run was due to its simplicity of construction which required a smaller and simpler frog to manufactured. Compared to a similar Bailey model, it is both lighter and cheaper to manufactured, having simpler parts and a lot less machining involved.
Unlike most metallic planes competing with the Bailey design, it uses a single iron (no cap iron) , but make uses of the lever cap (wedge), come chip breaker, thanks to a patented screw adjustment that bear on the retaining bar. Because it was patented, and sold to Stanley, Hann had to redesign slightly the lever cap / chip breaker.

But does it work “as good as” a Bailey?  In my limited experiences, it is a good performer, with the limitation noted above due to its lower pitch on the frog.

Having a fixed frog, and no double iron, it is very easy and fast to adjust. The only qwirk I found, was since the lever cap is adjusted to set the position of the chip breaker with two small screws on it, everytime you adjust the blade in or out, the lever cap being fixed, change that position.
If you are one of these guys that sweat the perfect position for your chip breaker down to some insanely small levels, it would drives you crazy...
As for me, I long stopped sweating the small stuff, so I can live with it :-)

Besides their lines of bench planes, from smoother to jointer, they also manufactured a block plane, a combination block/rabbet/shoulder plane (pretty rare apparently) and a combination moulding plane,  which some of its DNA would make it into the infamous Stanley No 45 and Vice Versa.  When Stanley (Roxton Pond) was making it they changed the size of the posts to a slightly larger diameter, the same as the Stanley No 45...

My Siegley combination plane No 2, seen with the short rods,
used the same size as my Stanley No 45, how convenient :-)

The shape of the casting below the adjustment nut is now gently sloped.
On the Siegley made ones, that side has a pointed shape toward the locking nut on the top

So turns out that the Roxton Pond Tool & Mill Co / Stanley Tool of Canada made these, the No 45 and the No 55

So how can you tell which bench planes are which??
Turns out they are tell tales changes.

The original Siegley's had a adjustable mouth aperture. A small plate in front of the mouth facing the blade could be moved in and out to adjust the mouth opening. Slacken two (2) screws and adjusted it, then tighten the screws
That feature disappeared in the later model
These models have little markings on them. or a discreet logo on the blade or wood fence
They had the Number of the plane cast on the lever cap

The lever cap does not have the two (2) set screws on the lever cap
Later models would have an adjustable plate at the bottom of it to adjust the "chip breaker" position
Blades are stamped Hann

All the ones made by the Siegley Tool Co (New Britain or Roxton Pond)  proudly advertised in big letters that they are SIEGLEY. On both blades and casting.
The lever cap has a stippled pattern

So mine clearly both marked SIEGLEY are not at all PRE-Stanley, they were made BY-Stanley...
I stand corrected... and will update my previous Siegley blog.

Much more to be learned, but here is hoping I helps cleared more confusion than I created...
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a few books to put back in my library...
The books I used primarily for gathering the information presented
along with my two (2 specimens) and whatever else I could find on line.

Bob, who needs to tidy up a bit before she comes back... Rudy, I needs some helps :-)


  1. That I’ve read about Roxton was that they were producing exact copies of Stanley’s transitional planes.

  2. Hi Larry
    Yes, pretty well, only differences was the plain lever cap and the twisted lateral lever


  3. ... should have added: these being the Roxton planes, made in the Roxton Pond Tool & Mill Co, but right next door, they course made the Stanley Bailey transitional in the new Stanley plant. These would indeed be identical to the US ones except for being stamped Made in Can

  4. Tremendous research, Bob. You have far more patience for that than I.

  5. Bob,

    I agree with Matt, as always good work and read but I'm glad it's you not me doing it.


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