Many hand plane enthusiasts have noticed that the Stanley planes produced during the Second World War tend to have thicker castings than those produced earlier. This seems strange given the metal shortages during the war. Why would Stanley have made castings thicker rather than thinner when metal was scarce?
This answer comes courtesy of Walt at Brass City Records.
This is from an older gentleman whom I spoke with many years ago…he was working at the Stanley plant before and during the war….now, you gotta remember he was old then (about 17 years ago) so some of his memories were a bit fuzzy…
His take on the factory at the time: he was one of the few male workers still working at the plant who had been there for any length of time…most of the regular male crew for the handtool division had gone off to war…makes sense…factory work pre-WWII was a male-dominated field.
What they had for a crew were a lot of first time factory workers…women and young people (don’t want to say kids but he made it seem as if some were just barely legal for factory work if at all)…they had to re-adjust specs because the newbie workers were blowing out the sides when it came to the grinding process, so they allowed a bit more meat on the castings.
Same goes for the frog screw…the machinery for that job consisted of a long bit in a drill press type of machine…had to be pretty much on the mark to make it work correctly and tapping the screw hole was just as difficult…again, an inexperienced workforce dictated what they could actually do….so the frog screw went by the wayside.
Fancy nickel plating was out…another metal in short supply, so the levercaps from the era were semi polished cast.
All the brass went for the war effort…shell casings…rosewood was non-existent because it didn’t grow around here, and international shipping for non-essentials just wasn’t there….different time…whole different mind set…you made do with what you had to work with….he said it was amazing that there were any tools being made then for the home market…most all of the Stanley conglomerate was geared toward war production…there were many bit sets, braces, levels and even planes made for the US Army, Marines, Navy and even the Air Force…’course I think most went to the Seabees and the U.S. Army Engineer Construction Battalions .
So now you know.