| Dear Customer,
The most prolific designer of hand planes in history was Justus
Traut, the great inventor who was associated with, or employed
by, the Stanley Rule and Level Company for more than 50 years.
By the time he made his last shaving in 1908, he had been granted
over 150 patents more, even, than Leonard Bailey whose
name eventually graced a line of Stanley planes. Of the Traut
patents about one third were related to planes and scrapers. In
contrast, the equivalent total for Lee Valley now stands at nine
plane-related patents in nine years (six issued, three pending).
The most recently allowed (in April, 2003) is our bench plane
patent that, in the words of our esteemed patent attorney, is
"the first significant innovation in bench planes in a century".
When we set out to develop our plane line a decade ago, we made
a conscious decision to address the line from a functional perspective,
rather than an historical one; we focused on re-developing and
innovating, rather than just reproducing. We had the disadvantage
of following Justus Traut, but had the advantage of newer materials,
better design and prototyping tools, advanced manufacturing methods
and, most important, the clarity of hindsight. For each family
of planes, we generated the design criteria from first principles,
selected a suitable entry model, and will eventually cover the
practical range of variants with as little overlap as possible,
and at reasonable prices. Two of the most recent developments,
both with patents pending, are shown in this catalog for the first
The scraping plane on the facing page represents the culmination
of numerous small but important improvements to past designs,
coupled with an additional ability to bow the blade. Though this
new model now has more in common with hand scrapers than hand
planes, with a choice of two blades it can perform like either.
The larger footprint, re-designed grips, and modified hand positions
are all thoughtful and pragmatic advancements.
The changes with the second were not so subtle. As the first
in our series of shoulder and rebate planes, the medium shoulder
plane on the back cover reveals a more radical departure from
previous designs. Though it incorporates increased toe length
for better registration as well as a new positive and precise
blade fixing and adjustment mechanism, what really set this plane
apart are the changes in ergonomics coupled with the functional
enhancements. With a grip that's as comfortable as a handshake,
this plane inspires confidence the first time you hold it. A style
that has been notoriously awkward to handle has been tamed, and
is poised to become the new standard in type.
We like to think that Justus Traut would have approved of all
Robin C. Lee