Book Review – Stanley Works Tools The finest Years

Stanley Woodworking Tools: The Finest Years

I just received the new” “Stanley Works Tools The finest Years recently published. I bought it when I read the description of it as “Research and type studies……….”.

The good and the bad. Let do the good first.

If you are interested in collecting Stanley Tool Works collectibles in general, this is the book for you. Also if you are interested in Stanley Tool Works as a company, again this is the book. Its full of information related to the company, how it grew, and what some of its contributions to the tool and steel industry were.

It has a really good chapter on William Hart, and how the Sweetheart logo came about. Although this information is almost common knowledge for Stanley collectors, it does give additional details about Hart, his beginning and his continued involvement in Stanley that I had not read before.

The book has some great info on bit braces, tape measures, screw drivers and such. Even a few pages on hinges and locks, how the company got started, who some of the player were etc. The info is great for what it is, and its interesting. The book is worth ready just for this type of information.

Now for the bad.

My natural instinct or curiosity was to find the chapter on Stanley and Bedrock planes. Much to my surprise there wasn’t one. A couple pages here and there about a few shoulder and miter planes, but that was it. The most information about planes is actually in the advertising section where it explains what the marketing material was about. I’ll admit I’m a bit narrow focused, and I did find the other information interesting and worth reading, I just can’t get past the fact its a book about Stanley, without any real information about bench planes. My fear is if this bit of information is missing, what else is missing as well.

Next, the book kind of jumps around a lot, and has information that seems out of place. One example, there is a chapter on Leonard Bailey’s Cabinetmakers Block Plane. The book gives some detail about the plane, but it never mentions how the plane or Leonard Bailey is related to Stanley. Its not until much much later in the book, in the chapter on bit braces, that it mentioned Stanley bought Leonard Bailey’s plane business. How its related to bit braces and why that information is in that particular place in the book is a bit of a puzzle to me.

The last minor complaint is the book’s photos are all black and white. It would have been nice if at least some of the images were color, especially in the advertising section of the book.

I’m trying real hard not to be negative about this book, because I feel I’m a little biased thinking I was getting type studies for bench planes, at least at a high level. I would not recommend this book to a collector of any particular subset of tools. I would recommend it if you just want an overview of the Stanley company and some pretty cool fact about there different tools and how they came to be.