top of page

Bailey Type Study

Over the last 30 years or so a lot of Bailey bench plane aficionados have studied and observed thousands upon thousands of examples of Bailey and noted their progression of development since 1866. In an attempt to make a determination of production dates and for ease of their identification, “type studies” have been created so that novices, like me, can have a quick and easy way to figure out when my $20 garage sale find was made. You'll find a lot of different type study authors out there but all are based on several people's work namely Alvin Sellens, in his book The Stanley Plane, (1975) and Roger K. Smith in his book Patented Transitional and Metallic Planes in America 1827-1927 (1981) and his follow-up Volume II (1992). More recent study by Patrick Leach, The Superior Works,, has taken Sellens and Smith's work a bit further and with additional detail and some tongue and cheek comments. The result of that hard work is listed below.


As is further pointed out by Leach and others, type studies are merely a reference, not absolute nor exact. Manufacturing dates overlap so it's not uncommon to find a type 12 with type 11 components or a type 5 with a few type 4 or 6 parts. If you can say with some certainty that your type 12 was made around 1920 +- a year or two, mabe even a decade, that's pretty accurate and close enough for most folks. Of course if you are a perfectionist you'll want the exact month and day. Good luck on that and it's best if you write your own type study. Use this one for what it's worth. Here's a link that will further explain this phenomenon called a "TYPE STUDY":


As most of you know, (but probably don't give a rat's ass), I've done a great deal of research and study on the topic of type studies, becoming something of an authority (in my own personal judgement), and have come up with an as yet unproven postulation:


"The Theory of Spare Parts"

is the uncommon moniker for the assumed principle that Stanley and other manufacturers would sometimes produce an over abundance of one particular part and then use up those parts on planes that were in current production, (aka: "if it fits, it ships"), even though said spare parts may have been made months or even years earlier. Spare parts might even be found factory modified to meet the "...if it fits..." principle creating the "We'll mill it to fit" caveat.

This action precipitates a complete rupture in the timeline of THE TYPE STUDY, thereby bringing great angst and discomfort to any type study purist, forcing them to retreat into their "safe space" and to re-evaluate their life's endeavor to find order in chaos and tranquility where there is none.

I am open for suggestions and input from and by those who've done additional ponderization on the matter.


This type study is not an original work by me. It is a general compilation plagerized from a number of respected, credible and some incredibly disrespected (just kidding) sources.  Use it for what it is worth. Do not read too much into it, do not take it for gospel. Use it as a guide to help you better understand your plane.

Type 1 Planes made by L. Bailey in Boston, MA from 1867-1869

  • Rosewood knob is shaped like a hot air balloon, and has a distinct bead turned into its base.

  • The brass depth adjustment nut is solid (sometimes of a two-piece construction), with "BAILEY, WOODS & CO." "BOSTON" "PATENTED" "AUG. 31, 1858, AUG. 6, 1867" stamped into it. Only the lower portion of the name "WOODS" is visible. The nut has a right-hand thread.

  • "L. BAILEY'S" "PATENT" "DEC. 24, 1867" is stamped on the top of the iron and cap iron.

  • The back of the lever cap is solid and has a banjo-shaped spring.

  • The frog has a rounded back (the top of it where it faces the (tote)). It is held into place by screws with round heads.

  • The bottom casting's receiver for the frog is shaped like the letter "I".

  • The size of the plane (stock #, e.g. #4, #6, etc.) is incised into the underside of the frog and the lever cap. This isn't listed in the book I reference, but every example of these early planes I've examined has it.




Type 2 Planes made by Stanley 1869-1872 (Bailey's existing stock was moved to New Britian, Ct after the sellout)

  • All of the features of the previous, except:

  • Earliest models of this type do not have Bailey's name, nor Boston, on the brass adjusting nut.

  • Most models have "BAILEY'S PATENT" "AUG. 31, 1858, AUG. 6, 1867" stamped into the brass adjusting nut.

  • Lever cap spring is now rectangular.





Type 3 1872-1873

  • All of the features of the previous, except:

  • A total redesign of the frog, where it became smaller and is held to the bottom casting by a vertical rib between the sides of the casting. This was a short-lived production, and is practically identical to the "Victor" planes Bailey later produced. This new design is found on sizes #3-#8, but the frog is of a #3 size for all planes. This was probably an attempt to make interchangeable parts for most of the bench planes, instead of having a frog sized for each size of plane. A lot of these planes are broken about the vertical rib, so it was a weak design that was soon dropped.

  • "STANLEY RULE" (in an arc) "& LEVEL Co." is now stamped on the iron. The cap iron still has the logo of Type 1 stamped into it.

  • The brass adjusting nut in now recessed, with the patent stuff stamped inside.

  • The back of the lever cap is recessed.

  • Plane number no longer incised into back of lever cap or underside of frog.





Type 4 1874-1884

  • All of the features of the previous, except:

  • "New and Improved" frog design abandoned, with the old-style re-introduced.

  • The frog receiver is now a broad, rectangular area, with an arched rear (the portion nearest the tote). It is machined flat.

  • Some examples have a foundry number ("73", "71") cast into the bed, between the frog receiver and the tote.

  • Flat head screws now hold the frog in place.





Type 5 1885-1888

  • All of the features of the previous, except:

  • The lateral adjustment lever makes its debut. It has two patent dates, "2-8-76" and "10-21-84", stamped into it, along with the word "STANLEY". The lateral lever is a one-piece construction, with its portion that engages the slot in the iron being straight across.

  • Top of the frog no longer rounded as before. The top is more a flattened arch-shape.

  • The number is now cast into the main casting; i.e. on the smaller planes, at the toe, and on the heel, #5 and up.

  • The trademark stamped into the iron is the same as before, except that "STANLEY" is in a straight line, in large letters, and the rest of the logo immediately below, in small letters.





Type 6 1888-1892

  • All of the features of the previous, except:

  • Lateral adjustment lever now is a two-piece construction, with a circular disk replacing the straight portion at the point where it engages the slot in the iron. "7-24-88" is also stamped into the lever, with the rest of the dates, as before.

  • The brass adjusting nut now has a left-hand thread.

  • New iron design, where the circular hole is now located toward the cutting edge, instead of the top. Stanley claimed:

  • "The improved form of this Plane Iron renders it unnecessary to detach the Cap Iron, at any time, as the connecting screw will slide back to the extreme end of the slot in the Plane Iron, without the danger of falling out. The screw may then be tightened, by a turn with thumb and finger; and the Cap iron will serve as a convenient handle, or rest, in whetting or sharpening the cutting edge of the Plane Iron."

  • The above quote is in Stanley's marketing publications explaining why the circular hole was repositioned, after it being at the top of the blade for some 100 years. At least that's how Stanley described the change. However, the patent drawing for the change shows what some believe is the real reason for the change - the circular disk, on the lower end of the lateral adjustment lever, loses its ability to engage the slot provided for it (in the cutter) when the iron is nearly used up. By relocating the circular hole toward the bottom of the cutter, the iron can be used right up to the slot, without sacrificing the advantage gained from the lateral adjustment lever.

  • Bead eliminated from the front knob.

  • Frog receiver has two shallow grooves, parallel to the plane's sides, cast into it. The screw holes are located in the grooves.

  • "STANLEY" "PAT. AP'L 19, 92" (in two lines) stamped on the iron. The original type study doesn't mention this, but some of these irons can be found with just "STANLEY" and not the patent date.





Type 7 1893-1899

  • All of the features of the previous, except:

  • Bailey's name and patent dates eliminated from the brass adjustment nut and cap iron.

  • The number designation, cast into the toe ("No 4", etc.), is now spaced farther apart; i.e. "No" is about 1" from "4", whereas the earlier models had the two right next to each other.

  • Most examples have the letter "S" cast into the frog, lever cap, and/or bed. This is likely the mark of the Sessions Foundry, who contracted with Stanley to produce their castings.





Type 8 1899-1902

  • All of the features of the previous, except:

  • "S" casting marks eliminated, and replaced with "B", another foundry mark.

  • "7-24-88" is the only patent date found on the lateral adjustment lever. "STANLEY" is still there.





Type 9 1902-1907

  • All of the features of the previous, except:

  • "B" casting marks eliminated.

  • No patent date is found on the lateral lever.

  • "BAILEY" now cast into to toe, as homage to the inventor of the modern plane. The number designation is now cast just behind the knob.

  • Frog receiver undergoes a major redesign. A smaller bearing surface is now cast into the bed, toward the tote. Two circular bosses, to receive the screws are located just ahead of this bearing surface, toward the mouth. A rib runs from the mouth to bearing surface, over which the frog rests. This is to align the frog laterally, to keep it square to the sides of the plane, and, thus, make the iron parallel to the mouth. The frog has a slot at its bottom to fit and slide over the rib cast in the bed.

  • The Patent dates "Mar.-25-02" "Aug.-19-02" are cast into the bed, immediately behind the frog.

  • The brass nuts used to secure the knob and tote to the rods undergo a change. They now have a waist to them verses the earlier cylindrical shape.





Type 10 1907-1909

  • All of the features of the previous, except:

  • The rib (the one the frog rides over) is enlarged and arched.

  • A frog adjustment screw, first offered on the Bed Rock planes, is now added. This is located below the frog, and engages a one - piece steel fork that is screwed to the frog. A turn of this screw will move the frog forward or backward.

  •  "STANLEY" "RULE & LEVEL CO." "NEW BRITAIN CONN." "U.S.A."i s now stamped on the iron





Type 11 1910-1918

  • All of the features of the previous, except:

  • APR-19-10 patent date appears with the others patent dates cast behind the frog.

  • A new trademark is adopted, where "STANLEY" "NEW BRITAIN" "CONN." "U.S.A." forms a v-shaped logo.





Type 12 1919-1924

  • All of the features of the previous, except:

  • The knob undergoes a change in height, and is now much taller than the previous style. 

  • The brass depth adjustment nut is now larger and measures 1.25" in diameter.

  • The lever cap has a subtle change in its shape - it is not as rounded about the edges as the earlier style is. The lever cam is a bit longer than the old - 1 3/16" vs. 1 3/32".

  • A series of logo changes are found on these planes. All 3 of the logos are the result of the merger between Stanley Rule and Level, the tool producer, and The Stanley Works, the hardware producer. A notched rectangle, in which the word "STANLEY" is stamped, sits over a heart-shaped design, in which the letters "S.W." are stamped. The "S.W." stands for The Stanley Works, and "STANLEY", obviously, stands for the rule and level firm. The heart-shape is a memorial to The Stanley Works long-time president, William Hart. The first version of the logo has "NEW BRITAIN," "CONN. U.S.A." in two lines under the heart, and dates from around 1920. The next version, dating from 1921-1922, just has "MADE IN U.S.A" below the heart, in one line that is longer than the length of the notched rectangle. The final logo, dating from 1923-1935, is identical to the second, but the "MADE IN U.S.A." line is a hair shorter than the length of the notched rectangle. 

  • Some of the lever caps can be found with the outline of the sweetheart logo cast into the backside. Perhaps this is the original marking for the first SW trademark. 

  • It's about this time that the backs of the cap iron are no longer blued, but are just finished like the fronts, with nothing.





Type 13 1925-1928

  • All of the features of the previous, except:

  • U.S. PAT. APR-19-10 is the only stuff cast behind the frog.

  • "STANLEY", in a notched rectangle, is now cast on the lever cap. There are several treatments of the lever cap, where its finish and the background color of the notched rectangle follow what seems to be a 'style du jour'. I can't date accurately when each of these lever cap treatments occurred, but I can list the order in which I believe they were made:

  1. The lever cap is machined and finished as before, with the notched rectangle's background japanned. I believe this to be the earliest since the earliest Bed Rock planes have lever caps of the same treatment (Bed Rock lever caps always had some embossing on them, and the earliest ones have the japanned background). My experience tells me that this lever cap treatment is rather uncommon.

  2. The entire lever cap is entirely nickel plated, including the background of the notched rectangle.

  3. The lever cap is nickel plated, but the notched rectangle's background is painted in Stanley's trademark orange color.

  4. For a short period, with the lever cap nickel plated, the notched rectangle's background is decidedly reddish in color. This may due to Stanley's working relationship with Winchester, whose planes have the same color. Either that, or someone sabotaged Stanley's orange paint supply.

  5. The later planes have a yellow background in the notched rectangle. These planes typically have the rounded iron.

  • On some examples made during the 20's, the frogs have an orange overpaint on the sides. No "official" explanation for this has ever been determined.





Type 14 1929-1930

  • All of the features of the previous, except:

  • "MADE IN U.S.A." is now cast into the bed at the toe.

  • A raised ring is cast into the bed to act as a receiver for the knob. This is to stem the splitting of the knob, about its base, which was a very common thing to occur. The high knobs were very prone to this, prior to the introduction of the raised ring, due to the greater leverage capable of being placed on them than could be placed on the low knobs.





Type 15 1931-1932

  • All of the features of the previous, except:

  • "MADE IN U.S.A." is now cast behind the frog.

  • All patent info on the bottom casting is removed.

  • "BAILEY" is now cast behind the knob toward the rib, and the number is now cast in front of the knob at the leading edge of the bottom casting. This is opposite to all prior types.





Type 16 1933-1941

  • All of the features of the previous, except:

  • "STANLEY", inside the notched rectangle, with "MADE IN U.S.A." is now the new logo stamped on the cutter. This is identical to the previous logo, except the heart and "S.W." have been removed.

  • A kidney-shaped hole in the lever cap replaced the old symmetrical keyhole-shaped hole. This was touted as making the cutter less likely to loosen when the depth was adjusted; the lever cap wouldn't be apt to move (along its length) as much.

  • The toe now has a raised, broad, flat rib cast into it. A similar rib is found at the heel.

  • The frog now has an ogee-shape (s-shape) to the back, on either side of the lateral adjustment lever.





Type 17 1942-1945

  • All of the features of the previous, except:

  • These are the war production planes, and there is no rhyme or reason to what is and isn't proper on these examples.  But it's understandable since there are so many configurations of these planes. Any combination of the following features is possible for these planes. Some of the examples have the standard features (rosewood, brass) of the previous type in conjunction with some of the features of this type. This all is likely explained by the fact that Stanley was using stock on-hand, where parts made prior to the war were simply being used.

  • Handle and knob are hardwood stained red or painted black.

  • Depth adjustment now is smaller, made either of steel or hard rubber.

  • The bottom castings are much thicker and heavier than other models.

  • The lever caps on many have a rather coarsely machined surface.

  • The normal two-piece construction of a brass cap and a threaded rod, used to secure the the wooden parts (tote and knob) to the bottom casting, is now a one piece construction (like a long screw).

  • Some examples have no frog adjusting screw, but many do.

  • Some examples have the old-style hole (keyhole-shaped) in the lever cap.




Type 18 1946-1947

  • All of the features of the previous, except:

  • Brass adjusting nuts are re-introduced, and have diagonal knurling on them.

  • Hardwood handles painted black. I've seen black handles on what are normally considered war production planes.

  • Castings are lighter, like those of the pre-war years.



Type 19 1948-1961

  • All of the features of the previous, except:

  • The frog receiver, in the bottom casting, now is y-shaped.

  • Rosewood is re-introduced, and is often varnished so heavily that it almost obscures the grain.

  • "STANLEY" is now incised in a vertical direction on the lateral adjustment lever.

  • The original type study doesn't mention this, but on some of the models of this type "STANLEY" is stamped on both sides of the lateral adjustment lever. I've seen enough of these to convince me that's it wasn't accidental, or if it was, it was a big screw-up.

  • The knurling on the brass depth adjuster is now parallel on most examples.

  • Later examples have the familiar black paint on the hardwood tote and knob.

  • Type study doesn't mention this, but the cutters now have rounded tops instead of the angular top. This change likely happened in the mid--1950's.

  • For a short while, some models had a nickel plated frog fork appearance on them as a finish rather than the usual black japanning. Where in the sequence of actual manufacturing this subtle change fits has not been determined, but it appears mostly on those planes equipped with rosewood knobs and totes and rounded irons.



Type 20 1962-1967

  • All of the features of the previous, except:

  • All castings are now painted blue, instead of the black japanning.

  • Hardwood totes and knobs are now finished with a light colored stain.

  • The frog fork now a nickeled, two-piece pressed steel configuration.

  • The lateral adjustment lever is now is one piece of pressed steel with the thumb tab bent into a "U" shape.

  • "STANLEY" is no longer stamped into the lateral adjustment lever.

  • Leach refers to this period as "The beginning of the end for Stanley bench planes, as we prepare for the Dawning of the Age of Norm, and Ellie Mae Clampett's yummy biscuits".


bottom of page